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Sunday, July 21, 2013

Run to Hear 2013 Cookies!

I've written in the past about Run to Hear... a charity near and dear to my heart.  It's a wonderful charity focused on raising funds to help support deaf and hard of hearing children who want to hear and speak.  A group of children, calling themselves The Deaf Club since they were pre-teens, are now all entering their late teens and early 20's.  They wanted a way to "pay it forward" because they know how very fortunate they are.  All of them, through the years, have become cochlear implant users and they are very aware of how incredibly expensive their gift of hearing has been for their parents.  They came up with having a benefit 5K to raise funds...and this was their 3rd event.  In past years, most of the work was done by the parents, with the kids in training.  This year... a huge amount of the work was done by the young adults.  Before long, I expect it to be totally in their hands.  We are all very proud parents.

This month's incredibly busy schedule included learning a new cookie decorating technique (actually TWO techniques) and using said techniques in the preparation of 150 cookies for the Run to Hear families and for some excellent volunteer workers!

Technique #1 - Using edible wafer paper, printed with the Run to Hear logo, as the centerpiece of each cookie.

Technique #2 - Finally getting the correct royal icing consistency so that I could learn to pipe a shell border. 

I started by working with our tech support guy and photographer extraordinaire, Alex Labry, on the Run to Hear team.  He provided me with a .jpg of the color logo.  I then sent the logo to an Etsy seller, CookiePixie.  She worked with me to custom design the wafer paper order to make the most cookies possible at the lowest cost.  I received many compliments on the vivid colors...she was great to work with.

Next, once I received the wafer papers (30 to a sheet), I began making cookie dough and baking off the cookies - I elected to go with small scalloped edge squares.  It took 4 batches of Vanilla Bean Sugar Cookie Dough rolled 3/8" thick.  Next, I prepped enough white royal icing to outline and flood 160 cookies (extras in case I screwed up).  I needed to make sure it was smooth, so it was a bit looser than usual and they turned out really nice.  One thing I will do if I ever attempt a huge project like this again, is to make a template and draw, with food color markers, an outline on the cookie of what I want to pipe.  My base coat sizes were not consistent.  Anyway, after I got them all flooded, I set them under the fans (I had to buy an extra fan to keep them all going...humidity was HIGH).  I knew I shouldn't be particularly concerned with bubbles because I knew the wafer paper would cover most everything.  However, my need to have things neat made me compulsively try to make each cookie bubble free!  I let them dry thoroughly under the fans for 24 hours.  Applying the wafer paper requires a completely dry base coat.

The next step was to cut the square logo prints.  I had read on the Cookie Pixie blog that she sometimes snipped off her corners to get good adhesion.  I did some without...and most with curved corners.  The ones with straight corners tended to be the most difficult to get to lay down flat.  Since I'd never done this before, I messed up a few.  I tried techniques I had read about on The Cookie Connection web site...and I ended up finding the most success painting the back of the rounded corner squares with corn syrup. 

I wiped my hands with a moist dish towel and dried them between every single application.  The deal with wafer paper...water melts them immediately.  The deal with painting with corn syrup...very sticky endeavor.  Impossible to get the edges without getting it on your hands.  I soon got into a rhythm.  Because my cookie surfaces were not consistent I learned quickly to just cut all of the squares and put them in a bowl.  Then, I'd sit three cookies in front of me and my bowl of light corn syrup and artist's paint brush.  I had a pair of tiny, very sharp scissors at my right hand and a cleaning station to my left.  I trimmed each square to fit each cookie and allowed the trim bits to fall into a ramekin.  Flipped the paper, painted the back and carefully turned it onto the cookie, gently smoothing all the way to the edges.  Move the cookie to the rack in front of the fan.  Complete the 3 cookies, re-smooth the edges...repeat 160 times.  Dry another 24 hours.

The next day, I made more royal icing and added just a spritz of water to the thick "concrete" to make the stiff icing to pipe the shell borders.  I had never been successful with making a shell border - either the icing was too loose or I didn't "get" what the motion was supposed to be like.  Then I watched Julia Usher demonstrate it on her Ultimate Cookies DVD.  I had some wax paper to the side and used it, as she instructed, to practice and make sure my tip and icing consistency were just right.  After watching her a few times, it just clicked!  I used a #13 Wilton star tip and I went to town!  I did mess up a few and let my husband eat the mistakes. 

I also wanted to eat one myself to make sure the wafer papers tasted okay.  Truth was, they didn't taste like anything.  They didn't melt as fast as I expected and I could tell there was "something" on the icing...but it tasted just fine!  150 cookies later, under the fans to dry again.  The piped border neatly covered all of the wafer paper edges.  I had every intention of piping colorful dots around the outer edge of the scallops...but I gave up.

OK - I admit by this point, I was T*I*R*E*D of cookies!  I gave myself a break and then got started on bagging each one.  I decided not to tie with little ribbons this time, but did seal each with a happy face stickers.

I boxed them up and prayed they would make it unscathed on the 390 mile journey to my destination.
The prayers were answered and the run, and cookies, were a success.  Whew! 
Deaf Club Members and the young ladies who came up with the idea of
paying it forward with a charity event...
Claire Labry, Bridget Black, and Karlie Franke!
Photograph courtesy of Alex Labry Photographer
Bon Appetit, Y'all!StumbleUpon

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