Cookies I made for a charity golf tournament this week. Packed up and ready to go. Paired with a Chocolate Chewy cookie.
Here are some tips to making successful iced cookies:
The dough -
1) Make sure your dough is completely mixed and there are no clumps of butter hanging around...if there are this will cause your dough to bake unevenly and your gingerbread man might suddenly grow an ear.
2) I like to work with chilled dough. There is less sticking that way, and then you use less flour, and as a result your cookie isn't as dry. So over all, a chilled dough is a win win.
3) When rolling the dough out make sure your surface and the dough are floured...enough to prevent sticking, but not too much. Make sure you flip and rotate your dough at least once to ensure even unsticking rolling.
4) If you want nice uniform cookies I recommend using Rolling pin rings. I have these ones from Sur La Table and have had good results with them. http://www.surlatable.com/product/id/151834.do?affsrcid=Aff0001&mr:trackingCode=D566AEDC-D781-DE11-B7F3-0019B9C043EB&mr:referralID=NA
1) Make sure you bake the cookies to a nice golden brown. A cookie that is not baked long enough will break easily and result in lots of crumbs.
2) Always bake your cookies on parchment paper.
1) Make sure your cookies are completely cooled before icing them otherwise the icing will melt right off...hello.
2)Make sure your icing is a good thickness. If you start to ice the cookie and it is quickly falling off the cookie your icing is too thin. Add more powdered sugar until you get a thicker consistency. Likewise, if you try to spread the icing on and it is thick like peanut butter...it is too thick, add a little bit of milk to thin out. So basically you want your icing thick enough to stay on the cookie, but thin enough to spread.
3) Ahh, the paper piping bag. If you ask my friend Marianna she can attest to the fact that I am not the best paper piping bag maker....she is a master at it...no fair : ) The more I practice the better I am at it, thank goodness. Paper piping bags are so useful, and great for decorating cookies. You can make them big or small. Don't fill your bags too much or they will be hard to handle. Here is a quick demo video to help you out http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N6zaXh8YkW8&feature=related
4) If you are using nonpareils or sanding sugar make sure you put it on while the icing is still wet so it sticks.
5) If you are writing something or adding a special design over the base color, wait for the icing to dry a little before adding details to prevent your piping from bleeding.
6) I use a small flat spatula like this one http://www.tigerchef.com/ateco-1384-4-offset-icing-spatula.html to spread the icing onto the cookie
7) Coloring - use gel food coloring so the consistency of your icing isn't altered. You can find gel food coloring at Michaels.
Here is a video with some ideas for decorating, I don't usually do the pipe and flood method, because it is more time consuming but here it is anyways...
Here is the basic recipe I use for sugar cookies.
Sugar Cookiesadapted from Bake at 350 degrees blog
In stand mixer cream the following 1-2 minutes:
2 sticks unsalted room temperature butter
1 cup granulated sugar
Scrape down bowl and slowly add the following and mix until combined. Scrape down bowl and mix again until the batter is smooth and not broken looking.
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp of one of these: almond extract, orange extract, peppermint extract, or more vanilla
In small bowl whisk or sift together the following and then add to the above:
3 cups all purpose unbleached flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
Mix until combined. Scrape down bowl and mix again.
Roll onto floured surface and cut out desired shapes. Or you can keep the dough wrapped in the fridge for a few days and then roll out. If you do this let the dough sit at room temperature for 15-20 minutes before rolling out.