Angela Stoecklein, a busy mom with an artistic flare, decorates beautiful cookies. She lives with her husband, Jeff, in Lee’s Summit and they have a son in fifth grade.
Q: When did you start decorating cookies and why?
I was in college and wanted to make special gifts for my friends at Christmas. My sister is the cake decorator and I became known for decorating cookies. We both enjoy most things artistic and were fortunate to be part of the local 4-H group, where we first learned some of our icing skills as kids.
Baking cookies has been a fun and creative outlet for me.
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Q: Where did you get the recipes for the cookies and the frosting?
A high school friend shared her cookie recipe with me. After making it many times, I found that if the dough was stirred by hand, and was not beaten with an electric mixer, the cookies did not fluff as much and held their shape better while baking.
For the frosting recipe, I wanted a frosting that tasted delicious and while royal icing looks pretty, the flavor is not sweet enough for me. That meant testing and tweaking the frosting recipe until it was a recipe that hardens just enough to hold the design, but still tastes good. The frosting uses meringue powder, then just a little shortening is added so it is easier to pipe and squeeze from the bag.
Q: Where do you get your inspiration for these beautiful cookies? Can you share some decorating tips?
Pinterest has a lot of great ideas, so I look there for inspiration, but use my own designs as well.
For the frosting, I watched YouTube videos to learn to flood the cookies with frosting or glaze and that was a great starting point. I sometimes pipe the decorations, using disposable decorating bags and tips, and also paint some of the finer details.
To make the vibrant colors, I begin with paste food or decorating colors, but mix my own color tints. For example, mixing some brown into the red makes it a darker, richer hue. The cookies take a lot of time. It is best to bake them one day and freeze them, then decorate them another day.
Q: The cookies you are showing today are decorated for Valentine’s Day. What other seasons or events do your decorate cookies for?
I decorate cookies for all the holidays, especially for Christmas, and for events like weddings, graduations, birthdays, and even the Super Bowl. They are fun gifts for neighbors, friends or my son’s teachers.
Q: Do you have a lot of cookie cutters?
I own 250 cookie cutters but find myself designing many cookies with the same basic shapes. My favorite cookie was a Strawberry Shortcake design I created just using a circle cookie cutter. Once, when the exact cutter I wanted to use could not be purchased anywhere, I made my own cookie cutter by shaping the tin.
Q: How do you store so many cookie cutters?
The cookie cutters are grouped by season or event and each group is sealed in a zip-top bag, ready to use.
Decorated Sugar Cookies
Makes about 2 dozen
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened (do not melt the butter)
1 ½ cups sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon lemon extract
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 large eggs
4 cups all-purpose flour, plus additional flour as needed for rolling out the dough
3 tablespoons confectioners sugar, plus additional confectioners sugar as needed for rolling out the dough
Icing (see below)
In a large mixing bowl, using a wooden spoon, blend together the softened butter, sugar, salt, baking soda, lemon extract, vanilla and eggs. Stir in 3 cups of flour. (Note: do not use a mixer as it will incorporate too much air and cookies will fluff too much.)
Stir in the remaining 1 cup flour and 3 tablespoons confectioners sugar.
Cover and chill the dough for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
For rolling the dough, mix together additional flour and a little confectioners sugar. Lightly dust the surface with the flour-sugar mixture. Roll out the dough and cut with desired cutters.
Line the baking sheets with parchment paper. Place the cookies on the prepared baking sheet, about 2 inches part. Bake 12 to 14 minutes; remove the cookies at the first sign of golden tint. Allow the cookies to cool completely, then decorate as desired.
1 (2-pound) package confectioners sugar
3 tablespoons meringue powder
1 tablespoon shortening
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
¼ cup butter, melted
½ cup milk
A few drops water, optional
Paste food colors
Beat together the confectioners sugar, meringue powder, shortening, vanilla, melted butter and milk until blended and smooth. Add the drops of water as necessary to make it the desired consistency. Tint the icing to the desired color using the paste food colors.
Roxanne Wyss and Kathy Moore are cookbook authors and food consultants that make up The Electrified Cooks. They have published over 12 cookbooks and thousands of recipes. They are members of Les Dames d’Escoffier and blog at pluggedintocooking.com. Email them at KCComeIntoMyKitchen@gmail.com.