COOKIES AND RUBBER STAMPS

I try hard to avoid repeating myself, but sometimes I cannot help it: I am soooo excited about this! Rubber stamping is one cool method to decorate cookies for the artistically-challenged like myself. Truth is, if someone asks me to draw something or else face the guillotine I will simply tell them to make sure it is well-sharpened. Make it quick. Now, rubber stamping? Anyone can do it! All you need is to flood your cookies in any color you like, but I normally go for white. Let it sit overnight. Do not rush. I repeat: do not rush! The surface needs to be fully set and hard so that you can press the stamp on top and make sure the maneuver is not going to hurt the icing. If you go to a store such as Michael’s or Jo-Ann, visit the section on scrapbooking and pick your weapons. Some stamps work better than others, so it is a bit of a trial and error thing. But… so much fun!

For this set, I used a type of stamp that I had never heard of, but apparently is very popular with the crowd that does serious scrapbooking. They are made of plastic and come glued to a type of acetate sheet. You can find them on amazon or etsy, I have not seen them for sale in stores where I live. For the one I used in these cookies, click here. Usually one sheet comes with several different designs. I find it easier to cut the acetate and isolate the image I want to work with. Then, I spread with a brush a small amount of food gel dye on kitchen paper, either black or another dark color like gun metal from Americolor, a bit more subtle. Press the stamp on it, and practice on a sheet of paper to check that the whole extension of the design was properly covered with dye. It does take a bit of playing with it. If you look at the set of four cookies above, you’ll notice that the design transferred better in some than others. If the design does not transfer completely, you can fill the missing lines with a very fine food pen like Tweets Cookie Connection 03. The cookies look nice in black and white, but I also made a couple painted either with luster powder (top left) or food pens (bottom right). Food pen is a lot easier and faster but I think I prefer the subtle look of luster powder.

Regular rubber stamps also work very nicely and tend to have simpler designs that are more user-friendly.

For this design I started with a flooded white icing and painted a background of striped in warm colors, using food gel dye and alcohol, just like described in a recent blog post.

The amount of dye to add to the paper is something you’ll need to adjust as you go. I don’t like the idea of buying a pad as used in scrapbooking because you need a lot of dye to soak it, and I am not sure how well it keeps for future uses, so I believe you waste too much dye.

This is another stamp, also the traditional type, rubber with a wooden base. I colored the icing as before, but using a tie-dye instead of stripes. And in this design I went with colors: leaves painted with a food pen, and the little vase with gold luster powder. After painting, you might have to go back to the outline and touch it up with a fine tip black pen. Make sure the paint is fully dry, which happens quite quickly anyway.

Another way to deal with the stamp is using a food pen with a thicker point (I like this kind), paint the stamp, then quickly press it on the iced cookie. You need to work a bit faster because the amount of dye is going to be less than by soaking the paper, therefore it might dry quickly as you paint the stamp. The advantage of this method is reducing the probability of smearing, and saving quite a bit of dye. Below you see what it looks like.

Very sharp lines, no smearing at all. Again, you can leave it black and white or go wild with the design….

Some drawings like the butterfly are a bit too “busy” and not easy to transfer. I still think they are worth playing with, because the end result is quite striking. You need a very steady hand and be very assertive when laying the stamp on the cookie. Any hesitation and you’ll have a smudged design. If that happens, just eat the evidence when no one is looking.

In the set above, the butterfly was a plastic-acetate stamp, the other two were the traditional rubber kind. The top left, a composite using two very small stamps.

My most recent “experiment” with stamping was with a design that proved a bit tricky. It involved a silhouette type stamp, and it was almost impossible to get it uniform and without blurry edges. This was the best I could do. I think silhouettes might be better left for a projector.

I close this post with something I got in the mail just as I finished writing this article.. Available here.

This is a plastic-acetate stamp sheet. It measures 4 1/2 x 6 in. Each kitten is a little different, so you can either stamp a series together or cut them individually and add to your cookie as a central image, which is what I intend to do. I suspect those images will work very well, as they are overall simple. My last attempt with a complicated image was a beautiful hummingbird (you can see it here), but I could not make it work on the surface of the cookie. Too bad, it is a stunning image. Maybe I’ll conquer it at some point.

I hope you’ll consider rubber stamping as a nice alternative for cookie decorating. It does take some experimenting and playing with it, but the possibilities are endless, and once you get the hang of it, you’ll be hooked.

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A DIFFERENT KIND OF COOKIE SWAP

I like to keep the blog varied. Never two bread posts in a row. Never two savory recipes in a row. But never say never, as I am about to break my own rules. My latest post involved cookies, and here you have another one. But, but, but…. I got so excited about this, I cannot wait to share. A cookie swap that is not quite what you think: you swap portions of a stamped cookie dough, forming a totally new pattern. I keep thinking about all the possibilities of mixing and matching. Shapes, designs, colors, cookie formulas (think chocolate and vanilla for a shocking color contrast).

MIX-AND-MATCH LEMON SUGAR COOKIES
(inspired by several sources)

113g unsalted butter (1/2 cup)
30g egg (whisk one egg and measure the amount)
1/4 cup honey (about 60 mL)
zest of 1/2 lemon
1 teaspoon lemon extract
50g granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
320g all-purpose flour

to decorate (optional):
vodka or everclear or lemon extract
dust luster powder in gold, pearl white, or any desired color

Melt the butter and set aside to cool slightly, but do not let it get solid.

Beat the 30g egg in the bowl of a Kitchen Aid mixer bowl until the yolk and white are fully mixed.  Add the honey, and lemon flavoring. You can do this step by hand using a whisk.

In another bowl, mix the sugar with the lemon zest and rub the zest with your fingers to release all the oils. Add the salt, then incorporate the mixture into the egg using the flat beater of the Kitchen Aid in medium-speed. Beat well, then slowly add the melted butter, constantly mixing.

Add flour (reserve about 1/2 cup) in very low-speed and mix in until you have a dough that is solid enough to knead. Remove the dough from the Kitchen Aid and add the rest of the flour by hand, you may not need the full amount. Pat the dough into a disc, wrap in plastic and place in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Roll it out to a thickness compatible with your cookie press, then press two or three patterns using any type of design you like. Using a small round cookie cutter remove the centers and swap them, as shown in this picture:

Freeze the cookies on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper for 15 minutes while you heat the oven to 350F. To avoid distortion of the cookies during baking, transfer the frozen cookies to a room temperature sheet, using the parchment paper to move them.

Bake for about 12 minutes, until edges start to get golden, but do not over bake. Let them cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet, than remove to a rack to cool completely.

If desired, use luster dust powder mixed with vodka or lemon extract to paint the surface.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I am over the moon with these! You don’t have to go through the additional step of painting them, the pattern looks nice even if the cookies are kept plain, but I love working with luster dust. There is no need for precision, each cookie turns out a little different.

You can use any recipe that keeps the shape during baking, and always freeze the cut cookies before sticking in the oven. Another thing to keep in mind is to transfer the frozen cookies to a room temperature baking sheet, because sometimes baking them over a frozen cookie sheet might cause warping. By transferring to a room temperature surface, you avoid that problem.

I cannot take full credit for this idea. I am a member of a great cookie group on Facebook (Molded Cookies of the World) and the moderator (Dawn Williams) has been playing with different cookie molds, joining them together. I decided to try it with the cookie stamps from Nordicware. They are sturdy, wonderful to use, and every single swap I did worked perfectly.

I am already planning my next batch… and the one after that…

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