Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Gill's Sugared Fruit

One year, as my four siblings and I followed my mom around the local florist shop looking at holiday decorations, a certain decoration caught the attention of my older sister Gill.  Piled in baskets where various kinds of 'fruit' encased in shimmering tiny beads to mimic the look of sugared fruit.  She LOVED them. Naturally, the family headed home with handfuls of them and the sparkly ornaments soon became a symbol of our holidays.  For years we pulled them out around this time of year to decorate the mantle for Thanksgiving, and then to hang on the tree for Christmas. 

Gill eventually moved to China, and for the first time ever our family was separated for the holiday season.  During the years she was away I remember my mom making sure that we put out 'Gill's fruit'.  While the sparkly finish of the decorations reflected Gill's vibrant personality, they could not make up for her incredible sense of humor and endearing quirks.  For several years my family greatly missed my sister's presence at our family gatherings.  Happily, my entire family now lives close enough to gather together again for special events.  As I think back upon those years without my sister, I have realized that being together with my family during the holiday season is what I am most thankful for. I found that there is no better way to show my thanks than through cookies, so below is my recipe for making your own 'sugared fruit' to share with the ones you love this Thanksgiving.

You will need:

One batch of Sugar Cookie Dough
Colored Sugar

You can buy fruit cookie cutters or draw your own templates on paper.  For this project I drew my own.  Cut out your shapes from the chilled sugar dough and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
Chill the cutouts in the fridge before placing in a 350 degree oven.  Bake for 10 to 15 minutes (until edges begin to turn a golden brown).
While the cookies cool, mix up a batch of Royal Icing.  To make the pear, add green food coloring to the icing and thin with drops of water until the icing is thin enough to paint on the cookies.  Using a pastry brush or (clean) paint brush, swipe the icing onto the cookie in large strokes until the surface is entirely covered. 
To achieve the 'sugared' effect, immediately sprinkle colored sugar onto the wet icing.  For the pear I used green, yellow, and brown sugar to give the pear realistic color as well as a sparkly finish. 
Make sure to let the cookies dry completely before packing or stacking them.  This may take several hours.
You can make all sorts of fruit such as lemons, oranges, limes, and apples.  Arrange them in a basket on the Thanksgiving table for a decorative and delicious holiday centerpiece.  Add more detail to the cookies by piping on leaves or stems.  When I make these for Thanksgiving I plan to add more realistic details and use muted colors to fit in with the harvest feel of the holiday.
Have fun making your own sugared fruit cookies and remember to give thanks for all those who bring sweetness to your own life!

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