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Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Mysterious Legendary Golden Booby

Well, here's the third and final installment of the Paragraphs Mysteries of the Golden Booby series for 2014.  If you want to know what it's all about, click on the link above and you can see what fun we've been having!

As I posted on Saturday, I stepped out of my comfort zone and made a cake for the finale...but, I also wanted to make cookies...and Griff had asked for a few cookies to use as prizes.  So, after weeks of planning I was ready to roll (pun intended).

My first thing to do was find a cookie cutter that could be workable for the Golden Booby...I found a penguin that I thought would do and ordered it.  Next, I worked with a wonderful Etsy Seller, CookiePixie, to get a custom edible wafer paper design I clipped from a photo I took of the book cover.  Wafer papers are an edible food product printed with from food color on printers only used for food production (you've seen photos on cakes - that is a similar process - there are sugar sheets and wafer papers).  They are made of potato starch and sugar and are meant to dissolve almost instantly when water hits when you take a bite of a cookie or other food product that is decorated with a wafer paper, ideally it should dissolve fairly rapidly.  These performed beautifully when I tried one for breakfast the morning of the event! (Hey, you have to make sure the product is acceptable before you serve it to people - right?)

Once I received my cookie cutter, I pulled out my Coastal Living Magazine where I had found a photograph of a Blue-footed Booby on the Galapagos Islands.  I copied it and reduced it until it was the size that would fit in the space of my cookie cutter.  That was my "template", so to speak. I squeezed and pulled on the cookie cutter to get it to a better "booby fit".  My next task was to make royal icing transfers for the blue feet.  I wanted them to really stand out so a transfer is a way to make that happen.  I slid the picture under parchment paper and piped an outline of the feet, returning instantly to flood the center with thick icing...moving the picture around under the paper to get several sets of feet.  After letting that dry overnight, I piped the details on top of the feet to give them better definition.  Another night of drying required before I carefully peeled them off the parchment and stored them in an airtight container until ready to decorate.

Now it was time to bake cookies.  I selected my Acorn Squash Sugar Cookie Recipe because I knew one of the authors, Pat McGrath-Avery had enjoyed a Pumpkin Spice Madeleine I made for a previous event.  I hoped she would like this recipe as well.  She's the author who included me as a character in her portion of the book, so I was aiming to please!

I rolled and cut 9 birds and 21 rectangles.  I should have made more rectangles but it had been a really busy week and I decided this was going to have to be enough.  I used the entire batch of dough and if I waited to make another batch (butter softening and all of that) I would be behind schedule.  The rectangles were simple but the birds were a bit more challenging.  The tiny beak needed to be longer so I endeavored to add dough to that area.  It was harder than I expected.  I should have frozen the dough and then cut new beaks - hindsight is 20-20.  I, instead, tried to pat some dough around the existing beaks.  9 cookies became 8 when I broke a beak transferring from the racks to the storage container to await decorating.

I top coated the rectangles with white icing rectangles and allowed them to dry over night - you need a hard surface to apply the wafer papers.  Putting those aside, I started work on the remaining cut-out birds.  I took the photo and cut the beak out and traced around the beak on the birds (using an AmeriColor black edible marker).  Then, I cut the wings back and traced around everything to give me the general outline for my icing.

Now, the birds were ready to pipe.  I started with the beaks - let them dry.  After the crusted, I piped the white body...and then realized the head wasn't really white.  Hmmm.  I applied the feet while the white was still wet so they would sink into the bottom of the body.  I let them dry completely overnight as I thought on whether to paint the white head (with food color) or pipe over it.  The next morning I piped the yellow-gold wings and ended up piping over the white for the head - and that worked fine.  Another night of drying.  Final step for the birds was dry brushing the areas where color transitioned with bronze lustre dust...depth of color.  Then I top-painted the entire body with gold lustre dust mixed with vodka to give the entire bird a was a golden booby after all!

I so wish I had not been rushed and had stopped to take pictures.  However, once I started the decorating project, I was too busy to even think about photographs.  So, when I was at Paragraphs, I grabbed some photos of the finished products.  Not the best because they were wrapped individually in cello bags.  You get the gist though.

The wafer paper cookies were completed by cutting out the images from a sheet of printed images, painting the back of each image with Karo Syrup and applying them with perfectly clean and dry hands to each rectangle...and letting them dry overnight.  You have to keep rubbing them to ensure the corners stay down - this batch worked exceptionally well.  I only had one rogue that continuously curled up - and it was probably because my icing curved at that spot.  The next day I piped a white shell border over the edge of each wafer paper cut-out, and after allowing it to crust, I decorated half of the cookies with a blue dot border and the other half with a gold dot border.  I think they were very cute!  Another 2 beaks broke and I glued one of them back on with royal icing.  The other went in my tummy for quality assurance.  Therefore, I only ended up with 7 booby cut-out cookies.  One was given to each author, 2 were given as prizes and 1 was left for Griff - who was a grand Master of Ceremonies!

I wish I hadn't been so tired and achy from decorating for 2 weeks straight...I had purchased two sheets of transfers and had the intent of making many more cookies than I did...and since they were scooped up rapidly, I know they would have ALL been eaten had I just made myself make more.  However, I gave in to the aches and pains and stopped when my body said "enough".  The crowd was huge and the cookies and the cake were cleaned up to the last crumb.  I can't thank Joni and Griff, owners of Paragraphs on Padre, as well as the four participating authors, enough.  The fun and excitement that started in December and lasted for weeks was just what the island needed for a pick-me-up during an unusual number of cold Wintery days.  Can't wait to see what they come up with for next year!

Bon Appetit, Y'all!!!


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