January 04, 2021

Dumpster Fire Cookies

Happy New Years!!! I'm a couple days late, but we survived 2020! It was a tough, eye-opening year for all of us, filled with lots of "it can't get any worse, right?" dread and disappointment. This year for New Years I was debating what to bake, and instead of the usual gold glitter, pretty sparkles, champagne and strawberries type of dessert I would normally made, I decided to switch it up and make something more representative of how awful 2020 was.

It was a dumpster fire of a year, so why not make dumpster fire cookies? Some people make gingerbread houses, apparently I make sugar cookie dumpsters now :P. I had an internal debate on whether to make 2D vs 3D cookies, as usual 3D won. I decided on a base of colorful sugar cookie dough that would be cut into parts and glued together with colored royal icing. I free hand cut the cookie flames and baked them with my fingers crossed hoping they would turn out ok (they ended up way better than expected!). And made a chubby little trash panda (meet Kevin!) with the leftover dough. So there you have it, 2020 in cookie form.

I wanted to ring in the New Year with some "out with the old, in with the new" positive affirmations. I decided to symbolically "throw away" all my disappointments and frustrations from 2020 into the flames (to name a few: never-ending construction while working from home, everyone who spread false information about COVID-19 and undermined medical experts, the current administration, all those cancelled vacations, "all lives matter", fake news, racial and socioeconomic injustice...) and smash them with a hammer. It felt very cathartic :)! From the ashes and debris of 2020, we see a new dumpster representing 2021 (it's green because we're going to work on climate change this year, along with continuing the fight for equality :D). Hopefully 2021 will be a better year!

Sugar Cookie Recipe
Adapted from iambaker

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg yolk, at room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cups flour
1/8 tsp salt
Food coloring, as desired

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cream butter and sugar. Mix in egg yolk and vanilla extract. Stir in flour, salt, and baking powder until a dough forms. Portion off the dough and mix in food coloring as desired to the different portions.

[Note: I used a lot of food coloring because I wanted darker colors and I think the coloring made the dough crumbly. I wrapped up the different colored doughs in plastic wrap and let them rest for a few hours in the refrigerator before rolling them out, which helped.]

Roll out cookie dough to 1/8" thickness. Cut out shapes as desired and place on parchment paper lined baking sheet. Bake in oven for 4-8 min, depending on cookie size. Watch carefully that they don't burn. Let cool on baking sheet until firm enough to move to a cooling rack to finish cooling. Wait until totally cool before icing and decorating.

Royal Icing Recipe
Adapted from The NYT 

1 egg white
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
Food coloring, as desired

Combine powdered sugar, cream of tartar, and egg white in a mixing bowl. Whip with an electric hand mixer until glossy and stiff peaks form. Divide into small bowls and color the icing in each bowl with food coloring as desired. When not using, cover the bowls with plastic wrap with the wrap touching the icing creating an airtight cover. The royal icing dries out when exposed to air. 

Dumpster Fire Cookies
Sugar cookie recipe, above
Royal icing recipe, above
Piping bags

I used a knife and a ruler to make the different shapes for the dumpster. The whole dumpster was around 3 x 6 x 4cm in dimension. I did a lot of estimating and in the end still needed to trim some of the edges after baking because I didn't account for the edges of the cookies when making measurements. Baking times below are estimates, will vary from oven to oven so watch the cookies carefully with the goal to remove them from the oven before the edges start to turn golden to retain color.

For the dumpster body, the front and bottom were 6 x 3cm rectangles, back was 6 x 4cm rectangle, sides were 3 x 3 x 4cm right angle trapezoids, the side handles were 3 x 0.6cm rectangles. The front, bottom, back were baked 5-6 min, sides were baked 4-5 min, and handles were baked about 3 min. 

For the dumpster lids and feet, I made black cookie dough. The lids were 3 x 3.5cm and the feet were 1x1cm. The lids were baked around 4-5 min and the feet were baked about 3 min.

For the flames, I portioned out red, orange, and yellow cookie dough and used a knife to freehand cut out flames. The red base was about 3cm in width and the tallest flame was about 5cm in height. The orange and yellow flame patterns were copies of what I did with the red but progressively narrower so I could stack them. The flame cookies were baked about 4-5 min.

For the raccoon, I made a gray dough and used bits of leftover black dough, baked about 6-7 min. After cooled, I used white and gray tinted royal icing to add details on the face and tail. Eyes were black nonpareil sprinkles.

For construction, once all the pieces were fully cooled, I used white royal icing to write "2020" and " 2021" on the front pieces and colored royal icing to glue the handles onto the sides. After that all dried, I piped royal icing along the bottom edge of the back piece to attach the bottom piece. After that dried, I piped icing along the edges of the sides and front pieces and attached them to the back/bottom pieces. (Carefully trim cookie edges as needed with a sharp knife between gluing and make sure to brush away crumbs before applying royal icing.) Once all that was dry, I flipped the dumpster upside down and glued on the feet.


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