Glazed and Embroidered Sugar Cookies

IMG_3244.jpg

I've made a lot of sugar cookies over the years, but these might be my favorite! I made these ahead of time for my Galentine's Day party, freezing the glazed cookies, and then decorated them with buttercream frosting before the party. I used this sugar cookie recipe which is my favorite because it is so light and airy. I rolled the dough out to a 1/4 of an inch cut them out using a 3-inch fluted cutter, but you could do any shape you want--squares, rectangles, hearts, stars, etc. After the cookies cooled completely I glazed them with a light pink glaze, dipping them in the icing by hand before letting them drip-dry on a cooling rack lined with parchment below for easy clean up. 

Pink Glaze 

  • 3 cups powdered sugar 
  • 3 tablespoons light corn syrup 
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon meringue powder 
  • gel food coloring 

To make the glaze, combine wet ingredients in bowl. Slowly sift in powdered sugar and meringue powder, whisking by hand or using a hand mixer on low speed. Add food coloring last for desired shade. Use immediately. Let cookies dry 1 hour, until they appear slightly matte can be touched without disturbing the glaze. You can freeze them, separating each cookie with a small piece of parchment so they don't stick, or you can decorate them. If you freeze them, take allow them to come to room temperature for 2 hours before decorating. The glaze will look very wet when you first defrost them, but it will dry out and your cookies will look like you just frosted them!

IMG_3230.jpg

For the buttercream, the consistency should be very stiff. Combine powdered sugar and butter in a 3:1 ratio (I did 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar and 1/2 cup softened butter). Add 1/2 teaspoon almond or vanilla flavoring. Divide white frosting into bowls and and dye with gel food coloring to desired shades--I did 3 pink shades and reserved some for white. Transfer to piping bags each with a different tip--I did 3 star tips, some open and some closed, and a round tip for the white. 

IMG_3232.jpg

The key with these cookies is to not have them look "too" perfect. Play around with the amount of each color, and the spacing of the dots. It looks best when the are all slightly different in my opinion! To make frosting them all easier, I went in rapid succession with each color, as seen below. To finish, I took silver nonpareils and placed one on top of each white dot for a little extra bling. 

Overall these were delicious and tasted like that Valentine's Day sugar cookie you remember from grade school as a kid! I can't wait to try different color variations for different holidays! I think red, white, and blue would be super cute for the 4th! 

IMG_3229.jpg
IMG_3242.jpg
IMG_3237.jpg

"Naked" Cake with Flowers

IMG_1348.jpg

When I told my friend I was making a naked cake she thought I was baking it naked...I promise I wasn't! Naked cakes have been huge all over pinterest and instagram the past couple years, and it has been on my list to try one for over a long time. Throwing a Galentine's Day party with some friends was the perfect excuse to try it! I like that it is a little more rustic while still keeping those smooth edges on the outside. I also like that you don't have to use as much icing, because the amount of icing you have to use on a cake normally to get that smooth finish can be a little overwhelming in terms of sweetness overload. I used Molly Yeh's funfetti cake recipe with adjustments and made a tall, 9-inch 4-layer cake with strawberry cream cheese frosting inside. I love this cake recipe because it always bakes flat and also because it never sticks to the pan. I decided to go with the cream cheese filling because I didn't want it to be too sweet. I used Krazy Kool Cake's white buttercream for the outside. Flowers are really the aspect that sets the cake apart. You could totally do it yourself by getting some floral tape and a couple of bouquets from Trader Joes, but because I was short on time I went to a local flower shop (Orchid Dynasty) and told them I wanted 3 mini bouquets (corsage-sized) for a cake. They were amazing and gave me exactly what I had in mind. Overall this cake sliced up beautifully, the crumb was dense and moist, and the strawberry cream cheese was a nice contrast. I brought the extras to the ER as a midday snack for all the doctors, nurses, and techs stuck working on Saturday.

Of note, I didn't do a great job documenting making this cake, but I have lots of photos making other cakes in the index if you need more guidance. I mostly focused on photos of the final result! 

White Cake (adapted from molly yeh, makes four 9-inch layers) 

  • 4 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 8 egg whites
  • 2 tablespoons clear vanilla extract
  • seeds from 1 vanilla bean 
  • 12 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 5 cups cake flour 
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • nonstick spray and parchment rounds 

Strawberry Cream cheese filling

  • 4 oz cream cheese
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter 
  • 1 cup pureed frozen or fresh strawberries 
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla 
  • 1 pinch salt 

hard white icing (from krazy kool cakes)

  • 1 cup high ratio shortening (NOT crisco!) 
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon butter extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, preferably clear
  • 1 teaspoon salt 
  • 1 tablespoon meringue powder
  • 5 tablespoons milk 

