Last year, sis and I got down to decorating cookies for Christmas (and as you can see from my watermark, it was supposed to be publish last year, but I forgot). It was my first attempt at decorating Christmas cookies, and no, I did not bake them. It was bad enough with my shaky hands, there was no need to poison my relatives.
After discussing with my sis, we decided on gingerbread cookies in a mitten shape, using white, red and green royal icing. Throughout the whole process I consulted the book my sis got for me ‘The Complete Photo Guide to Cookie Decorating’ by Autumn Carpenter.
Prior to actually decorating the cookie, I read up on icing tips and also drew my design after tracing the shape of the mitten from the cookie cutter.
- Tip 1: It is good to colour your design on paper because it helps you to visualise your design and keep track of the colours you need.
Sis made royal icing using egg white powder, cream of tartar, water and sifted powdered sugar. The mixture has to be blended well and thick enough that your spatula can stand on its own in it.
- Tip 2: Ensure that you cover your icing with a damp cloth or cling wrap to prevent it from drying.
There are a few things you will need before starting:
- Toothpicks (your best friend}–adding food colouring from jars, spread icing, remove air bubbles, create designs
- Bowls–mix icing and colouring
- Table spoons–for the above
- 1 cup of water with a spoon–to dilute royal icing to the correct consistency
- Tall glasses with some water–rest your pastry bags in between decorating (prevent tips from drying)
- 1/4 cup of powdered sugar–if your icing becomes too diluted after adding water
- Parchment papers–trial designs, keep table clean
The original colour of the icing is white, so I started decorating the white parts first. What I did was to scoop the royal icing into smaller bowls and mix in some water, a bit at a time, to form run sugar. Put the icing into pastry bag and test it out on parchment paper to see if the consistency is right before decorating the cookie.
According to the book, you should hold the bag at 45 degrees angle with your dominant hand and use your other hand to direct the bag. Make sure that you maintain constant and consistent pressure as you are squeezing the bag.
After I was done with the white parts, I moved on to the red ones. Using the same strategy of doling out some white icing into a smaller bowl, I then added red colouring. If it is your first time using the colouring and you are not sure how much to put, dip a toothpick into the container and add it into the icing a little at a time
I tried this method but the red colour was not rich enough for me, so I ended up adding droplets instead. However, this method worked for the green colouring which was very strong. Mix the colouring in until the colour is even.
You can use the toothpicks to spread icing and close up the gaps because that will cause air to be trapped and icing to crack when dry. Also, utilise it to remove air bubbles or create designs (like the one with the hearts).
- Tip 3: The icing needs 24 hours to dry completely, so plan ahead if you are intending to serve such cookies.
Since it was my first attempt, all was not perfect. Icing was too thick, air bubbles abundant, lines drawn were not straight and I took a long time to finish decorating all the cookies. But at least, the next time I know what to do to avoid all these errors!