Snowflake Sweater Sheep
I have no idea what inspired this cookie. I was putting away my moose cutter from my Cute Christmas Moose cookies and because it goes in the bin labeled "animals" I saw this sheep and immediately pictured him wearing a winter sweater! So, I did a quick sketch of a snowflake sweater with a snuggly turtle neck and got back in the kitchen to bake up a batch herd of these cozy snowflake sweater sheep cookies.
Why I love these snowflake sweater sheep cookies
I've seen people pipe little teardrops with an icing tip, but I haven't mastered that technique yet. So, to get these sheep cookies finished in time to share with family and friends at Christmas, I had to find another way. And my "fake it 'til you make it" technique really worked out! I piped a few dots at a time and then pulled them into a teardrop shape with a teeny tiny paintbrush. The technique takes time, but after a while my sheep cookies were cozied up in hand painted snowflake sweaters!
Tips, techniques + takeaways
I used Amerimist Red Red to airbrush the edges of each snowflake sweater just to add some dimension.
It's a little known fact that tulip red is code in the baking world for "no taste" red. To get a true red I use tulip red until it's as dark as possible. Then I add a drop or two of super red just to take out the orangish hue. Don't forget that icing colors darken as they dry. A little red goes a long way.
Gingerbread Cutout Cookies
Makes about 24 medium large cookies
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/8 teaspoon all-spice
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
5/8 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup light or dark brown sugar
1 large free-range egg
1/3 cup mild or regular molasses
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
In a large bowl, sift together flour, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. TIP: scoop flour and level with the back side of a knife.
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and brown sugar on medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes.
Beat in egg, scraping sides of bowl between additions.
Add molasses and vanilla and beat until completely incorporated.
Reduce mixer speed to low and add flour mixture until thoroughly combined, about 30 seconds. Dough should be tender (not dry or crumbly) but not sticky. If sticky, add flour one tablespoon at a time until dough is not tacky to the touch. If dry, add molasses one tablespoon at a time until dough starts pull together.
Roll dough between two pieces of lightly floured parchment paper to desired thickness. TIP: wood dowels or rolling pin rings make this easy!
Chill rolled dough for about 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 350º
Cut desired shapes and transfer to parchment lined baking sheets. Chill shapes until ready to bake.
Bake until edges just start to brown. 8 minutes for medium cookies 10 minutes for large cookies. Be careful not to over bake. Cookies may become dry if over baked.
Cool for 5 minutes on pans then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
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.