For Christmas, I got a TON of baking supplies from Mom and Dad. Pretty much awesome!! One of my new gadgets was a cookie cutter set from Williams Sonoma that allows you to write messages in your cookies.
The 5th floor at the Molecular Foundry has a ton of birthdays in April, so I made some “happy birthday” cookies for the folks there.
Before you start make sure you have the following on hand: the Message-in-a-Cookie Cutter set, food dyes if you want colored cookies, decorating frosting (I used pre-made frosting from Cake-Mate to save time), and sprinkles/pearls for decorating.
Directions for non-leavened butter cookies: (I’d recommend using the masses, because not all butters, flours, and sugars are created equal!) For this recipe you’ll make the dough and let it chill for at least 2 hours. It also takes a considerable amount of time to roll out the dough, as well as decorating. So make sure you plan ahead!
In a small bowl, mix together the flour and salt. Either in a stand mixer or a large bowl with an electric hand mixer, beat the room temperature butter on high speed for 2 minutes. Add the sugar and beat at medium speed for 2 minutes. Stop occasionally to scrap down the sides of the bowl. If you’re only doing one color of cookie, add the food coloring with the sugar. Add the egg and vanilla and beat for 1 minute. Add the flour/salt mixture, one half at a time, beating on low speed just until most of the flour has been incorporated and the dough starts to pull away from the bowl.
If you’d like to make multiple colored cookies (like I did), you can divide the dough now and add the food coloring. I recommend doing this by hand to make sure all of the food dye is equally mixed in. But try to not overwork the dough, or else you’ll overdevelop the cookies, and they’ll feel more bread-like than cookie-like.
Shape each colored dough into a flat disk and wrap with plastic wrap. (If you’re doing one color, consider dividing the dough into 3 equal sized pieces and wrapping each individually.) Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. The dough can be kept in the fridge for up to 2 days.
When you’re ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 350°F and line your baking sheets with parchment or your favorite non-stick liner. (Trust me, you NEED to line the sheets for these cookies.)
Take out one of the dough disks from the fridge and let it warm up for 5 minutes on the counter. Then roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface until 5/16″ to 1/4″ thick (4.5 to 6 mm). You don’t want to go thinner or else the words will go straight through the cookie.
If you have the Message-in-a-cookie set, slide in your phrase of choice. Cut the cookie and press down the spring to impress the message on the dough. Repeat with the scraps until all of the dough is used. If you’re just using regular cookie cutters, you might try making your own design in the cookie.
Place the cookies about 0.5-1.0″ apart (remember they shouldn’t expand much) on the lined cookie sheets. Bake for 10-14 minutes, or until the edges are just starting to turn golden brown. When done, let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes. Then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Now all you have to do is decorate to your heart’s content!
Review of the Message-in-a-Cookie set:
Pros: Really, really cute idea. It’s fun to make personalized cookies for your occasion. And the end product can be stunning, if you put enough effort and trial-and-error into the recipes and decorating.
Cons: The biggest con is that the letters need to be broken in. They really don’t want to fit into the slots in the cookie cutters at first. But after using the set maybe 3 times, they finally fit. This was, however, extremely frustrating. You also need to be careful to not push down too hard on the spring. Otherwise you’ll put holes in the cookies. You can see it below in my “You go girl” cookie.
Another important note is that you cannot just use your favorite sugar or butter cookie recipe. You have to use a non-leavened recipe or else your words will blur after they raise in baking, which is really terrible after you put all that time into the dough and cutting.
Overall, maybe 3.5/5 stars. If Williams Sonoma made a few small changes, they could be 5/5. But after trouble-shooting the recipe and the use of the spring, they’re starting to look pretty good! I’d recommend this product to anyone looking for a new idea to impress their pals!