It’s all just icing on the cookie

“We elves like to stick to the four main food groups: candy, candy canes, candy corns and syrup.” Buddy, in Elf (2003).

Generally, my belief when decorating cookies is that the more you mess with them, the worse they taste.  While I appreciate the look real royal icing creates, I’ve always shied away from it because of this.

Using lemon juice in confectioner’s sugar, while pretty delicious does have its limitations.  Most specifically, I found no matter what I did, the colors bled.

So, this year I decided to go for it with the royal icing figuring that even if they tasted awful, they at least had a chance of looking good.

I did quite a bit of research in preparation and found the royal icing recipe and technique instructions from The Adventures of Sweet Sugar Bell made a lot  of sense.  Especially the part about the spray bottle.

I’m telling you, the spray bottle was key.

Not to get all metaphysical on ya’ll, but I can’t help but think of T.S. Elliott and his Wasteland (1922) now that all is said and done:

“We shall not cease from exploration

And the end of all our exploring

Will be to arrive where we started

And know the place from the first time.”

The pink peppercorn rides again

In the course of my holiday baking each year, I like to make a couple of different kinds of shortbready-sably type cookies.  And each year, I like to try out something a little different.

This year, by different, I meant really different.  As in, peppercorny different.  In fact, I think that’s where it started.  At some point during my planning, TD always asks the same question: “you aren’t going make anything pink peppercorny are you?”

Why yes, yes I am.

If you don’t know about TD and pink peppercorns, you can catch up here.  A couple of years ago I had some success with raspberry and pink peppercorn macarons so I thought it might be fun to translate that into a sable.

I added in some white chocolate chunks and accessorized with bright pink sanding sugar for a little pizzazz (yes, I just said pizzazz).

The results were interesting.  While not for everyone, I thought they were a complex, if not festive addition.

Raspberry, White Chocolate and Pink Peppercorn Sables

a play on Dorie Greenspan’s sable cookie


  • 2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, preferably sea salt
  • 2 large egg yolks, preferably at room temperature
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp ground pink peppercorns (I use a coffee grinder)
  • 3 heaping TBS freeze dried raspberry powder (I find freeze dried fruit at Trader Joes.  You can also find it on Amazon.  I also used the coffee grinder to pulverize the raspberries)
  • 8 ounces white chocolate chunks
  • Sanding sugar if you want to get fancy


Working with a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter at medium speed until it is smooth and very creamy. Add the sugars and salt and continue to beat until smooth and velvety, not fluffy and airy, about 1 minute. Reduce the mixer speed to low and beat in 2 egg yolks, again beating until well blended.

Turn off the mixer, pour in the flour, raspberry and pink peppercorn powders.  Drape a kitchen towel over the mixer and pulse the mixer about 5 times at low speed for 1 or 2 seconds each time. Take a peek; if there is still a lot of flour on the surface of the dough, pulse a couple of more times; if not, remove the towel. Continuing at low speed, stir for about 30 seconds more, just until the flour disappears into the dough and the dough looks uniformly moist. If you still have some flour on the bottom of the bowl, stop mixing and use a rubber spatula to work the rest of it into the dough. (The dough will not come together in a ball — and it shouldn’t. You want to work the dough as little as possible. What you’re aiming for is a soft, moist, clumpy dough. When pinched, it should feel a little like Play-Doh.)

3. Scrape the dough onto a work surface, gather it into a ball and divide it in half. Shape each piece into a smooth log about 9 inches long (it’s easiest to work on a piece of plastic wrap and use the plastic to help form the log). Wrap the logs well and chill them for at least 2 hours. The dough may be kept in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months.

4. When ready to bake, center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper and keep it at the ready.

6. Place the rounds on the baking sheet, leaving an inch of space between each cookie, and bake for 17 to 20 minutes, rotating the baking sheet at the halfway point. When properly baked, the cookies will be light brown on the bottom, lightly golden around the edges and pale on top. Let the cookies rest 1 or 2 minutes before carefully lifting them onto a cooling rack with a wide metal spatula. Repeat with the remaining log of dough. (Make sure the sheet is cool before baking each batch.)


As visions of sugar plums…

You ready?

The 2013 holiday baking total sugar damage:

627.4 ounces

That’s 39.2 pounds or just under two big and two small Kitchen Gods.

Here are some more fun numbers:

  • Total number of packages: 40

  • Number of packages shipped: 16 across 6 states

  • Number of packages that have been or will be hand-delivered: 24

  • Total types of treats: 11

  • Total individual pieces: 1937

We didn’t ship the Kitchen Gods.  They wouldn’t fit into the box.  They did supervise the entire packaging process from this vantage.  And for those of you who received shipped goods, not to worry, we didn’t use this box to ship food…it actually has paint samples in it.

Bonus points if anyone can guess the sugar cookie theme.

How sweet it is

I hope everyone’s Thanksgivings were restful and flavorful!

I took advantage of the short break to use sugar in as many ways as possible

First, an admission.  I somehow miscalculated last week’s total.  We weren’t at 508 ounces just yet.  My apologies.

Let’s back up.  Last week, we’d made it to 323 ounces, or about 20 pounds.

But THIS week: 560 ounces

35 pounds

and only one burned finger as casualty.