Butterfly Sugar Cookies

September 27, 2010

Butterfly Sugar Cookies

What makes September meaningful to me? And how can I represent that on a cookie? Well, today is the day I hand in my Masters Thesis, but that would make for one terribly boring cookie.

Instead, I want to use this month’s theme to raise awareness and funds for a cause dear to my heart. I’ve chosen Beyond Blue for my charity with October being Anxiety and Depression Awareness month.

Depression is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign that you have been trying to be strong for too long…

Depression affects 1 in 6 Australians, with around 1 million adults (and 100 000 kids) living with the disorder each year. Despite the prevalence, a strong stigma is sadly still attached to the illness. Organisations like Beyond Blue endeavour to increase community awareness, provide information and education, develop intervention strategies, improve medical support and training, and initiate research.

The gentle butterfly in the logo symbolises release from heaviness and darkness. Its warm pink and orange hues represent confidence and calm.

For every comment received from this post, and every post published during October, I would like to pledge $1 towards the Beyond Blue initiative.

(Of course if that sounds totally naff, may I please encourage you to directly visit other mental health organisations that have meaning for you instead. Beyond Blue is Australia’s national organisation and accepts donations through their Give Now portal)

Thank you.

Butterfly Sugar Cookies

Sugar Cookie
Makes 30-36 cookies
Recipe adapted from Peggy Porschen’s “Romantic Cakes”

200g Unsalted Butter, room temperature
400g Plain Flour
200g Caster Sugar
1 large Egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Using a stand mixer or hand mix, cream the butter, sugar and vanilla until the mixture just starts to become creamy. Don’t overmix, else too much air gets into your cookies and they will spread when you bake them.

Beat in the egg until well combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Add the flour and mix on low speed until a non-sticky dough forms.

Knead the dough into a ball and split into 2-3 pieces. Flatten each into a disc, wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for a minimum of 1 hour.

Once chilled, place the dough on a lightly floured bench (you might need to allow the dough to warm a little before it is kneadable again). Roll the dough to 5mm thick. Cut shapes from the dough using a cookie cutter or stencil, and place the shapes onto a baking tray lined with baking paper, leaving around 1cm between each one.

Keep kneading the scraps of dough back together again and re-roll to create more cookies.

Refrigerate for another 30-60 minutes to prevent the cookies from spreading in the oven. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius (160 fan-forced; 350F). Bake until the cookies become golden around the edges, around 8-15 minutes depending on the size of your cookies. These 5cm butterflies took 12 minutes. Don’t worry if they still seem a little soft as they will firm a little once they cool.

Leave to cool completely before decorating. Un-decorated cookies will keep up to 1 month if wrapped in foil or clingwrap and kept in an airtight container.

Royal Icing

315 – 375g Icing sugar
2 large Egg Whites
1 teaspoon Almond Extract (optional)

In a clean, dry and grease-free bowl, beat egg whites with lemon juice until combined.

Sift the icing sugar and add it to the egg whites. Beat on low speed until combined and smooth.

If making a “flooding” consistency: a knife dragged through the surface should smooth out in 3-4 seconds. If too thick, add a few drops of water at a time to thin the icing.

If making an “outline” consistency: a knife dragged through the suface should smooth out in 5-10 seconds. If too thin, add small amounts of icing sugar to thicken.

Use immediately or keep in an airtight container, as royal icing will start to harden when it’s exposed to air.

Decorating the Butterfly Cookie

Piping bags and piping tips (size 1-5)
Gel food colouring (amount to achieve desired colour). I used Wilton “Rose” and “Orange”

I made a thick dark icing (400g icing sugar) to outline the butterfly shape, using a size one nozzle attached to a piping bag with a coupler. It took quite a few cookies to get the hang of the piping technique! But perseverance pays off, promise :)

  • Hold the piping bag at a 45 degree angle above the cookie where you want to start the outline.
  • Gently maintain even tension in the piping bag while moving in the direction you want to outline.
  • Lift the piping bag away from the cookie so that the flow falls neatly and evenly onto the cookie.
  • As you reach the beginning of the outline, bring the piping tip closer to the surface of the cookie to meet the start of the outline.
  • Let the border dry before flooding with a different coloured icing.

I made one batch of thinner icing (315g icing sugar) and split it into two bowls, one coloured pink and the other orange. I filled two separate piping bags with the icing and cut a 1cm hole in the end. Pink is quickly zig-zagged across one half of the cookie while orange goes on the other. A toothpick is used as a paintbrush to push the icing around and into the crevices and gaps. If the filling is uneven, you can gently bang the cookie onto the table. While still wet, a toothpick is used to drag a line out across the two colours to create a marble effect. It’s a bit tricky to explain in words, so I made a quick video for a demonstration:

  • http://imasugarjunkie.wordpress.com/ Sugar Junkie

    Firstly – congrats on handing in your thesis! And secondly, I love that you are doing something for a very worthy charity. It is such a misunderstood disease.

  • http://twitter.com/IronChefShellie Iron Chef Shellie

    What a great idea to raise awareness.

    And gorgeous cookies too!

  • Anonymous

    Beautiful cookies for a wonderful cause. Your cookies are such a lovely way to raise awareness of an often misunderstood disease.

    Congratulations on handing in your thesis too :)

  • http://almostbourdain.blogspot.com Ellie

    Your cookies are beautiful! Love how you dedicated this month DBC to create awareness of a good course! Well done, Emma!

