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How to make Victorian Lady Bustle Dress Sugar cookies by Lisa Schnapp on 07-27-2010

Several days ago, I was searching around for a Victorian lady (or bustle dress) cake to make for a tea I'd planned to attend... Found a cute Victorian lady sugarpaste cake online, and hoped to make one to bring... however, due to time constraints, and my obvious lack of baking skill, decided instead on making a batch of Bustle Dress Victorian lady tea sugar cookies to bring to the tea instead instead...so here are my results...

Victorian lady Bustledress Sugar Cookies

Victorian costume cookie Bustledress.comNeed the best recipe for delicious Sugar cookies hold a cut cookie shape well? These fancy cookies have chewy centers, yet are very solid and firm, suitable to serve at a tea or as a hostess gift, or Christmas and the other holidays? Then look no further than my Bustledress Sugar Cookies! : ) Note: These cookies are not calorie deprived for those watching calories! Think like a steak cookie. ; ) Note: As my test subject, Hubby RAVED about these cookies!!!

This recipe is for a small batch of 12 large 6" cookies of about 1/4" thickness. Frosted on top with Royal Icing made with meringue powder (instead of egg whites). (I have also added a recipe below for icing made without Meringue powder) This will help remove salmonella risk from egg whites if using raw egg whites concerns you. You can also double the recipe below to make a larger batch. If you wish to make flavored sugars (recipe follows below), pre-make the sugars a week ahead or at least a few days in advance for use if desired.

In the cookies shown here, I made my own "Bustledress" lady cookie cutter.
Bustledress.com Victorian dress cookieI did this by bending an old large metal cookie cutter with wire pliers until I liked the overall bustle dress shape. Then, later added an antique chocolate mold to shape her a "parasol." After cutting the cookie dough shapes, I pushed the two touching edges together to become a single cookie. After baking the cookies, I used the Cherry Royal Frosting (recipe below) and made it very, very thick for a stand-up 3-D effects like cookie lady's bonnet.

Then, I made another, watered down version for a runny "runout" glaze type frosting to coat the bustle dress between the thicker lines. Wet frosted edges were then sugared tone-on-tone to the frosting with flavored sugars with pesticide free (edible flowers) of lavender and rose petals. (I used flavored lavender sugar and rose dusting sugars by La Belle Fleur.) Or use edible glitter.

Edible details.
Bustledress.com Victorian costume cookieOther edible goodies added, such as sprinkles, Quins (or "confetti" by other brands) for the eyes and mouth, etc. were added to our damp frosted surface, then fine edges were piped in a parchment piping tube with melted milk chocolate Confectioner's Chocolate melt drops (White/ or red, or/ dark chocolate can also be used for piping details.)Bustledress.com chocolate Victorian cookies I didn't use any silver Dragees as the metallic in the contents I'd heard is not considered completely safe for consumption by the FDA. The end of the piping left little higher areas, so I softened those hard edges with a new, clean, soft paintbrush safe for food contact that was first dampened with water.

Piping Details
Bustledress.com piped Victorian cookiesYou can make your own fine parchment piping bag out of a large triangle of tightly rolled parchment with the very edge of the tip cut off (careful not to cut too much!) and twist/ fold down the top of the piping bag so the contents do not squirt on your fingers. You can also make sugar diamonds (or colored glass stones) to use on the surface (look up: how to make Rock Candy.) for a necklace on your cookie, or on the bonnet. Or use coconut or chopped nuts. Look for a site that sells safe, edible natural full flowers already perfectly pressed and made. Add edible pearls or you can even make the cookie top a sugar-free, fancy, printed (flavorless) wafer paper or even wafer paper with black and white stripes! You can even have your special sweetie's image printed on sugar paper with a printer and food grade inks for cookies or cake! http://www.photofrost.com/

Below, I'm also adding a recipe for tiny, sugared violet (or miniature tea rose) natural flowers to be added to your cookies if desired. (Only use pesticide free flowers that are edible such as roses, marigolds, pansies, viola, and violets. Flowers from a florist are usually sprayed and so are not considered consumption safe.) Tiny Gumpaste, sugar paste, sugar clay, chocolate clay molded flowers can also be made in advance, later added for decoration with frosting or light corn syrup. There is a sugar clay recipe here too. Cookies can also have wooden sticks added during baking to make them cookies- on a stick! Also a really cute idea as well.

