5 tips for decorating gingerbread cookies
A cookie-decorating party
has been my favorite birthday so far. While the events are fresh in my
mind, I thought I'd sum up what I learned in case you want to replicate
the cheap, fun entertainment.
1. Start with a basic gingerbread man recipe. I used the one in Joy of Cooking:
1 stick butter, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup molasses, 3.5 cups flour, 1
teaspoon baking soda, 0.25 teaspoons allspice, 0.5 teaspoons cinnamon, 2
teaspoons ginger, 0.5 teaspoon salt, 0.25 cups of water. Make the dough
ahead and chill.
2. Focus on a few basic colors for your icing.
To mix up the icing, just combine confectioner's sugar with a small
amount of water to make a paste, then add drops of food coloring to
change the hue. Remember, your cookies will be very dark-colored, so
lighter icings will look good in contrast. This process doesn't take as
many mixing bowls as you'd think since you can make white first, then
red, then orange, all in the same bowl. Repeat with blue and green. When
each batch is done, spoon the icing into the corner of a sandwich bag
or ziploc bag and punch a small hole in the plastic with a wooden skewer
so you can squeeze small lines out.
3. When rolling out your cookies, try not to use much flour on your pin since you want the top surface to be dark and pristine.
Keep the cookies relatively thick so they can be used as ornaments on
your tree and bake at 350 Fahrenheit until the tops just barely lose
their shine. Cool a few minutes on a rack, then transfer to plates to
decorate. (If you don't own cookie cutters, this set is perfect for homesteaders.)
4. Less is more in the decoration department.
Think like a cartoonist and focus on just a few key areas --- the mane
of a lion, the whiskers of a cat, the hooves of a horse. (And don't
smudge your cat with flour like I did!)
5. Plan ahead with waxed paper and tins to pack away the finished cookies.
The icing needs to dry for a few minutes first on a plate, but then
they can be stacked carefully in the tin. These make great edible gifts.
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I hope you have fun! Maybe next year I'll get more creative and hand-cut my gingerbread to make a farmyard scene.