MUNCH RATING: 5/5
Everyone seems to be making cupcakes and I decided I wanted to do something a bit different. I really liked the idea of decorated cookies as there are so many different shapes you can make and I felt there was more freedom to be creative.
For my first attempt I’m really pleased at how they turned out. Admittedly I did choose very simple designs for the snowflakes and Christmas trees, but you have to learn to walk before you can run! My reindeer definitely needs some work, but that was just a bit of fun!
I absolutely loved decorating these cookies and can’t wait to try different designs and shapes. I found it very relaxing and therapeutic icing the cookies and I would LOVE to do this as a job, so I’m going to practice as much as possible and hopefully I can do something I enjoy for a living!
I’ve never made/decorated cookies like this before, so I had to do quite a bit of research about how to do it and what equipment I needed before starting. I did borrow Peggy Porshen’s ‘Romantic Cakes’ book from the library which was quite inspiring and gave me an idea of what I could achieve after some practice! But as a complete beginner it didn’t really give me the information I needed. So I was really glad I found a fantastic website called Cake Journal where there was absolutely loads of information and tutorials.
THE COOKIE DOUGH:
I chose to use the Vanilla Sugar Cookie recipe from the Cake Journal website and it worked really well as they didn’t spread and they tasted good!
The recipe suggests using half confectioners (icing) sugar and half normal sugar. I actually used all normal granulated sugar, but I whizzed it up in the food processor on its own before making the cookie dough, to make it a finer texture.
I made the dough in a food processor rather than a mixer. The dough was very sticky and like wet sand, so I was a bit worried it would be too soft to work with. But after chilling in the fridge it was fine and very easy to work with (the recipe states to chill for 2 hours, but I actually had it in the fridge for 4 days as I was suffering from a cold and too ill to bake!). I did find some big lumps of butter in my dough when I came to roll it out, so I will probably use a mixer next time! I only used a small amount of the dough for my trial run of cookies and I’ve kept the rest in the freezer.
I used quite small cutters, so I only needed to bake the cookies for 15 minutes. I baked the first batch using my Magic Non-Stick Liner and they browned a lot more evenly on the bases than when I just used normal non-stick paper.
Cookie decorating seems to be very much an American thing, so all the books and websites I’ve read have a recipe for the royal icing that you need to use. Luckily in the UK we can buy all-in-one royal icing in a box made by Silverspoon, which is available in most supermarkets. I’ve never used this type of icing before, but it was easy as you just add water and then mix for about 5 minutes with electric beaters. Getting the consistency right for piping is something I need to practice, as I think I had it just a tad too thick. I did follow the advice on another great website I found called Sweetopia as there’s a great tutorial on cookie decorating, in particular the consistency of icing.
I had loads of icing leftover and I thought it would be OK to store in the squeezy bottles as they had screw-top lids. But the icing split and didn’t look very good after a few weeks, so I threw it away.
The Cake Journal How To flood cookies with royal icing tutorial was really helpful in discovering what I would need to buy to decorate my cookies. So here’s what I’ve bought so far:
- Squeezy nozzled bottles as they looked so much easier to use than piping bags and I loved that you can store any unused icing in the bottles. www.cakescookiesandcraftsshop.co.uk is the only website I could find that sold these bottles in the UK and luckily they were reasonably priced so I bought 6. I would say the nozzles on these bottles are a size No.3 and I found the holes a little big to draw neat lines, but they would be perfect for flooding, which is what Louise from the Cake Journal website suggests them to be used for. She says she prefers to use an icing bag to outline her cookies, but I found a squeezy bottle with a No.2 nozzle on it worked really well for me.
- I also bought marzipan spacers from the same website as they were quite cheap and they really made rolling out the cookie dough to the right thickness so much easier and quicker.
- To colour my icing I used Wilton Icing Colours which are concentrated pastes of colour so that it doesn’t water down your icing. They’re really good as you only need a tiny amount to colour your icing to a vibrant shade.
Here are some more I did recently: