Thursday, October 25, 2012

Halloween Bake Sale - Make it Fun

For those of you who are parents, I am sure that you are either doing it now or will be enlisted to do so in the future. Yes I am talking about that grand American tradition, the bake sale. In our area these are not done so that our kids can get a vending machine or some other unnecessary object. Throughout New York City all schools are facing the challenge of how to provide a wholesome education for our children as they face budget cut after budget cut. We are very lucky to live in a city where most parents are very actively involved in what happens in our schools. Part of that involvement entails helping to raise funds so that our children can have all those things we had when we were their age, like music education, musical instruments and after school programs.

Bake sales play a tremendous part in that fund raising aspect. What is my point in telling you all of this? Well my point is this, if we are going to be involved in making stuff for these bake sales, why not step it up a notch. Instead of doing the same old cupcake, why not check out a site like Martha Stewart to see how you can decorate them more creatively. If you are baking cookies, why not make something other than the typical chocolate chip cookie. Make it fun, spruce it up, find fun themes, and enjoy it. It is for the children after all, and kids are fun. Raising money so they can have a well rounded education should be too.

Here are some cookies I made for our school's Pre-Halloween Bake sale. The dough is the typical sugar cookie one. To decorate them I made a royal icing see the recipes for both below (it's super easy). Hope they make you smile a little.


Sugar Cookies (Yields about 20)

1 1/2 Cups All Purpose Flour
1/4 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 Cup Salted Butter (1 stick, softened)
2/3 Cup Sugar
1 Large Egg
1-2 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract (depends on how much vanilla flavor you would like)

Combine the flour and baking powder in a bowl making sure to whisk the ingredients so that they are evenly distributed.

Either in the bowl of a stand mixer or a separate bowl beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and mix in until it is well incorporated into the butter mixture. Add in the vanilla extract and mix until it is completely incorporated. Add in the flour mixture one tablespoon at a time making sure the flour is well incorporated before adding more. Once all the flour is well incorporated into the dough. Place the dough on a sheet of plastic wrap or in a plastic bag and refrigerate overnight. The dough will need time to solidify so try to make it so that it is in the fridge for at least six hours.

Once your dough is rested enough, remove from fridge.

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

Dust your kitchen counter with flour and roll your dough until it is about 1/4 inch (about .5+ cm) thick. Get your fun cookie cutters and get to work cutting. Transfer the shapes to a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake the cookies for about 15 minutes or until their bottom starts to show a bit of golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow them to cool slightly (5-10 minutes) before transferring to a cooling rack.
Once cool decorate with royal icing.

Royal Icing

1 Cup Powdered Sugar
1 Egg White (preferably from a large egg)
1 tsp Lime Juice

In a medium bowl mix the powdered sugar, egg white and lime juice until you get a smooth mixture. Test your icing before you start decorating to make sure that it is not too runny or too dry. To do this place a small dot of the icing either on a plate or one of your cookies and give it five to ten minutes to dry. If it is right the icing will dry evenly and almost glossy. If you find that your icing is too runny add a little more powdered sugar (about 1/2 a tsp at a time) until you reach a glaze texture. If your icing is too dry add a few drops of lime juice a little at a time until you reach that smooth glaze texture. Add your food coloring at this point if you wish to do so mixing it in until the color is completely incorporated and even. Put your royal icing in a piping bag and start decorating. Have fun :)