To give fancy cookies as a gift:
You can use a straw 1/4 into cookie body to cut a stringing hole to hang cookie if desired. Place finished and fully dry cookie in a clear (or tinted) cellophane package, and tie with a lovely ribbon. Add dried rose or lavender stalks or tiny silk flowers or buds. Add Victorian postcard/ trading card (or copies), Victorian perfume bottle label copy with a hole stamped in the paper to hang, or Victorian style embossed stamped card, then seal with gold Dresden scrap, or sealing wax and stamp.

Note: I will add more finished cookie photos as I make future batches.

Okay... let's get started:

Bustledress Sugar Cookie Recipe:

Preheat oven at 350 degrees

Sift together in a large glass bowl:
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated white sugar (or use Rose, Violet or Lavender and Vanilla flavored sugar, recipe below.)
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1/2 level teaspoon baking powder
1/2 level teaspoon salt

Then, beat these wet ingredients in another bowl until smooth and pale, then add slowly to flour mixture:

1 stick unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 large egg
2 teaspoons pure Vanilla extract (Or use pure Almond extract, Cherry or Lemon extract, etc., but no imitation flavors) 1 teaspoon Marachino Cherry juice (optional)
or 1 teaspoon rose, violet or lavender flavored water (optional) (recipe below)
or 1 teaspoon finely ground lemon or citrus zest (optional.)

Usually, mixing dough 3 minutes by mixer is sufficient for dough blending, or stir for approximately 6 minutes by hand.

Bustledress.com Victorian gown cookieBustledress.com Victorian outfit cookie Divide dough, forming and rounding into dough balls, then covering dough with Saran wrap. (Although I covered all three dough balls at once in my bowl, I suggest covering each dough ball with wrap separately so no light crust can form as mine did. Won't hurt anything, but you would have to remix to remove the light crust for baking.)

Chill dough for at least 1 hour, 24 hours is better for rolling. When ready to use, ready cool baking sheets (warm pans cause butter to spread and lose shape) for use. You can use parchment paper below cookies if desired.

Bustledress.com Victorian cookieFlatten dough to 6" discs, and carefully cut into even slices. (Flour knife if needed or use unflavored/ unwaxed dental floss to easily slice perfect sections.) You can cover a clean working surface with confectioners sugar (or flour or a mix of both) to help retard sticking. I used only plastic wrap on my baking sheet surface with no added flour or sugars, and this process seemed to work perfectly when I used my cool rolling pin in contact with the plastic wrap on the surface of the dough.

Keep turning dough while rolling so dough stays smooth without sticking. Roll out dough to about 1/4" (1 cm) thickness. With desired cookie cutters (lightly sugar or flour cutters if desired) then transfer cut cookies to prepared baking sheet, then back to refrigerator for about 20 minutes. Keeping the fat in the dough cool is what keeps the shapes crisp and from losing form and spreading outward while cooking.
Note: If you decide not to frost your cookies after baking, you may want to consider sprinkling the unbaked cookies at this time with colored sparkling sugars or flavored sugars if desired.
Depending on cookie size (thinner cookies will take less time, as thicker cookies will require more time... so watch carefully.) spread cookies 1" apart, then bake for about 8-10 minutes. (I cooked for 10 minutes here.) Or, until the cookies edges begin to lightly brown. Chill any scraps to reroll and bake on a cool cookie sheet.

Victorian cookies by Bustledress.comVictorian style cookies by Bustledress.com Remove cookies promptly from oven.
Take thin metal spatula, and very carefully disengage cookies from sheet and they will not have sticking issues!

Be careful not to weaken or crack thin areas- like my lady's waist shown here. In a case such as this, put a bit of frosting in the hot cookie, push together then make a frosting belt over the suface. : )

Let butter fat cool and stabilize for a few minutes, then transfer cookies to a cool wire rack (do not stack) for cooling time remainder. (Make sure cookies are very cool to the touch before frosting to ensure best results so frosting does not melt down.)

