Tuesday, October 13, 2009

My Cookies are Vulgar and Offensive

Dear Tricia, Why don't my cookies seem to hold their shape? I want some of the kind you get from a cookie bouquet, but my cookies always spread and look rather vulgar. Or maybe I'm just dirty and think they look vulgar...

Yes, you are vulgar. And frankly, without a little bit of vulgarity, you probably wouldn't read my blog... so don't worry too much about it because I'm certainly not fussing about a little naughtiness.
Let me back up for a second and explain what cookie bouquets are to those who have never lived in the suburbs, or to anyone born after 1994. Cookie bouquets are basic shortbread cookies that are cut into different shapes, baked on lollipop sticks or dowel rods, stuck in a basket, and decorated with colorful frosting. They're meant to look like a bouquet of flowers, but surprise! You can eat them. How clever. In the 90's you saw Cookie Bouquet franchise bakeries that popped up in strip malls all over America, only to close down a few years later. I predict that the cupcake bakery trend is soon to follow. Sorry, Sprinkles Cupcakes. Your overpriced treats can't fool me or the economy.
A traditional cookie recipe focuses mainly on flavor and texture, so they're guaranteed to spread out to give you a non-descript blob to decorate. Cookie bouquet cookies are meant for looks, so there is a specific recipe that you need to follow to give you a sturdy, firm, non-vulgar product that won't change shape when it bakes. To get this recipe, I contacted my Aunt Mary, cake-decorator extraordinaire and cookie bouquet expert. (She also used to make my birthday cakes when I was a kid, including a super sweet Ziggy cake, c. 1987.) This is the recipe she swears by:

3 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. Salt
1 1/2 cups Sugar
2 sticks (8 oz) butter or margarine
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp. Vanilla

Mix flour, baking powder and salt in medium bowl. Set aside.
Cream margarine and sugar until just combined .
Add eggs, one at a time until well blended.
Add vanilla.
Add flour mixture a little at a time until all ingredients are blended.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour.
Roll dough out 1/4" thick. Cut out shapes. (This makes cookies thick enough to push skewers into the cookie dough to make cookie bouquets).
Bake at 350' for 8-10 minutes (until cookie edge turns light brown). Dough can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.

This is a very simple recipe to follow, but I just wanted to stress a few things, and you should already know them if you're a regular reader:
You have to preheat your oven. To quote myself in one of my older blog posts, "Is your oven pre-heated? While a hot oven will force a cake into its submission and make it rise like no one's business, an oven that's not done pre-heating will basically just sip a cocktail, nudge your cake and ask, "Do you want to bake or what? Yeah, I didn't think so." Just let the oven do its work and wait until its hot before you put anything in.
Do not over-cream your butter and sugar. With cakes and cupcakes, you need to cream butter and sugar until they're light and fluffy, but with cookies, its a really bad idea (just like that train wreck of a reality show, Keeping Up With the Kardashians. Why are those people famous again?) because it makes the cookies spread out and get really flat. Then weird, blobby vulgarity ensues, and that's exactly what you're trying to avoid here, right? (Wait... let me double check... um.... yes, that's what you wrote me for.)
Apparently these cookies freeze really well after they're baked, so if you're really busy you can make them ahead of time and decorate them later. I definitely fall into that category, seeing as how I just downloaded two new games for my Wii. Seriously, there just aren't enough hours in the day.
For more edible vulgarity, please go check out my best friend's erotic candy company, Randi Candies, at www.randicandies.com. The gummy boobs are delicious.

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