Have you ever come across a dessert that's so gorgeous, you pause to admire its beauty before you can bear to take a bite? Well, we're obsessing over these gem-like sweets from the recently released cookbook A Simple Feast, by Diana Yen and The Jewels of New York. With their unexpected use of black sanding sugar over tinted icing and generous application of pearl-like dragées, these bite-sized treats may be the chicest sugar cookie we've come across yet!
And intricate as these dazzling treats may appear to be, don't let that fool you. They're actually pretty easy to whip up with a bit of patience and the right arsenal of easy-to-acquire tools and ingredients: a solid sugar cookie and royal icing recipe (below), an array of sprinkles, and gem-shaped cookie cutters. (The right cutters would make shaping the cookies easy as pie, but a sharp knife would also do: After rolling out your dough, cut out an army of squares and rectangles in assorted sizes. Then, cut away the edges of the dough at different angles to create the faceted edges.) "To nail a fully dimensional cookie," says Yen, "stack two different shapes of dough on top of each other before baking."
About the Jewels of New York: Based in NYC, the operation is a creative studio that specializes in food photography, styling, and recipe consulting. Led by Yen, the extraordinary team churns out utterly delectable food features for their various editorial clients like Martha Stewart and Kinfolk Magazines, or to showcase on its own site.
Art Deco Cookies
Makes: About 2 dozen cookies
For cookie dough:
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the work surface
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
Royal icing (recipe follows)
Food coloring in assorted colors
Colored sanding sugars (I like India Tree Brand)
White sugar pearls for decorating (I like Wilton brand)
Silver dragées for decorating
1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt
2. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the granulated sugar with the butter until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and mix until well combined. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the flour mixture, and mid until a dough forms.
3. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and divide into quarters. Form each quarter into a 5-inch disk. Wrap each with plastic wrap and refrigerate until form, about 2 hours.
4. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
5. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough into 1/4-inch thick. Using geometric-shaped cookie cutters, cut out whatever shapes you like and transfer to them to 2 parchment-lined baking sheets. Leave at least 1-inch space between the cookies.
6. Bake until the edges are golden brown, 7-10 minutes.
7. Transfer to a wire rack and let them cool completely.
8. Decorate the cookies using the Royal Icing (see below), sanding sugars, sugar pearls, and dragées.
For cookie icing:
1 box confectioner’s sugar (1 pound)
2 large egg whites
½ tsp vanilla extract
Makes: 3 cups
1. In a large bowl of an electric mixer, combine the egg whites and vanilla and beat until frothy.
2. Slowly mix in the confectioners’ sugar and mix on low speed until the sugar is incorporated and the mixture is glossy.
3. Increase the speed to high and beat until the mixture forms stiff peaks, about 5 minutes. For a thinner consistency, add water one tablespoon at a time.
4. Separate the mixture into small bowls and add food coloring as desired. The icing can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
5. When you’re ready to apply the icing, transfer each colored icing to a disposable pastry bag fitted with a round tip (such as Wilton No. 3)
From A Simple Feast by Diana Yen, 2014 by the Jewels of New York Group, LLC. Reprinted by arrangement with Roost Books, an imprint of Shambhala Publications Inc., Boston, MA.