What none of you Internet friends of mine know that my real world friends know too well is that I am obsessed with sunken ships. Especially Titanic. I’ve seen every film adaptation of its sinking (even the dreaded “Titanic II”), and don’t even get me started on how many times I’ve seen the James Cameron adaptation!
I remember being mesmerized the first time I watched it. The scenes where the ship would degrade and then restore, from its wreckage to pristine condition–they took my breath away.
The wreck site, despite being 100 years old, was so well preserved. It was untouched by time, survived in a way that would never happen on land. It was a living time capsule.
Naturally, I don’t let April 14 pass by without some homage to the famous liner. Call it crazy, call it a zest for celebrating, but this year, I went a bit overboard (pun intended) and not only baked these cookies, but also adapted a recipe from the last dessert serving on Titanic! Links below.
The obvious problem with making Titanic sugar cookies is all that black frosting. How can you make the cookies look fabulous without making your teeth look terrible? And all that food coloring? It really messes with the consistency of the buttercream.
I saw in a magazine where someone had covered their cookies in fondant as a way to have perfect cookies without using royal icing, and I thought it would be perfect for these ships! I’ve been making these Titanic cookies for years now (I found my cookie cutter here)*, and let me tell you, icing them to look like recognizable ships is difficult! Without precision, they look like blobs.
I used royal icing one year, but I wasn’t a fan of its crunchiness. So fondant seemed to be the solution to it all! It’s soft, has an amazing flavor, holds it color, and maintains shape even when stacked. Oh my goodness, why didn’t I think of this sooner?
Now, the magazine called for attaching the fondant using corn syrup, which is fine, but as a true southerner, I wasn’t quite ready to give up my butter. I used just the slightest dollop to glue those fondant pieces down, and then piped little portholes around the middle. I must say, the little bit of icing did wonders for the flavor.
I dare say, this might be my new favorite cookie decorating technique.
Well, friends, we’ve walked about a mile around this boat deck, and chewed over how great fondant is and why I like buttercream, but I reckon that’s not why you came to talk to me, is it?
Without any further ado, here’s how to make Titanic cookies!
*I realize this is not a Titanic cookie cutter, but in fact, just a ship.
2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a separate bowl, whisk together flour and salt. Slowly add to creamed mixture and mix on low speed until dough comes together. The dough may clump around the beaters, which is a good sign. If dough remains clumpy and does not come together, add ice cold water 1 tbsp. at a time until you reach the desired consistency.
In between two sheets of wax or parchment paper, roll the dough into a disc. Wrap dough and parchment papers together tightly with plastic wrap, place on a cookie sheet, and let chill in the fridge for 1 hour.
Roll dough to about 1/4 inch thickness and cut out shapes. Transfer to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. For an extra crisp shape, return cut outs to fridge for an additional 30 minute chill.
Bake the cookies for 12-15 minutes or until slightly browned on the bottom. Let chill on a wire rack until room temperature.
3 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 tablespoon vanilla
1 box ready-made fondant in white and black
A few drops of yellow food coloring
Beat butter, sugar and vanilla on low speed until combined. Increase the speed to high and let beat for about 5 minutes, or until stiff peaks form. Set aside.
Roll out fondant into 1/4-inch thick sheets. First, cut the tops of the ships out of the white fondant by lining up the edge of the sheet about halfway down the cookie cutter. Take the white fondant cut out and place along the straight edge of the black fondant. Realign the cookie cutter with the white cut out to create the full ship’s image. Press down. The ship will be two separate pieces, the white top and black bottom.
Spread a dollop of buttercream on the cooled cookie, making sure not to get too close to the edges or the smoke stacks. Line up the fondant cut outs with the lines of the cookies. Press down slightly to create a seal.
In a small bowl, combine some of the buttercream with a few drops of yellow food coloring. Spoon into a piping bag fitted with a #1 piping tip. Pipe small dots along the seam of the fondant cut outs.
There you have it! All in all, this was one of the easiest decorating projects I’ve ever undertaken. I think it took me all of 10 minutes to ice and decorate 12 cookies. That’s just impressive.