Last weekend I co-hosted a baby shower for one of my closer high school friends. Since it's been almost twenty years since we met at the tender age of 13 (eek!) and this is her first baby, I wanted to make it really special. And since I show my love mostly through food and wine, I figured there was no better for way than to make some really fantastic desserts for the shower. It was an outdoor garden party, so I consulted with my friend, professional baker and owner of Bakelab, Kristin Feuer, about what to make. She shared her go-to sugar cookie and royal icing recipes with me and I was off to the races, making flower-shaped cookies. On a stick. Stuck into miniature flower pots. I've got to say they turned out amazing and they were a total hit at the party. They tasted even better than they looked, which is always a great thing! Most importantly, people couldn't believe the cookies were homemade so I figure if I can do it, YOU can do it. Hence why I'm sharing the recipe and the steps to making fantastically delicious, hand-piped sugar cookies.
Flower Pot Party Favors!
- 25 ounces (3 cups, 1 ounce) pastry flour or all-purpose flour
- 11 ounces (1 cup, 3 ounces) sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 pound (equivalent of four sticks) butter, chilled and cut into cubes
- 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon vanilla (I prefer Madagascar vanilla paste)
- 2 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
Yields approximately 2 1/2 cups
- 16 ounces powdered sugar, sifted
- 3 large egg whites (I used pasteurized egg whites in a carton, which is safer for pregnant women and children)
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
Important note about the dough: Since the dough is make primarily of butter, it softens very, very quickly. If you need it to harden a bit before working with it, I roll out the dough between two wax sheets of paper . That way, if it gets too soft, I can throw it back into the freezer for a few moments and then bring it back out. That way none of the dough sticks to your counter top or cutting board, either!
To make the royal icing: Put sifted powdered sugar and cream of tartar into the bowl of a standing mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment. (I found you can also do this in a large bowl with a stainless steel whisk). Start the mixer running and begin streaming in the egg whites, mixing until the mixture comes together and resembles the consistency of toothpaste. If you need to, go check your tube of toothpaste. It doesn't run out of the tube or leak. It's a pretty sturdy consistency. If icing is too thick, as a tiny bit more egg white -- a little bit goes a LONG way -- until the proper consistency is achieved. If the icing is too thin, add a little more sifted powdered sugar until you get the consistency you're after. Store the icing in an airtight container, with a damp paper towel pressed to the surface of the icing. Wrap in plastic wrap twice. Keep refrigerated until ready to use. Keeps about 3-4 days.
Okay, now let's get to the good stuff... how to make and decorate the cookies!
Combine dry ingredients with butter until it forms dough chunks
Add vanilla and cream cheese and mix until combined
Separate dough into four equal packs; chill for at least an hour
Roll out dough to 3/8”-1/4” thick, cut as desired. For easy clean-up, I roll the dough between two sheets of wax paper and used a 4" flower cookie cutter.
While dough is soft, insert 6" - 8" lollipop sticks into each cookie, gently pressing down. Cover with second piece of wax paper, transfer to freezer and freeze until solid, at least one hour.
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place cookies on parchment-lined sheet pan stick-side down.
Bake until edges are light golden brown and centers feel set. Let cool for a few moments before transferring to a cooling rack.
Mix a batch of royal icing and depending on how many colors you need, you may want to separate it into bowls. Then, using food coloring (I prefer professional-grade food coloring), mix the icing until it's the shade/consistency you're looking for. Insert into a piping bag and begin to decorate your cookies. I piped an outer edge on my flowers.
Once the edges were dry -- it just takes a few moments -- I "flooded" each petal with a lighter blue, thinner consistency royal icing. Tip: Do this one flower at a time, otherwise your icing will set before you're able to spread the icing to the edges of each petal (see next photo).
Working one flower at a time, I used a toothpick to spread the icing to the edges and completely fill each petal with icing.
I added orange icing for the centers of the flowers and let them dry. Once all the flowers were dry I gently slipped them into cellophane bags and tied personalized tags with green ribbon.
I shredded some green tissue paper in a shredder, stuffed it into a miniature flower pot and added the flower. Each flower was used both as a name place and a party favor!
Here are the tables set up with the flower pots in place. They were a hit!