How to make pointe shoe cookies for your favourite bunheads
Pointe shoe cookies (or pointe shoe biscuits if you're British or Australian) make great gifts for ballet students, ballet teachers, pianists, ballet recitals, and ballet-loving friends.
Here's how I make mine.This cookie recipe is excellent for all rolled cookies as they hold their shape really well since there is no baking powder in the recipe to make them spread and puff up. It includes my hot tip on how to make rolled cookies generally with a lot less cleanup.
7 oz (200g) soft butter (NOT margarine!)
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
3 cups flour (400 g) not self-raising
Beat butter, sugar, and vanilla together for 2 minutes. Add egg and beat for another 30 seconds. Beat in flour on slow speed until dough clings together, finish with hands to make a smooth ball of dough. Divide in two and put each smaller ball into a large plastic zipper-closure freezer bag. Chill for about 1/2 hour to an hour.
With dough still in bag, roll out (ie you will be rolling your rolling pin on top of the plastic) till it is a square of even thickness (about 1/4 inch) completely filling the bag (you may have to turn the bag over, and open the "zipper" occasionally to remove creases and air bubbles). Open the zipper closure, run a knife down the side edges of the bag and peel the top side of the bag off the cookie dough (it won't stick).
[If you are making ballerina-shaped cookies and want to decorate the "tutu" with coloured sugar, sprinkle it over the cookie dough, fold the plastic back over it and run the rolling pin lightly over the whole surface just so the decorations cling to the dough before you cut out the shapes. This is much faster than trying to decorate each cookie individually. I flavour my ballerina cookies with rosewater rather than vanilla and sprinkle them with pink sugar and call them "Rose Adagio cookies". In Canada, I found a ballerina-shaped cookie cutter at the Bulk Barn, and a "prince"-shaped cookie cutter as part of a "fairytale cookie cutters" set at a dollar store. Tiara-shaped cookie cutters are also available.]
Cut out pointe shoe shapes. For my "shoe" cookie cutter, I use a large sardine can (6" x 2 1/2") with the top part removed (use the type of can opener that takes the whole lid off, rim and all so that you end up with a clean sharp edge). These are large cookies.
Place cookies on parchment paper on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees until top of cookie is no longer soft (varies from 5 to 12 minutes depending on size of cookie).
Gather any trimmings and reroll. The advantage of using the freezer bag is that you don't need to flour your board or rolling pin, which means that the cookies don't get tougher as more flour is added to them, and you also have a lot less cleanup.
Recipe can be doubled if you need many many cookies (and who doesn't?)
When cookies are cool, mix 3 cups of icing sugar with enough rosewater to make a slightly runny (but not too runny to pipe) icing . (If you cannot find rosewater, use vanilla, but rosewater has a delicious taste). Tint it with a few drops of red food colouring to make it the right shade of pink. Pipe a thin line of icing around the outer edge of each cookie, and then pipe another oval inside that tapers to a v at the bottom (this forms the outline of the "uppers" of the shoe). Thin the pink icing with water so that it is easier to spread. Pipe enough pink icing between the two piped ovals to fill in the space and spread it to the edges with the tip of the handle of a teaspoon (an espresso spoon is best). Allow to dry. Mix some icing sugar with enough water to make it spreading consistency and fill in the "inside" of the shoe. Allow iced cookies to dry on a rack (this will take a couple of days). You can use royal icing instead of this glacé icing if you like, but I dislike royal icing's rock-hard consistency.
Cut 27" (for cookie size described here, more or less depending on the size of your cookies) of thin pink satin ribbon (if cost is an issue, you can also use curling gift ribbon as in the picture, but satin looks nicer) and tie the ribbon around the cookie as you would tie pointe shoe ribbons. Trim the edges of the ribbon. If you're in Toronto, check out Mokuba ribbon shop at 575 Queen St W a couple of blocks east of Bathurst.
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