I consider myself to be a pretty good artist. My education and profession (okay, back when I had one) is in the design field and I’m pretty good at the crafty stuff. I also think I’m a decent cook, so I figured with those two things going for me, decorating fancy sugar cookies would be right up my alley. Imagine my surprise (not to mention shattered ego and broken self confidence) when I attempted to play around with royal icing for the first time and my little masterpieces looked like something in a 1st grader’s art pile. They sucked. Big time. So I gave up on ever decorating fancy-schmancy cookies again.
That was until I met this style of icing. Now my confidence is back in tact because my first batch turned out beautifully! It’s super forgiving, easy to use, and it actually tastes good! The benefit of using an icing like this is that it dries to a solid sheen, making the cookies stackable and packable- perfect for giving. With a soft, fluffy buttercream, there’s just no easy way to give them away so you have to eat them all yourself (which may be the plan, right??) Let’s get to it. Lots of pictures to post on this one!
light corn syrup, extract, whole milk, powdered sugar
1lb powdered sugar (about 3 3/4 C)
6T whole milk (low-fat actually works, but use whole if you can)
6T light Corn Syrup (6T is equal to 1/4 C plus another 2 T)
1 t extract (I use almond because I use almond in my sugar cookies)
With a whisk, combine sugar and milk until smooth (no lumps!) Then stir in corn syrup and extract.
You will use this same recipe for both glazing and piping. The way it is right now is the consistency you want for glazing. It’s smooth and thin, like in the picture below. It easily runs off the whisk in a pretty thin drizzle.
To prepare the icing for piping, you just add more powdered sugar. Just eyeball it. You can’t really mess it up because if it’s too thick you just add more milk and if it’s to thin, you add more powdered sugar. I add it in small amounts until it’s a good consistency. For me, it’s when it gets to a point where it’s relatively hard to whisk it by hand. When I pick up the whisk, it still runs off, but in a very slow, thick stream now, like this:
Take your glazing icing and separate it into bowls if you want to color it. I decided to do red (more pink, but I love it!), green, and blue. And I left my piping icing white. Use gel food coloring (you can find it at craft or cooking stores) for more intense colors.
There are a few ways to use icing like this. One way is to just glaze the cookie and leave it like that. I’m going to glaze it and then pipe a decoration on top. So the first step is to glaze. Take a small spoon and drop a spoonful of glaze onto a cookie. (Do one at a time, I’m just doing 3 for picture-taking-fun)
Then take a small spoon (baby spoons work great) and gently spread it out to the edges of the cookie. If you want the cookie completely covered, you could just hold it by the bottom and dip it in, then place it over a rack to let the excess drip off.
You need to wait for the icing to set before you pipe on top of it. It doesn’t have to be completely dry, but just set on top. An hour or two will probably be enough, but it depends on humidity and everything, so just barely touch the top and don’t smash the glaze because it will probably still be soft underneath. If it’s dry to the touch you can go ahead and decorate.
With your piping icing (the thicker stuff) in a pastry bag (I just used a plain, round tip), just draw on your design. I started doing little snowflakes and pretty much fell in love with them. These little cuties are about an inch and a half in diameter. How adorable are they??I just get happy every time I look at this picture.
Great Tip: when you do dots, or when you start or finish a line, you may get a little peak of icing. If you try to smash it down, it will stick to your fingers and then you’ll make a big mess and maybe say a naughty word. Just get your finger wet and gently press down. It won’t stick and all of your problems will be solved.
You can fill them soon after outlining. The piping will act as a dam and hold the glaze in. So just drop a spoonful of glaze in the middle of the cookie and with a small spoon, or clean paint brush, or toothpick for small spaces, gently spread the icing out until it fills the cookie in.
The last method is to outline the cookies with piping, then fill them with glaze, and then pipe again on top. You could then color different piping bags and decorate cookies like snowmen, santas etc. I think monograms are really cute too, especially for things like baby and wedding showers. Here’s some letters I did. Oooh, or how about an ABC theme for a toddler’s birthday party? That would be cute too. If you’re going to do this method, it may seem like a lot of steps. To break it up, you could bake your cookies one night and put them in an air-tight container. Then the next day glaze them and the next day give them away. Or if you ice them in the morning, they might be dry enough to stack and pack that night.
I tested my cookies, and on the third day they were still soft and super yummy.*I’m editing this post after making my Valentines Cookies. I discovered that it worked great to bake the cookies ahead of time and as soon as they’re cooled, put them in the freezer. They can stay frozen for several weeks (maybe even months? I don’t know, they don’t last that long at my house!) Then when ready to decorate, take them out of the freezer and you don’t even need to let them thaw, just start decorating. I think the cold helps the icing dry faster. Do it in the morning and they may be dry enough for you to package later the same day- this way the cookies are super fresh.
this is for someone special today 🙂
Valentine Sugar Cookie Pops
Chocolate Toffee Sugar Cookies
Spider Web Cookies
- 1lb powdered sugar (about 3 3/4 C)
- 6T milk or water
- 6T light Corn Syrup (6T is equal to 1/4 C plus another 2 T)
- 1 t extract (I use almond because I use almond in my sugar cookies)
- With a whisk, combine sugar and milk until smooth (no lumps!) Then stir in corn syrup and extract.
- You will use this same recipe for both glazing and piping. Thickened, you can pipe outlines, and as you thin it, you can use it for "flooding" cookies. Make sure to let them dry overnight to fully harden for stacking.