This week on the blog I thought I would give you a welcome, or unwelcome, reminder that the countdown to Valentine’s day has properly begun. Although it is a bit of a Marmite holiday I decided that, if nothing else, it is a great excuse for baking. Whether you’re baking for a loved one or comfort eating your single status away, these cookies are pretty much perfect in either instance.
If you saw my blog post for lemon and aronia berry iced biscuits, then you will know that iced biscuits aren’t my strong point. My piping skills definitely need some work, and although they are definitely improving I am determined to get it right. I refuse to be beaten by a biscuit. Therefore I thought I would use Valentine’s day as a theme, but not necessarily in the way you might expect. If you know me outside my blog, you will know that I am pretty much the most perpetually single person you will meet. Having racked up an impressive 4 years of being single, I have been sick of not being able to join in on the Valentine ‘festivities’. I am not an overly sentimental person, but it’s safe to say it’s a pretty in-your-face holiday, so I thought I would put a more inclusive spin on it.
This decision, however, is one of the reasons I now have a slight hatred for iced biscuits. Even though intricate piping isn’t my forté, I decided to try and pipe certain song lyrics that celebrate being single and loving yourself onto my cookies. The intention was that this would include the likes of Jason Derulo, Robyn, Fleetwood Mac, Beyonce etc. etc. The list goes on! But this did not quite go to plan. To be fair, the biscuits themselves turned out pretty well. I did a selection of vanilla and chocolate through an adaptation of a basic recipe from, you guessed it, the BBC, but I decided to take this a step further by slightly kneading the two doughs together to create a marbled effect.
Providing you don’t knead them too thoroughly, the pattern comes through really well even when baked. Admittedly I have yet to try the two together, but it is safe to say that I was happy with the result. I’m not going to include a recipe for this post purely because I didn’t really alter the existing recipe. For the chocolate I merely split the vanilla dough in half and added some cocoa powder and a splash of milk to one half to bring it back to the right consistency. Feel free to play around a bit more with flavour or use your own trusted recipe as, unfortunately, I cannot claim to have done anything particularly mind blowing.
For the icing I used a couple of different techniques. The first involved using a basic water icing, which worked fine for the outlines and what ended up being a double marble effect in an attempt to be a bit fancier. The most important thing about using water icing is getting the consistency right. I have learnt that the hard way in the past: if you’re icing is too runny, you have no hope of any kind of precision. However, for the marble icing, I simply dragged a cocktail stick coated in food colouring through a bowl of icing and dipped the cookies in. Again, be careful not to swirl the food colouring too much as you don’t want the colours to completely mix.
However, when icing biscuits under any circumstances, I would probably recommend using royal icing. It runs less and sets a lot harder, making it easier to achieve a better finish. For my royal icing I added powdered egg whites to a basic water icing and beat in a stand mixer until it was stiff peak consistency. You can alter the thickness with a bit of water if needed, but at the same time you could always use pure egg whites or simply a royal icing mix if you prefer. Although there was nothing specifically complicated about the initial stages of decoration, I have to admit they also went pretty well. The flooded sections set smoothly and the sprinkles gave that extra Valentines touch. The sprinkles I used were simply a mix of Dr Oetker’s ‘Fair Princess’ set, which I chose in an attempt to copy fancy sprinkles (Can you tell I’m jealous you can’t get them in the UK?).
So then it came to the piping. I had all my song lyrics chosen and ready to go, but I had a few issues with the actual execution. Unfortunately the piping nozzle I originally tried to use was still too thick for intricate writing, so I decided to try again using a blue plastic piping bag. This way I only had to cut off the very tip. However, the tip was slightly angled and the bag kept blocking. This made it difficult to apply even pressure and create any legible writing, as demonstrated below.
Therefore, it now stands iced biscuits 2- Sarah 0. I have been beaten again. On the other hand this attempt is definitely an improvement, so I’m remaining hopeful. I’m simply going to go on a much needed break from iced biscuits and might try some less intricate detailing next time, so wish me luck in advance. In the meantime feel free to laugh at my attempt but either way I hope you enjoy, even if they are a little bit sad!