A girl from uni in our department is leaving to go back to her homeland soon and a way to see her off was to have a farewell morning tea for her. We were asked to bring something in but were overwhelmed by the sheer amount of desserts that made its way into the table that morning.
I stumbled upon these science-themed cookie cutters a while ago on Think Geek but haven’t been able to find an appropriate occasion to use them. However, when this event was announced I knew immediately that they would be appreciated by everyone if I made them. It was particularly funny seeing the senior scientists being amused by them on the day.
It appears that there’s a story behind these cutters. There was a physicist/chemist who grew tired of hand cutting shapes for her cookies so one day, she set out to get a set of cookie cutters custom-made. However, the only catch was that she had to have a minimum of 2000 sets made. Since then, she has been selling the remaining cutters to the public.
Whilst researching decorating ideas for these science cookies lead me to discover the food blog, Not so humble pie; which features plenty of science-themed desserts that she has or others have made. Lab rat cookie anyone? What about periodic table cookies? Or brain hemorrhage cake? I am particularly fond of this set of cookies as they are red & white blood cells (the bane of my PhD existence!!); I can’t get over how detailed they are. It’s ingenious! Ok I’ll stop now…
The set of cookie cutters I bought included cutters for a beaker, conical flask, tube and atom but seeing as I had a circle cookie cutter and a gingerbread woman cutter, I thought I might as well make a scientist wearing a lab coat cookie and a petri dish of bacteria cookie.
Having only made sugar cookies once before, I found and followed Bridget’s of Bake at 350 excellent tips on royal icing as her creations are something to truly marvel at. The last time I made royal icing was with raw egg whites, which I know some people may have issues with so it a relief to discover her recipe actually uses meringue powder (though you would also be able to use powdered egg whites as well). What I liked most about this recipe was that there was no need for 2 recipes for the outlining & flooding icing. The icing you start with is used for outlining the cookies and all you have to do is water it down to the right consistency to the flood the cookies. Simple as that!
It was fun decorating the cookies but it was extremely messy as I had royal icing everywhere.
Sweet shortcrust pastry cookies (Pâte sucrée)
Recipe from Pastry: Savoury and Sweet by Michel Roux
Makes roughly 1.5 dozen 9cm/3.5inch cookies
250g plain flour
100g butter, cubed and slightly softened
100g icing sugar, sifted
Pinch of salt
2 eggs, at room temperature
- Combine flour, icing sugar and salt in a mound on a work surface and make a well. Rub butter into the dry ingredients until dough forms into fine breadcrumbs. (Alternatively, combine all the ingredients, except for the eggs, in a food processor until dough forms into fine breadcrumbs).
- Add eggs and mix until dough begins to hold together.
- Knead the dough a few times with the palm of your hand until well combined and smooth.
- Roll the rough into a flat disc, wrap in cling wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours before using. (Dough can be made in advanced and kept in fridge for several day, or frozen for up to 3 months).
- Preheat oven to 180C (360F) and line baking trays with baking paper.
- Roll dough on a lightly floured surface to a thickness of 5mm/0.2inch.
- Bake for 15mins or until slightly golden.
- Cool completely before decorating with royal icing (recipe below) and sprinkles.
Recipe by Bake at 350
Makes enough to cover about 1.5 dozen 9cm/3.5inch cookies
2 tbsp meringue powder (I used “Pavlova Magic” but you can also use powdered egg whites as well)
scant 1/4 cup water
225g icing sugar
1/2 tsp light corn syrup
- Combine the meringue powder and water. With the paddle attachment of an electric mixer, beat until combined and foamy.
- Sift in the powdered sugar and beat on low to combine.
- Add in the corn syrup and increase speed to med-high and beat for about 5 minutes, just until the icing is glossy and stiff peaks form.
- Divide and colour icing with food colouring, and cover with plastic wrap so that it touches the icing.
- This “stiff” icing is for outlining the cookies.
- To fill in your cookies, add water to your icing a teaspoon at a time, stirring with a rubber spatula, until it is the consistency of syrup. (Bridget has a video tutorial showing how this is done)
- This “thinned” icing is for flooding the cookies