What better way to celebrate the FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015 and my daughter’s soccer team than with soccer cookies?! I’ll be demonstrating these cookies tomorrow on CTV Morning Live at 8:15am and 8:30 ish with anchors Kris and Eleanor. (NOTE: This ended up being one of the funniest shows with Kris and Eleanor yet – things did not go well for poor Kris!)
First, let me warn you – decorating soccer ball sugar cookies is not a quick and easy icing project – it takes time, patience and practice! But, if you like a good challenge and love decorating cookies, this is the project for you.
These cookies may not win the world cup of cookie decorating, but the laughter and fun we had while making and eating these cookies more than made up for any lack of talent!
Here are the things I learned in preparing these soccer sugar cookies.
1. Start with a good sugar cookie recipe for decorating.
If you’re making a sugar cookie to decorate, you need a recipe that won’t puff up, crumble, crack or lose it’s shape. I’ve gone through many recipes where my snowmen, Christmas trees or alphabet letters turn into puffy blobs that barely resemble their initial shape. Alton Brown’s recipe for sugar cookies from the Food Network is the best for holding it’s shape. It may be stiff and hard when you take it out of the fridge to roll, but once you get it rolled out and your cookies cut, their shape stays and they puff just the right amount. They’re a classic no frills sugar cookie where your icing and decorating take center stage.
2. Make your own Piping Bags.
During the course of this project, I used a professional piping bag, cheap piping bags, flexible plastic Pampered Chef squeezable piping bottles and parchment paper piping bags. I found I had the most control and got the finest piping line from the homemade parchment paper piping bags. I was also able to use several colors at once, rather than having to wash my #2 Wilson piping tip every time I switched colors. If you have a huge assortment of tips and bags, this may not be an issue for you.
Here’s the You Tube video that helped me the most in terms of making my own Homemade Parchment Paper Piping Bags by Julia Usher. Julia shares a lot of great information in her video, to get right to making the bags go to 3:18 ish in this video.
3. Use Royal Icing with the Right Consistency.
Royal icing is a mix of egg white, cream of tartar, icing sugar (powdered sugar), and vanilla. Water is added to make the icing softer and to adjust the consistency depending on how you will use the icing. Even one to two drops of water can make a big difference. For the soccer ball cookies, I used two thicknesses of icing. One was for flooding and one was for outlining. As you can imagine, the flooding icing should be a little softer or runnier than the outlining icing so it can spread and run into all the nooks and crannies and dry with a smooth coat. The outlining icing has to be firm enough to hold the shape that you’re piping but soft enough that it comes out the nozzle. If you watch the CTV Morning show where I demonstrated these cookies (June 9, 8:15 am), you’ll see that the consistency of the green grass icing was too stiff – poor Kris had to apply so much pressure to the bag to get the icing out that the whole tip blew off the end of the piping bag. A sure sign that your outlining icing needs another drop of water!
Here’s the Royal Icing recipe from Crouton Crackerjacks that I used. He provides some great info on mixing and piping Royal Icing.
Royal Icing – by Crouton Crackerjacks
3 cups powdered sugar
2 egg whites (use pasteurized egg whites in carton to avoid risks associated with raw eggs)
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp vanilla extract
water as needed to reach the desired count
To determine the consistency of the icing I used the counting trick.
Flooding Icing – I used a 5 to 10 count icing
Outlining Icing – I used a 12 to 15 count icing
By 5 to 10 count icing, I mean, how long does it take for a ribbon or line of icing to recede and disappear when it’s drizzled on top of a bowl of icing. The thinner the icing the shorter it takes. (see Crouton Cracker Jack’s video for a demo at about 1:56). He suggests a 5 count icing for flooding, I’d say mine was closer to an 8 count.
Don’t worry about the exact count, it’s just a point of reference and comparison. Do what works for you! Practice and test out various consistencies. You can always adjust with more water or more icing sugar. Even if you’ve already filled the bag, just squeeze it back into a bowl and adjust as needed.
4. Give Yourself Plenty of Time.
These cookies take time. A good chunk of that time is simply waiting. For example, cool the cookie dough in the fridge for 2 hours before rolling; allow the cookies to cool overnight before icing; let the outline dry before flooding; let the flooded layer harden completely before adding the next layer; wait between colors so they don’t run; allow everything to harden before storing in airtight container and the worst one of all wait to eat the cookies until you’re at the party!
Here we are waiting for the base layer to dry before drawing or piping on the soccer balls. Waiting is hard!
5. Practice Drawing Soccer Balls.
Of course you know what a soccer ball looks like – black spots on white. Easy peasy. Yeah, that’s what I thought too, until I had to draw a soccer ball on a cookie! Did you know that the black spots are pentagons and the white spots are hexagons – aha – see! Study this image of a soccer ball and practice using your piping bag to draw it on wax paper or a dinner plate before you commit to a cookie. You might even consider printing this picture, placing it under wax paper or glass to practice.
I started by drawing a pentagon (a slanted 5 sided house).
Then adding a spoke of equal length from each corner of the pentagon.
Then drawing the tip of a triangle at the end of each of those spokes.
And finally, filling in all the pentagons with black. By the way, those triangle tips you added last are the tops of more black pentagons, so fill those in too.
If the size and placement was a little off I needed to add more lines. In this photo, showing the various stages of my decorations, you’ll see some cookies have lines all over the place – it took a while to get the exact placement and sizing. Some are more like spiderwebs than soccer balls, but if you eat them right away, nobody will notice!
6. Have fun!
When you get exhausted from drawing soccer balls, pipe out some grass cookies, make flags, team names, player names, stick figures playing soccer or just do random abstract art. Sure a perfect soccer ball is pretty awesome, but a squiggly lined Go Team Canada is just as tasty and imparts just as much enthusiasm.
For the green grass on the cookies we used a special icing tip that has multiple holes. This tip was the one that got my kids interested in piping!
We displayed our cookies on a gold medallion.
We also displayed some on green astro-turf, which we made by dyeing shredded coconut with green food coloring.
As you can see we also made different sized soccer balls. The cookie on top of a cookie was a big hit!
Good luck with your soccer cookies! Let me know if you try these and how they turn out.
Getty is not a professional cookie decorator! However, she does like to encourage people to have fun and try new things in the kitchen. Her writing, speaking and workshops are filled with laughter, tasty recipes, time-saving tips, and helpful kitchen ideas to make home cooking easy and enjoyable. She is a Professional Home Economist, author of Manitoba’s best-selling Prairie Fruit Cookbook, Founder of Fruit Share, mom and veggie gardener.