Today I was driving in my car and I noticed that spring is on its way. The trees are starting to bloom and daffodils are starting to sprout little white and yellow flowers. I am not quite ready for winter to be leaving California. I really like the cold days and not feeling bad about being inside and cuddling on the couch. I still do it in the summer, but I feel guilty about it. I happened to have my camera on the passenger seat of my car and pulled over to snap some shots of spring.
I have gotten a lot of emails from readers lately about decorating cookies, so I thought that I would share some tips for making your cookies look clean and professional. My iced cookies did not always look good. In fact for some time, they looked like my 2 year old made them. It takes some practice and most importantly, it takes time. This is not something that you can make in one day. If that is what you are in the market for, I suggest you use a cookie glaze on your sugar cookies and decorate with a sprinkle. To make proper decorated cookies, they can take a few days.
First and foremost, you need a good royal icing recipe and a good sugar cookie recipe. When you first make your icing, you are going to keep some very thick and you are going to use that to outline the outside of your cookies (write with if you are going to do that). After the outline dries, you are going to thin that icing and flood the inside. For the longest time, I never knew this trick to thin the icing. I would try to decorate the cookie using paste. No wonder my cookies looked terrible.
I use gel food coloring. The colors are incredibly concentrated. I have only ever had to replace one color because I ran out and that is red. A little bit goes a very long way. You can always add, but you cannot take away. I mix up all of my icings and all of the colors that I am going to use before I do anything else. I have all of the pastry bags ready to go and everything ready. It makes the whole process easier. I think that this is also key in making decorated cookies. Keep the icing in airtight containers. It will last a few days as long as it is not exposed to air.
When I outline my cookies, I let them dry overnight. This whole process can take up to 3 days. That is what I mean by time being a factor in successful cookie making. The thing about royal icing is that it can fool you into thinking that it is dry. It needs to dry overnight to get completely hard. I have ruined so many cookies by not taking my own advice. For these mittens, I wanted to add texture to the bottom of the mitten. I wanted it to look like fur on the cuffs, so I used the thick royal icing and a star tip.
When it comes time to thin out your icing go very slowly. I know that it sounds melodramatic, but you can go from the perfect consistency to too thin in a matter of drops. The icing should look like it does in the picture above. It should coat a spoon and it should pool in the bottom of the container. It should take a few seconds to become one again. This is what you will use to fill in your cookies.
I will do a heavy outline on the inside of the already dried icing and let the icing flood together. I add as needed and also gently get the bubbles out. Again, let these dry overnight. Do not stack them and even when you touch it, it will appear dry, but it isn’t. It is like nail polish. It dries from the top layer to the bottom, so it will smudge easily.
If you are going to write on the cookies, use the thick outline frosting. I used icing that was too thin in the photos above and the letters will run together.
I redid the icing and used a thick icing and see how much nicer the letters look? When writing letters using a pastry bag, keep your letters round. Take your time. I used these cookies as place cards for a dinner that we were having.
Here are a few other cookies and recipes that I have made using these methods: