I'm in the midst of teaching a two-session cookie decorating class at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral and am having a lot of fun — Mainly because there are 15 students in the class who are all super nice and enthusiastic about learning how to decorate cookies.
In the first class session that was held last week, we covered just the basics of cookie decorating and did some hands on outlining and filling of cookies. In preparation for teaching the class, I put together a handout that covers the supplies needed, recipes and tips.
I'm including a copy of the handout here (see below) because I think it is helpful for anyone who is interested in giving cookie decorating a try.
At first, it does take some effort to get your supplies together and get started. But once you get going, I think you'll find that cookie decorating really isn't that hard and is so much fun.
For me, it's my creative outlet and something I enjoy sharing with others.
Cookie Decorating 101
Five Decorating Tips
Take Your Time:
The best time to take on a cookie decorating project is when you have plenty of time to relax and enjoy the creative process. Also, decorated cookies need 8 to 12 hours of drying time so they are not something you can whip up last minute. It’s wise to take your time and think about what you want to create before heating up the oven.
The only way to improve your decorating skills is to experiment and practice. Be patient with yourself and just keep working at it. And remember, a messed up cookie still tastes delicious.
Test the Consistency of Your Icing:
When trying to get the right consistency of icing for your cookies it’s always a good idea to test your icing by first piping onto a plate. The right icing consistency is paramount when it comes to cookie decorating. Also, be judicial when adding water to thin your icing. Add just a touch a time because if you get your icing too thin, there’s not much you can do to salvage it.
Have a Visual When Mixing Colors:
Choosing and creating colors is a huge part of cookie decorating and it can be frustrating when you have the perfect color in mind but you just can't seem to mix it up. Having a visual of the color you want makes all the difference. It can be anything — an object, a clipping from a magazine or a color chip from the paint store. When you actually see the color you want, it is so much easier to mix. Also, add your coloring just a touch at a time. A little gel coloring goes a very long way.
Your cookie decorating skills will continually improve with practice. To avoid frustration, I think It’s best to start simple with a single color outlined and filled cookie. Next, try a two color cookie and just keep building on that. Before you know it you’ll be tackling decorative bead borders, brushed embroidery and lettering.
Pastry Bags (I prefer disposable)
Couplers and Pastry Tips (#2 and #1 are the tips most often used)
Gel Food Colors (I recommend AmeriColor brand)
Wooden skewers or a scribe tool
Food Writing Pens (AmeriColor brand is best)
Small Square Tip Paint Brush (for Brushed Embroidery)
Small Paint Brush set (for Painting and Adding Luster and Disco Dust)
Food Safe Cellophane Bags for Packaging Cookies
Sugar Cookie Recipe
Makes about 4 dozen 2-inch cookies
1 cup unsalted butter (at room temperature)
2/3 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
In a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter and sugar until blended, then beat on high speed until creamy. Add egg, vanilla and almond extract and beat until well blended. Add flour and salt; beat on low speed until combined, then on medium speed until well blended. Divide dough into two equal portions. Place dough between sheets of plastic wrap. Press evenly into a disk and chill until dough is firm, at least 20 minutes. Working with one portion of dough at a time, peel off plastic wrap and roll on a floured board until 1/4 inch thick. Cut with floured cutters and transfer onto ungreased or parchment lined baking sheets. Bake at 350 degrees (325 for convection) for 7 to 9 minutes or until firm to the touch and slightly darker brown around edges. Cool on wire rack.
Gingerbread Cookie Recipe
6 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup packed dark-brown sugar
4 teaspoons ground ginger
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
1 teaspoon finely ground pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
2 large eggs
1 cup unsulfured molasses
Sift together flour, baking soda, and baking powder into a large bowl. Set aside.
Put butter and brown sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; mix on medium speed until fluffy. Mix in spices and salt, then eggs and molasses. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture; mix until just combined. Divide dough into thirds; wrap each in plastic. Refrigerate until cold, about 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll out dough on a lightly floured work surface to a 1/4-inch thick. With cookie cutters, cut into desired shapes. Space 2 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper, and refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes.
Bake cookies until crisp but not dark, 10 to 14 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks.
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons meringue powder
6 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
In a large bowl combine meringue powder, water and lemon juice and stir until meringue powder is dissolved. Add powdered sugar and with an electric mixer on low speed, beat until evenly moistened. Then beat on high speed until stiff, glossy peaks form. Divide and tint as desired and add water a teaspoon at a time to get desired consistency.