How To Make Watercolour Decorated Sugar Cookies
When you need a Christmas gift that looks like a million dollars, but isnt, these cookies are your new best friend. Sure, these sugar cookies take some time to execute. But the trade off is worth it! You only need simple food colouring and dollar store paint brushesthings that are very accessible & affordable to most people.
Dont be intimidated, thinking you need to have huge amounts of artistic ability. If you can draw a reasonably straight line, and hold a paintbrush with a light touch, you can create these cookies. Youll get slightly better & easier results if you use gel food colouring instead, but I wanted to use the liquid kind thats easier to find to show you can do it with a lesser quality product.
For those of you who like to watch things, heres the Youtube video. If youd rather read, keep scrolling. And finally, for those of you who want the sugar cookie recipe, the recipe is below.
How To Decorate Lemon Slice Cookies With Royal Icing
It couldnt be much easier to make decorated lemon slice cookies.
Once you have the base, you should outline the cookie with yellow icing.
Then, immediately fill in the rest of the cookie with yellow icing and give the cookie a slight shake to help the icing settle.
Once you give it an hour or so to dry, you can go in with white detail icing and outline the cookie again, then drawing 3 spokes from the rounded edge of the cookie to the flat edge.
And thats literally it.
How To Decorate Cookies
Once your cookies are cooled and your piping bags are loaded, it’s time to decorate. For most standard cookie designs, you’ll start with a base outline and flood, then let it dry for 2-3 hours before piping additional decorations on top.
When it comes to decorating cookies, it’s important to let the elements dry completely before stacking colors or layers of decoration. This helps prevent the colors from bleeding into each other and creates the appearance of distinct layers or sections. For example, if you’re making our Friendly Ghost Cookies, you want to pipe and flood the white base layer, then wait for that to dry before adding the black face details. It may take some time, but it’s worth it to achieve clean lines and a layered, three-dimensional design.
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Start by outlining the cookie with piping-consistency icing in any color you choose. Then, use flooding-consistency icing to fill the outlined area, starting by flooding around the edges and working your way towards the center. If the flooding is inconsistent in thickness, redistribute the wet icing with a toothpick. This forms a base flooded layer for your cookie design that, once dry, you can pipe details on top of.
WATCH: Wet-on-Wet Cookie Icing Technique
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Theres Cookie Inspiration Everywhere
Just ask a cookier about where they find their inspiration and theyll probably tell you everywhere. Seriously, its true! I try not to Google cookie designs when Im in need of inspiration. It just gets my mind stuck in things that have already been done.
Instead, Ill look around my house, go to the store, take a walk And I always have my phone or camera with me so I can snap a picture if I find something I want to cookie.
I also keep a small spiral binder for drawing my designs, or at the very least, writing a description of how I see the designs. Once you start finding your inspiration, being inspired probably wont be a problem.
The problem will be having enough time to make all the designs that are in your head.
Things I Wish I Knew About Cookie Decorating
New to the wonderful world of cookie decorating? Here are 10 tips to set you up for cookie decorating success! Youll find everything you need to know about common royal icing mistakes, making custom cookie shapes without a traditional cutter, stenciling without fancy equipment and more.
Disclaimer: Please note that some of the links below are affiliate links and I will earn a commission if you make a purchase using those links. I use all of the products included in this post and recommend them because they are products I personally love and trust. All affiliate links are clearly marked.
As anyone whos started something new knows, the hardest part is, inevitably, getting all of the information you need to be successful. Its often a time marked by trial and error and a whole lot of I wished Id known that!
And after decorating cookies for over 6 years, Im putting everything Ive learned the hard way into this short and sweet little post.
So if youre new to cookie decorating and dont know where to start, this is a great place to be! Lets take some of that guess work out of your decorating endeavors.
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Why Youll Love This Easy Sugar Cookie Recipe:
- My recipe yields cookies that absolutely do not spread in the oven, so you have perfectly defined shapes and clear cookie-cutter edges.
- These sugar cookies have a soft interior texture with a classic, buttery flavor .
- Recipe includes instructions to easily customize the cookies depending on whether you prefer thicker and softer or thinner and crispier sugar cookies.
- Includes a simple, shiny, and absolutely foolproof sugar cookie icing that you are going to love. While royal icing certainly has its place I generally prefer this oh-so-easy frosting instead.
Technique : Polka Dots
Whether you’re frosting Christmas trees, cookie ornaments, or simple geometric shapes, polka dots add the most visual interest for the least amount of effort. For this technique, outline and flood the cookie with whatever color icing you prefer. Working with a secondary color, hold the piping bag perpendicular to the cookie, with the tip just barely above the surface of the icing.
