Table Assignment Cookies

As some of you know, I took on the huge task of making the table assignments for my wedding reception.  They weren’t just table assignments, they were chocolate chip cookies decorated in the shape of wedding cakes with everyone’s name and table number piped onto them.  And I had to make 75 of them.  It was no small task, and the only excuse I can give as to why I procrastinated so long was that I didn’t know how long they would stay fresh after I made them, and I didn’t want people to have to eat stale cookies.

Another issue I ended up running into was how to make chocolate chip cookies that wouldn’t spread out excessively during baking.  If you’ve ever made chocolate chip cookies, you know that you can just put a glob of dough onto a cookie sheet, and when it’s done baking it will be completely spread out and flat.  Well, I didn’t want that to happen with my cookies, because I really wanted them to maintain their wedding cake shape.  I went through about 3 recipes before I found one that wouldn’t spread while baking but still tasted good.  When Steve was taste testing the cookies, he immediately spit out the first batch, it was that nasty.  Ha! Luckily the 3rd time was the charm.

I ended up staying awake until 3:30am the night before my wedding so that I could finish the cookies and not have to work on them the DAY of my wedding!  Luckily I had my friend (and bridesmaid) Tiffany staying at my house, and she was such a big help.

I started out by adding a cup of butter, 1/2 cup of brown sugar, and 1/3 cup of granulated sugar to my mixing bowl.

I blended the butter and sugar until thoroughly combined and creamy, then added one egg yolk and 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract.

Then, I mixed all that together until it was thoroughly combined.

Here is where the dough really starts to take it’s shape.  I sifted about 2 cups of flour into the bowl (one cup at a time) and mixed until it had the consistency I wanted.  I could tell it was pretty much ready when the dough started getting dry enough to where it was scraping the sides completely clean as it was being mixed.  See how there is barely any dough residue on the walls of the bowl?

I poured a cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips into the dough and mixed on the lowest setting on my mixer.  I didn’t want to break up the chocolate chips too much.

Here is the trick to making chocolate chip cookies that won’t spread out.  Freeze the dough for about 5-10 minutes before rolling it out.  Then when you cut out your cookies with a cookie cutter, they won’t fall apart on you when you’re trying to lift them onto the cookie sheet.  You might notice the dough starting to get too soft after a few minutes of rolling it out and messing with it, and if that happens you can just stick it back in the freezer for a couple minutes to firm up again.

I rolled the chilled dough out between two sheets of parchment paper so that I wouldn’t have to mess with flour everywhere.  It actually worked really well.

Once you have your dough rolled out to the correct thickness (I think I rolled mine to about 1/4 an inch or so), take your cookie cutter and start cutting away!  I normally cut all my shapes and then peel away the outer edges, instead of trying to remove the cut out cookie from the rest of the dough.

Line your cookie sheets with parchment paper (this also helps them not to spread too much) and chill the raw cut out cookies in the freezer for about 10 minutes before placing them in the oven.  You want them very cold and firm before you bake them.  This is the main thing that helps them keep their shape.

Bake the chilled cookies at 350° for 10-12 min.  I baked mine for 10 min because I didn’t want them to get too brown and crunchy.

Once your cookies have cooled, it’s time to decorate!  You can find instructions on making Royal Icing here.

I outlined each of the 75 cookies and let them dry overnight.  You really only need to let them dry for about an hour or so, but it was about 3:20am on Wednesday night and I decided that I was done with cookies for the night.  You can see how I had to “glue” one of the cookies back together on the left side of the above picture.  If a cookie ever breaks on you, it’s very easy to glue it back together with some Royal Icing, and then when you finish decorating the cookie, you can’t even tell that it was ever broken.

Once the outlines are dry, you can thin the rest of your icing to a syrup consistency and flood your cookies.  I pour the thinned icing into a plastic squeeze bottle to make it easier to spread onto the cookie.  You will probably need to use a toothpick to make sure the icing gets into all the corners.

Steve even helped with one or two cookies!

Here’s what the cookies will look like once they are completely flooded.  I love this method, because you can get such a nice smooth surface to decorate.

After we had flooded all 75 cookies, I needed to make some more Royal Icing so we could go back over top with lavender and write the names and table numbers, and add some decorative dots around the edges.

Tiffany was a little too generous putting the icing in the piping bag, and she had to squeeze about half of it out.

Writing the names was definitely the most tedious part!  My hand was starting to hurt after only a few names.

Tiffany did a great job putting lavender dots all around each cookie.  That might have been even more tedious than the names!

It was 3:30am when we finally finished.  Oh, and I didn’t even mention that I had to paint that Thank You sign at the bottom of the picture.  On the other side of the sign it says “Just Married”.  My sister in law and photographer, Stacey Pentland, had us hold up the signs in our wedding attire so that our thank you cards could have that picture on them, and so we could have another picture of us holding the Just Married sign.

All in all, I’m glad I did the cookies.  Everyone seemed to love them, and it was a nice personalized touch to our wedding.