To Ice cookies:
Victorian type cookies by Bustledress.comVictorian style cookie by Bustledress.com After frosting with the Cherry Royal frosting recipe harder peak frosting piped at edges, make a separate batch of water-thinned, "runout frosting" for cookie frosting centers. Then add dusting sugars, sprinkles, confetti, etc., while frosting is still wet.

Let cookie icing dry well for many hours to dry completely before storing.
Victorian lady cookie by Bustledress.comIf your cookie is not well dried before storing away, you will have sticking and smudging issues if there are any damp areas left.

Here, on this cookie, I used a small batch of extremely thick frosting for a 3/D effect on the bonnet and details of dress, then sugar dusted this with sugar made with lavender flowers.Victorian lady cookies by Bustledress.com

Adding lavender flowers or petals may not so good just by thought as it may evoke thoughts of perfumes and soap, but realize, after cooking lavender tastes mild... really nice- no perfumy taste.

Decorate cookies with sprinkles, flavored or colored sugars, plus edible pearls, printed sugar paper or piped chocolate, and more.

You can even also add small candied violets (made well in advance) toward the end of decorating, or apply sugar or chocolate molded flowers with a dot of light corn syrup or soft frosting.

Store frosted cookies between layers of parchment paper (or wax paper)... your cookies will keep at least a week in an airtight container such as a glass cookie jar.

Makes about 12 - 6 inch (12 cm) sugar cookies.


Cherry Royal Icing made with Meringue Powder:
2 cups sifted plain or (vanilla, violet, etc.) flavored confectioners sugar (powdered or premade icing) (depending on consistency desired, or will need more or less depending on desired outcome.)
2 tablespoons meringue powder (I used Nancy's Fancy's brand)
3/4 cup Marichino cherry juice (for a bit of pale pinkish color and light cherry flavor)
1 teaspoon unsalted room temperature butter
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or almond extract
Optional a drop or so of Food Color (I prefer the Gel Pastes that can be found at cake decorating stores or otherwise on-line). Otherwise I just prefer not to use food color when possible.

If the frosting is too sweet, add milk (or powdered milk). If you want the frosting to be a stiffer/ thicker, "hard peak" frosting that holds it's shape for borders and details, add more of the powdery confectioners sugar. Make it very thick, and it will be very hard to get out of a piping tube, however, it will have a 3-D standing ability, but dry somewhat quickly... when you want the icing more runny and glazed for a "runout" cookie center, add small amounts of water. Keep testing so that the frosting does not hold a shape.

Cherry Royal Icing made with Egg Whites:
2 cups sifted plain or (vanilla, violet, etc.) flavored confectioners sugar (powdered or premade icing) (depending on consistency desired, or will need more or less depending on desired outcome.)
2 large egg whites
2 teaspoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon unsalted room temperature butter
1/4 cup Marichino cherry juice (for a bit of pale pinkish color and light cherry flavor)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla or almond extract
Optional a drop or so of Food Color (I prefer the Gel Pastes that can be found at cake decorating stores or otherwise on-line). Otherwise I just prefer not to use food color when possible.

If the frosting is too sweet, add milk (or powdered milk). If you want the frosting to be a stiffer/ thicker, "hard peak" frosting that holds it's shape for borders and details, add more of the powdery confectioners sugar. Make it very thick, and it will be very hard to get out of a piping tube, however, it will have a 3-D standing ability, but dry somewhat quickly... when you want the icing more runny and glazed for a "runout" cookie center, add small amounts of water. Keep testing so that the frosting does not hold a shape.

To make frosting:
Beat either recipe until fluffy. If too sweet, add milk (or powdered milk). Icing should be used immediately, or transfer frosting to an airtight container as over time royal icing does hardens and will form a hard crust when exposed to air... Cover right on unused frosting with plastic wrap when not in use.