Squeeze gently until the icing begins to flow, and keep squeezing to enlarge the dot. To finish, stop squeezing, and lift the bag straight up. In a few seconds, the peak of icing will settle down and disappear. Repeat with more dots and colors to create whatever sort of design you like you can even nestle dots within dots, for alternating rings of color.
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Save Time By Planning Ahead
When baking cookies that will be decorated with royal icing Step 1 I like to make my dough ahead of timeStep 2 Roll and Cut the CookiesStep 3 Freeze them raw for up to three months Step 4 Then, I just pop them into the oven when its time to bake . SweetAmbs Pro Tip To save room in the freezer, allow the cookies to chill for about 20 minutes stacked on sheet trays with parchment in between each layer. Then, when theyre frozen, remove the raw cookies from the parchment sheets, stack them in sets of 8 and wrap each stack tightly in plastic wrap.
Should I thaw the cookies before baking?
Theres no need to thaw the cookies before baking. Just unwrap them from the plastic, place them on a room temperature sheet tray and put them right into the oven. This saves me a lot of time later when Im ready to decorate because Im not trying to make dough, roll cookies, bake and decorate all at the same time.
This practice works well if you make the same shapes on a regular basis. When I was taking orders, I would offer mainly round and square cookies, so that I could have them ready to go into the oven at any time.
The Best Sugar Cookie Recipe
If youre looking for perfect cut-out Christmas sugar cookies, ones that hold their shape and dont spread in the oven, come together easily with no strange ingredients, and that actually taste incredible, too, Ive got you covered this year.
If you want a foolproof easy sugar cookie icing that isnt royal icing, one that dries firm but not break-your-teeth hard, well Ive got you covered there too.
Im adding this flawless sugar cookie recipe to my Christmas cookie tray alongside the gingerbread men, meringues, and hot chocolate bombs and would like to gently suggest you consider doing the same, I dont think you will regret it.
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Tips For Making Cookie Dough
Butter and eggs need to be at room temperature. If youre in a hurry, throw the butter in the microwave at 50% power in 15 second intervals to warm it up. Place the eggs in a bowl of warm water for about 15-20 minutes to bring them to room temperature. The reason that you want to use room temp eggs and butter is because they wont properly combine if they are cold. Youve probably seen it happen you add cold eggs to your smooth creamed butter and sugar and suddenly you have a lumpy soup. This can lead to little bits of butter that arent thoroughly mixed into the dough, which can cause problems later in the baking process.
Once you add the flour to the dough, keep the mixing to a minimum. Too much mixing will give you a tough, misshapen cookie. Add the flour all at once and then mix it for another 15 seconds or so. If its not mixed all the way by then, finish it by hand. If youre using my Orange Vanilla Cardamom Cookie recipe, the dough should be pretty stiff. If it seems very sticky and soft, add a little more flour, a handful at a time. You may need to add up to an extra cup of flour if you live in a humid climate.
Split the dough in half and shape each half into a flattened rectangle rather than keeping it in a ball. That will help a lot when rolling it out later! Wrap up the dough and put it in the fridge for at least one hour .
What If I Dont Have 4 Hours To Chill The Cookie Dough
You can speed chilling process place cookie dough in the freezer for one hour.
- Or you can roll the cookie dough between 2 pieces of parchment. Slide it onto a baking sheet or a freezer safe tray. Place the tray into the freezer for 20 minutes or 1 hour into the fridge. And cut out and bake cookies.
- Dont leave rolled out cookie dough in the fridge for an extended time, edges tend to dry out.
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How To Make Royal Icing For Lemon Slice Cookies
Royal icing is a great icing to use for these cookies as it dries smooth and you can really get creative with the colors and techniques that you use.
To make the royal icing, following the royal icing recipe and ensure you have decided if you want to use the single consistency method or double consistency method.
For single consistency, you want it to be a bit thicker than honey, but not as stiff as toothpaste.
It should flow, but now so much that its dripping off the cookie.
A good way to measure this is to do the 12 second rule and cut a line in the icing with a knife and then count how many seconds it takes for it to disappear.
Once you get the right consistency, it will be about 12 seconds from drawing the line to disappearing.
You can also do two different consistencies, one like toothpaste and one like honey.
The thicker one is your outline icing that you use to outline the cookie, and then the thinner one is your flood icing to fill in the base.
Once you have what consistency you want, add the food coloring in and put it in your piping bag.
I use tipless piping bags and just cut off the end for more control, so you dont need to buy any fancy tips.
