I’m dedicating this post to a new friend. Duffy, this one is for you. Duffy and I met in a little bar in Venice, California last December. I was staying in Santa Monica for a photo shoot. Duffy is a former Minnesotan. A mutual friend sat us down on a couple of bar stools and the rest is history. We immediately recognized in each other a love for all things delicious and beautiful. Per my usual MO, I shared my ambitious plans for holiday cookies upon my return to Minnesota. I’d arrive home on Dec 20th, FOUR days to pull off some elaborately decorated Airstream camper christmas cookies. Duffy went wild over the idea and insisted that I follow through and send him photos of the completed project. My verbal response: “Sure thing!” The voice in my head: No worries. He’ll forget about it and I won’t be held accountable if the cookies don’t turn out, right? Well, I was wrong. Mid-flight on my return trip home a text arrives “Airstream!!” Okay, Duff. I’m on it.
How to decorate Airstream camper Christmas cookies
I didn’t have any time to waste, so I kept this design really simple. A classic camper deserves classic cookie recipe and retro decorations, right? I flooded the campers with royal icing and gave them a quick spray with Chef Master Edible Silver Spray. The wreaths are royal icing transfers that I made separately on wax paper with a small star tip. A single silver nonpareil adds a finishing touch. The old-fashioned Christmas lights are royal icing. A little dab is all it takes. I used a toothpick to elongate the round dab for that classic C9 bulb shape.
I used the same technique on the trees. I did the sockets on the mini bulbs first and sprayed them with the silver spray before flooding them with colored icing.
The campers received rave reviews from family (all very much into camping, though none of us own an airstream *sad*) and new friends. Duffy’s response to my photo: "Oh my god!!! Amazing. Thank you for sending, so great to meet u, give MN my love, Merry Xmas!"
The holiday cookie season is right around the corner and I’m headed back to Santa Monica in early October. I’d say that’s the perfect time to sit on a bar stool and make ambitious plans for holiday cookies with a fabulous new friend. Wouldn’t you?
Jes Best Cutout Cookies
Makes 2-3 dozen cutout cookies (depending on size)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/4 cups chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2" cubes
1 cup sugar
1 large free-range egg
1 large free-range egg yolk
1 tsp. vanilla or lemon extract
Sift 3 cups flour, baking powder and salt into a medium sized bowl. Set aside.
Using an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar on high speed until well combined (butter does not need to be fluffy), about 3 minutes.
Add egg, egg yolk, and vanilla; beat just to combine. Reduce speed to low and gradually add dry ingredients. Mix until dough comes together.
Separate dough in half and form two smooth discs for rolling.
Roll each disc to desired thickness (1/8"-1/4") between two pieces of lightly floured parchment paper on a Silpat mat or flexible cutting mat. Continue to flour top of dough so parchment doesn't stick or crease.
Transfer mat and rolled dough to refrigerator to chill for about 2 hours.
When ready to cut shapes, flip chilled dough so floured side is down. This will help cookies "release" easily.
Cut dough to desired shapes and place on baking sheet pans lined with parchment paper.
Re-roll scraps only once to avoid tough cookies. If dough becomes soft and sticky, return to fridge to chill until shapes cut easily. Chill again until ready to bake. Ideally, 20-30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 325º
Bake until edges are slightly golden, about 12–16 minutes, depending on size. Rotate sheet pans half way through to avoid dark edges.
Let cookies cool slightly on pans then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
Do Ahead: Cookies can be baked (left undecorated) 2 weeks ahead; separate cookies with wax paper, place in air tight containers and freeze.
Jes Best Royal Icing
Makes enough to decorate 2-3 dozen cookies, depending on size
970 g [2 lb bag] confectioners' sugar, no need to sift
80g [or 8-10 tablespoons] meringue powder (CK or Henry & Henry)
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar (to keep icing bright white)
1/2 cup water
4 tablespoons water
Food coloring (optional)
Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix sugar, meringue powder and cream of tartar on low for just a bit to incorporate evenly.
Slowly add 1/2 cup water while mixing at a low speed. Add water 1 tablespoon at a time until sugar is just wet.
Scrape sides of the mixing bowl. Increase speed one notch (#2 on Kitchenaid stand mixer). Mix for five minutes. When finished icing should have a matte (not glossy) finish and hold it's shape on the paddle when pulled up/out of the bowl.
Separate into clean, oil-free containers and tint with gel food coloring.
This recipe yields "stiff" consistency for piping details. Add water as needed to achieve flooding consistency.
Keep covered tightly and store for up to a week in a cool dry place or 10 days in the refrigerator. Mix well when ready to use.