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Whale Cookies

One of my favorite things about going to Hawaii is whale watching. You can take boat trips out to see the whales — or you can sit on the beach and watch the whales from the shore. If you visit Hawaii in the winter, it’s like whale soup — the humpbacks are everywhere. Whales are such fascinating animals. They seem to be such gentle giants. As a result of these vacations, I’ve been obsessed with whales since childhood. If it’s got a whale on it, I will buy it!

If you are a new to decorating with royal icing, here are some helpful tips and links:

Here are the specifics on how I made these cookies:

Omi’s Sugar Cookies

1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon nutmeg

Beat butter and sugar. Add egg, sour cream, and nutmeg. Add dry ingredients gradually. Chill the batter overnight or for at least 4 hours. Roll out dough and cut with cookie cutters. Bake at 350F until golden (in true fashion, my grandma didn’t give a specific baking time. I baked the cookies for about 8 minutes). The yield will depend on the size of your cookie cutter — I made a few dozen whales with this recipe.

White Royal Icing
4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2 Tablespoons meringue powder
5 Tablespoons water

Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until the sheen has disappeared and the icing has a matte appearance (about 7-10 minutes).  Transfer the contents of the mixing bowl to an air-tight container. This will be the stiffest consistency of the icing, and at this point it is still too stiff to use for decorating. Add water a very small amount at a time and stir by hand until fully incorporated. Continue until the icing has reached a consistency appropriate for piping.

Note: depending on how many cookies you make, you may need to make two batches of this icing.