If you know me in real life– or, frankly, if you’ve read a lot of this blog– you probably know that I can be a little tiny bit of a perfectionist sometimes. Or a lot of a perfectionist most of the time.
I realize that last sentence doesn’t really work grammatically.
Anyway. I made these a long time ago, now. Like 2 months ago, almost. It was during a really super crazy week when I had a baby shower and a birthday party and any number of other things happening all at once. I hadn’t even decided for sure that I was going to make sugar cookies for this baby shower (the one for which I made this Elephant Onesie) but then I decided to be my overachieving self and just do it.
Well, it wasn’t really a great choice as these cookies were a huge pain in the neck. Ha ha. I made sure to do a really simple design, and chose to do it all with one consistency of icing so that they’d go really fast. Except it didn’t go like that.
I think my mistake came early on in the process, but it wasn’t until I was fully entrenched did the problem come to light. I decided that since I wanted to use only 20-second icing, I would thin it out while it was still in the mixer, then divide it and color it after that. It seemed like a great idea at the time, since it saved me from having to stir several different containers of icing until it was the right consistency.
But it took a little more water to thin it out than I thought it would. And at one point, it seemed like I kept adding a little water at a time but didn’t see much change. But it didn’t worry me. Yet.
We started off by flooding the cookies (all scalloped squares) with white icing, using a squeeze bottle.
I have these mini cutters in little animal shapes, so my plan had been to wait until the white icing had set up, then trace the cutters with a yellow food-color marker. I figured that would help me pipe the design easily but the yellow wouldn’t interfere with anything as it’s so light.
Well, here’s where we started noticing a problem.
Like I said, it was a really busy week. So we only had 1 day to get this done. Not even a full day. We couldn’t start until around 1 pm, if I remember correctly. So we flooded the cookies as fast as we could and figured we’d have to wait a good couple of hours or more until the icing had set enough to draw on lightly. Well, we waited. And waited. And waited. And the icing refused to set. Like, not really at all.
When I’ve worked with 20-second icing in the past, one of the things I love about it is how much faster it sets up than thinner flood icing. So this was unexpected. And totally infuriating.
But we had to keep going. We obviously couldn’t draw on these. So I decided to try something fairly risky. I decided to use the cutters to imprint into the weird icing. And it actually worked. At this point, the icing was kind of like a sticky marshmallow texture.
We started decorating some areas of the design, like the giraffe’s spots, and the lion’s mane. We used the 20-second icing in piping bags with #1 tips.
Since the elephant had less detailing on it, we went ahead and did the whole body shape.
We also drew on the little “train” platform they were standing on. We let these set up (as much as they would) and filled in the other colors.
I noticed as we worked that they icing seemed to thin out more as we let it sit, so it was kind of hard to control. Once we were finished, I set them out to dry overnight.
The next morning, they weren’t dry.
So I turned a fan on them.
A few hours later… no change.
12 hours later… no change.
24 hours later… no change.
48 hours later… some spots were firming up… but not really in a good way. The icing was pitting and acting really strangely. And weirdly enough, some of the colors were acting differently than others.
This one is one of the worst ones. All of the green pitted, and some of the white. I added eyes using a black food-color marker, but you can see that it indented the icing.
These were the best ones. Not the best cookies I’ve ever made, but the still looked sort of cute.
In the end, the icing was still sort of tacky. I had to bring 25 cookies in 4 or 5 different containers because I couldn’t stack them at all. Ha. I nearly didn’t bring them at all, but I’m glad I did. Everyone thought they were super cute anyway, proving I’m my own worst critic.
I think when I was adding the water to thin out the icing, I was beating it too fast. It may be that using the mixer will automatically beat it too much to get the right consistency, but I wasn’t really careful to only stir it gently. In theory, thinning out all the icing at once shouldn’t be a problem, so maybe if I stir it by hand next time it will be fine. If the icing hadn’t been so problematic, I think these would have been some of the easiest cookies ever. So maybe try them out and see!