I was asked the other day to make some Dora and Diego cookies, the main characters of the “Dora the Explorer” TV cartoon. Sugar cookies and Royal icing here I come! This was something new for me because I mostly do regular cookies, desserts and cakes, not so much decorated cookies. But I took on the challenge and I think it turned out pretty good. Sure, there are those cookie magicians who can do crazy things with Royal Icing and they would have done a better job. Yet, I think I did the best I can and the characters are recognizable.
The recipe I used for the cookies and the Royal Icing both come from SweetSugarBell, one of the most talented cookie decorators that I have come across. She can do miracles with cookie dough and icing and thinks of some really creative ways to re-use cookie cutter. The girl knows how to do it and I have a long long way to go before I hit that kind of level.
Sugar Cookie Dough Ingredients:
– 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
– 1 1/2 cup icing sugar
– 1 egg
– 2-3 tsp. flavouring
– 2 1/2 cup to 2 3/4 cup flour
– 2 tsp. baking powder
– 1 tsp. salt
Depending on the size of your cookie cutter it makes about 2 to 2.5 dozen cookies.
Mix together icing sugar and soft butter with the paddle attachment of your stand mixer. Be careful with the icing sugar, it dusts well, so don’t make a mess. (You will have to clean it after, right.) Crack the egg into a separate bowl and add your flavouring, I used vanilla. Using a wire whisk mix both well and then add to the butter-sugar mix. Mix until well combined. Sift flour, baking powder and salt into a separate bowl and slowly add to the mixture. Combine in between to make sure it is well incorporated. The dough is ready when it does not stick to your fingers anymore. You might need to add a bit more flour, depending on the size of the egg you used.
Tip 1: The dough will be soft and satin like due to the icing sugar used. It might tear easily, so work carefully. Let it rest for 5 min or so before using and then use in small quantities.
Roll out the dough about 1/4 inch thick. Any thinner and you will have issue working with it. SweetSugarBell rolls it out on parchment, I did too, but it gave me some issues. The parchment moves when you roll, so you need to tape it down or something. I used my heavy flour box and glass bowl. Use flour to dust the surface as needed and cut the cookies. I used the gingerbread man cookie cutter to make Dora and Diego. I am very sure there are “real people” cookie cutter but I had none.
Bake at 400°F for 7-8 min. WATCH your oven because it is probably different than mine. Make sure the cookies do not brown (a little on the edges is ok). Let them cool off and decorate the next day.
Royal Icing Ingredients:
– 2 lbs icing sugar
– 1/3 cup plus one tablespoon meringue powder
– about 3/4 cup warm water
– 2 tbsp. flavouring (OIL FREE)
Combine the icing sugar and meringue powder in you stand mixer using the whisk attachment. You can also use the paddle attachments and see how that work for you. Combine the warm water and flavouring, then add that all at once to the bowl and let the mixer go for 3-4 min on the medium speed to combine everything. Turn up to high speed and let it beat for another 3-4 min until the icing forms stiff peaks.
Tip 2: Use a spritzer bottle to assist you with the icing. Sometimes some icing sugar sicks to the side of the bowl. Simply spritz and keep mixing.
Now it’s time to “water” it down because you need a thinner consistency for decorating your cookies. There are bunch of suggestions and ideas out there, like 20 second icing or 10 second icing. Don’t ask me, I don’t know. I simply added water (with that spritzer bottle) and stopped when I thought it would have the right consistency. The outlining icing should be a little bit thicker than the flood icing. However, I couldn’t be bothered with that either, probably because I don’t have a bunch of plastic bottles around. I used pastry bags, the clear type.
Once you have the right consistency you add you colour. I used Wilton icing colours and that worked fairly well. If you want to do this on a regular basis I would recommend Americolours because they come in bigger bottles and you drip the colour instead of using a toothpick or whatever. Makes it a lot easier.
Tip 3: I noticed that adding the colours changes the consistency. So maybe you should first add the colour and then water it down.
Time to decorate now. It is wise to make a drawing first so you know what you are doing. I started with the flesh colour of Dora and Diego, which helped me to tell where the clothes goes. Often, with decorated cookies, you have to layer your work (e.g. accents). Make sure the bottom layer of icing is dry before you add another layer, otherwise one colour could bleed into another colour.
Colours for Dora and Diego:
Draw the face, hands and any other part that is flesh colour. Let that dry and then flood with icing. Let dry again and then start with the hair. Pants were next, shirt and then shoes. It probably doesn’t matter in which order you draw and flood, that’s just how it worked for me. The accents, likes eyes, mouth, Dora’s socks, etc. are the last thing you want to add. You can highlight some hair or shoes laces as well.
Let them sit and dry over night and then you can bag them up to give away.