Plain cookies will always have a place in cookie baking, but in my mind nothing can beat decorated cookies, simply iced or lavishly decorated. There are a myriad ways of decorating cookies to give them that finishing touch and transform them into works of art.
Cookies can be decorated before the baking process with sugar or glazes. Or they can be transformed into stunning creations after baking with colored icings and sprinkles.
All the information you need for your cookie decorating is here, including helpful hints and tips to all the various icings and glazes.
An easy way of adding some pizzazz to your cookies is to add a crunchy sugar topping before the baking process. Many different sugars can be used. Superfine (caster) sugar sprinkled over unbaked cookies gives a subtle, crunchy texture. Coarser sugars, such as demerara (raw) sugar or coffee crystals give a crunchier effect. Colored sugars and white and brown sugar crushed together can be effective.
Chopped and flaked nuts can be sprinkled over the raw cookie dough the same way as sugar. Alternatively a whole nut can be pressed into the top of each cookie. This best suits soft cookie doughs.
Why not use nuts to indicate the type of cookie, e.g. almonds for almond cookies. But remember that nuts brown during the baking process, so avoid using high temperatures or long cooking times.
Alternatively, slice and bake cookies can be rolled in chopped nuts. Shape your cookie dough into a log, roll in nuts, then cut into slices and bake in oven.
Glazes can be used purely as decoration or as a base on which nuts and sugar can stick.
A glaze made with egg yolk or a whole beaten egg gives a rich, glossy finish. Lightly beaten egg white produces a clear, shiny finish. Simply brush the glaze lightly over the top of the cookie, making sure it does not drip over the sides. If brushed over the cookies halfway through baking, it will soak into the cookie slightly avoiding a cracked glaze.
Cookies can be decorated with edible food coloring before baking. However, this method can only be used on firmer, rolled out cookie doughs. Once the cookie dough has been rolled out and cut into shapes, chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
Add a few drops of food coloring to a beaten egg yolk. Using a fine paintbrush, paint patterns on to the chilled cookie dough, then bake as normal.
Once baked, cookies can be decorated with sugar several different ways.
Cookies can be dusted with icing / confectioners sugar using a fine sieve to give an even coating.
A sprinkling of caster / superfine sugar over the cookies while they are still warm, is a quick and easy method of cookie decorating.
Cookies can also be decorated with demerara sugar once they are baked. But because the sugar won't stick to the cookies on its own, you will need to glaze the cookies first with beaten egg white, then return to the oven for 2-3 minutes.
Try different combinations, such as confectioners sugar and unsweetened cocoa powder, or ground cinnamon and sugar.
Not all cookie decorating ideas involve icing. One way to decorate your cookies is by stencilling. Stencilling is a fun way to decorate your cookies and the results can look fantastic.
All you need is a template and some icing sugar. You do not even need to go out a buy a template. They are easy to make.
Simply cut a small design or letter out of a piece of cardboard and place it over the cookie. Dust the cookie with icing/confectioners sugar or cocoa before carefully removing the card.
Try using paper doilies. These are readily available at supermarkets and are inexpensive.
The most common method of cookie decorating of course is icing. Icings are simple to make and transform a cookie into a special treat. How you decorate will depend on the occasion and the time you have available.
If you are pushed for time, simple and elegant icings can be made out of confectioners sugar and water. Special touches can be added with flavorings and colorings and a few simple decorations. Nothing could be easier.
Cookies can be decorated a number of different ways:
Spread them with icing, or you can dip the cookies in the icing.
Pipe lines of contrasting color across the top of the cookie with royal icing. With just a few short lines you can make your cookies look spectacular.
If you have used shaped cookie cutters, pipe an outline of royal icing around the edges of the cookie.
Once the first coating of icing has dried, apply more icing to draw simple shapes, such as spirals, dots or animal faces.
Use a food coloring pen to draw designs and patterns on to your cookies. These are available in a range of colors and flavors and can be used directly on the cookie or onto dried icing.
For a simple icing glaze and other cookie decorating ideas go to our cookie icing page.
Here is a fabulous sugar cookie icing recipe that dries to a nice glossy finish and gives your cookies that professional look.
This icing is perfect for your cookie decorating because it not only tastes great, but is easy to color, especially if you are using bright colors.Ingredients
Place the icing sugar and milk in a small bowl and stir until smooth.
Using a hand held electric mixer beat in the corn syrup and extract until the icing is smooth and glossy. Add the corn syrup gradually until you have the right consistency. You may need to adjust the amounts of milk and corn syrup until the icing is a spreadable consistency.
Color your icing if required, then either dip the cookies into the icing or spread the icing over the cookies.
We have many other icing recipes. Click on the links below to check them out.
Cookies should be stored un-iced. Your cookie decorating should be done as close as possible to serving.
Spread icing over cookies using a flat-bladed knife or a spatula.
Alternatively, you can dip the cookie into the icing.
Make icing look white by adding one drop of blue coloring.
A few drops of vinegar added to icing will make it set in half the time and does not affect the flavor.
If you are using more than one color, or are piping lines etc always allow the first coating to set before applying more icing.
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