Blog Almond Paste Cookies
One of my very favorite holiday crafts is dyeing Easter eggs, because it's so much fun to do with kids. I love seeing which color combinations my grandchildren choose for their eggs, and over the years they've come up with some pretty inventive designs. Since they also like to decorate food they can actually eat, I always make Easter cookies and a big batch of colored icing and let them go to town. Some of the cookies get gobbled up right away, and we put the rest in a colorful basket to use as a centerpiece at the brunch table.
If you like almond macaroons and/or marzipan, you'll want to try this week's cookie recipe, which includes a generous amount of almond paste. One batch of cookie dough is enough to make six chicks, six bunnies, and six eggs. Two batches of royal icing will give you plenty to work with; in fact, you will have some icing left over, but it's better to have a little too much than not enough. Decorating Easter cookies is like decorating Easter eggs: there's no right or wrong way, and it's the most fun when you get creative. That said, I've included directions below the recipe for making the decorations shown in the photo. Enjoy, and feel free to experiment.
To decorate the chicks and bunnies:
Make one batch of royal icing, divide it into three bowls, and tint with food coloring to get the shades you want (for example, yellow for the chicks, white for the bunnies' fur, and blue for the bunnies' outfits). If you want to use sparkling sugar on your cookies, choose icing colors that coordinate with your sugar colors, and have bowls of sugar ready.
For the chicks:
- Spoon some of the yellow icing into a small pastry bag (use a plastic one or make your own from parchment paper) and pipe a thin line around the border of the cookie, piping only around the body, not the beak or legs.
- Set a small amount of the remaining yellow icing aside for the beaks and legs, then thin out the rest of the icing with a few drops of water to a pourable consistency. Working with one cookie at a time, spoon some icing onto the cookie and spread with a small offset spatula until the outlined area is completely filled in.
- Hold the cookie over the bowl of sparkling sugar and spoon sugar over the icing. Quickly shake off the excess sugar and place the cookie on a wire rack to dry.
- If sparkling sugar clings to the bare cookie, use a small clean paintbrush to brush it away.
- Add some red food coloring to the yellow royal icing to make orange and pipe legs and a beak onto each cookie. For the eye, you can either tint a small amount of icing black, or use a little melted chocolate.
For the bunnies:
- Follow steps 1 through 4 for the chicks, piping an outline of overalls or other outfit on each bunny.
- When the cookies are dry, use the white icing to outline the bunnies' heads and paws.
- Set aside a small amount of the remaining white icing for the ears and noses, and thin the rest with a few drops of water to a pourable consistency.
- Working with one cookie at a time, spoon some icing onto the cookie and spread with a small offset spatula until the outlined area is completely filled in. (If you can, drizzle a very small amount of icing onto each ear; this is easier than trying to spread icing from the head up into the ears.)
- Let the icing dry, then tint the reserved white icing pink and use it for the bunnies' ears and noses. Use the icing from the overalls to make eyes, and use any remaining white icing for buttons, if desired. If you have enough icing left over, you can pipe another outline around the bunny's outfit to neaten the edges and give it more definition.
To decorate the eggs:
- Make a batch of royal icing and divide it into four bowls, with one bowl holding a little more icing than the other three. Tint all four bowls of icing with food coloring. The bowl with the most icing will be the background color and the other three will be the stripes.
- Using the background color, pipe a border around each egg. Then thin out the icing just enough to be pourable; it should not be too thin. (You want the colors that you use for the stripes to be just a little thicker than the background color, so that they do not sink completely into it and become lost.)
- Working with one cookie at a time, spread the background color evenly over the egg, then, using a spoon, drizzle horizontal stripes of the other three colors onto the egg. The stripes do not have to be perfectly even. Drag a knife tip across the icing from the egg's tip to its bottom three or four times, at even intervals. If you like, you can drag the knife tip in the opposite direction in between the first lines you made. Set the cookie down to dry and repeat with the remaining cookies.