After making those Spring Watercolor Cookies, I started getting the urge to indulge my “cute food” obsession by making other kinds of decorated cookies using different techniques. When a friend of mine decided to have a fancy tea party for her birthday, I knew I’d found my excuse.
As I did before, I started with my favorite sugar cookie cutout recipe, this time using some cute fancy plaque-shaped cutters. Recipe can be found here.
I knew I wanted to use fondant to create accents for the cookies, so rather than use glaze icing as a base I decided to go with fondant all the way. I made up a batch of my Marshmallow Cream Cheese Fondant (original recipe at the bottom of the page), only this time I tweaked it by increasing the ratio of cream cheese to marshmallows, figuring that I didn’t need this fondant to stretch much so I wouldn’t need as much gelatin from the marshmallows. With more cream cheese I was also able to omit the extra water and salt, both of which are present in cream cheese already.
Here’s the recipe variation:
Fondant for covering cookies:
6 oz mini marshmallows
6 oz full fat cream cheese
2 lbs powdered sugar
1/4 tsp flavoring of your choice (optional)
Combine marshmallows and cream cheese in a large, microwave-safe bowl and heat in 30 second increments, stirring thoroughly between heating, until smooth. Stir in powdered sugar a cup at a time until thick. When it gets too thick to stir, oil your hands with vegetable oil or solid shortening and knead in more sugar. You’ll need 2 lbs. of sugar, and you may want to get a little extra for rolling it out later. The finished dough should be soft, but should not stick to your finger (or at least should not leave any residue) when you poke it. It’ll get firmer as it cools, so don’t worry too much if it seems a little soft when it’s still warm. When the dough is the consistency of play-doh, you can put it into a sealed ziploc bag and store in the fridge for at least 4 days. Let it come to room temp before using. You can always knead in more sugar or a tiny bit more water if it’s not workable later on.
Here’s a series of pictures of how the mixture will look as you add the powdered sugar:
I wanted to go with a vintage-y pastel color palette, so following some advice I’d found online I added a little brown gel food coloring into my white fondant before I did anything else, to give the colors that warm, antique-y look. Then I used some of the ivory fondant to mix up small batches of several colors of fondant– pink, violet, and green. You can see below that the brown tint didn’t do much to soften the bright shades of the fondant; I guess I’ll have to use more next time.
Then I added small blobs of colored fondant to larger portions of ivory to make very pale versions of those colors. I rolled out each color and cut out plaques using the same cutters as I used for the cookies. Then, using a little bit of light corn syrup mixed with water (4:1 ratio), I adhered the fondant plaque shapes to the cookies to form a nice smooth base.
Just for fun, I used a silicone lace impression mat to make a lacy pattern on some of the fondant plaques before “gluing” them to the cookies. On some of the others I used the edge of a piece of cardstock to press a “quilted” pattern.
Next it was time for some fun! I pushed a thin layer of ivory into the bottom of a lightly oiled cameo mold, being careful to keep it within the edges of the facial section (using a toothpick to pick out the edges), then added another layer of color behind it to fill in the background. Then I put the mold face down onto a frozen ice pack for about a minute before unmolding– it helped the cameo release more easily.
I made several roses and a few other flowers in various colors using other molds with the same technique. They turned out well, but not as impressive as the cameos. I let them all dry overnight on a paper towel to make sure they kept their shape when touched.
Armed with these components, some tiny sugar pearls, and a one-cup batch of royal icing (2 cups powdered sugar, 1 Tbs meringue powder, 4 Tbs water, beat 5-6 minutes until stiff), I started decorating my cookies. I used more corn syrup/water mixture to adhere the fondant decorations to the fondant base, but used royal icing for the pearls.
1. Due to the high cream cheese content in the fondant I do refrigerate it before using. However, I don’t bother refrigerating the finished cookies, and I figure they won’t remain uneaten long enough for anyone to complain about them going bad. I checked online to see if anyone making a comparable recipe (“cream cheese mints,” which are basically cream cheese and powdered sugar) refrigerated theirs, and got conflicting answers. But there’s definitely a large contingent of people who choose not to refrigerate them, so I feel okay in not refrigerating my own recipe, which involves even more stabilizers in the form of marshmallows.
2. This batch of fondant is just about the right size to decorate the batch of cookies, as long as you actually roll the cookies 1/4″ thick. I rolled mine a little thinner this time, making more cookies, and had to roll my fondant very thin in order to have enough to cover them all. Don’t do this– the thin fondant isn’t as smooth looking and is too thin to take an impression well for quilting or lace patterns.
3. If you’re going to press quilted lines into your fondant, do it right after you adhere it to the cookie– if you wait too long the fondant dries out and crusts a bit, and it’ll form tiny cracks when you do the quilting.
4. If you want to use a lace impression mat, make the impression on the fondant before you cut out the finished shape– otherwise the impression process will stretch out the shape so it doesn’t match the cookie. Also, this way you can position your lace design exactly where you want it in the cutout.
5. I used a #2 round tip for the icing details above. I think if I were to do it again I’d thin out my icing a little so it flowed down to a smooth surface and looked less jagged for things like tiny dots.