Friday, September 7, 2012

Easy Fall Decorated Cookies {rolled chocolate}

First off I should probably to let you know, I'm really not a cookie decorater. As much as I love to swoon over the beautiful cookies I see all over the web, it's not my thing. Don't get me wrong I love to bake cookies and decorating them is even more fun, but it takes lots and lots of practice to really get it down and I just don't make enough cookies to do so. I always have to be doing something else, changing it up ya know. Sometimes I think I have the attention span of a two year old. Every once in a while I'll get an itch and I've got to make a few cookies...and I get a little better each time but still no Sugar Belle. So if your one of those with an amazing royal icing hand, please avert your eyes now :).

 I really wasn't going to share these cookies at all...they were not what I had envisioned and I ended up going the easy route. But after all was said and done they were really yummy, perfect for fall, and easy to make. Since I get so many questions about rolled cookies I thought why the heck not share them. Really they are a great start for beginner cookie enthusiast or for those of you that have always wanted to know how the heck they get that smooth icing on there. Maybe you'll pick up a thing or two about rolling cookies as well. If nothing else this chocolate cookie recipe had to be passed on.

I recently found this set of cookie cutters at Micheal's and despite the fact that they are meant to make a grave yard I thought fall trees! I could make some pretty cute cookies with those fall leaf sprinkles I have. I had to bring a treat to fall bible study kick off this week and I thought what a perfect time to make them! Everything went smoothly right up until the know those leaf ones I was talking about, turns out I didn't have any after all. Remove apron, hang head, get in car, drive to Micheal's, buy smaller not as cute version, drive home, re-think plan, be happy with simpler cookies (that's pretty much how it went).

The little cutters I used are also a set from Wilton, they can be found just about anywhere this time of year. I just saw them at Michael's, Wal-Mart, and Target this week.

Now about the cookie...I used a new to me chocolate rolled cookie this time by LilaLoa called The End-All for Chocolate Cookie Recipe. I promise they live up to their name. My husband was a skeptic because he loves the normal chocolate one I use, but this one was honestly better or shall we say, "on point". These little guys cooked up almost perfect the recipe was easy and quick - no chilling even. Soft, chewy, hello treadmill good. Visit her site for more info on them...and while your add it check out all her other amazingness.

First let's bake those cookies! Here's what your going to need:


1 cup butter
1/4 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
2/3 cup cocoa
3 or 3 1/2 cups flour

Royal Icing
4 cups powdered sugar
3 TBS meringue powder
6 TBS warm water 
Brown and black gel food coloring

Other items needed: 
Wax paper
Dusting flour
2 1/4 in doll rod
Rolling pin
Cookie sheet
Cooling rack
Parchment paper
Icing bottle

With one batch I was able to make 24 tree cookies and about 24 small leafs.

Step 1: Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Step 2: Cream together butter, shortening, and sugar. Add in the eggs and vanilla, mix well. Add in baking powder and salt, mix well. Add in cocoa powder, mix again. until well blended. Now add in flour 1 cup at a time. If you are going to be making it right away add 3 1/2 cups if your going to be letting it chill to make later just add 3. 

**For more tips and info on this recipe visit her orginal post here.**

Step 3: Prep the workspace. Here is how I roll out my cookies to get a smooth even cookie. I use two flour dusted pieces of wax paper, 2 1/4 inch doll rods, and a rolling pin.

Step 3: Lay dough on to flour dusted wax paper and place second piece flour side down on top of dough. Lay doll rods on each side then roll out the dough with your rolling pin. The rolling in will eventually roll along top of the doll rods making all you dough the same height and the wax paper will keep your dough super smooth.

Kinda an ah-ha moment right?

Now place the cookies on a parchment paper cookie sheet. This is key! You really can't skip this step. The parchment paper allows you to pull the cookies off the sheet without using a spatula and mess up the shape. Just another little note try to bake cookies of the same size at one time so your not having little overdone cookies or bigger underdone cookies. And...if your saying but won't those bake together? Sometimes yes, but in this case these cookies didn't grow at all..seriously the perfect cookie!

Once they are done you can quickly slide the cookies onto a cooling rack. DO NOT move the cookies until cooled. Once cooled I grab a spatula and move them into stacks. 

Perfectly cooked little trees and it really wasn't that painful at all! Once you've got it done it's really fun and they come out awesome! 

Now if I were an amazing cookie decorator I would tell you to let these cookies set overnight in an airtight container. (I've read fresh baked cookies often release oil etc into the icing) But remember I'm the lady who didn't even have the right sprinkles and was baking the night I let them cool and it was on to decorating! While they were cooling I whipped up the royal icing.

Now here's where I should explain a bit. If you are new to royal icing most cookies you will see have been made with two different consistencies of icing the same color. One of toothpaste like consistency to outline the design and a thinner liquid one to fill the design. Remember my plan didn't go as planned so I decided to use the cheater method. A medium consistency that can both outline and flood a cookie, for fast little projects like I said a great starter cookie!

Ready...let's go!

In a medium mixing bowl mix together 4 cups powdered sugar and 3 TBS meringue powder. Once mixed add 6 Table spoons warm water. Be careful! Take it slowly and measure correctly and you'll be good but just remember a little water goes a long way when it comes to royal icing.

The next step is optional. It took me about 1 cup of royal icing to ice 24 tree cookies. I separated the rest in an air tight container to use for the little leaf cookies. Work quickly! The icing sets with air. So you always want to keep potions your not using sealed tight.

Now add some brown gel coloring...and a little more...and a little more...heck dump the jar in. Ok maybe not the jar but it does take a lot to get brown. I even added a few drops of black to help it move along.

Ahh...there we go. Tree bark brown. Back off Crayola, no need to be naming crayons here. :P

Ok now here's the next amazing trick (learned from SugarBelle). Use a spray bottle to thin the icing. If you don't have one of course you can just put in water a drip at a time. But if you plan on making any more in the future it will be the best .97 cent investment ever! I can't tell you how many times I over thinned icing...seriously a little goes a long way.

Continue adding squirts of warm brown water until you get a thin tooth paste consistency. This is actually called 20 second icing and heres why. When you draw a line in it the line should disappear and settle in about 20 seconds. But out the cell phone and use the stop watch to get it to that perfect point.

See 20 seconds and no line. (sry my finger was a little slow on the stopping)

Now pour you icing into a bottle (can be found for about a buck at Wal-Mart of any craft store) and wrap up the rest. 

Time to set up your work space. I like to keep my icing in a cup upside down to keep the bubbles at bay and the icing ready to go, and you'll want to grab a toothpick and some paper towel.

Using your bottle outline the tree. As with all piping it's all about the PRESSURE! Apply a medium consistent pressure...allow the icing to fall ad you work slightly ahead. If this is your first time trying this out maybe practice on some wax paper to see how the icing falls. Right after outlining fill in with icing then use a toothpick to pull push around any icing and fill in holes. Within 20 seconds it should smooth out. Then you can add your little leaf sprinkles. I've photographed the steps separate below for you, but while your working you will want to do all three steps at the same time, completing one tree then moving to the next.

And that's a wrap. Simple but fun easy chocolate rolled fall decorated cookies (say that five times fast).

I used my extra icing to split into four and make simple yellow, red, orange, and maroon leafs. Which you can make the same way. Once they have sit for about an hour you can gently pipe some lines on the top.

In case you're totally inspired to learn more here are some awesome resources for you! You know the ladies that can actually call them self cookie decorators.

The Adventures of Sweet Sugar Belle

Glorious Treats


Well that's it for today folks. Hope you learned a little something today. Like check your sprinkle stash before baking the cookies ;)

Happy baking!