Victorian lady chocolate cookies by Bustledress.comVictorian lady chocolates by Bustledress.comSince working with real chocolate usually requiring the use of chocolate "tempering", I am suggesting the use of Chocolate Candy Melts. (Confectioner's Lite Confectioner's coating by Nancy's Fancy's Brand.)
To pipe with Chocolate Candy melts:
Confectioners Chocolate melts (drops) found in bags from party supply or baking stores can be melted for fine hard chocolate piping details. Only heat at 30 second intervals, and stir until melted. I lower my heating times to 1/2 power, 10 second the last 30 seconds. No further heating once it is melted, or chocolate may "seize" and this happens quickly! I used 90 seconds (total) to melt my 16 pieces in a small glass bowl- your microwave may take less time. Pour chocolate quickly, and fill parchment cone, twisting the top closed, and folding the top down in hand. Cut parchment tip cut off (or baker's nozzles and frosting bag). Test a bit before using to make sure you have control over everything.

Flavored sugar recipes

Vanilla, citrus, or flower flavored sugar recipes:
Note: Being large granules, rock sugar and coarse grain sugar will not fully absorb the essence of the flavorings added as thoroughly, so use a bit more flavoring with them. Make your own Superfine sugar by taking regular granulated white sugar and pulse it in your food processor until ultra fine in texture.
For Vanilla Flavored sugar:
Combine 2 cup (400 grams) granulated white sugar (or other sugars) with one cleaned, sliced vanilla bean that has been fully dried on a baking sheet. Store for about 3 days to a week in an airtight container, stirring or shaking a few times before using to evenly distribute the vanillian flavor mixture. Fish out and process bean to consistency of sugar before using, or add another fresh bean to increase flavor. It is easier to add more later than make too strong a mix to begin with. For best results, use within 1 week.
Note: Can also add lemon or citrus zest to this recipe.
For Rose, Violet, Marigold or Lavender flower flower sugar (these flowers can also be mixed in if desired as well.):

Pick as many safe (no use of pesticides) unsprayed, edible flowers as you can use- usually 4 flowers of a type is more than sufficient. Remove away all of the green parts of the flower including stems and stamens, add loose petals to this mixture too. Layer: sugar, then petals, then sugar, with final layer of sugar on top, until mixture is used. Let mixture rest for at least 1 week. Keep petals in or sift out flowers with sifter before use.

For making candied violets, or tiny candied tea roses to decorate cookies:

1 teaspoon Meringue powder
1 teaspoon water
Flavored sanding sugar (no confectioners- as it create a whitish powdery film)
Edible, pesticide free flowers (violets and tiny miniature tea roses are good choices.)

Mix 1 teaspoon Meringue powder with 1 teaspoon water. Take clean, pesticide free edible flower and remove as much of the green parts as possible to keep the flower intact. Dunk and coat thoroughly in Meringue powder mixture. With spoon (or toothpick) separate petals, then apply flavored sanding sugar in bowl, using spoon to coat with sugar. Use leftover Meringue powder mixture to "glue" on flower to iced cookie.

Sugar clay flowers: (Also is considered "rolled Buttercream") recipe

Equal parts Karo light corn syrup/ cool, Crisco butter flavor veg. shortening
1 cup (or more) powdered, flavored confectioners's sugar
Mix in equal parts, the butter flavor shortening and corn syrup.
Dash pure vanilla
Tiny dot gel food coloring if desired.

Blend this mixture by mixer or hand, adding the flavored confectioners sugar and other parts. Constantly test consistency. Sugar clay should hold shape well. Should be not sticky, but smooth and pliable. If not holding shape, add more flavored powdered sugar. With flower molds use stiffer consistency. Try gold "Luster dust"... and use the dust with alcohol based flavors, such as vanilla, almond or lemon.

Chocolate Molding Clay

Equal parts:
1/2 Confectioners chocolate melts, brown, white or colored
1/2 Karo light corn syrup (only to firm clay mixture).
Blend into smooth mixture, then apply and let dry. To make thicker clay, add powdered sugar to desired consistency. Can also be dusted outside with cocoa powder- like a truffle.

You should end up with fancy Victorian lady cookies like this (or hopefully even better!).Victorian bustle dress lady chocolate cookie by Bustledress.comPlease let me know if you like the recipes, or have any photos from these recipes that you'd like to share! : )

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