Saturday, December 22, 2018

Chocolate Sugar Cookies with Almond Buttercream Poinsettias

This holiday season, I was fixated on making something with poinsettias. I wanted to hand something out at the end of our last Zumba class of 2018. We have a fun, diverse group ranging from Sporty Spice looking ladies to (my favorite) the wild grandma clique. It makes for a fun Tuesday night!

The first option was the mini cupcake route. Then I thought twice about having all those small wrappers that no one wants to carry and the threat of crumbs on the studio floor. That's when inspiration struck for tiny, easy-to-carry sugar cookies. With everyone counting calories these days, I find its always safer to go the "mini" for sweets.

Though these be tiny, they be mighty! The cookies are simple chocolate sugar cookies, made with cocoa, flour, egg, vanilla, sugar, and butter. The mantra remains that for a quality chocolate flavor, you need to use a quality chocolate. My favorite baking shop in Old Town retired, so I had to try a new unsweetened cocoa and was pleasantly surprised with the Lake Champlain brand. It's rich and deep in flavor!

Adorning these cookies are poinsettia flowers made out of Almond buttercream. I used a frosting buttercream (part butter, part shortening) to ensure the flowers held their shape and set quickly. I didn't add any color for a more natural, elegant look. The possibilities are endless in terms of color combinations!

For the smaller cookies, I made two layers of petals using Wilton 366 tip (leaf style). For the larger cookies, I made three layers of petals with the two bottom layers using the larger leaf tip, (Wilton 352 tip) and top layer using the Wilton 366. Once you've frosted, decorate immediately (while the frosting is still pliable) with sprinkles of your choice.

Happy Holidays from Squirrels and Sweets!

Chocolate Sugar Cookies
Below are two of my favorite recipes - the choice is yours! They're both perfect for holding shapes.

SugarBombe' Chocolate Sugar Cookies (the brown sugar makes these stand out)
Sprinkle Bakes Chocolate Sugar Cookies (classic)

Almond Buttercream 
adapted from I am Baker's crusting buttercream

1 lb powdered sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
1 teaspoon almond extract
3-6 tablespoons milk of your choice (I used oat milk)

Cream together the butter and shortening. Gradually add powdered sugar, a cup at a time, on low speed. Add milk one tablespoon at a time, until you get the right consistency for piping (thick enough to hold its shape, but not too thick you break your wrist trying to pipe). Add almond extract and mix until combined.

Poinsettia Flowers
If you need a tutorial for piping, below is a great resources from Wilton. In the interest of saving time, I piped the flowers directly onto the cookies without any issue.

Buttercream Flowers Series: How to Make Poinsettias