Getting Creative With Cookies

Diana Helfand
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Wednesday - December 07, 2005
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Everyone’s heard of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs - and in Hawaii, everyone’s heard of Fran Kirk and the Society of Seven. With the legendary group for more than three decades, Hong Kong-born Fran heads Outrigger Entertainment. Although the original SOS-ers, led by Tony Ruivivar and Bert Sagum, have taken flight to Las Vegas, Fran has the SOS Las Vegas under her capable wing and presents them six nights a week at the Outrigger Main Showroom in Waikiki. Got that? SOS performs in Las Vegas at Bally’s and SOS Las Vegas performs in Honolulu!

Fran is active in the community as well, helping to put on the centennial celebration for the city of Honolulu as part of the mayor’s planning committee. She’s hard at work on a major family festival to take place in the spring at Magic Island as part of the festivities.

But before that, she’ll be jetting off to Las Vegas to meet with Tony, Bert and company (including the beautiful Lani Misalucha, the first “girl” ever in the group), and then she’ll be back to oversee New Year’s Eve for when SOS puts on one of the best shows in Waikiki.


Why not make some warm memories this holiday season? At our house, cookie baking is a tradition, and is a wonderful way for the whole family to have fun. Decorating cookies is a good way to get the keiki involved in baking, and most techniques require little or no skill, so people of all ages can enjoy decorating together.

If you don’t want to bake from scratch, use the ready made cookie dough from the supermarket, and make them your own with creative frostings and shapes. You can keep cookie cutters from sticking to the dough by spraying lightly with cooking spray.

Here are some more easy tips for decorating your cookies.

Frostings:

* One popular frosting for sugar cookies is a simple glaze of confectioners’ sugar mixed with either milk, fruit juice or water. By adjusting the ratio of liquid to sugar, you can make this glaze as thick or as thin as you’d like. The icing can be colored using liquid food coloring. When adding color, first mix the color into about 1 tablespoon of icing, then blend that into the rest of the icing. The frosting can be applied using a pastry brush, or by dipping the cookies. If you are working with children, they love to press pieces of candy into the frosting before it hardens. Set the freshly frosted cookies onto a tray covered with waxed paper to dry.

* Instead of frosting, you can also dip half or all of a cookie in chocolate and then in chopped nuts, colored sprinkles or crushed candy canes.

To make a chocolate dip, place chocolate in the top of a double boiler, as chocolate burns very easily and cannot be melted directly on the stovetop. A microwave can also be used, just be sure to stir every 10-15 seconds.

While the chocolate is melting, arrange your workspace so that the cookies you want to dip are on one side of you, and cookie sheets lined with parchment or waxed paper are on the other side. When the chocolate is mostly melted, remove from the heat and stir until smooth. This will finish the melting process. Dip cookies halfway into the chocolate, and scrape the excess off of the bottom using your finger (no licking allowed), or the side of the bowl. Then shake cookies gently and once again, scrape the excess chocolate off. This will keep the chocolate from forming a puddle around the cookie while it sets.


Try dipping one end of each cookie into ground-up pistachios, peanuts or almonds while the chocolate is still wet. When the first coating has set, another color of chocolate can be applied. Try dipping one half of each cookie in dark chocolate, and the other half in white.

Decorating before baking:

* There are a few ways to add a festive touch before the cookies are baked. One easy way to fancy them up is to roll them in colored sugar, finely chopped nuts, coconut, sesame seeds or sprinkles before baking. Even a light dusting of confectioners’ sugar or cocoa powder will give cookies an elegant finish. Dust the cookies again, right before serving.

* For a bright and glossy finish on tops of cookies, paint them with a mixture of egg yolks beaten together with food coloring.

Here’s a simple recipe to get you started.

Happy baking!

CONFECTIONERS’ SUGAR ICING

* 1 cup confectioners’ sugar (also called 10X powdered sugar)
* 2 teaspoons milk
* 2 teaspoons light corn syrup
* 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla, almond or any favorite extract flavor
* food coloring Note: This may be doubled for large batches of cookies.

In small bowl, stir together milk and sugar until smooth (you may have to add a few more drops of milk). Add in corn syrup and extract and stir until glossy. If icing is too thick, add a bit more corn syrup. Divide and add different colors to each part. Dip or brush cookies.

(Diana Helfand, author of “Hawaii Light and Healthy” and “The Best of Heart-y Cooking,” has taught nutrition in the Kapiolani Community College culinary arts program.)

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