Monday, April 5, 2010

Pretty in pink

The forecast for today said chance of rain with a high of 57 degrees and a low of 44.  Yesterday, Easter Sunday (one of my favorite days of the year not only because it marks the arrival of Spring but even more so because of all it really means), the weather was cold and rainy.  Could someone remind me what time of the year this is?  I've always loved rain and colder weather--during the right season--but now I'm itching for Spring to come full bloom so I can let my (pasty) legs see some sun finally.  I've even prepared my wardrobe for Spring with floral prints, but instead I am wrapped up in turtle necks and wool coats.   

Regardless of the weather condition, Spring always says "girly" to me.  It anticipates freshness, flowing flowery dresses and pink tulips.  For a bridal shower I helped throw recently, we pulled out all the stops and celebrated all the girlishness that is appropriate (and possibly bearable) for a bridal shower in the Spring.  The theme was *pink*, and we showed little restraint in how we used the color: pink table cloths, pink plates, pink cups, pink napkins, shower games on pink paper, pink desserts, all a la Martha Stewart.  Only after the shower was over did I check with the bride-to-be on whether she even liked the color pink, which to my relief, she said she did.  Or maybe she was being nice.

My contribution to the shower consisted of yellow cupcakes with pink buttercream and pink sprinkles and pink frosted heart-shaped sugar cookies for the guests to bring home--tied up with a pretty pink bow, of course.  The recipe I used is my favorite sugar cookie recipe which consistently yields what I think is the perfect texture (a little soft but very buttery).  Someone even said it was better than the sugar cookies from a well-known bakery in the area.  I don't think I'm someone who needs many compliments, but hearing stuff like that makes me all giddy inside. 

Sugar cookies with royal icing
Adapted from Sherry Yard's The Secrets of Baking
Makes about 18 4" heart-shaped cookies

1.  Cream the following with an electric mixer on low to medium until light:
- 12 T. (1-1/2 sticks) of unsalted butter

2.  Add the following and continue creaming on medium:
- 1/2 cup of sugar
- 1/4 t. of salt
- 1 t. vanilla extract

3.  Mix in the following, one at a time, each until combined and scraping down the bowl in between:
- 1 large egg
- 1-3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

4.  Once the dough is evenly combined, wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour.  When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350F degrees with the rack positioned to the lower third of the oven.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper.  Roll out the dough to about 1/3" thickness and cut into your shape of choice using cookie cutters.  Place on the baking sheet about 1" apart.  It's helpful to refrigerate the cut-out cookie dough about 15 minutes before baking to prevent the cookies from losing their shape when they bake.

5.  Place one baking sheet in the oven and bake for approximately 13 minutes or until firm and very lightly brown on the edges.  Transfer cookies to a rack to cool.

6.  To make the royal icing, combine the following in mixing bowl with an electric mixer on low:
- 1 large egg white (I sometimes use powdered egg whites since I can be a little paranoid about salmonella poisoning)
- 1 t. of lemon juice or vanilla
- 1-1/2 cups powdered sugar
Once the mixture is smooth, the consistency should be ideal for piping.  To spread, add 1 t. of water at a time and continue mixing until the frosting thins out but is still thick enough to spread on the cookies.