Near the end of last week I received a text from CM Punk that read something like, “Hey, I know you’re old and stuff so it’s probably too late for you, but it’s Cabana’s birthday next week and we’re having a surprise party on Tuesday. We’re all going to yell ‘Over the Top!’ You should come if you can.”
I was so torn – on the one hand, I knew Punk was singing the 7th inning stretch at the Cubs game that day – which meant they wouldn’t even be back at his house until almost 11pm. I get up at 6am to get Teno ready for school. On the other hand, or rather, on my left leg, I have an Over the Top tattoo because it’s the greatest movie about arm wrestling, truck driving and the love between a father and son ever made.
“Gahh, I can’t make it,” I replied. “But I’ll bake. What would Colt like?” The answer? Over the Top cookies. Game on.
Lucky for me, I had just been stalking The Decorated Cookie, and was anxious to try some of the techniques for drawing on cookies and making homemade fondant. So I set aside some time (two days, to be exact,) and what you see above is what happened at the end of those two days.
First, I decided on 2.5″ square chocolate sugar cookies. Punk had suggested chocolate chip, but I was worried they’d be too soft to hold up to all of the insane things I was about to do to them. In hindsight, I should have gone with vanilla sugar. I covered these in a poured icing and the chocolate cookies showed through.
Poured Sugar Icing
I made the dough, chilled it for about 2 hours, then rolled it out and chilled it again. I cut the shapes quickly and baked them. Once they cooled, I coated 1/2 the batch in poured sugar icing which I tinted white. (Tinted, because I used soy milk, which can make white icing yellow.)
Like I mentioned, I should have made vanilla cookies, and I was pretty sad to see my white icing not covering the dark chocolate cookies properly. I made another batch of icing and tinted that one blue, figuring it could be the sky behind a semi or something. Blue worked better, but still wasn’t perfect.
I let those set up overnight. The next day, I went to Great America and rode rollercoasters all day. Then I went to Steak n’ Shake and drank a Nutter Butter milkshake. After that, I came home and made a batch of marshmallow fondant. If you’ve never used fondant, it’s kind of like Play Doh except you can eat it. Store bought fondant tends to taste like ass, but I admit I did use store-bought black and skin tone because I wasn’t certain I could achieve those colors at home. But for all the other colors I needed, I used this recipe:
- 4 cups mini marshmallows (I like Dandies vegan ‘mallows)
- 2 tablespoons water
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 pound confectioner’s sugar
- vegetable shortening
Grease a microwave-safe bowl with vegetable shortening and lube up the paddle on your stand mixer while you’re at it. Add the marshmallows, water and vanilla to the greased bowl and microwave for 30 seconds, until the marshmallows start to puff and melt. Stir the mixture until it’s smooth and runny – you might need to zap it for a few more seconds to achieve this. Place the confectioner’s sugar in the bowl of your stand mixer, and add the marshmallow mixture to it. Beat on low until a round ball of dough forms. Knead the dough on a table dusted with confectioner’s sugar, wrap in plastic wrap and let it sit for about 30 minutes.
For each color I needed, a used about an egg-sized chunk of fondant. If you have food-safe gloves, now would be the time to put them on. Add a few drops of gel coloring (like Americolor) to the fondant, and knead it in. You’ll need a lot of coloring to make red, and if you want to make black, I recommend making modeling chocolate and tinting it black. Occasionally I had a hard time working the color in evenly, when this happened I’d nuke the wad of fondant for about 10 seconds, work in the color, and then let it cool and set up before rolling it out.
Roll out the fondant, dusting your counter and rolling pin with confectioner’s sugar, and cut the shapes you need, or model shapes as if you were using Play Doh. For my South Park-like Bull Hurley cookies, I used a small round cookie cutter for the head, and a small square for his sleeveless Blaster shirt. I eyeballed the arms, and cut them with a pairing knife, and made his facial hair by rolling small pieces of black fondant just like Play Doh. His eyes were pre-made candy eyes I bought at the cake supply shop.
I should note that I also sketched my ideas before I got started, so I knew what colors to make and what shapes to cut out. I had some big plans to make semis and all kinds of things, but just as I was finishing my first 6 cookies, Teno came down with a gnarly fever and I literally finished the last 10 cookies in one hour. You can tell which ones I spend time on, but I hope Colt got a laugh out of all of them anyway.
I used food writers (markers with edible ink) to draw on facial details and other accents. For the arm wrestling cookies, I first cut a “w” shape and then used my fingers to reshape it into rounded elbows and clenched fists. I used the food writers to draw on fingers and tattoos.
At the end of day two I had 16 cookies, 6 of which I was super happy with, neatly stacked in a box and ready for Colt. But how could I get them to Punk’s house when I’m at work and he’s out of town? Solution: wrap the cookie box in plastic wrap, then in paper, and then hide it inside a shoe box and have Colt pick them up, and unwittingly deliver his own birthday cookies to his own surprise party! Genius.
So on Monday night at 7:30pm Colt rang my buzzer and made his way up to my apartment. I was already nervous he was going to ask me why he had to come all the way over just to bring Punk an unusually heavy pair of Nikes, so when the first thing he said to me was, “smells good, did you make cookies?” I basically crapped my pants. I stammered something about having a sore throat and spraying Chloraseptic, which made no sense, to which Colt replied, “No, it doesn’t smell like Chloraseptic, it smells like cookies.” Then he held up the box and said, “Maybe it’s this?”
Ahhhhhhhhhhhh!!! Then I just kind of shoved him out the door, thanking him for coming over and I immediately texted Punk a panicky text, which he ignored.
Anyway, for my first time 1) making fondant 2)using poured icing and 3) using food writers I thought they turned out kinda radical. I hope Colt liked them too, he’s a great guy with fantastic taste in movies.