I found myself with a rare free afternoon the Saturday before Easter and since I've had my Easter cookie cutter set for over a year, I decided now was as good a time as any to make my virgin attempt at cookie decorating.
And boy did I suck at it.
Patience, as anyone who knows me will tell you, is not one of my virtues. And cookie decorating requires plenty of it. Well, that and talent — which, as the pictures of my cookies will attest — is not something I am particularly blessed with in this respect.
Firstly, my cookies didn't bake to perfectly even surfaces, so the flooding didn't quite sit well. Secondly, my flooding was probably a little too thin, so it didn't render a nice opaque tone. Then there's my unsteady hand, which translated to quivering borders and, well... child-like designs would be a kind way to put it.
And then there's the patience thing again. I just couldn't wait for the icing to dry before piping in more dots and things. My dots had tails, my lines broke mid-way... I don't really need to go on, do I?
The only good thing that came out of this experiment were the cookies, which came from Peggy Porschen's Pretty Party Cakes. They are basic cocoa-flavoured sugar cookies, but they pack an intense chocolatey taste and a nice crisp texture. So I did the sane thing and cut the remaining cookie dough with a bite-size circular cutter and now serve them on a saucer with post-dinner coffee.
Chocolate Sugar Cookies
(Adapted from Peggy Porschen's Pretty Party Cakes)
200g unsalted butter
1 egg, beaten lightly
50g cocoa powder (I used Valrhona)
350g plain flour
1. Cream the butter and sugar until well mixed and just creamy in texture. Don't overwork or the cookies will spread during baking.
2. Beat in the egg until well combined. Add the flour and cocoa powder and mix on low speed until a dough forms.
3. Gather the dough into a ball, wrap in cling film and chill for at least an hour.
4. Place the dough on a floured surface and knead briefly.
5. Roll out to about 5mm thickness.
6. Use your cookie cutters to cut out shapes and then lay them on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper.
7. Chill again for about 30 minutes.
8. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
9. Bake for 8-12 minutes, depending on size.