This fun creation will impress at your next birthday party.
For the toasted sugar, set oven temperature to 130°C. Spread the caster sugar out evenly onto an oven safe ceramic dish or platter. Place into the oven. After 1 hour, carefully remove the dish from the oven and using a wooden spoon, mix the sugar about and spread it out evenly on the dish and return to the oven. Repeat after each hour for an additional 3 hours. After the fourth hour, the sugar should be a light caramel colour. Remove from the oven. Leave the sugar to cool for 30-40mins. Once cooled the toasted sugar can be used to sprinkle as “sand” over the cookie scene. *Do this in a separate oven if possible or make a day ahead.
For the orange and cardamom cookies Combine flour, cardamom, and salt in mixing bowl. Using electric mixer, cream the butter and gradually add the caster sugar. Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in orange zest and vanilla to butter and sugar mixture. Beat in the egg to the creamed mixture. Slowly beat in 1/3 of flour mixture to the creamed mixture. Beat in remaining flour until blended. Transfer the cookie dough to a sheet of baking paper and wrap and refrigerate until firm enough to shape, about 30-45 minutes. Bring chilled dough back up to room temperature until soft enough to roll out.
For the rosewater cookies Combine flour, cardamom, and salt in mixing bowl. Using electric mixer, cream the butter and gradually add the caster sugar. Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in rosewater essence to butter and sugar mixture. Beat in the egg to the creamed mixture. Slowly beat in 1/3 of flour mixture to the creamed mixture. Beat in remaining flour until blended. Transfer the cookie dough to a sheet of baking paper and wrap and refrigerate until firm enough to shape, about 30-45 minutes. Bring chilled dough back up to room temperature until soft enough to roll out.
Shaping cookies and baking, preheat oven to 180°C. Using square cookie cutters of varying sizes, cut out 3 cookies of each sized square from the orange and cardamom cookie dough. Cut out an extra two cookies using the largest sized square. The cookies cut out in steps 11 and 12 will form the three pyramids.
Carefully transfer cookies to baking sheets lined with baking paper, spacing each cookie one inch apart.
Gather any dough scraps into ball and roll out some spare square cookies. If too soft to roll out, place the cookie dough back in the fridge to firm up again before rolling. Bake cookies until light golden brown. Transfer to a cooling rack to cool. The cookies may spread during baking. When cookies are still slightly warm, tidy up the edges of each cookie with a sharp serrated bread knife, using the corresponding square cookie cutter as a size guide. Also carefully cut small “notches” around the edge of each of the square cookies. This will form some “brick” detail in the edges of the cookies for the pyramids. Roll out the rosewater cookie dough on a sheet of baking paper and cut out a large rectangular cookie; this will form the base on which everything else is positioned and “glued”. Carefully transfer the cookie on the baking paper to a baking sheet and bake until golden. Transfer to a cooling rack to cool. Cut out about 6-8 square cookies using one of the mid-sized cookie cutters. This will form the “body” of the sphinx.
Using a fondant modeling cutter, cut out an additional “U” shaped cookie for the legs of the sphinx. It should be slightly larger than the squares cut for the “body” of the sphinx. Using a fondant modeling cutter, cut out a sphinx head. Using the fondant modeling cutter, gently score the dough to mark out some detailed outline for the sphinx head and face. Using a fondant modeling cutter, cut out a small palm tree shape. Using a fondant modeling cutter, score some horizontal lines on the “trunk” of the tree. Carefully transfer cookies to baking sheets lined with baking paper, spacing each cookie 1 inch apart. Sprinkle on some of the green sanding sugar on the “leaves” of the palm tree. Bake cookies until light golden brown. Transfer to a cooling rack to cool. Cut out some spare cookie squares with the remaining cookie dough.
For the Pistachio and rosewater praline, place water, sugar and rosewater in a small saucepan and mix to dissolve the sugar. Line a cookie tray with a sheet of baking paper and spread out the pistachios.
Heat the sugar water on a medium heat until golden in colour. Once golden, take off the heat and carefully pour onto the cookie tray over the pistachios. Allow praline to set. Once set, break into small pieces into a food processor and crush into fine crystals. This crushed praline will be used to sprinkle as “sand”.
For the Royal icing, beat egg whites in a stand mixer until soft peaks form. Add icing sugar slowly and beat into the egg whites. Add the rosewater essence. Beat in all the icing sugar until stiff shiny meringue achieved.
To assemble the cookies, use the royal icing as glue, brush the bottom of one of the largest square cookies and “glue” to a corner of the large rectangular cookie base. This will form the base of one of the pyramids.
Glue and stack smaller cookies on top of this base, ensuring that the squares decrease in size.
Repeat steps 1-2 with the remaining “pyramid” cookies, laying the additional two pyramids around the large rectangular cookie base. Glue the base of the sphinx with the feet to the large rectangular cookie base.
Stack and glue remaining square cookies to form the body of the sphinx. Before gluing the sphinx head to the body, use a small paintbrush to dust some of the features of the face with edible gold dust and blue dust. Also add some gold leaf to the sphinx face. Add some royal icing to the back of the face and glue to the body. Using the paintbrush, brush the trunk of the palm tree with the edible bronze dust.
Carefully glue the palm tree onto the large rectangular cookie base using the royal icing and prop the palm tree with some of the extra cookies. Brush some royal icing over the base of the palm tree and the support and cover the icing and support with yellow sanding sugar. Make it look like a little sand dune if possible.
Lightly brush the remaining free space on the large rectangular cookie base with water and sprinkle on the yellow sanding sugar. Sprinkle the crushed praline and toasted sugar to add texture and colour to the scene. Brush some edible gold dust onto the pyramids and feet of the sphinx.
This recipe has not been edited or tested by the Bake Off Food Department
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