Once in a while I get an idea in my head for a project and I just can’t let it go. Such was the case for my gingerbread house and such was the case for these cookies. I think I must be drawn to self-afflicted torture. Hand cramps and eye strain aside, there’s something really satisfying about turning dough and sugar into something so intricate.
I landed on the Fabergé idea because Easter and also because I have an unhealthy obsession with European Royal families. And, I mean yeah, the Romanovs kind of led their people into a World War which resulted in unprecedented loss of human life and then, you know, failed to feed them, but they did give some damn nice prezzies around Easter.
I had originally intended to make a set of these cookies representing a half-dozen different Imperial eggs gifted by Alexander III and Nicolas II (and produced by the House of Fabergé) but then I thankfully reconsidered after a good, long talking to myself. Intent not to descend into Rasputin-esque madness, I recalled the wise words of my former french teacher, “un oeuf is enough.”
So I settled on the Rose Trellis egg which Tsar Nicolas II gave to his wife, the Empress Alexandra, on Easter Day, 1907. Every egg had a hidden surprise, and this one apparently contained a diamond necklace which I for one think is a completely acceptable and appropriate gift for the day on which we celebrate Christ’s resurrection. If the Easter bunny is reading this, step up your game.
Happy Easter! May it be filled with jewels or at the very least lots of chocolate.
- 2 cups flour, sifted twice
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup butter, cold and diced
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 2-3 tablespoons milk
In a large bowl, whisk together sifted flour, sugar, and salt. Add butter and use a pastry cutter to cut in the butter like you’re making a pie crust. (You can use a food processor for this step or use your fingers to rub in the butter). In another small bowl, combine the egg, baking soda, vanilla and two tablespoons of the milk. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the liquid. Use your hands to combine and work the dough until it comes into a ball. Add another tablespoon of milk is the mixture isn’t coming together. Wrap dough tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour before using.
Preheat oven to 375°. On a well-floured surface, roll out dough to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut shapes and place on a parchment lined sheet tray and bake for 7-9 minutes*.
*I am using a large egg-shaped cookie cutter. Because they are so big and because I want them firm enough to handle while I decorate, I baked them for 12 minutes.
Basic Royal Icing
- 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
- 2-3 egg whites
- pinch cream of tartar
Combine sugar and cream of tartar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Add egg whites to desired consistency and mix until thoroughly combined. Color as desired.