The Salty Truth About Making Callye’s Cookies

Alrighty folks! Here we go. It’s taken me a week to recover since my adventure in making cookies. You may recall my intent to recreate the famous sugar cookie recipe from The Sweet Adventures of Sugarbelle. Well, it’s time to ‘fess up about the outcome.

Note to Readers: I love cookies and making them, but I make only two recipes, both from my Grandmother Betty and lacking any decorating component other than a basic sweet, lemon glaze or some red and green cherries. As you also may know, I am much more comfortable making and decorating cake, a hobby I picked up when my sister was planning her wedding. Okay. Back to business.

The Truth Comes Out

The truth is that my adventure was not so much sweet, as it was salty. Yep…I said, SALTY.

Everything started out great, the dough felt and looked good. I was really happy with the action as I rolled it out and my handmade cookie cutters sure were working great. SCOREBOARD TEXAS! Because my oven cooks hot, I was switching out pans about every four minutes, ensuring that the edges weren’t browning. I was in the swing of things. Vintage signs, hearts and squares, oh my!

The first sign of trouble didn’t come until I excitedly prepared to take the first bite of my culinary handiwork, testing my prowess in the crossover from cakes to cookies. Prepare for applause…

Crrrrunch!

What tha??? I grabbed cookies of every shape, as if that had something to do with texture.

Vintage sign shape? Crunch.

Heart? Crunchskys!

Square? Crunch, crunch, CUH-RRRRUNCH!

Even the next bite and then the next three after that confirmed my worst fears. I had stupidly used the large crystal, organic sea salt instead of regular salt. Massive fail.

Thank goodness, it was only Tuesday. Three dozen trash bound cookies later, a new batch of perfectly baked, sweet and savory balanced specimens were laid out for review and approval. Ahhh, the aroma lingered with my first bite. Hallelujah! The recipe was great and the leavening had given the cookies just the right amount of chewy spring. Back to winning! On to the icing!

Further Follies

I would like to say that I learned a good lesson, ironed out the kinks in my attention span and had smooth sailing going forward. The truth is that this time last week, I was furiously blowing on leaky cookies and mopping up confectionery sugar glaze from my breakfast counter. You must be wondering, “And why might this be?” or  “Didn’t you follow the timelines that Callye gave?”  Well, I tried. Here’s the skinny.

Never one to follow rules and encouraged by Sugarbelle’s admonition to find what works best for me {All roads leads to Rome}, I decided that I would not use her Royal Icing recipe, but would go with a well-rated Food.com recipe from Alton Brown. This was partly because Good Eats came on while I was researching {AB is my chef/scientist idol} and partly because I kept seeing hard, royal icing cookies in bags at the Dollar Store cash register. Those dusty cookies at the store were screaming “broken tooth” and looked like they could compete in that McDonalds food aging experiment. For some weird reason, I had associated meringue powder with that “hardness” and just assumed AB’s fresh egg white recipe would taste and feel better. I knew how beautiful the Sugarbelle cookies were and that 5,000 cookie fans couldn’t be wrong, but I just couldn’t do it. Not for the bestie’s bridal shower! Ah, hindsight…

Well, Alton’s recipe never thickened, so I ended up adding an additional two or three cups of powdered sugar per recipe. {It wasn’t until much later that I would realize that All Whites egg whites from the carton will not turn into a good meringue}. I burnt out the motor in my hand mixer. But hey, there’s always the Kitchen Aid giveaway. Surely, I would win, not that many people could have entered anyways. Heh, heh, heh.

Using all of Sugarbelle’s tips on piping and flooding, I finally got my colors mixed and bagged correctly. It was so gratifying to outline each shape and then flood ‘em once dry. I kept hearing her sweet Southern tutorial voice in my head. “Outline it like this…” .

She sure was right about making changes quickly. Boy…my flooding technique took quite awhile to sink in–to both the cookies and my thick skull. Not sure if it was the extra THREE CUPS of sugar or what, but my flood icing was hardening really quickly and I found myself using my finger to spread it out. Wait! Finger?? Yep! Another few cookies in the trash.

Because I was also making a three-layer dark chocolate cake with milk chocolate European buttercream, decorating it and making petit-fours shaped like mini wedding cakes at the same time as this flooding crisis arose, I was thrilled when I suddenly remembered the greatest tip Sugarbelle ever learned about decorating icing…the SPRAY BOTTLE!

Okay, so she said to spray the icing to thin it before you bagged it, not spray the icing after its on the cookies.

“You sprayed the cookies?”

Yes.

Sigh. The scatterbrained kicked in.

I…sprayed…my…cookies…with water.

Pressing forward, not to be outdone by sweet treats, I covered the soggy mistakes as best I could with fresh icing. I got the cookies, still drying with the cover-up icing and loaded them gingerly onto cooling racks in this nifty getup I created out of big Rubbermaid storage bins. I figured that the extra thirty minutes during the drive to the bridal shower was absolutely necessary if I wanted to produce the highest quality work and be truly proud of my first round of decorated cookies. {Insert snicker.}

Little did I know that on the way, a very polite gentleman would choose to brake in the middle of the highway, with no rhyme or reason. This, of course, resulted in emergency braking on our part and TA DA! –cookies stuck to the inside walls of Rubbermaid containers. Hey! I had a cake in my lap! What could I do?

Long story a lil’ bit longer…we got there. I was able to peel them off the walls of the container just fine. Thankfully, I had disinfected the entire thing well before using it. They were super smudged, but there were only a few casualties. {Cookies, not people.} I didn’t even cry. I think the champagne bar + all-niter gave me a kind of shell-shocked euphoria….

So, as you can see, there was a lot to stomach about this endeavor. I really couldn’t laugh and consequently blog about it until now. Despite the challenges and screwy mistakes, the recipe tasted AMAZING and I got some very sweet compliments from the guests. {Luckily, I didn’t have a salty cookie to show them my true talents}.

The biggest and best laugh of all came when the bride-to-be said that she liked the cookies better than my cake! I bagged them with a little pink ribbon as “thank you” favors and the remainder went home with the bride, so she could enjoy them for Valentine’s Day. Until I accidentally grabbed the basket and took it home myself, that is.

Moral of the Story

Maybe these are really apparent to you, but I made a few notes for myself.

  • Keep the Sea Salt on a different shelf than the regular salt.
  • If you try a recipe, stick to the complementary recipe {one that accompanies it} for best results on a multiple-recipe final product.
  • Fingers off!
  • Never spray baked goods with water!!
  • Research best practices for transporting your baked goods to an event well before departure.
  • Be able to laugh at your mistakes and humbly share with others.

So Sugarbelle, thank you for your inspiration and creative genius. I will never stray from it again, as I make these cookies in the future.

Yes! I will be making them again because after eating a leftover Thank-You bag of cookies every day, I’m hooked on these suckers! South Beach be darned!

Besides, my son has been selling them, like a slick entrepreneurial moonshiner, out of his lunchbox at school for quarters to spend on after-school doughnuts.

We are in business, baby!

You are reading , The Salty Truth About Making Callye’s Cookies originally posted on PollySentrick. If you’ve enjoyed this post, join us and check out PollySentrick on FacebookTwitterGoogle+ and Pinterest.

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