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Help with Decorating Christmas Cookies

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I am going to have a bunch of kids at my house this weekend and would like them to decorate chritmas cookies. I am going to make sugar and gingerbread in different shapes. but what do I make to decorate them with? Royal Icing? Do I just color it different shades and put into bags to pipe onto cookies? How far in advance can I make the icing? Thought I'd get an assortment of sprinkles, etc.. too. Any suggestions would be great. Thanks!

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  1. My two boys have been on a cookie decorating binge and the icing I used works very well. Mix 1 cup confectioner's sugar with 2-4 tsp milk, 2 tsp corn syrup and 1/2 tsp vanilla. I put them in small ziplock baggies (like the ones you get at the dollar store for beads and stuff) and snipped the corner. That way, I was able to make many colors. I bought colored sugar crystals and silver balls to put on top of the icing/glaze.

    1. My friend at the bakery says they just use confectioner's sugar and water to decorate all of their sugar cookies, so the above recipe should be an improvement on that.

      This last week, I used melted white almond bark to decorate the gingerbread cookies (buttons, eyes, nose, squiggles) and it of course hardens great on the cookie -- but it also will harden up in the bag as you're using it and with kids you don't really want to use something warm. But I did the white outlines, and my ds then dipped the chocolate on hair and feet and then dipped that into the colored decor balls which he thought was great fun. For that matter, having a crockpot of dipping chocolate and letting them dip some cookies like pretzels can be fun. Our 10-11 year olds handled that very well and I'd say much younger ones could handle it.

      You're going to pre-bake the cookies and just have them decorate? Or let them cut out or mould the cookies and decorate as well? I've done it both ways with groups of kids. They have fun either way.

      1. With kids, if they're taking the cookies home, I usually microwave storebought frosting until it's runny. They spoon it on, add sprinkles, etc. When it cools (which is pretty quickly), it hardens and won't smear. I've tried different types of home made frostings but they take a lot longer to dry. When kids take them home, they end up smearing and sticking to the wrap. When my kids do it, they can leave home made frosting for hours until they dry. What's also helpful (and fun for the kids) is to add a lollipop stick before you bake it. Then they have a handle to hold while they decorate and it's fun to eat. Just as fun is to use an actual lollipop (cut a hole in the cookie about the size of the lollipop, about 2-3 minutes before the cookie is done, pop in a lollipop) so you get that stained glass look.

        If anyone does have a good homemade frosting that hardens more quickly, I'd love to try it! Thanks!

        1. Another fun thing to do is make colored egg glazes that you paint on the cookies before you bake them. You just mix food coloring with small amounts of beaten egg yolk, and the colors after baking are bright and true. This doesn't add sweetness to the cookies, but you can sprinkle decorative sugars or bits over the glaze before baking, or you can outline the designs with icing after they are baked.

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          1. re: kittyfood

            This is by far my favorite method. It's called egg tempera. They do stay completly true and bright. You can do more colors than with royal. Royal is irritating, messy, bad-tasting, and takes forever to dry completly for stacking.

          2. I had a brownie troup for years and we often decorated cookies. I found with kids that age (6-8) piping icing was too hard and they quickly lost interest. We used lots of colored sugar,sprinkles, gum drops, gummy bears,dots, etc. and they really enjoyed that type of decorating. If you want colored icing, maybe you could use a thin icing that you have applied, or if they are older,let them spread it on. I think the previous posters egg glaze would be great. Whatever you do, try to have plenty of other of decorative(eatable) items on hand to let them add the finishing touches. Hope you have a fun day!

            1. I have to write in support of the egg glaze for unbaked cookies. The sprinkles stick to the glaze. You need lots of inexpensive paint brushes or even qtips to apply the egg glaze to the cookies. Children can get very creative in applying different colors and patterns to the cookies. Its very absorbing. The magic happens in the oven when you bake them. I will take photos when I do them this weekend.