A few months ago, I decided to take a leave of absence from grad school next year. I was just so unhappy that I needed to do something drastic, like go to pastry school. So I did. One month ago today, I walked up to the registration desk at Bunker Hill Community College and enrolled myself in their Certificate of Pastry Arts program. I submitted my financial aid info to BHCC, I withdrew my applications from practicum sites for next year, and told MSPP I needed a break. Luckily, my school's administration is pretty slow to do things, so nothing was officially processed. And if you haven't guessed it by now, I said "luckily" because I changed my mind about pastry school. I am going to stick out another grueling year in the Clinical PsyD program at MSPP.
I know, I know. I'm ridiculous and you can't keep up with my thought process. Well neither can I. I often don't understand why I do the things I do until several months after the fact. I would like to think I'm a logical and practical person, but let's face it- I'm not. I'm impulsive and I act on my emotions. If I am in a good mood, I take risks. If I'm upset, I go for the first change I can find to get me out of that situation. I don't like being unhappy. I have had my battles with depression in the past, and I do not want to go back there. If I notice myself slipping down that slippery slope of unhappiness into depression, I immediately put on the brakes and run for the hills. That was the case a few months ago. I put the brakes on grad school and headed to Bunker Hill.
I realize now that I wasn't unhappy in the field of psychology, I was just plain unhappy in general. I was thrown into a big, ugly city where people the people are rude and can't drive, and was doing an impossible work load. And it was a gross, snowy winter. OF COURSE I was going to be depressed. With the help of my psychiatrist and the warming temperatures, I am feeling better. This week I snapped out of my unhappy place and realized that I was letting my mood take over. I let myself be fooled into thinking that something I have wanted for the past 8 and a half years wasn't for me anymore. I made a huge mistake. I love what I am learning and I love sitting with my clients, whether they like me or not. I am going to stick out this program, and I am going to be a psychologist, damn it.
Before I came to this conclusion, however, I printed out copies of my dessert portfolio and showed them around. One of the clinicians at LHI asked me if I would make cookies for her daughter's first birthday party, and I accepted the challenge.
*I had to make cookies, a cake, and a cheesecake all in the last two nights, so in my rushing around, I didn't take step-by-step photos. Please forgive me.*
Butterfly Sugar Cookies w/ Royal Icing
Cookie recipe adapted from The Cookie Bible
Royal icing recipe adapted from Sweetopia
Yield: 2 dozen cookies
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg
1 1/2 tsps vanilla
1. Whisk together the flour and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.
2. Cream together butter and sugar on medium speed until fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla until combined. Gradually add the dry ingredients and beat until incorporated. Divide dough in half, cover in plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.
3. Roll out dough to 1/4" thickness and cut with cookie cutters. Place cookies on ungreased baking sheets.
4. Bake at 350°F for 10-12 minutes. Cool on pans on wire racks for 2 minutes, then transfer cookies directly to racks to finish cooling completely.
5. Make your icing while the cookies cool.
Royal Icing Ingredients:
3/4 cup warm water
5 Tbs dried egg whites
1 tsp cream of tartar
2.25lbs confectioners' sugar
2 tsps vanilla
1. Beat together water and dried egg whites on medium speed for 30 seconds.
2. Add in cream of tartar and vanilla. Beat until combined.
3. Slowly add in confectioners sugar until combined. Once the threat of a confectioners' sugar explosion has been reduced, turn the mixer to high speed for 1-2 minutes to let the icing get fluffy.
4. Color icing as desired. Gel food coloring is preferable.
This was my first experience with royal icing. I've definitely got a lot of practice to do before it looks perfect and smooth. Even though I'm probably just not skilled enough, I'm still going to blame their bumpy appearance on the fact that I couldn't find merengue powder and had to use plain dried egg whites instead. The icing kept clumping up in the decorating tip and clogging it. They took forever, and they are not my best work, but in the end, the mom was very happy for them. I hope they bring a little spring into her daughter's first birthday this weekend.
Here's to always springing forward.
Love and cookies,