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)
Butterfly Sugar Cookies
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.
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: