Monday, December 20, 2010

Cookie Decorating

A few months back, I mentioned I would write about cookie decorating.  Since Christmas is this week, I decided it would be appropriate to do it now.  I tried a few methods of cookie decorating - some successful, some not.  Making, cutting, baking, and decorating sugar cookies is a rather time-consuming endeavor, but if you have someone to do it with, it can be a lot of fun!  Thanks to my friend, Jenny, who helped me decorate some of these!!!

Let's start with two methods of decorating the cookies before they're baked.

Colored Sugar Crystals: This is the easiest and quickest method of cookie decorating, as it doesn't involve cutting out cookies.  Instead, you simply scoop the cookies (like you would chocolate chip cookies) or roll the dough into balls, then roll the top of the cookies in colored sugar.  Bake as directed.

To get a multi-colored cookie, simply mix your colors in a bowl before you dip the cookie.
Painting: Before making my cookies, I did a bit of research online to look for different decorating methods.  One that stood out to me was painting the cookies before they were baked.  To do this, simply mix an egg yolk with some food coloring (I used food dye).  Instead of using a whole yolk for each color, I used half a yolk for each color.  I painted a few cookies, then stuck them in the oven.  Some turned out ok, but the painting on many of them ended up cracking when the cookies spread and rose in the oven.
My "paints" - egg yolk and food dye.

For this one, I used straight dye (no egg yolk) and just painted it right on.
The cookies painted and ready to be baked.

I used a fan brush for this one.
The fan brush ended up working out well as the "paint" split when the cookie rose and spread in the oven.  It gives it a nice texture for a tree.
The cracking doesn't work so well for this one.  Oh well, I tried!
Since this one didn't have "paint" covering the whole thing, it worked well.
The candy cane also came out ok.
Now on to the most common form of sugar cookie decorating: royal icing after baking.

Royal Icing: The cookies I decorated for my daughter's birthday party were decorated with royal icing which dries hard.  At that time, I didn't have a "go-to" recipe, so I just pulled one of the internet from a pretty reputable site.  However, I was very unhappy with the results and had to tweak it quite a bit to get it just the way I wanted it.  So after seeing The Pioneer Woman's post on cookie decorating, I decided to try Bake at 350's royal icing recipe.  I'm glad I did, because it worked beautifully!  A note on the icing recipe.  It calls for meringue powder, which is a substitute for raw egg whites.  I would recommend using meringue powder instead of raw egg whites especially if you'll be giving these to other people just to be safe!  Meringue powder can be purchased online or at craft stores such as Michaels.
  • Spreading: You can spread icing or frosting on cookies with a knife.  
  • Piping: You can do specific details by piping the icing onto your cookies.  We outlined our cookies with piping then flooded the inside.  You'll want the icing to be thick when you're piping it.  The nice this about this method is that even if your cookies lose their shape while baking, you can redefine the shape with piped icing.
  • Flooding: Flooding is a method that allows you to fill in the cookie, giving the icing a smooth appearance.  You use the same icing as you do for piping, but you add water to it to thin it out.  Put a little on the cookie (inside the piped "frame") and spread using a toothpick, until the whole cookie (or the part you want iced) is covered.

  • Embellisments: You can easily embellish your cookies by adding designs, writing, dots, stripes, sprinkles, edible glitter, or any other cookie decorations that you desire. 
Immediately after I flooded this cookie with white, I took some watered down black icing and added the face and buttons.  The result is icing that is flat all of the way across the cookie (i.e. the black dots are not raised).  You can also wait until your flooded icing dries, then pipe thick icing on top of it.
These bottles are great tools for adding embellishments (lines, dots, etc.) to the cookies.  You don't need these, but they make precise embellishments much easier.
To make the swirl effect, I put strips of red and green in the white, then ran a toothpick through them.
The internet is a great place to find cookie ideas and designs. I found so many cute cookie decorating ideas online and if I had planned ahead and given myself enough time, I would have done some more interesting cookies.  For example, I've been seeing these adorable melting snowman cookies all over the web!  These reindeer are also adorable!  As you can see, your possibilities are endless!  Your cookie is a blank canvass on which you can portray your creativity!


    Dawn said...

    I just tried my hand at coconut shortbread dipped in chocolate yesterday. Ugh. Tender cookie + heavy chocolate = breakage. I think next time, I'll just make flavored shortbread and leave off the dipping! Maybe someday I'll venture into the sugar cookie baking and decorating. Seems daunting!

    And woo-hoo for little Gerber bowls and Take-n-Toss spoons! ;-)

    Kimiko said...

    You caught me, Dawn! When I bought those spoons and bowls, I never realized I'd be using them for much more than just feeding our daughter! :)

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