22 Oct Musical Cookies
I collect hobbies. I see someone doing something and I want to know all about it. I’m not sure if this is a symptom of my type A personality or my ADD… maybe a little bit of both. But either way, the result is that I am a jack of all trades, master of none. I play several instruments, am proficient at photography, and can even make balloon animals if you were interested. Every now and then, there comes a time when several of my hobbies converge and the results can be pretty nifty.
As I mentioned in a previous post, I was recently approached to make some saxophone and grand piano sugar cookies. Having played music for my entire life, I was thrilled. The biggest challenge of this project was finding the right cookie cutters… which I never did. I ended up using a cookie cutter making kit to create both the piano and the saxophone. The next step is to make your sugar cookies with the below recipe. I found that two batches made about 55 saxophones and 48 grand pianos.
While the cookies cooled, I made one full batch of Antonia 74’s Royal Icing. This was enough icing for all of the sugar cookies, but I didn’t have any left over so there was no room for error.
I split my icing into two parts: one for the saxophones and the other for the pianos. For the saxophones, I needed an antique gold color. This proved somewhat difficult, considering that I didn’t have an antique gold dye. I read somewhere on the internet that I should make my icing a “golden yellow” and add an EXTREMELY SMALL amount of “leaf green“. The second that I added the green to my gorgeous yellow color, I knew I had made a horrible mistake. It went from a pale yellow to a sickly green color. Like, really green. I was seriously freaking out, because I was convinced that there was no way that I could redeem the color. I ended up adding a tiny bit of orange dye and some more white icing and somehow it bounced back. Whenever you’re adding dye to your royal icing, keep in mind that the color will darken some after some time passes.
I thinned down my antique gold using warm water (only add a little at a time and then mix to make sure not to oversaturate your icing) until it was flooding consistency. This means that it will take about 20 seconds to settle when it’s stirred in a bowl. I poured the icing into a bottle that I use for flooding and I was ready to go. Normally, I will outline my cookies if the pattern is complicated, but this time around, the pattern was simple so I piped the body of the saxophone. After the first layer of icing was dry (about 5 hours), I added some white icing to my remaining yellow icing to create a stiffer consistency for piping the keys. To pipe the keys, I put the icing in a piping bag with a #1 Wilton tip. I honestly wasn’t sure of the best way to pipe the keys on, so I just made it up as I went along. After all of the keys dried, I went back with some gold pearl dust (that was mixed with a few drops of lemon juice) and painted on the detailing.
The piano presented a special challenge. I absolutely can’t stand when icing dyes my mouth weird colors. There’s nothing worse than eating a cupcake and realizing that your mouth is so blue that you look like you chowed down on a smurf. Unfortunately, black is one of those colors that will stain your teeth and tongue (a hideous green color, actually). I tend to advise people to stay away from the all-black cookie. On top of the staining issue, black is also a difficult color to achieve. It takes an obscene amount of dye to make it a true black, and by that time your icing will taste tinny.
After a lot of research, I stumbled upon a post by LilaLoa who had made these gorgeous “back to school” cookies with some black icing. She outlines an ingenious way to create black icing (IT INVOLVES CHOCOLATE!!!!!!) that both tastes good and won’t stain mouths (at least not as much). I didn’t follow her recipe exactly, but it still worked out really well for me. I took about a half of a cup of cocoa powder and mixed water in (just enough to saturate it) and then mixed the cocoa into my royal icing. With a lot of stirring, I ended up with a dark-ish brown royal icing. It’s a lot easier to get black icing when you start with brown. The amount of black dye that I mixed in was minimal compared to what I usually have to do and it tasted fantastic. I added a little bit more water to create a flooding consistency. I also mixed some gray icing to a piping consistency and set aside the remainder white icing for the piano keys.
Using a piping bag and a #1 Wilton tip, I outlined the pattern for the piano. Once that was dry, I flooded the cookie with the black icing, but left the keys empty. At the same time, I went ahead and used the black icing to pipe little mouthpieces on the saxophone cookies. I used the white icing to flood the keys. For the black piano keys, I waited until the icing was dry and used an edible black pen to draw them in. You can see the entire process in the video below.