Put on your favorite apron and roll up those sleeves! N.Y.C. cookie decorating superstar Patti Paige's hotly anticipated book You Can't Judge a Cookie by Its Cutter hits stores today, and it promises to inspire all crafting and baking lovers alike. A former painter turned icing master, Paige has applied all her artistic skills to the world of sugar-and-spice-and-everything-nice for more 30 years, and one quick peek at her insanely impressive website or Instagram account is all one needs to fall deeply in love with her intricately iced treats.
Flipping through the pages of her book, you can't help but appreciate her clever imagination: Pivot a moon-shaped cutter on its side and it's transformed into a nibbled watermelon slice or an ice cream sundae. Want to reinvent the more conventional shape of a teddy bear? Look at it upside down, and it becomes a bunny popping out of a top hat. Luckily, Paige offers detailed steps on how to recreate each design and tags them with their required skill level, so beginners can start with an easy project, like a lemon, before graduating on to ones that are more advanced, like a plated stack of pancakes.
You'll also find useful tips on achieving a perfectly decorated cookie, from how to ensure that the dough stays in tip-top shape while baking, to identifying the perfect consistency for piping and flooding the icing. And you can be sure that her phenomenally easy Sugar Cookie and Royal Icing recipes (posted below) are going to be our go-to's for any future adventures in cookie-decorating.
Sugar Cookies and Royal Icing with Egg Whites
For Icing (makes 2 cups):
Ingredients:5 ½ cus (562 grams) sifted confectioners' sugar7 tbsp pasteurized egg whites½ tsp lemon juice, optional
Directions: 1. Combine the confectioners' sugar and egg hits in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on low until smooth, about 30 seconds. Add lemon juice, if using. With the mixer on medium speed, beat until thick, soft peaks form, scraping down the sides of the bowl,1 to 2 minutes.
For Cookies (makes about 24 3-inch cookies):
Ingredients:2 ½ cups plus 2 tbsp (340 grams) unbleached all-purpose white flour½ tsp baking powder½ tsp salt¾ cup (1 ½ sticks or 170 grams) usalted butter, softened1 cup plus 2 tbsp (225 grams) granulated sugar1 large egg1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
Directions:1. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and sugar and mix on medium speed for 1 to 2 minutes, until thoroughly combined. Reduce the speed to medium low and add the egg and vanilla, mixing until thoroughly combined, about 40 seconds. Reduce speed and gradually add the flour mixture, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed and beating until just the dry ingredients are incorporated.2. Divide the dough in three batches. Roll out the dough straight from the mixing bowl, in between two pieces of parchment paper. Repeat with remaining dough batches and refrigerate on a baking sheet for 30 minutes.3. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Cut out shapes from the dough and chill for 30 minutes. Bake the cookies until the edges begin to brown slightly, 9 to 15 minutes, depending on the size. Let the cookies rest on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool completely before decorating.
Recipes from You Can't Judge a Cookie by Its Cutter by Patti Paige. Copyright (c) 2014 by Patti Paige. Used with permission by Grand Central Life & Style. All rights reserved.