COOKIE DOUGH INGREDIENTS
200g unsalted butter, softened
200g caster sugar
Seeds of 1 vanillapod or 1 tbsp vanilla extract
A pinch of salt
1 medium egg, lightly beaten
400g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
ROYAL ICING INGREDIENTS makes 500g
500g icing sugar, sifted
Squeeze of lemon juice (optional)
2 egg whites or 12.5g Meri-White powdered egg white (mixed with water, as per the instructions on the packet)
1 batch of vanilla cookies in the shape of baby grows (7 x 10cm) or cutters available from Peggy Porschen
500g royal icing (see above)
Pink, blue, yellow and brown food colours
50g florist paste
Small amount of white vegetable fat
Edible glue (optional)
Small cutters in the shapes of teddy bears, whales and ducks available from Peggy Porschen or any other shapes you prefer
First prepare the vanilla cookie dough by lining 2 baking trays with greaseproof paper.
Place the butter, sugar, vanilla and salt in a bowl and cream together. Do not overwork the mixture, or the cookies will spread during baking. Beat the egg in a jug and slowly add to the butter mixture, whisking until well incorporated. Sift in the flour and mix until just combined. Gather the dough into a ball, wrap in cling film and chill for at least 30 minutes.
Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and prepare your cookie pops, by rolling out the cookie dough until about 4-5cm thick. Use a cutter with a scalloped circle, to cut out the cookies, then insert a cookie or a cake pop stick about halfway into the side of each cookie. Patch the back of the cookie up with some extra dough if required.
Chill again for about 30 minutes, or until cool and firm. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 175°C/Gas mark 3. Bake the cookies for 6–10 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown. Leave to cool completely on a wire rack.
Prepare your paper piping bags and then make your royal icing. Place the icing sugar, lemon juice (if using) and three-quarters of the egg white or Meri-White in the clean and grease-free bowl of an electric mixer.
Mix on the lowest speed until well combined. You may want to cover the mixing bowl with a cloth to prevent the icing sugar from going everywhere. If the mixture looks too dry, add more egg white or Meri-White. The icing should look smooth, but not wet.
Scrape down the sides of the bowl after about 2 minutes to make sure the icing is well combined. If it still looks too dry and grainy along the edges, add a little more liquid. If it looks slightly runny and glossy, add a little icing sugar to adjust the consistency.
Continue mixing on the lowest speed for 4–5 minutes, taking care to not overwork or over-aerate the mixture. The royal icing is ready when stiff peaks appear around the sides of the bowl and has a smooth and satin-like texture.
Transfer the royal icing to a clean bowl and cover with a damp cloth. The icing can be stored for up to 1 week at room temperature if covered with lid or cling film; or in the refrigerator if using fresh egg whites.
You will need both soft-peak and flooding consistencies of pale pink, pale blue, pale yellow and white royal icing, as well as 1 bag of brown soft-peak icing. Once prepared, keep the piping bags in a re-sealable plastic bag to prevent the icing from drying out between use.
To adjust the colour of your icing place the royal icing on a clean smooth surface or flat disc next to a small amount of paste or liquid food colour.
Use a palette knife to pick up a small amount of royal icing and mix it with the food colour. Work the food colour through the icing, making sure to break down any tiny specks of colour, which can burst and bleed as the icing dries if they are not properly incorporated. Once mixed, gradually add the coloured icing to the white icing and blend until you have achieved the required shade.
To make soft-peak icing start by dipping the palette knife in water and mix it until the icing looks a little glossy. It should form peaks that fall over.
For flooding icing transfer the icing to a small bowl. Mix with a spatula and add a little water until the icing looks shiny, flows and flattens within 4–6 seconds. Tap the bowl onto a hard surface to bring any air bubbles to the top and prick them with a cocktail stick, before filling the icing into a piping bag.
Take a piping bag filled with pale pink soft-peak icing and cut a small section from the tip of the piping bag. Trace the outlines of the baby grows on a third of the cookies, then fill the outlined areas with pale pink flooding icing. While still wet, use white flooding icing to pipe horizontal lines across the cookies.
Repeat for the remaining cookies, decorating an equal number with the blue and yellow icing. Leave to dry completely.
Meanwhile, knead the florist paste until smooth and pliable, adding a small amount of vegetable fat if it feels hard and brittle. Divide the paste into 3 parts and mix 1 part with blue food colour, 1 part with yellow food colour and 1 part with brown food colour. Roll out the coloured florist pastes, until about 1mm thick. Cut out teddy bears, whales and ducks (or any other shapes you prefer) with small cutters and adhere them to the cookies with edible glue or a dab of icing.
Pipe over the outlines of the baby grows and add the details of the suits with the corresponding colours of soft-peak icing. Use white soft-peak icing to pipe the 3 dots for the buttons. Finally, use brown, pink and yellow soft-peak icing to add details to the florist paste. You may need to transfer the icing to new piping bags and cut smaller holes in the tips to pipe thinner lines.
These recipes have been taken from the new book by Peggy Porschen entitled Cookies (Quadrille, £6.99)
Photography: Georgia Glynn Smith