All year, we've been training for this. December: the Olympics of cookie decorating.
Never fear! I've assembled every tip, trick, and recipe you'll need for successful cookie decorating this year.
Tip #1. You'll need wine. OK, only if you're decorating cookies with your kids.
I'm kidding. (Maybe.)
1. Vanilla-Almond Sugar Cookies. These are my go-to cookies, my perfect-every-time cookies. I've made THOUSANDS of them. They keep their shape well and hold up to decorating, packaging, and shipping.
2. Gingerbread Cookies. Oh, gingerbread...how I love you. This is my favorite gingerbread; you can also find it in my first book.
3. Cinnamon-Sugar Cut-Out Cookies. One of my new holiday favorites. Perfect for when you're craving cinnamon, but not full-on gingerbread.
4. Royal Icing. Whether you're constructing a gingerbread house, or decorating cookies, this is the recipe you'll need.
1. Meringue Powder. You'll need this to make royal icing. Look for it online or in kitchen and craft stores.
2. Gel Paste Food Coloring. Bright, vibrant, and won't dilute your icing. Look for the kind that come in squeeze bottles.
3. Disposable Icing Bags.
4. Couplers and Icing Tips. Start with basic tips, such as plain #1, #2, and #3.
5. Toothpicks. You'll use these over and over again for spreading icing and popping air bubbles.
6. Waxed Paper and Parchment Paper. For rolling dough and baking.
7. Squeeze Bottles. Find these in the candy-making section of craft and kitchen stores. They're much easier to use than piping bags for thinned icing.
8. Cookie Cutters. You'll need some. You can always hand-cut shapes from a template, but it will take you 4 times as long.
9. Sprinkles, etc. Sprinkles, jimmies, sanding sugar, sparkling sugar, nonpareils, luster dust, disco dust...the more, the merrier.
Tips and Tricks:
1. Yes, You Can Freeze Cookies. Cut-out cookies can be frozen plain, AND decorated with royal icing. Thaw at room temperature. More details here.
2. Prevent Spreading. Freeze the cut out shapes for 5-10 minutes prior to baking.
3. Even Steven. For perfectly evenly rolled dough, use these guides. No guides, not problem. Just eyeball it.
4. Time Management. Decorating cookies can be a time consuming process. Bake one day, and decorate the next...or do big batch baking, freeze (see tip #1), then decorate as you have time.
5. Packaging and Shipping. Make sure they all arrive in one piece. Video (old!) here.
6. How to Marble Cookies
7. How to Make Flat Dots
8. How to Make Double-Decker Cookies
9. Drying Icing. Here are three options for drying, but most importantly, make sure the icing is completely dry before packaging. (I learned this the hard way.)
10. Decorating Cookies with Kids. Breathe. Here are my favorite tips.
Christmas Cookie Decorating Inspiration:
(from my blog)
1. Charlie Brown Ornament Cookies. A really simple way to pay tribute to the Peanuts Christmas Special without replicating the characters.
2. Vintage Truck with Christmas Trees. One of my favorite sights over the holidays...in a cookie.
3. Faux Bois Christmas Packages. These are made with fondant and a wood grain stamp. The only piping and flooding you'll do is for the bow.
4. Elf on the Shelf Cookies. Think you need a special cutter for the elves? Nope...here's how to make them without a cookie cutter!
5. Painted Tree Cookies. You'll need one color of icing for this cookie...white! The trees are painted with simple brushstrokes.
(from other blogs)
1. Jingle Bell Cookies from The Sweet Adventures of Sugarbelle
2. Pink Peppermint Candy Cookies from Bakerella
3. Santa Belly Cookies from Tidymom
4. Holiday Stamped Chalkboard Cookies from SemiSweet Mike
5. Pretty Piped Pastel Christmas Tree Cookies from Sweetopia
REMEMBER! Christmas cookies are not meant to be perfect! They're meant to be shared...and EATEN!!!
Repeat after me, "It's just a cookie!"
Happy Christmas baking, my friends!