As you can probably guess, this is in no way a political blog.
I have been kind of distracted from the blogging community lately because for the past 3 days, since January 25th, Egypt has been having a revolution. Protests everywhere, things on fire, tear gas, injuries…the works. As you might know, Egypt is my home country. I was raised in America for my childhood, but raised in Egypt for the majority of my teen years, so this hits home quite literally.
After a little over 30 years of a corrupt government, they are finally standing up and demanding what is theirs–a better government that actually cares about their people. This is probably the best thing to ever happen to Egypt, but it definitely doesn’t make it any less scary.
The government is fighting off its own people, both physically and virtually. Physically in the streets and virtually by cutting off the internet for the WHOLE of Egypt, something experts didn’t think possible. Most of my Facebook friends are from Egypt, so my Facebook homepage is near-empty and it’s really difficult to keep in touch with my friends and family. On top of that, it looks like the situation is getting more chaotic by the second.
So for the past few days, the Arabic TV news has been the regular background of our home. All we can do is pray and wait and watch from the safety of our home. Therefore I thought I would make a tribute to them on the blog and spread some awareness, while not leaving you guys empty-handed as well.
These are my first sugar cookies, and my first time working with royal icing using meringue powder (In the pictures, the icing still hasn’t dried yet, just in case you were wondering.).
Confession: I currently don’t own a stand mixer. Or a hand mixer. We went through 2 different stand mixers a few months ago and I rejected both of them and told my mom to return them. She asked me how I was going to bake without it, and I confidently replied that if people back in the day could do it, so could I.
Fact: Royal icing using meringue powder is massacre on your hands without an electric mixer. I almost regret it. Almost.
Also, decorating is just a little tiresome with all the colors and whatnot, but I thought they were worth the trouble. The important thing is that the cookies turned out really yummy and really cute (thank you 101 cookie cutter set) for my first time.
I’m proud of them and proud of Egypt!
There is a wonderful Facebook group that is up-to-date on everything that is happening in case you’re interested (http://www.facebook.com/elshaheeed.co.uk?v=wall) and even the American news channels talk about this Egyptian revolution fairly often. Keep Egypt in your thoughts and prayers, everyone!
Vanilla-Almond Sugar Cookies (both recipes adapted Bake at 350)
- 3 c unbleached, all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 c sugar
- 2 sticks (salted) butter, cold
- 1 egg
- 3/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp pure almond extract (I used a different flavor, but this is probably going to be amazing)
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Combine the flour and baking powder, set aside. Cream the sugar and butter. Add the egg and extracts and mix. Gradually add the flour mixture and beat just until combined, scraping down the bowl, especially the bottom.
- The dough will be crumbly, so knead it together with your hands as you scoop it out of the bowl for rolling (video on University of Cookie).
- Roll onto a floured surface and cut into shapes. Place on parchment lined baking sheets (I recommend freezing the cut out shape on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before baking) and bake for 10-12 minutes. Let sit a few minutes on the sheet, then transfer to a cooling rack.
- 4 TBSP meringue powder
- scant 1/2 c. water
- 1 lb. powdered sugar
- 1/2 – 1 tsp light corn syrup
- few drops clear extract (optional)
- Combine the meringue powder and water. With the paddle attachment of an electric mixer, beat until combined and foamy.
- Sift in the powdered sugar and beat on low to combine. (Do NOT skip the sifting!)
- Add in the corn syrup and extract if desired. ( I think the corn syrup helps keep the icing shiny.)
- Increase speed to med-high/high and beat for about 5 minutes, just until the icing is glossy and stiff peaks form.
- (You should be able to remove the beater from the mixer and hold up and jiggle without the peak falling.) Do not overbeat.
- Cover with plastic wrap touching the icing or divide and color using gel paste food colorings.
- This “stiff” icing is perfect for outlining and even for building gingerbread houses and monogramming. To fill in your cookies, add water to your icing a teaspoon at a time, stirring with a rubber spatula, until it is the consistency of syrup. This technique of filling a cookie with thinned icing is called “flooding.”
Things are looking better for Egypt! There have been several robberies and people have been scared in their homes but the community is pulling together and forming their own Community Union to arrest thugs and thieves! I couldn’t be prouder of my brave fellow Egyptians!