I have never decorated cookies before. I understand that this is quintessential holiday stuff in most households, but for my family, the priorities were different. The cookie-to-mouth express line did not have time to stop for icing. There was no 24-hour maintenance period to allow the designs to dry. The sole purpose of cookies was to get into our faces as quickly as possible.
This time around, though, I wanted to make Hawkeye cookies.
This is Clint Barton.
This is Kate Bishop.
They are both Hawkeye. You can read about them in Matt Fraction’s incredible Hawkeye comics. Here’s the first volume. I wanted to make cookies that mimicked the targets on the cover.
That did not work out exactly as planned.
A few logistical notes: due to the spice cake insanity of last week and the upcoming holiday baking frenzy, this will be a shorter post. I mean. They’re sugar cookies. I have nothing to add to this recipe canon.
This is the recipe that I used, sans almond extract. They were delicious. My innovations came in the cutting/decorating department, so I’ll pick up the narrative there.
And in other important new developments: I HAVE A STAND MIXER. (I think my mother was embarrassed by my sad one-sided hand mixer and decided to fix the situation via Hannukah present.) My butter is actually creamed! I know what fluffy butter looks like! THIS IS MAGIC.
Here are some things no one told me about owning a stand mixer.
1. It comes with a pirate hook. Or a dough hook. Whatever. If I lose a hand while sailing the black flag, I am set.
2. Your kitchen will smell like butter. Everything will smell like butter. I DID NOT KNOW BUTTER COULD BE AIRBORNE THIS IS INCREDIBLE.
3. The mixer’s motor is stronger than a dining table purchased for $25 off of Craigslist. Everything will start shaking once you go above a two. Keep calm.
4. You have to extract batter from the paddle. Otherwise this will happen,and the solidified dough-paddle mass will spin uselessly in place instead of mixing.
The biggest challenge in making the cookies themselves was making enough room in my fridge to store the tectonic plates of cookie dough while it was cooling. Incidentally, I completely failed at making my cookies flat. This will become important later. Please try and make them flat.
Okay! Your dough has been made and cooled! It’s rolled out flat! Remove it from the refrigerator and peel off the top level of parchment paper! Maybe take the rolling pin to it one more time if you discover that you accidentally made a butt!
Grab three round things of varying sizes. We’re going to cut the cookies, then imprint the rounds of the bullseye before baking so that there are handy guidelines in place for icing. I used a mason jar lid, a water glass, and both sides of a shot glass. The only note here is to press very gently–you don’t want to go all the way through the dough with your target rings.
Bake the cookies according to your recipe. Then cover your table/working surface in parchment paper and lay out all the cooled, baked cookies.
My frosting strategy is also from the kitchn. The theory is, you make two kinds of icing: a border icing, which is thick, and a flood icing, which is thin. The outlines are defined first with the border icing, and then the flood icing is used to fill in the shapes.
I had three problems. First, my cookies were not flat–they had ridges and valleys and all kinds of weird topography. Second, I ran out of powdered sugar, so my flood icing was way too thin. And, finally, my food coloring did not want to cooperate. The proportions given here are based on the original recipe, with the addition of a little lemon juice, rather than the sad runny icing that I ended up with.
1.5 cups powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp water
1 tsp lemon juice
Food coloring of choice
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
3 tsp water
1 tsp lemon juice
Food coloring of choice
Whisk together the ingredients for the border icing. Notice that the icing is kind of brown from the vanilla, rather than the bright white you wanted. Ignore this fact, unless you are smarter than me. I decided to try using blue food coloring to whiten the icing, using the same principle as blueing laundry. So I added a little bit of blue gel coloring..
That much blue.
Subsequent whisking produced blue icing. This should not have surprised me. But I didn’t have enough sugar to remake the icing. So, you know. Whatever. Blue goes with purple, right?
Push the icing into one of the squeeze bottles. Use the bottle to trace the guide circles on the cookies. Make sure that enough icing goes in the grooves that it rises above the surface of the cookie.
The borders weren’t perfect, but I couldn’t have done that well without the patterns from the glasses. I tried to freehand another batch of cookies–witness the saddest hippo cookie ever created:
It cries for what could have been.
Let the border icing dry while you make your flood icing. This should flow freely from the squeeze bottle… but only when you actually apply pressure to the sides. My floor icing just dripped out whenever I tipped the bottle a little, which made control really difficult.
Side note: if anyone actually understands the occult nature of food coloring, please share with the class. I really don’t understand how something with such an aggressively purple cap could have achieved a lovely aqua color in practice.
That is not purple. Hawkeyes are disappointed in you, food coloring.
I added a little magenta, which helped the color. However, my flood icing lived up to its name and flooded its borders. It dripped and spattered and made a goddamned mess.
These were Clint Barton cookies. There is nothing to be done about that. They are, however, heroically delicious. Like Clint, they’re a clusterfuck on the outside, but firm of character and sweet on the inside. And that is okay in my book. Even Kate Bishop is actually Clint Barton sometimes.
These cookies exist to feed the Hawkeyes in all of us.