Got gold? I can’t seem to get enough! My mystic pumpkin cookies were inspired by these gilded pumpkin cookies by Jessica at Hello Baked and these gilded pumpkin cookies by Melissa Johnson at Best Friends for Frosting. Warm gray and glam gold strike the perfect balance of earth and sun. I picture these pumpkins in a foggy patch with slivers of light bouncing off their gilded leaves.
My new royal icing recipe
This project is special for one BIG reason. I’ve switched up my royal icing recipe. I know, crazy, right? Contrary to popular belief, not all royal icing recipes are created equal. Plus, it’s easy to fall under the spell of a recipe that’s gotten a lot of attention online. Even if it doesn’t deliver the goods. Ultimately, it will take some time and trial to find the recipe that works best for you, but if you’re looking to save some toil and trouble, here’s my royal icing rundown:
Don’t mix royal icing on high or for a long time. It should be thick and dense, not light and fluffy. By keeping air to a minimum you’ll avoid dimples and holes on your masterpiece cookies.
Don’t be afraid of meringue powder. But definitely use one that doesn’t have a bitter aftertaste. My favorites are CK or Henry & Henry. You’ll see my recipe calls for 10, yes TEN, tablespoons of meringue powder. That’s double most recipes and worth every penny! Meringue powder adds elasticity to the icing so you have more time to “play" before it starts to set. With this recipe I can use a scribe tool to push icing around to achieve the shape I’m looking for or correct any mistakes with plenty of time to spare.
How to make mystic pumpkin cookies
Try using ONE icing consistency to flood your cookies! Trust me, it works and will change your life. My new Royal Icing recipe lends itself wonderfully to this technique. Because it’s thick and elastic you have more control. A 14-16 count icing will do the job of outlining and flooding. Add water to my Jes Best Royal Icing recipe in small amounts (I use an eyedropper) until the icing settles smooth after 14-16 seconds (I use my iPhone stopwatch).
For the “putty” color of my mystic pumpkin cookies I used ivory food coloring with a touch of royal purple. Don’t be tempted to use black. Black will overpower the warmth of the ivory (I have the concrete gray icing to prove it). Purple, on the other hand, will give the ivory an earthy tone while maintaining it’s warmth.
Ivory food color will give you a “gold” base for the pumpkin stems, leaves and vines.
Turn gold luster dust into a gold paint with a few drops of Bacardi 151 rum (high alcohol % is key for quick evaporation). Keep your paint relatively thick, but not chunky, for even opaque coverage. *Note: most lustre dusts are non-edible. Please check yours for FDA approval or use for decoration only.
I used an Ateco v-cut leaf tip #349 for the leaves. I prefer v-cut tips for leaves. I like the “puffier” leaves and smooth points I’m able to achieve. Just turn it on it’s side (Vs facing left and right) and give it a go!
*CK Imperial Gold Lustre dust is non-edible. Please use for decoration only.
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.