My new “skill”

[Note: there are 37 minutes until 9:00, when I shall leave to go get coffee, or else my day will be screwed, yet again. Especially since today I do not get a lunch break, but instead leave at 12:30 for class. So I need to remember to get hot water for Ramen at 11 or 11:30, because any later than that will not allow sufficient time for the Ramen to cool, and I will burn my tongue. Lesson learned. I’d get “real” lunch, but since I don’t get a break it makes it difficult. I need to be on the 12:40 bus to get to class on time, preferably earlier, and last week when I left at 12:10 to get lunch and coffee and catch the bus, I ended up without time to eat the food I’d gotten. So what was the point in that?]

As was my goal, I finished the gingerbread cookies this weekend and learned how to use Royal Icing. What is the big deal about Royal Icing? Well, it dries hard, so it’s much sturdier than Buttercream. It doesn’t taste as good (though you can add some flavoring extracts to help with that), but looks so much better. Also, if you’re making cut-out cookies that tend to break, it’s great for gluing them back together. It’s often used as the glue for gingerbread houses.

Anyways, Friday night I outlined the cookies. All my recipes said to use a parchment paper cone instead of a plastic bag (the kind you can buy at the store just for the purpose of decorating with icing), so I tried that and it totally didn’t work for me. I used a bag. The only problem I had there was that my icing turned out a little more rectangular and ribbon-like than rounded, but in the end it didn’t matter. You’re not supposed to use tips because they can get clogged or something, but next time I’m going to try using one anyways. As you’ll see later in the story, I made other modifications as well.

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Maybe you can tell from this photo, but I couldn't until later: none of the 3D cookies actually fit together. Not a one. So when I bring them in to work tomorrow, instead of being impressed with my mad baking skills, my co-workers will be rather confused as to what shapes they are exactly eating, and why.

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I almost forgot to snap pictures of the outlined cookies before filling them in on Saturday.

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...

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Here's the finished version of the decorated cookies.

The gel dye for icing is so much nicer than the liquid stuff. Look at those bright colors! The box of 8 colors was somewhere between $5 and 10 at Michaels, and I highly recommend it, since it will last forever. You add the dye to the icing with a toothpick, that’s how little you use. Nice that with the Royal Icing you don’t really use that much anyways.

I did the Christmas trees first and am most proud of them. I wish they fit together, because they’d be so cute! Here’s how I did the flood-filling. My instructions said I should water down the icing to the proper consistency (which was described various ways in my multiple cookbooks and online), put it in a parchment cone ( actually figured out how it was supposed to be done, so I tried it this way), and fill in the outline, using a small brush to get it out to the edges and into the corners. Well, the “proper consistency” as described in the book I was using was way too thick, and my icing didn’t spread at all. I removed it from the cookie, ditched the cone, and tried again. I thinned the icing down more, and just used a spoon to carefully drop the icing into the outline, and then used a toothpick to move it to the edges. It worked really well.

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It was time consuming, but I'm guessing that the other way would have been as well.

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I'm a little disappointed in my edible glitter, which was supposed to look like snow but was clear and so didn't stand out that much. Maybe I was supposed to get white? Maybe I did and it's just no good? I'm not sure, and I'll have to look into that. It looked good on the snowmen, but on the sled (the large red pieces, and the green ones that look like T-shirts), it just gets lost on the color.

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The snowmen were also super-cute, though I'm not sure you can tell in this photo. Boring, perhaps, but I had 9 sets, and only three were all white. (Or maybe I had 12, and 6 were all white. I can't remember.)

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I tried to follow the instructions in one of my decorating books for swirling two colors together. It didn't exactly turn out right, and the red "skirt" looks like it's flaming up into the shirt, but whatever. Still a cool effect.

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One of my favorite shots of the icing drying. It takes a long time for Royal Icing to dry.

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I left these out overnight, and they were totally done by morning. It probably wouldn't have taken that long, but I didn't really want to get up at 3 am to check on them. The cookies were hard then, but I put them back into the plastic container and they softened up.
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So here's what my co-workers are getting tomorrow (today I had to bring schoolwork etc in my bag, and didn't really feel like carrying anything additional with me).

I also tried decorating the little angels (no pictures) with white chocolate, as described in one of my books. Totally didn’t turn out cute at all. Tasty, but flawed technique. I’ll have to try again some other time. Plus, the problem with using melted chocolate is that you essentially have to refrigerate the cookies then, at least for a while until the chocolate hardens.

Saturday was my immensely productive day, as you can see. I got up, put on workout clothes, drove to the bank to change my name, was turned away because I forgot the stupid marriage license (probably the only time I’ll ever refer to it that way), signed up for a library card, drove home, searched the whole house for said marriage license (it took nearly half an hour to find it), drove back to the bank, changed my name, drove to the gym, worked the machines, came home, took a shower, and ate lunch. Whew! Then I did the rest of my homework. After dinner I iced the cookies. There was also time to play Super Mario Galaxy. No time for knitting. I hope to get back on that soon.

Sunday I did almost nothing. I almost cleaned up the paperwork in the kitchen (and by that I mean I organized it into two stacks and moved it off the counter to the table). I did vacuum and Swiffer Vac (since the vacuum doesn’t work on the hardwood floors and the Swiffer Vac doesn’t do carpets). The kitchen is clean (joint effort there). I put away my shoes and a few other things.

Tonight I need to do laundry. Today I am wearing pants that, well, I really shouldn’t be – they’re too tight (my butt looks awesome though), and are too short, which really irks me – but it was either that or black dress pants which meant having to wear my black dress shoes and I just didn’t want to. So instead I’m wearing my brown clogs. With a charcoal sweater. Yeah. If I numerated the color/fashion faux-pas I made last week, well, we just don’t have time for that. Let’s just say there was a lot of black with brown, as well as other color combinations that probably shouldn’t have happened.

I also need to do some homework, work on that stack of paperwork, and go to the gym. And I’m making dinner, which should be easy, since the chicken has been marinading since last night in the fridge (Tandoori Chicken, from The Newlywed Cookbook). I could swear there’s something else I need to do too, but I can’t remember what it is at the moment. Oh, that’s right. and I picked out three more types of cookies to make this week and bought the ingredients, so I should attempt to make up some of those tonight. We’ll see. I did get up and out of bed before he did this morning, so that bodes well for my future productivity. Hopefully class won’t sap that out of me.

[Note: there are now 4 minutes until 9.  I could actually do this right today!]