Last night was Little Miss’s birthday party – even though, yes, her birthday is in August. We found over the years that too many of her friends travel and are out of town in August, so she ends up with only a few children at her party when she has it then. The idea was to have it right after school gets out so that more friends are able to join her.
Once we settled on that, it was time to think about the goodie bags. Personally, I hate them. H.A.T.E them. They are almost always full of little toys that break instantly or all sorts of junk foods we don’t eat. I love doing craft type parties because then the craft is the goodie bag – like with Mister Man’s ornaments we made this past year.
Since we were having a jumping party, I went with the theme of frogs. We weren’t going to have time to do anything crafty, but I could at least find something that wouldn’t be too useless. I found some really cute frogs squeezy balls whose eyes pop out. Fun and silly, but not total junk. I also got a bunch of frog tattoos because, really, who doesn’t love tattoos? (Don’t answer that.) And then I decided to make cookies to put into the goodie bags.
It took me awhile to find frog shaped cookie cutters, but I finally did. The end product turned out ok – they tasted great because I used my favorite adapted sugar cookie recipe, and they actually looked sorta cute. Best of all, they were dairy free since I made them that way, but you can make them with butter instead, and they’re just as yummy.
Super Sugar Cookies
10 T Earth Balance or other butter substitute (or unsalted butter, softened)
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 t vanilla extract
1 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
2 cups flour
Directions (note that this is a refrigerated dough, so plan ahead):
Beat butter (substitute) and sugar until they are creamy and have come back together. The color is lightened, too.
Add egg and vanilla, and mix to combine. Once it’s mixed together and won’t splatter liquid out, turn it up to high again for another thirty or so seconds to get it nice and fluffy. This is one of the secrets of light cookies.
Add the salt and baking powder, and mix well. Then add the flour, and stir slowly until it’s combined.
Create two flat disks, wrapped in plastic. The flatter they are now, the easier it will be to roll them and shape them later. Chill 2 hours or overnight in your fridge. Don’t let them sit much longer than that, or they’ll start to dry out and get crumbly when you want to roll them.
Roll dough and cut into shapes. You can reroll the scraps to make more cookies, but try to get as many cookies onto each cutting as possible so that you aren’t rolling out the scraps too many times.
Bake on ungreased cookie sheets – and this is one time I really do the plain cookie sheet and not my sil pat – in a preheated 350 degree oven until edges are golden, about 7-9 minutes. Cool the cookies on your sheets 5 minutes, then transfer to racks to cool completely
Once they are totally cooled, have fun decorating. I did a batch of cooked icing (I like to cook my frostings and icings, as I think they taste better that way) that I tinted green (thank you Wilton for making such great colors and so easy to use!), another batch that I kept white to make froggy eyes, which I then turned into chocolate for the pupils and to decorate Little Miss’s cake after making it thicker.
To make icing, it’s pretty simply. Put in some butter (substitute) and melt it, add a little bit of milk (rice, soy, coconut, regular, etc), then add powdered sugar until it’s the consistency you like. You can also add vanilla, which I generally do, though I didn’t want the brown to adulterate my colors, so I left it out except for the chocolate at the end.
When I am icing cookies, I keep it very thin. Remove it from the heat, and let it sit a few minutes to come down in temperature. Then stir it well. I dip the cookie face down in the icing, then use a fine spatula to scrape off the excess icing. For detail work, I use an ice tea spoon to drip or – if I have more time and motivation – thicken it slightly then put it in a bag an snip off the end to do more fine detail.
My frogs turned out cute. They may have needed a little more decoration – a smile would have been nice, as would spots on their backs and some darker green detailing of their legs, but … well, I’ll show you tomorrow why I don’t decorate cakes. I can make things taste awesome, but looking pretty is a bit beyond my skill level!