Introduction: Gingerbread Dragon Mask
My husband and I have seen Cirque Du Soleil a few times and absolutely loved it. It is amazing and inspiring every time. We thought our two boys might be as amazed as we were if they were to also see it. Since it isn't running anywhere near where we live and the boys might not have the attention span to view it live we decided to show it to them at home.
I thought instead of eating popcorn while watching it might be fun to nibble a gingerbread mask that resembled what they were watching.
What is great about a cookie like this is you can pull off as little or as big of a piece as you want. You can always come back for more later! Spicy gingerbread cookies and buttercream frosting make a delicious pair!
Step 1: Pattern
You will want to draw up some kind of pattern (in this case that went along with the theme).
Number out the main components of the mask and make separate patterns on different pieces of paper making sure to write the corresponding numbers on the new pattern pieces. Cut the pieces out.
They do not have to be exact since it is hard to get a cookie to look just like a drawing but you do want the same sort of sizes and shapes.
My cookie mask ended up being about 12 inches long and 8 inches wide.
Step 2: Gingerbread Dough
Gingerbread Cookie Dough
1 c. butter, softened
1 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. molasses
1 t. vanilla
1/2 t. baking soda
3 c. flour
1 T. pumpkin pie spice
In the bowl of a stand mixer cream butter and sugar. Add molasses and mix well. Add vanilla and egg making sure to incorporate well.
Sift in dry ingredients and mix until well combined. Dough should be stiff.
Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm. Approximately 30-45 minutes.
Step 3: Roll and Cut Dough
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Remove dough from the refrigerator and remove plastic wrap.
On a lightly floured work surface roll out dough to 1/4 inch thickness.
Lay out pattern pieces and cut along the edges using a table knife.
Transfer cut-outs to a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake approximately 10 minutes.
If you find the pieces have spread more than you wanted them to you can easily cut around the pattern pieces while the dough is still hot using a table knife. Let cool completely on the baking sheet.
Arrange pieces back into mask pattern using the numbering system on the original pattern. You might want to take a picture of the pieces with the dough so you don't get any pieces mixed up. It makes it a lot less confusing this way!
**Don't over bake the dough - you want all those pieces to be firm but chewy! You can see in the last picture I didn't get the thicknesses the same in both rounds so some pieces are a bit darker. Still as tasty but not as chewy as the first round.
Step 4: Royal Icing and Assembly
Royal Icing - Half Recipe from Wilton
1 egg white
1 t. fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
Using a hand mixer combine egg white and lemon on medium speed. Add powdered sugar and continue to mix until you can lift the mixer and make ribbons that stay on top of the icing for a few seconds before disappearing. If the icing disappears too quickly add more powdered sugar. If it seems too thick add water.
Spoon into a prepared icing bag fitted with a coupler and a round icing tip.
I like to keep it tip side down in a tall drinking glass to keep it from oozing out all over my workspace.
Using royal icing start piecing mask together. Use a generous amount of icing to keep the pieces secured well in place.
Keep layering until you are finished.
**If you want pieces to be level with the top (like the horns and ears) you can put an extra piece of cookie on the back to keep it from tilting down to the work surface as seen in picture number 11.
Step 5: Buttercream Frosting
1 1/4 c. butter, divided and softened
1 t. vanilla extract
1/2 c. water
2 lbs powdered sugar
In the bowl of a stand mixer add 1 c. butter, vanilla, water and powdered sugar. Mix on low speed to incorporate the powdered sugar without having a cloud in the kitchen!
Turn up speed to medium once the powdered sugar is incorporated and mix well until smooth.
In a microwave safe container melt 1/4 c. butter and add to frosting mixture. Mix again on low speed until all butter is combined.
Using Wilton Icing Colors (or other food coloring) mix desired colors. Spoon frosting into prepared icing bags fitted with round tips (or what ever tips you want). I like round to easily make dots and straight lines.
I always end up making too many colors until I figure out how exactly I want to decorate. The frosting will keep in the refrigerator until your next creation is ready to frost!!
Step 6: Decorate!!
This is the part where you use all of your creativity and decorate the mask.
I like to use round tips to easily make dots and straight lines. I also like to use buttercream frosting instead of royal icing for the main decorating application just for flavor purposes. I think buttercream is great especially for this mask - it adds a whimsical look that somewhat resembles the drawing and original inspiration.
**Using round piping tips with buttercream is easy:
To make a dot hold piping tip just above the cookie. Squeeze a small amount (or large amount depending on what look you are going for) out of the bag with firm pressure. Press the frosting down gently onto the cookie surface, stop squeezing the bag and lift the tip off of the cookie.
To make a line (straight or squiggly) hold the piping tip just above the cookie. Firmly squeeze the piping bag to start the flow of frosting. Keep squeezing with the same pressure keeping the tip just off of the cookie until you get to where you want the line to end. Gently press the piping tip down to the surface of the cookie, stop squeezing and lift the tip off the cookie.
Take a picture of your hard work and eat your creation with a smile!!