Chef and baker Andrea Soave Nadeau is here to help with a new Small Bites video. She bakes and sells her elegant cookies at her Carina e Dolce Specialty Cakes & Cookies in Cranston. We know our cookies will just never look like her Santas, Star Wars' stormtroopers, envelopes to the North Pole or stars, but we sure can try.
First, she made both Tahitian Vanilla Sugar Cookies and Gingerbread Cookies. And she made them big. That helps with creating a canvas.
It was all flour, butter and sugar swirling around her Wonder Woman-decorated stand mixer in the demo kitchen at Hope & Main, the culinary business incubator in Warren where The Journal and our partner, the Providence and Warwick Convention & Visitors Bureau, film the videos.
Then she showed how to make the magic happen. It starts with the right textures of royal icing. You need to make two batches: stiff, for outlining and detail work, and one she calls "floody," for filling in big spaces on cookies. They then go in piping bags ... so many piping bags, if you really want to use many colors and create a scene.
With a steady hand she outlines the cookies. Then, in a perfect world, she lets the icing set for hours, even overnight, before doing the second level of decoration and detail. She starts with a plan and she follows it. But that drying between each stage is key.
"That's why you always have to have two projects going," she said. One can be baking more cookies and the other decorating.
Her go-to tool is an offset spatula. It's the way to pick up stamped dough to transfer it to the cookie sheet with no marks.
Tahitian Vanilla Sugar Cookies
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 cups all-purpose flour (1 cup additional for processing)
Combine softened butter and sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment, combine until fluffy and lightened in color, scraping down occasionally. Add in eggs, vanilla and salt and mix again until combined. Add in baking powder and flour and mix only until dough comes together. Dough will be slightly sticky. Turn dough out onto plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.
Remove dough after 1 hour and lightly flour counter surface and rolling pin. Knead half of remaining into dough and roll to about 1/4-inch thickness.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and begin stamping cookies to cut out in desired shapes. Return cookies to refrigerator to chill for 20 minutes while heating oven to 325 degrees. Bake 13–15 minutes until golden brown.
Remove and cool completely before decorating.
Meringue (Royal) Icing
- 5 tablespoons meringue powder
- 2 pounds confectioner’s sugar
- 3/4 cup water
Combine meringue powder and sugar in a mixer. Combine with a paddle attachment on slow speed. With the mixer on, slowly add water until smooth, about 1 minute. Increase speed and mix until glossy and holds soft peaks, about 3 minutes, Transfer to a container with a tight fitting lid until ready to use. Tint and transfer to disposable piping bag.
Note: Soave-Nadeau buys meringue powder at Walmart.
- 1/2 cup unsalted, softened butter
- 1/2 granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon cloves
- 2/3 cup molasses
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (½ cup additional for processing)
Add butter and sugar to the bowl of stand mixer with paddle attachment. Mix until light and fluffy. Add in egg, salt, baking soda, spices and combine. Add in molasses and mix thoroughly. Scrape down and add in flour and mix until dough comes together. Turn out onto plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Dough will be sticky, even after refrigeration.
To stamp cookies with cookie cutters: Sprinkle flour onto counter surface and knead dough with remaining 1/2 cup of flour. Add a bit more flour to the surface of a rolling pin and counter. Roll out dough to 1/2-inch thickness and stamp shapes. Dough will puff up a bit when baking. Then transfer to parchment lined sheets. Return to the refrigerator to chill to keep their shape.
Bake in a 325 degree oven for about 15 minutes or until cookie surface is set. Cool completely before decorating.