Sunday, November 15, 2009

Engagement, Part Two

Really, why have just one engagement party when you can have two? More loot, more partying, more time with family and friends, and of course, more baked goods. So while a cake sufficed for Racheli and Shaya's engagement celebration, part one, part two required iced and decorated cookies with the bride and groom's names on them. And here I am to deliver.
I've only done this once before, and those left a little more room for error, since they were just a variety of cookies decorated with lines and squiggles and dots and the like. These were to be uniform - half with the bride's name and half with the groom's.

Let the fun begin.
Of course I set up my decorating station, complete with toothpicks, water, racks, food coloring, icing bags, tips, couplers, paper towels and cans of fresca (not for cookie decorating purposes). Half the cookies were to be iced with blue and the name written in pink, and half iced in pink and the name written in blue.
I chose to use a fairly thin icing and a #5 tip for the base coat - I outlined each cookie first, then squiggled lines inside, using a toothpick to gently nudge the icing in to place. A process which took about 3 and a half hours for the about 100 cookies. I baked exactly 127 cookies, of which about 120 made it to the first coat of icing, about 110 made it past the first round, and about 90 made it all the way. But more on that later.

The writing. I hate writing. You know I hate writing. I've told you before. I'm not good at it. It gives me nightmares. Heart palpitations. Breathing problems. Gray hair. But here I was about to write on 100 cookies.

I started with the "Shaya" cookies, since, with five letters, it seemed like less of a challenge than the seven-letter "Racheli."

And it went pretty well. As I got in to the hang of it it got a little easier.
But there were still plenty for the reject bin.

Which kept growing.
After I finished those, it was on to the Racheli cookies. Racheli, with a whole seven letters.
Much easier to screw up. And screw up I did.

Every time I ruined a cookie, I would take it out on the cookie.

Sometimes I would get madder than other times.
Anyway, I managed to get these done as well, and while the collateral damage was a little higher here, there were still a few cookies that made it through.
And the reject bin grew:
Finally, I was done with everything, and the cookies were all laid out.

My friend Shira, who was perched at the end of the table watching as I hunched over the 2 inch cookies and as I didn't realize that four hours had passed, pointed out that the cookies suffered from the "Cheerleader Effect." First defined on the TV show "How I Met Your Mother," the cheerleader effect refers to the fact that when you see a group of people together, they might seem attractive, but when you look at them each individually, they're not. Same goes with these cookies.

Look at them as a group!
Get in close and...hmmm.
Look at that one on the bottom right. Eeks.
They were eaten. In fact, I didn't hear a single complaint. That wasn't from me anyhow.

Tip of the Day: For more tips on cookie decorating see my previous post. Is that a cop-out? Maybe.

Sugar Cookies:
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter or margarine
2 1/4 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
4 1/2 cups flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt

Beat together butter and sugar until light and creamy.
Beat in eggs and vanilla.
Gradually mix in flour, baking powder and salt.
Shape dough into 4 balls and wrap in wax paper and refrigerate overnight (or freeze for a couple hours).
Lightly flour your counter or surface, and roll out dough 1/4 of an inch thick.
Cut out as many shapes as possible with a cookie cutter.
Transfer shapes to ungreased cookie sheet.
Reserve the trimmings for rerolling.
Reroll the dough and the remaining dough as many times as necessary.
Bake the cookies on an ungreased cookie sheet for 10 to 13 minutes at 350F, without letting them get brown.
Transfer to wire racks to cool.

Makes about 120 2-inch hearts. Leave plenty of spares for screwing up!

Royal Icing:

3 egg whites
3 teaspoons lemon juice
4 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar, sifted

Beat the egg whites and lemon juice together.
Gradually add in the sifted sugar on low speed until smooth.
Use immediately or cover and refrigerate or it will begin to harden.


  1. Friend Shira just wants to clarify to baking and mistaking readers that I did not think the cookies were UNattractive up close, but just that they look PERFECT from afar.

    And as a lucky taster from the reject pile, I can attest to the fact that the cookies were indeed delicious.

    Good job Amy!

  2. This "friend shira" seems cool. I also got to sample the reject pile, and I had no complaints :)

  3. Amy
    Kol HaKavod - You're such a great friend to spend so much time on achieving such perfection.

    Feel free to mail any rejections over here.

    I'll try and make sure that Esther's chatan has a short name !!!!!!!!!

  4. Joanna from ColoradoNovember 16, 2009 at 12:49 PM

    I think your cookies look awesome, and I have saved many of your recipes, including this one.

    I really enjoy your blog - thanks!


  5. If there are rejects left they can also be mailed to me, C/O Hadassah.

  6. Those are adorable... Way to teach that cookie a lesson :o)