4th of July, Citizenship and Celebrations

I’m writing this and getting it done now because I know if I put it off much longer I’ll get so busy that I’ll find myself getting around to it around…August (and by then there won’t be much of a point). I’m a week away from moving to New York, and just two weeks away from pastry school at the French Culinary Institute. My time is budgeted out to the second, so naturally, when I found a free minute this afternoon, I seized it.

When I think about the 4th of July I can’t help but think of the family cookouts, parties and fireworks displays that I’ve known my whole life. If we weren’t spending way too much money on fireworks, something was wrong. When I tried to think of something I could do for our get-together this year, I was almost at a loss. There wasn’t much room left in my head to think about things aside from moving and tackling the mountain of laundry I need to pack. Then Martha saved the day.

These cookies were featured in Martha Stewart Living for their 4th of July issue, and as soon as I saw them I knew I had to make them.

Aside from being in celebration of our nation’s independence, they’re also partly to celebrate my close friend Marina, who moved to the US with her mom around 2001 from Russia. She had been wanting to make it official for some time, and finally it worked out just this past Wednesday for everything to be completed to secure her citizenship. The US is definitely lucky we got this girl. So, Happy Citizenship, Marina! :)

These were probably the easiest cookies I’ve ever made (which is good if you’re planning on making them and taking them to your 4th of July celebration this year). You should know, though, that you should allow yourself a good 8 hours before you want to serve them to make sure the royal icing sets up well enough. I’m big on texture, and to me there’s nothing worse than biting into half set-up, half soft royal icing.

[Grab the recipe for these cookies after the jump]

Fireworks Cookies

As seen in Martha Stewart Living, July 2011

Yields about 7 dozen 1¾-inch cookies, 5 dozen 2¼-inch cookies, thirty 2¾-inch cookies, or thirteen 3½-inch cookies.

For the Cookies

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting your work surface
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp coarse salt
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

For Decorating the Cookies

Process

  1. You can’t eat cookies without first making them. So getting things started, cream the butter and sugar in a stand mixer until light and fluffy (or about 3 minutes)
  2. While butter and sugar are creaming together, sift the flour, baking powder and ½ teaspoon of salt into a large bowl.
  3. After butter and sugar have creamed together, add your two eggs, one at a time, and let mix well. Reduce the mixer’s speed down to it’s lowest setting.
  4. Slowly add the flour mixture (keep it slow! Who wants flour in their face?), then the good vanilla extract.
  5. Turn the dough out onto your counter to make one solid ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.
  6. Preheat the oven to 325˚F. Roll out your dough to ¼-inch thickness on a floured work surface.
  7. Cut out the cookies using whichever size cookie cutter you have on hand (don’t go buy them unless you just really want new ones…or make a lot of cookies).
  8. Transfer the cookie cutouts to a baking sheet and place in the refrigerator for another half hour to let them cool until firm.
  9. Place in the oven and bake for 17-19 minutes, or until the cookie’s edges just start to brown. (Keep an eye on it though, everyone’s ovens are different.)
  10. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.
  11. Make frosting and decorate using the following technique:
  • Pipe a border around the outside of the cookie with white icing.
  • Save a little white icing in a separate bowl and add a few drops of water until it’s thin enough to spread with a toothpick. (This is called flooding).
  • 'Flood' the cookie with white icing inside the border you piped in step one.
  • Place a red or blue dot of frosting in the middle, then alternate with rings of red and blue around the middle dot.
  • Drag your toothpick in up and down motions from the center to create ‘firework’ patterns.
  • Allow icing to set for at least 8 hours before serving and eating

Make these cookies FUN. No two fireworks explosions are exactly the same, so neither should these cookies be. Make them different and if you’re really into making an event out of it, get some friends to help out and everyone make some of their own. Creativity is key. Well, that and a steady hand. But just dive in there. You can’t mess these up!

Here’s what more of mine looked like:

I really hope you enjoy these cookies. They taste great so everyone will enjoy them, but they’re grown up enough in their design to add that extra something to any 4th of July get-together.

I’m not sure how frequent my posting is going to be before I move, but I will try my best to get another one in before NY!

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