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Cookies and Other Desserts: Cookie Decorating Tips

Cookie baking is fun for the whole family! It’s a great activity any time of year and a good opportunity for family members to work together. Kids learn to measure, mix, roll, and any other number of things it takes to create a great cookie.

Even more fun than making cookies, however, is decorating them. Decorated cookies are a treat for the eye and for the taste buds and everyone enjoys trying to find creative ways to spruce up the standard sugar or other type of cookie.

Christmas, of course, is the time of year when decorated cookies are most popular but there’s no need to limit your cookie decorating to the December holidays. You can certainly create them for other holidays and special occasions or simply because you enjoy eating them! Decorated cookies are a big hit at birthday parties, picnics, or any other event and they make a great little snack with a cup of coffee or tea.

There are tons of ways to decorate cookies. Some can be done before baking and other techniques are applied after the cookie is baked. If you’re new to cookie decorating, start experimenting with a basic shaped sugar cookie made from the kind of dough that you roll out and cut with cookie cutters.

Decorating before Baking

Most of us make our way into the world of cookie decorating by using simple items that can be placed atop the cookies before they are placed in the oven for baking. These items can normally be found at your supermarket in the baking aisle and include:

o Colored sugar
o Sprinkles (jimmies)
o Non-pareils
o Dragees (those little shiny gold, silver, or multi-toned balls)

Aside from those sweet items, you can also decorate raw cookies with small bits of dried fruit or pieces of nuts before they go into the oven.

In addition, you can “paint” your cookies before they make their way to the oven. Cookie paint can be crafted by simply mixing food coloring with egg yolk. Use clean paintbrushes to paint the surface of the cookie. You’ll need tiny brushes as well if you want to make small details. Once baked, the “paint” becomes an attractive, colorful glaze.

Decorating after Baking

When you make the effort to decorate after baking, your cookies can be much more elaborate than those decorated before they go into the oven.

First of all, cookies don’t need to be that basic off-white color. You can begin your decorating by adding food coloring to your dough and producing cookies of a variety of different colors. For a really neat effect, divide your dough into a few separate pieces and add different color food coloring to each. Then knead them together to form a marbleized cookie that features two or more different colors.

Cookie decorating can also be as simple as spreading on a thin layer of icing on the cookie and then topping with jimmies and sugar, which will stick to the icing. Or you can go one step further and decorate your cookies as you would a cake. Using a pastry bag and tip, create borders, flowers, or other figures on your cookies or use a thin tip for writing or other decoration. Add a finishing touch with iridescent sugar sprinkles, available in the cake decorating aisle at your local craft store.

Chocolate is a great tool for decorating cookies. Like icing, you can merely spread melted chocolate over your favorite cookies or you can spread a layer between two cookies and put them together to make a sandwich. On a more artsy note, consider drizzling thin lines of chocolate over your cookies. You can use different kinds of chocolate as well. For example, you might drizzle both white and dark chocolate over the cookie for a marble effect. You can also top your cookies with chocolate kisses or chocolate curls.

Using a small stencil, cookie decorators can make a pretty design on their creations. Simply place the stencil on the cookie and sprinkle powdered sugar or sweetened cocoa over the stencil to form the design when lifted.