Many years ago, when dinosaurs roamed the earth, I used to wear a perfume called Deci Dela. And (call me an Ad Man's dream) I originally bought it because I LOVED the packaging, there's a link to it here so you can see - a hot pink matte glass bottle with gold embellishments. And there was a hot orange matte bottle too...but I don't remember what the differences were between the two options. Anyway, I have always carried the design around in the junk drawer that is my right brain. Today, I opened the junk drawer...and some decorated cookies fell out! Now, the cookies themselves are truly delicious, you could easily enjoy them without the decoration. But I can't leave well alone and had to whip up a batch of royal icing. I'm including the cookie recipe today and will endeavour to blog the royal icing bit tomorrow...or the next day. Believe me, it's important to be precise with the icing part so I'd rather devote a whole post to it! It's perfectly OK to allow these cookies to sit in a tin for a few days (or the freezer for a few months) before you decorate them, so there's no rush to complete them all in one go. Oh, and the smell of these cooking is divine. Divine I tell you. Try it, and tell me I'm wrong!
120g / 5oz unsalted butter, softened
100g / 4oz Trex or Cookeen or Shorteen or Crisco (butter flavour is the best option)**
250g / 10oz caster or superfine sugar
1 large egg
1 tblspn runny honey
Zest of 2 medium oranges (use a microplane, and only get the orange part)
1 nutmeg grated (or 1 tsp of ready ground)
3 cups plain or all purpose flour + 1 tsp baking powder
- Beat together the butter, shortening and sugar until it is very light and fluffy - about 3 minutes.
- Add the egg, honey, orange zest and grated nutmeg. Beat again for about 1 minute until everything is very well combined.
- With the mixer on slow, gradually add the flour and baking powder. Mix only until everything is combined and the dough starts to clump around the paddle.
- Divide the dough into 2 pieces, wrap each piece in cling wrap, squash down into a fat disc shape, then refrigerate for at least 30 mins.
- Preheat the oven to 170 C / 350 F. Line at least 2 baking sheets, maybe 3 with baking paper or parchment. Remove the dough from the fridge and its wrapping. Scatter some plain or all purpose flour on the kitchen bench. Knead the dough lightly but firmly. This will be tricky at first and the mixture may be quite crumbly. Don't worry, keep going until everything comes together.
- Roll the dough out until it is roughly half a centimetre / quarter of an inch thick. Using your cutter of choice (mine are eggs because it's nearly Easter and that cutter was on the top of the pile!!) cut out as many shapes as you can from the first piece of dough. Lift them onto the baking sheet with a bench scraper or palette knife.
- Wrap the dough scraps in a piece of cling wrap and set aside. Repeat steps 5 and 6 with the second piece of dough. Now, combine both lots of dough scraps, lightly knead them together, re-roll and cut out as many shapes as you can. Any scraps left over from this cutting should be binned, the dough will be too tough if you roll and cut it again. Bake the trays of cookies for 10-15 minutes depending on your oven, the cookies should be just golden around the edges.
- Allow them to cool on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely. They can be stored in an airtight tin for a week quite happily in their un-iced state, though if it's going to be longer than a week before you get to them I would recommend that you wrap them in cling wrap (in little piles of 5 or 6) and freeze them.