I must say that, in general, my experience decorating cookies hasn’t been very good. One of the main reasons is because I’m really impatient (“uh…. that should work”) and the other reason is that I didn’t know some tips that are very useful to get rid of the urge to toss the tray of cookies in the bin.
Before we start, here go the main tips:
1. Use royal icing instead of the classic sugar + water or lemon juice. The egg white in the royal icing makes it so much easier to decorate the cookies without having it running all over the place. And don’t worry about using raw egg whites; with the amount of sugar in the recipe, no bacterias can survive or reproduce. Just make sure your eggs are fresh.
2. Help yourself out! Buy sprinkles in different colours and shapes (I bought golden for the stars and snowflakes for the stockings and tree) so you don’t have to make complex details and they still look stunning.
3. Use a piping bag with a fine nozzle. When we just do a hole at the end of a bag it tends to come out all wiggly and ends up going where we didn’t want it.
4. Buy cutters that aren’t too small. The smaller they are, the more difficult it is to make details.
5. Make a black border around the edge of your decorations, it makes it stand out more
Portions: 500g of cookies
For the sugar cookies:
– 110g unsalted butter, soft at room temperature
– 150g sugar
– 1 egg
– 1 tsp vanilla essence
– 1/2 tsp salt
– 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
– 250g all purpose flour + more for dusting.
For the royal icing:
– 2 Egg whites
– 400g icing sugar + about 200g more to adjust consistency
– liquid or gel food colouring
1. In order to decorate, we first need the cookies! So here we go. Using a whisk, mix the butter (which must be really soft) and sugar until smooth.
2. Add the eggs and vanilla essence and mix. At this point you can also add citrus zest if you like.3. Sieve the dry ingredients and mix using a spatula. Once done, wrap in cling film and rest in the fridge for 30min. Make the dough flat so it cools faster.4. Take it out of the fridge, roll it out to about 3mm thick. Make sure your table is cean and dusted with flour, as this is a sticky dough. Cut out your shapes. You can always re-roll the scraps.5. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180C on baking paper for 10-15min or until lightly golden on top and underneath. Let them cool completely before decorating, or the icing will just melt away.
6. Now, we’ll make the royal icing. Sieve your icing sugar and put it in a bowl with the egg whites. Mix first with a spatula so you and your kitchen don’t get coated in sugar and then mix using an electric mixer until smooth.7. The most important part about decorating the cookies is to start with your backgrounds, let it set, and then go with the details on top. So take some of that royal icing and add colour until you get what you like. Then, if it’s too liquidy from the food colouring, add more icing sugar (sifted) and just mix it in with a spoon. Test the consistency on a plate: it should be able to hold its shape when piped, but it you put a second line right next to it, they should merge.8. First, draw the outline of what you want to do.9. Pipe the colour inside immediately after (don’t let it set) and then with a toothpick and gentle circular motions, make it even.Do the same even if your background has more than one colour (e.g. my stockings and tree)10. Let them dry until you can put your finger on top without leaving a trace. This should take about 15min. You will also notice they go matte. For the details, the royal icing needs to be thicker so they stand out. Try the consistency on a plate until you’re comfortable with it. You can also try first on a cookie that broke or you made a mistake.11. Finally, like I said on the tips, I outlined everything with black, which I think gives them an amazing finish!
Done! They are looking amazing to meet Santa 🙂