Tips For Making The Best Sugar Cookies
- When cutting out your sugar cookies, make sure to keep your cuts as close together to get as many cookies out of your dough as possible. Re-roll any scraps so that you use all of your dough. Keep in mind that with each re-roll youre adding more flour into the dough, so you want to get as much as possible out of that first roll.
- Bake cookies that are about the same size on the same baking sheet. Otherwise the small ones will burn and the large ones wont finish baking.
- For thinner, crispy sugar cookies: Roll cookie dough thinner and look for the edges of the cookies to be beginning to turn golden brown to know that they are done.
- For thicker, soft sugar cookies: Roll dough to about ¼, and watch for cookies to be just beginning to turn lightly golden around the edges. Let them cool completely on the cookie rack as they may break if you try to move them while theyre still warm.
- When making the sugar cookie icing: Its hard to mess this one up, because if you make it too thin, just add more powdered sugar. If its too thick, just add more milk! Look for a consistency where the icing that drizzles off of the whisk holds its shape for several seconds before dissolving back into the icing bowl.
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‘flood’ Icing For Full Coverage
If you’d like an icing base for your cookies to either add sprinkles or a colorful design, The first step in decorating is to apply the icing, which involves piping the border with a piping bag, then filling in the center. Jen Yee, head of the pastry program at Lafayette in New York City, recommends making two consistencies of royal icing, one for each step. “You want a firm icing for the border, and a looser one to fill or ‘flood’ in the border, which can be done by adding a touch of water to your ‘flooding’ icing,” she says. You can use a piping bag, an offset spatula, or a paring knife to frost the center, and toothpicks can help to make designs, spread icing into detailed corners, and pick up mistakes.
Answers To Baking Perfect Cookies
By Author Amber | Posted on May 19, 2022
Ive put together some information to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about how to bake perfect cookies, how to handle large orders, as well as the best way to store and package the finished product.
My subscribers on Patreon have access to my cookie and royal icing recipe, ad-free cookie decorating tutorials, individualized cookie decorating advice, and other members-only benefits.
This post contains affiliate links. Read my affiliate disclosure here.
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How To Decorate Cookies With Royal Icing
To start, if you havent already be sure to checkout my cutout sugar cookie recipe. Youll obviously want to start with making those cookies.
Once your cookies are baked and cooled, its time for the fun part the decorating. The first thing to talk about is the royal icing. Dont be afraid just get in there! They may not be perfect the first time, but youll get the hang of it.
This royal icing dries nice and firm, so you can easily stock the cookies, wrap them, whatever your preference and transport them.
To make the royal icing, youll combine meringue powder and powdered sugar, then add water and mix together for 7-10 minutes on low to medium speed. I use my whisk attachment on my mixer. Keep mixing until the icing looses its sheen. Youll notice in the video below that my icing is fairly thick to begin with. You could have it a little thinner to start since youll end up with a thinner icing in the end, but I do like to have more control over that so I usually start on the thick end.
Once the icing is made, be sure to keep a damp cloth over the bowl when you arent using it or it will dry quickly. I typically cover the bowl with a paper towel and sprinkle water over it. Just be sure to sprinkle more water on as it dries.
As you add the color to your icing you can also be slowly adding more water, if needed, to get the right icing consistency. Youll see that I included video of my icing and how I test the consistency to help it be a little more clear.
Sugar Cookie Icing Ingredients
- Powdered sugar. Also known as confectioners sugar or icing sugar. For best results , sift it to remove any lumps before using.
- Milk. I use whole milk, but any variety will work instead. Just note that if you are using a lower-fat milk you may need less than the recipe calls for, as it is thinner.
- Vanilla extract. If you want pure white icing I recommend using a clear vanilla extract.
- Light corn syrup. Not to be confused with high fructose corn syrup, this ingredient gives my sugar cookie frosting a glossy, shiny finish and helps it to to set firmly. If you must leave it out, Ive included notes in the recipe on how to do so, but for best results I recommend using it. Dark corn syrup could work but will add a muddy color and additional flavor to your icing. Outside of the US, you may be able to find glucose syrup, which should work instead.
- Food Coloring. Of course this is optional, but for festively decorated Christmas sugar cookies, youll probably want to add a bit of color. I love and use gel food coloring for best results . Liquid or powder food coloring will work, but may not be as vibrant.
As always, this is just an overview of the ingredients used here and why they were chosen. For the full sugar cookie recipe with amounts and detailed instructions, please scroll down to the printable recipe.
SAMS TIP: Dont have time to decorate? Skip the sugar cookie frosting and just sprinkle colorful sanding sugar over the cookies before baking!
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