How to Decorate Cookies
Whether you are looking for a fun project with the kids or just want to impress the neighbors, try painting cookies. It’s easy to do using food colors as paints and it’s the fun way to decorate cookies.
Make chocolate or vanilla cookies with your favorite recipe or our vanilla sugar cookie mix or chocolate sugar cookie mix. Cut them out as you would for other cookies to decorate. After cooling, frost your cookies with either royal icing or fondant. Royal icing dries to a hard shell and creates a nice, glossy surface for painting.
It’s super easy to cover your cookies with rolled fondant. Roll the fondant to about 1/8-inch thick and cut the fondant using the same cookie cutters that you used to make the cookies. Lift the fondant off the counter, brush a little water on the back with your finger, and lay the fondant on the cookies of corresponding shape. The fondant will cover the cookies to about 1/8-inch of the edges and the moist back will hold the fondant in place until drying.
Fondant creates a little different effect than does royal icing. While royal icing is slick and shiny, fondant is more of a matte finish.
Use food colors for paint. Professional food color gels are best; they are so concentrated that they cover well and can be diluted with water. We usually use a drop of food color to several drops of water.
Use a watercolor brush and paint your cookies just as if you were using water colors. For fine work, such as the eyes on a snowman or the star on a Christmas tree, use a toothpick to dab color on. You can also use a food writer pen to paint on details.
New food coloring sheens can be used to give your cookies a beautiful, glossy finish. You can paint the sheen on the cookie, let it dry, and then paint designs, if desired, over the sheen. If you paint the sheen over the painted cookie, it tends to smear the colors but beautifully blended patterns can be created. Sheens come in silver, gold, pearl, and some colors.
It’s fun to make pretty painted cookies and you can be as creative as you like. If you are more of an artist than we are, you can create stunning works of art with cookies and a paint brush.
How to Make Royal Icing
Meringue powder is essential if you make sugar cookies or decorate cookies or cakes. You need to be able to make hard shell frostings like royal icing. Traditionally hard shell icings relied on egg whites to create a shiny luster and a hard surface on the icing. Today, most of us are concerned about using raw egg whites in our kitchen with the bacteria they may harbor.
Meringue powder is made from dry egg whites with flavors and stabilizers added. Without fresh egg whites, the concerns about safety are eliminated. It’s easy to use. Simply add the meringue powder along with the powdered sugar to your recipe to create a frosting that will set up with a firm shell. The more you add, the harder the shell. For a moderately firm frosting shell, add two tablespoons per cup of powdered sugar. We often use 1 1/2 tablespoons of meringue powder for each cup of powdered sugar and this gives us a hard enough shell for painting cookies.