The most iconic Christmas cookie just may be the cutout sugar cookie. While many bakers have visions of beautifully decorated sugar cookies in their heads, some may not know the many and varied ways that they can be decorated. If you want to decorate some wonderful cookies this Christmas, don’t be daunted by all the possibilities; just read on for some tips on how to have the most spectacularly decorated Christmas cookies you have ever made.
• The gold standard for decorating Christmas sugar cookies is done with bags of icing. An inexpensive amount of money for decorating bags, tips and other attachments can make your cookies look like they are from an expensive gourmet bakery. Keep in mind though that first attempts at decorating this way often produce a slightly clumsy result. With time and practice your decorating techniques will get better. There are several web sites, books and magazines that can give detailed descriptions of various decorating techniques.
• If you do not wish to purchase decorating bags and tips there is a cheaper, easier and disposable option available in most grocery stores. You can purchase tubes of frosting, already colored with a decorating tip on the end. (Think tube of toothpaste just filled with yummy frosting instead!) There is also an assortment of sprinkles, sparkles, and candy that can be used with this type of frosting decoration as well. The main advantages of this type of decorating is that there is no making and coloring of frosting, no loading of decorating bags (which can be messy and difficult), and the entire thing is simply thrown away when you are done so there is virtually no clean-up. In addition these types of decorating tubes need very little skill for a pretty good decorating result.
• If you want a truly artistic way to decorate your cookies consider using cookie paints or markers. These are especially good for young children who may want to help with the decorating. You can purchase cookie paints or markers at most craft stores and some grocery stores. They are fairly simple and straightforward to use with one important difference. Cookie paints can be used before or after baking while markers can only be used after the cookies have already been baked. The paints and markers are used like any other paints or markers you simply use the cookie as your canvas. The cookie paints and markers are made with edible food coloring so there is no worry about ingesting them.
• Perhaps you simply do not have time to elaborately decorate your Christmas cookies. There are ways to decorate the cookies and still have them look great. Try this simple technique: before baking your cookies simply sprinkle them with colored sugar. The sugar will adhere to the cookie while baking and give it a glossy and delicious finish.
• If you wish to use your decorated Christmas cookies as ornaments on a tree be sure and keep a couple important tips in mind. It is vitally important that you make a hole for a ribbon or hanger to go through before the cookie is baked. If you try to do this after baking the cookie may crumble and be unusable. A simple technique to do this is to use the end of a drinking straw to poke a hole in the cookie before baking. Using a straw insures that even if the hole shrinks a little it will still be big enough to thread ribbon or hanging thread through. In addition be sure and finish your decorated cookies (if they are to remain decorations and not be eaten) with spray varnish to help keep them intact on the tree.