Traditions of cookie decorating can be traced back to the Middle Ages, and got a start in North America during the 17th century with the introduction of cookie cutters, molds and holiday decorating by Dutch and German settlers. About 200 years later, decorating cookies for Christmas gained popularity in America as more German-imported cookie cutters became available and cookbooks featured cookies cut in holiday inspired shapes sparked creativity in home kitchens. Today, the popularity of cookie decorating continues to grow during holidays throughout the world with all sorts of creations.
This holiday season, Zandy R (@pillbug) has been working on a cookie cookbook and experimenting with different iced cookie recipes and techniques (sugar cookie cut-outs decorated with royal icing). You can do it, too. Here are her cookie decorating tips:
• Use your favorite sugar cookie and royal icing recipes, try something new or go nostalgic with a family recipe. Find Zandy R’s (@pillbug) absolute favorite sugar cookie and royal icing recipes here → Roll & Cut Sugar Cookies. If this is your first cookie decorating adventure, best to do a little research before starting. The Complete Photo Guide to Cookie Decorating by Autumn Carpenter
• It helps (a lot) to have the right equipment. To decorate cookies with royal icing, you’ll need piping bags and/or squeeze bottles (a bunch, if using different colors) and a small offset spatula or rounded butter knife (to help spread the icing). Also, toothpicks come in handy for tiny, precision work.
See Zandy’s favorite cookie baking tools below. The stainless steel rolling pin eliminates the sticky dough problem by keeping the dough cool, the battery-powered sifter is genius, the 4-tier cooling rack is a great space saver during mega cookie baking projects, and the Kitchen Aid mixer—well, that’s really a dream machine. For more information on any item, click/tap on the photo within the in the ad, and there’s a search box to help you find anything else your heart desires.
• Roll out cookie dough with a chilled rolling pin to avoid sticking. Have fun cutting out a variety of cookie shapes Holiday Cookie Cutters
• After cookies are baked and cooled, keep at least overnight (loosely covered with a sheet of parchment paper) before decorating.
• If using royal icing (as Zandy R did for her cookies), there are no quick short-cuts. Let each application dry before applying the next one. Check out Betty Crocker’s advice for decorating cookies with icing ⇒ here
• It’s a creative process of experimentation and experience, and that takes time and patience. Don’t be afraid to try different techniques and colors because you’ll get better and better the more you decorate.
• When something goes wrong and you totally mess up a cookie, eat it immediately.
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Feature photo courtesy of Gratisography CC0