  • http://twitter.com/em_itpleasesus Emily

    Wow! So gorgeous and I loved the video – I just really wanted some music with it too! Your cookies are so professional looking and neat!

    Also great work on the thesis – massive congratulations.

    Lastly – an excellent cause. Raising awareness is so important.

  • http://www.holdthebeef.com Conor @ Hold the Beef

    What a brilliant cause, and brilliant butterflies to match. Top work!

  • http://www.honeyandsoy.com honeyandsoy

    What a great cause! Love the happy butterflies. And BIG congrats on submitting your thesis!

  • Rachel

    Congratulations on handing in your thesis, do you want to have a go at writing mine? :P

    Also, congratulations for picking such an awesome cause.

  • Anonymous

    AWesome! You rock. :)

  • Cakelaw

    These cookies are gorgeous! And a terrific cause to support.

  • http://dunnntoperfection.blogspot.com Dunnntoperfection

    Absolutely gorgeous Emma, your butterfly cookies are beautiful. I love your fundraising idea – great job! Cath.

  • http://vondelicious.blogspot.com Von

    The cookies are so pretty! This is definitely meaningful…=)
    We have a day at our school where we wear blue and donate money to support beyond blue……
    such a shame it’s past already- or else I could have baked these cookies!!

  • http://butterheartssugar.blogspot.com [email protected]

    They are such gorgeous cookies, so perfectly decorated! What a great idea to raise awareness.
    Many congrats on handing in your thesis!

  • http://procrastinatingbaker.wordpress.com/ Amanda

    They’re beeeeeeeeeeeewdiful! Great fundraising effort too. Is there a picture of your icing covered toaster anywhere though? In all seriousness though – top job!

  • Thea

    Fantastic sugar cookies – they really are representative of the logo for Beyond Blue. Thank you for the tutorial. I can see now that my icing was definitely too thick. Congratulations on handing in your thesis, it is such a commitment.

  • http://www.berrytravels.com Celeste @ Berrytravels

    I am in awe! My piping skills are made of fail at best and I’ve been wondering recently what sort of practice I could do to perfect my piping skills. Such beautiful cookies and such a fabulous cause too.

  • Scandifoodie

    Congratulations on your thesis, I know how it feels to get it finally off your shoulders! And what a wonderful thing of you to do to raise money for this charity! These are beautiful cookies! Maria x

  • http://www.frankiesfoods.blogspot.com frankie

    The butterflies are beautiful – love that they are for a good cause.

  • http://www.myrestaurantsmelbourne.com My Restaurants Melbourne

    what a great cause your raising money for. the biscuits look so cute too.,

  • mademoiselle delicieuse

    So THIS is what your piping was for! They do look very pretty indeed and would be great to decorate with glittery sugar and sprinkles for kids’ parties too.

  • http://www.phuocndelicious.com Phuoc’n Delicious

    First of all, congrats with handing your thesis in, I want you to celebrate with lots of cake and yummy food :D Secondly, what a great cause you’ve set this month’s theme on. The cookies are so pretty

  • Anonymous

    Oh that looks beautiful! i really love the transition effect :)

  • http://twitter.com/bellyrumbles Belly Rumbles

    Well done on handing in that thesis.

    Beyond Blue is close to my heart, big hug to you for supporting what they do.

    Now on to those awesome butterfly cookies, truly gorgeous!

  • MandyM

    Your biscuits are gorgeous! I love the colours and they’re so neat and uniformly iced, just perfection. Also, congrats on handing in your thesis :)

    Thanks for taking part of the September challenge (and using it for a good cause!)

  • Sirius73

    Love the butterflies! :-)

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the thesis congratulations and support. It is very much appreciated.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you April. Finally got the hang of piping the butterflies after about 30 cookies. The first ones were TERRIBLE!!!

    I appreciate your support on this post.

  • Anonymous

    My Dear Miss Betty,

    Thank you so much for your kind words. I love the quote!

    I simply cannot wait until we meet again. The ladies can busy ourselves in the kitchen, gossiping about dapper, dashing gentlemen over cucumber sandwiches and pitchers of lemonade. Homemade of course. None of that uncouth football, however, as we are laaaadies.

    Kindest Regards,

    Cake Mistress x

  • Anonymous

    My Dear Miss Betty,

    Thank you so much for your kind words. I love the quote!

    I simply cannot wait until we meet again. The ladies can busy ourselves in the kitchen, gossiping about dapper, dashing gentlemen over cucumber sandwiches and pitchers of lemonade. Homemade of course. None of that uncouth football, however, as we are laaaadies.

    Kindest Regards,

    Cake Mistress x

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the support Rachel. I wish you much luck in the final stretch of you thesis. You have an awesome brain and will write something great, I know it.

  • Anonymous

    I wish I took a photo of the frosting covered toaster. And kitchen, really. What a sight!
    Thanks for the support. x

  • Anonymous

    Awww, well I definitely recommend lining up 36 sugar cookies and piping ridiculously thin outlines for piping practice. I wish I took a photo of piping progress from the first cookie to the last, ha ha. So much fail :)
    I appreciate your support, thank you.

  • Sue_tigger

    congrats on handing in your thesis=) 

  • Sue_tigger

    your cookies look fantastic..its wonderful to hear that you are doing this for a good cause.

  • Pingback: 18 Blogs to Help You Make Dazzling Butterflies to Decorate Your House for Spring | Housekeeping

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