Cake and filling instructions

Preheat oven to 350. Cake can be made up to 10 days in advance and you can freeze the cooled cakes in your freezer (which is what I did). Start by sifting dry ingredients together. In a separate bowl, beat softened butter on low speed for 1 minute. Add sugar and mix on low speed until fluffy. Add egg whites, one at a time, scraping down sides of the bowl after every 2 additions. Add extracts and vanilla bean seeds. Add dry ingredients in 4 parts, alternating with dry ingredients and 1/2 cup milk each time. Scrape down sides of bowl 1 last time and mix for 30 additional seconds. Now, here is where you can really up your cake game: to get perfectly even-sized layers, take your kitchen scale and place a clean bowl on top, zero out scale. Transfer batter, weighing in grams. Note the total amount of batter, and divide by 4. This is how many grams each of the four layers should be. Fit the bottom of a 9 inch pan with a round of parchment paper, and spray the sides with nonstick spray. Add batter using kitchen scale, adding the amount calculated above. Bake for 20-25 minutes, keeping a close eye, until the middle is set and a knife comes out clean. Begin checking at 20 minutes, as you don't want a dried-out cake. Once a cake tester or knife comes out clean, allow cake to cool in pan before transferring to a cooling rack. Cakes can be chilled in fridge before decorating or frozen for 10 days (wrap in 2 layers of plastic wrap + 1 layer of tin foil to prevent freezer burn). Repeat weighing and baking steps for the additional 3 layers. 

For the filling, start by thawing your berries if they are frozen. Once thawed, puree them using a blender or food processor. You don't want them so pulverized they are complete liquid, but you don't want it super chunky either--6 or so pulses should do the trick. Next, take your room temp cream cheese and butter and blend with mixer on medium speed until mixed. Add 1 cup of powdered sugar, followed by a couple tablespoons of the strawberry mixture. Repeat until all powdered sugar and strawberries have been added. Scrape down bowl and add vanilla and salt, mix on medium speed for 1 additional minute. Frosting should be stiff but spreadable. You can use immediately or keep in fridge inside tupperware for 1 week. 

Assembly 

To make your outside "hard" frosting, start by beating 1 cup of shortening on medium speed in a bowl. Add meringue powder, salt, and flavorings. Next add powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time--it will spray and get messy, so be forewarned--I hate this part! After half of the powdered sugar has been added, add the milk. Scrape down the sides of the bowl before adding the rest of the powdered sugar. Frosting should be stiff and you should use it immediately for best results. 

Start by taking your chilled cakes out of the freezer or fridge (I get the best results from freezing them!). Unwrap 1 layer and place flat side down on spinning cake stand if you have one, or regular cake stand. With your hard white icing in a ziplock bag with tip cut off, pipe a thick layer of white icing around periphery. Fill the inside with a generous layer of strawberry filling (see pictures below). This keeps the strawberry icing from leaking out to the outside. Place 2nd cake layer, flat side up, on top. If you notice one of your cakes is lopsided, try to compensate by adding extra frosting on the thin side to "boost" it up. Repeat with white icing periphery and inner strawberry filling. Place 3rd layer on top, flat side down. Add one last layer of white icing and strawberry filling and place final (4th) layer on top, flat side UP. 

IMG_3224.jpg
IMG_3228.jpg

At this point you have a quadruple layer cake. Take your piping bag with white icing and pipe icing anywhere you can see pink frosting peeping through. Next, take a butter knife or offset spatula and add white frosting around entire cake in a thin layer, paying particular attention to filling in gaps between cake layers. Add a thicker layer on top. Make sure you don't skimp on the bottom layer--cover all those nooks and crannies. Next, take a bench scraper and align the scraper to your cake at a perfect 90-degree angle. Start scraping down cake, putting excess frosting in a separate bowl (there will be crumbs in it). Fill in holes with extra icing as needed, and repeat scraping down until you have a perfectly smooth outside to your cake, with 4 layers of cake peeking through the icing. For the top, heat up a mug of water in the microwave until it is steaming hot. Take an offset spatula and dip it in the water before wiping it off with a paper towel, and while it is still hot, smooth the top, working from the center while spinning the cake. Re-dip spatula as needed in hot water. At this point, the cake should be kept in the fridge if you aren't going to serve it immediately.

Flowers should be added right before you are going to have it on display/serve it, as the flowers will have no water supply and will wilt overnight if you put them on too soon. (Pro-tip--ask your florist for a hydration box to keep them fresh overnight). I put two small bunches on top, and a smaller bunch on the bottom. I didn't secure them with anything and they stayed right where I wanted them! 

IMG_3325.jpg
IMG_3274.jpg
IMG_3259.jpg
IMG_3268.jpg
IMG_3271.jpg
IMG_3338.jpg
IMG_1350.jpg
IMG_3378.jpg

Thanks for reading!