I have always loved to bake and cook. Always. I think it’s something fun and therapeutic to do, and seeing people enjoy something you make is always nice.
In December, I jumped into the world of Rosanna Pansino and her YouTube baking series, Nerdy Nummies. She makes baked goods inspired by or from nerd and geek culture, and she has the cutest baking line I’ve ever seen.
In January, as an early birthday gift to myself, I went ahead and ordered a few things from her baking line, including her cookie decorating set (comes with two adorable spatulas, an 8-bit heart cookie cutter, an oven mitt covered in 8-bit hearts, and 8-bit heart sprinkles), piping bags and all of her piping bag tips, and her rolling pin.
I wanted to put everything I purchased to use as soon as possible, but UPS super sucks sometimes and my stuff got delayed for two weeks. By the time it arrived, I was already back to school and had zero time to bake.
But everything happens for a reason. The weekend after my birthday I went out and celebrated with my best friends Olivia and Haley, and one of the gifts I received was the Nerdy Nummies cookbook from Haley. I think I cried.
Fast forward to the day (or, night) before Valentine’s Day. After work I was planning to make 8-bit heart sugar cookies. Unfortunately I stayed at work a bit later than usual that night, so I decided since I was going to Target anyway to pick up red food coloring, I’d buy a pre-made sugar cookie mix to make things a bit easier and quicker.
I went with the Betty Crocker mix. On the back of the bag it instructs you to add 3 tablespoons of flour if you want to make the mixture thicker for cut-out cookies. I did this, but ended up with a mixture that looked like regular drop-cookie mix. It was super sticky and I knew I wouldn’t be able to roll the dough out at all. So I added more flour. And more. And more. And more. I completely lost track of how much extra flour I added until I could handle the dough with my hands, but I’d say definitely at least a cup.
I’m not sure why this was the case. At first I thought it might be because the melted butter you’re supposed to use might have been too warm. I had let it sit out for a while before mixing it in, but maybe it needed to cool longer. I stuck the mixture in the freezer (pre-flour-madness) to try to thicken it up and help it cool, but that didn’t do much. So then I went flour crazy on my table and with the dough. Eventually it did thicken up and I could cut out cookies.
By this time, it was nearing 11:30 p.m. Thankfully, these cookies bake super fast. I put 6 in at a time and they were done in 6 minutes (instructions say 5-7 minutes). In total, I got 18 cookies. It could have been 20, but I didn’t want to wait for another batch of only 2 cookies, so I just threw the extra dough away.
This was my first time using a cooling rack as well. I bought this brass colored one from Target for under $10, and it held 12 of the 8-bit heart cookies at a time (they are slightly larger than an average round cookie). I’ve literally never owned a cooling rack and neither have my parents as far as memory serves, so this was a very magical experience.
I can’t believe I’m blogging about a cooling rack. This is adulthood, I guess.
While all the cookies fully cooled, I got to work on the royal icing from the Nerdy Nummies cookbook. This was supposed to be a super simple recipe (literally 3 ingredients), but it took so long.
By the time I started working on this, it was past midnight, so I couldn’t use the hand mixer out of fear I’d wake up my parents or my siblings. So I had to beat 5 egg whites with a fork until they turned frothy. One of the reasons I love Rosanna’s cookbook is because it has step by step pictures of everything. Except the royal icing. Of course. After I finished with the egg whites I added vanilla and then you have to add 4 cups of powdered sugar, a few tablespoons at a time. Again, took forever because all I had was a fork.
I also ended up having to add almost a cup more of powdered sugar because my icing turned out super runny and I new there was no way I’d be able to outline on the cookies with that consistency.
Once I reached a good consistency, I added red food coloring and then transferred it into a piping bag. Rosanna’s cookbook has perfect instructions on how to set up your piping bag and the best way to transfer icing into it. Her piping bags are also super cool because there’s an 8-bit heart design toward the opening of the bag that doubles as a guideline for how much icing you should put into it.
Icing the cookies was the best part because I think decorating is always the most fun. I did find that my icing was still a bit too runny to outline and it would spread a bit, but by this time it was 1 a.m. and I was ready to be done, so I just went ahead and outlined all the cookies, let them sit, and then flooded inside the outline.
They weren’t as perfectly iced as I wanted, but I still love how they turned out. My siblings woke up on Valentine’s Day and were so excited. When they got home from school that day, they told me how cool they were and that they tasted good, which is all I hoped.