Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Sugar Cookies for Eid al-Fitr

Sugar Cookies 5

In less than a week, the Moslems will celebrate their Eid al-Fitr. I usually bakes cake or cookies as a gift to my best friend who works for the same organisation as I do, and who by chance is also my dearest aunt by marriage. Her husband's nephew married to my sister D. So, I am not really her real niece thou.. in fact, I am one year older than her. But that doesn't matter at all. We have a strong bound in whatever you name it.

Last year, I made her chocolate crinckles cookies and it was a hit among her real little nieces and nephews. One big jar of cookies. This year I decided to bake cut-out cookies for her, like those sugar cookies nicely decorated with royal icing. We often have it in our Christmas, why not do the same for Eid al-Fitr? I bet her nieces and nephews will love them also. My plan was to make shapes of mosque, ketupat (traditional packed rice cooked in little woven young coconut leaves pouch), camels, or anything related to Moslem religion or culture. With more than 80% of the population is Islam, I thought it would not be difficult to find cookie cutter in those shapes. Well, I was wrong! It's easier to find cookie cutters with different shapes of christmas tree, snowman, bell, star... Fortunately, I found some animal cookie cutters, which was perfect as an alternative. Well, it was not the first time I made cut-out cookies, but it was the first time to decorate them. I know I don't have steady hands and fingers, so don't be disapointed to see how "not that neat" I played with those different colors of icing sugar.

Sugar Cookies 4
Hmmm... yes, I forgot some of the small details.. cats and pandas without noses and mouths..
This is the Sugar Cookies recipe I used, which turned out very nice. I didn't make any changes in the recipe because I was quite convinced with all those nice reviews. I just added more description on some of the instruction to make it clearer for you. It has nice taste with just perfect sweetness, soft, buttery, and crumbled easily in the mouth, but strong enough to hold its shapes when cooked and cooled, and even stronger with the royal icing on them. The dough was a bit difficult to handle and i have to put it in a fridge most of the time and only took some amount to roll and cut in shapes. Well, I live in a hot tropical country anyway...

For the Royal Icing, I followed recipe from this video. The recipe is more than enough to decorate cookies from two or three batches of the above sugar cookies recipe. So if you plan to only bake once, simply make half recipe of this royal icing. Oh, I added two tablespoon of lemon juice for one recipe to give a hint of acid taste to balance the sweetness a little bit.

Sugar Cookies 3
My favourite, a Red Cross ambulance

Sugar Cookies 6
... another two layers, and off to go to cheer  the Eid al-Fitr up
For the Sugar Cookies :
(The Best Rolled Sugar Cookies from allrecipes.com)

1 1/2 cups butter, softened
2 cups confectioners sugar, shieved to get avoid of lumps
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs one at a time, and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour (or overnight).

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Roll out dough on floured surface 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Cut into shapes with any cookie cutter. Place cookies 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets or parchment paper.

Bake 8-10 minutes in preheated oven until the edges are slightly browned. Cool completely, and decorate with royal icing

For the Royal Icing
(adapted from Dani's Royal Icing recipe video)

1/2 cup of meringue powder
1 cup of cold water
2 lbs (860 g) confectioners sugar
2 tbsp of lemon juice

Using a hand mixer, beat together meringue powder, water and lemon juice to a smooth texture, removing air bubbles, and swirling the mixer to get at the edges of the bowl.

Beat in confectioners sugar, starting slowly, then increase speed until combined. Brush down sides of bowl and the bottom with a spatula to make sure all ingredients are incorporated and icing has a ribbon-like consistency.

Transfer to several containers and add food colorings as desired. If not using immediately, cover air-tight and store at room temperature. Icing will last a couple of weeks until it starts to dry out. Re-mix briefly when ready to use

Notes:
If the icing is too thick, add water, about 1 tbsp at a time, and beat until the water is thoroughly combined.  If icing is too thin, add more confectioners sugar.


Sugar Cookies 2
You see... ?  I don't have steady hands

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