Food | December 2013
While Amanda Morris admittedly lacks a sweet tooth, her eye for cookie design has garnered plenty of local praise. A longtime follower of baking blogs and recipe guides, Morris decided to strike out on her own this past Spring, committing to crafting a cookie that not only tastes great, but looks divine. “I've always been a creative soul. I was heavily involved in art & theater in high school and majored in Interior Design in college,” says Morris. “My daily work life is standard business - I needed to feed my creative soul.” And what fed Morris’ soul also happens to feed countless Christmas revelers every year through her elaborately designed holiday cookies. Morris sat down with Click to share a few tips of the trade.
Tips From the Pro:
* To keep the prep process fun and carefree, try baking everything and even making icing one day and saving the decorating for another. Spreading the tasks out over two days makes the whole process much more manageable and enjoyable. This gets the majority of clean up out of the way and you can just focus on the fun stuff —decorating.
* When adding sprinkles to your cookies, put down a coffee filter first. You can put the excess sprinkles back in your jar by using the filter as a funnel.
* If using royal icing, make sure to not let it dry out. Always keep it covered. I put plastic wrap and touch it to the top of the icing to guarantee that a "crust" doesn't form. This keeps your icing clog-free.
* I roll out my sugar cookie dough in between 2 sheets of wax paper. Saves time on clean up and keeps the dough from sticking to my rolling pin — win-win.
* Nervous about making your own icing or dough? Use the ready-made Betty Crocker cookie icing. It dries hard just like royal icing and is easy to use. The premade sugar cookie mixes are just as easy. Just add extra flour and chill your dough to help the cookies keep their shape.
* Want to jazz up your cookies? Add sprinkles! Sprinkles come in all shapes and colors and add that special touch to keep your cookies from being ho-hum.
* Red or black icing seem intimidating? Icing actually develops and darkens a few shades over a few days. If possible, make red and black a few days beforehand and store it in Tupperware. It will darken - what looks like charcoal gray or pinky red in the beginning will be the perfect color in the end.
Must-have Baking Tools
KitchenAid Mixer - What did I do before I had one of these! It is so much easier to use than a hand mixer and makes multitasking easy since you can start it and work on something else!
Joseph & Joseph Rolling Pin - The guides make rolling out dough foolproof!
Food Scale - I weigh my powdered sugar for my icing so that I get perfect results every time.
Wilton Bag Cutter & Brush set - This set makes cleaning my icing tips and making icing bags a breeze!
Cookie Cutters - I don't think I want to admit how many that I own but the plaque cookie cutters are very universal and my go-to favorite shapes.
Rainbow Disco Dust - Two words: edible glitter. Glitter makes everything better, right? I sprinkle this on almost every cookie I make.
Cookies aren't just for Santa! Here’s a few creative packaging ideas to give them to your family & friends.
* Make mini cookies and package them in a mason jar. Use a cupcake wrapper under the lid and add ribbon and embellishments to the outside to make the jars even more festive.
* Treat bags come in all colors and patterns. Seal the bag with colorfulwashi tape and tie with baker's twine or ribbon as a little present or cookies could make sweet place cards at your holiday table setting.
* Need to package the cookies up quick? Gable treat boxes in fun patterns make the perfect package in a pinch.
Confectionary queen Amanda Morris shares tips for festive cookie decorating and warm drink pairings.
Story and photos by Casey Hilder