This month for First On The First, we’re trying our hand at cookie decorating!! This may very well be my new favorite hobby. I’ve always admired and appreciated the talent and patience it must take to decorate cookies. The intricate designs that I’ve seen just amaze me and I’ve always wanted to take a class in cookie decorating. I definitely still intend to. I’ve never worked with royal icing before. That is, until now. After this experience, I desperately want to learn even more.
The first thing I’ll say that I learned about decorating cookies with royal icing is to be very organized! This can be a messy project and the icing dries out quickly. I’m naturally an organized person however, I could have stood to be even better prepared. Make sure you have a game plan. Know what size tips you want to use. (I used an open Wilton #2 for outlining my cookies and flooding. I used an open Wilton #1 for everything else.) Know how many colors you want to decorate with and get that many bags fitted with couplers before you even make the icing. Also, I had the number of bowls I needed for mixing each color ready to go as well.
I put my empty bags into kitchen glasses so that I could fill them with the various icing colors. I also used those glasses throughout the decorating to hold my bags upright while I worked with other colors. The one problem I encountered was that my pink icing was thinner than it should have been. It made it difficult to control while working with but it also all just leaked into the cup, wasting valuable icing. This was strange because all the icing was from the same batch but that was the only color that seemed thin and too runny. So I tipped the glass over on its side and kinda folded the top of the bag into the glass. This kept the icing from running into the cup but also kept it from running out onto my table. Although, as you can see I made a gigantic mess anyway. Like I said, next time I’ll be even more systematic.
If you haven’t decorated with royal icing before, you start off by outlining your cookie with a thicker royal icing and then you “flood” the cookie with thinner royal icing. Flooding is simply the act of filling in the outline. I put a bit of the thinner royal icing inside the outline and then I used a toothpick to spread it out to the edges. I don’t know if that’s the “right” way to do it or not, but it worked for me. Then I just gave the cookie a light tap on the table to smooth it out and get rid of any air bubbles. I outlined all my cookies first and then went back to flood them. Unfortunately, if you do that you’ll see the outline and won’t get that smooth, perfect effect. So next time I may outline and flood right away although I don’t know how that will work out. Guess we’ll see! Oh and I really should have outlined in the color I was going to flood with.
Next came the fun part! I tried my hand at creating some designs on the still wet icing. I dropped circles on the icing and simply dragged a toothpick through in different ways to see what shapes would emerge. Next time, I want to try the more 3D type decorated cookies. In that case, you let your flooded cookies dry and then pipe more detail on top of the cookies.
All in all, certainly not perfection but I feel like this was a great first attempt and I definitely want to try working with royal icing some more in the future. The possibilities for cute cookies are absolutely endless and I think I might be hooked. If you want an incredible tutorial and a wealth of information check out this post from Sweetopia.
And don’t forget to join us next month, we’re making homemade pretzels! If you want to make some too and get in on this monthly fun, just let me know. The more the merrier!
Now don’t forget to go check out what all the other First On The First participants created!
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Sugar Cookies from Baking: My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 stick plus 2 tablespoons (10 tablespoons total) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
– Whisk the flour, salt and baking powder together.
– In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or a hand mixer in a bowl), beat the butter at medium speed, until smooth. Beat in the sugar and continue to beat for about 2 minutes, until the mixture is light and pale.
– Add the egg and yolk. Beat for another minute or two then beat in the vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to low and steadily add the flour mixture, mixing just until incorporated. Do not over mix! This dough will be very soft.
– Turn the dough out and divide it in half. Form two discs and wrap in plastic. Chill for at least 2 hours.
– Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Position a rack in the center of the oven.
– Working with one dough disk at a time, roll out the dough between sheets of plastic wrap to 1/4 thickness. Lift off the top sheet of plastic or paper and cut out the cookies using your desired cookie cutter shape.
– Using a spatula, carefully lift the cookies off the plastic wrap and transfer to the prepared cookie sheet about an inch apart. This is a very soft dough so if it becomes too warm you may have to chill it again to move the cutouts to the cookie sheet. Save the scraps. Reform the scraps into a ball, chill and then roll and repeat.
– Bake the cookies one sheet at a time for 9 to 11 minutes, rotating the sheet halfway through. Bake until they are firm and slightly golden around the edges. Remove the pan from the oven. Let them cool on the cookie sheet for 1 minute before carefully lifting them onto a rack to cool to room temperature. Allow the baking sheet to cool and repeat with remaining cutouts.