Fancy Christmas Cookie Decorating
I am planning on making nice Christmas cookies to take into work and give as gifts this year.
I want to make a practice batch on the weekend and would like suggestions on what types of icing to use.
I would each cookie to have a nice white icing base and then I will pipe on details in co lour.
(Think of the snazzy cookies you buy at chain coffee stores)
Should I use a fondant as the base and dip them in and decorate with colored royal icing?!
Either way please share your favorite icing recipes that will firm up and keep well.
Any decorating advice is also welcome!
Look for recipes on marthastewart.com - she's done a zillion fancy cookie decorations. I don't know if they're doing it this year but there is usually a special MS Living issue on holiday cookies, which you can look for on newsstands. I've never done it, but have seen her piping lines of royal icing onto cookies, then flooding thinner fondant within the lines, to fill the spaces evenly.
This is the usual approach for this. You'd pipe outlines with royal icing, then fill in the middle with a slightly thinned out royal icing. This gives you a smooth and solid base coat, and you can go back and pipe additional decorations after the base coat is dry. This also allows you to pipe different sections of the cookie in different colors. Royal icing firms up solid and keeps well.
The downside is that royal icing doesn't taste very good! I tend to be stubborn and use a basic powdered sugar & butter frosting, which pipes well, but doesn't take as vibrant of colors or harden up to the firmness of royal icing.
In "Rose's Christmas Cookies" there's a recipe for sugar cookies that can be cut into various Christmas shapes with cookie cutters. She paints the cookies with an edible tempera made by mixing liquid food coloring into 2 lightly beaten egg yolks. You use a small paintbrush to paint your designs on the cookies before baking. Never tried this, but her recipes are pretty foolproof and the cookies look just charming.
I use the colored egg glazes to decorate sugar cookies every year. They turn out jewell like...a few on a plate have a high impact. I use different colors and shapes of sugar sprinkles too. If you carefully shake the sprinkles over the egg glaze, the egg glaze glues the sprinkles to the cookie. Once you bake the cookie the sprinkles do not fall off.
You can make these in one sitting, packing them away immediately to keep them crisp. Children can easily decorate cookies this way.