Hey Besties! It’s holiday cookie season and everyone is making delicious cookies, especially cutout cookies! And while decorated sugar cookies have gained incredible popularity year-round, this season also inspires people to try their hand at this fun skill. Everyone has different goals, and we support and celebrate ALL bakers. You may want to make beautiful cookies for your friends and family. Some use cookie decorating as a stress relieving therapy. Some want to start a home bakery business; and there are a lot of goals in between. Regardless of your ‘why’, today I’m sharing a tutorial, with video, of some easy Christmas cookie designs that will still WOW your family and leave you feeling accomplished! Let’s get into it!
For this lesson, we’re using our go-to, no-fail, no-chill, vanilla sugar cookie recipe, you can find HERE. This recipe is incredibly easy, has never failed us and our customers LOVE it! For decorating, we’re using royal icing and again, we use our no-fail recipe that we love and is so easy to work with; you can find it HERE. If you’re new to royal icing, this is not the kind of icing you slap on with a spoon. It provides unlimited options for designs and this particular recipe dries perfectly smooth so cookies can be stacked yet has a soft bite.
Coloring & Consistencies
I use almost exclusively ChefMaster colors for a few reasons. Mostly because I’ve tried many brands and for us, the colors always some out perfect for a great price. We buy THIS set on repeat throughout the year and can make virtually any color we need. But regardless of which brand you select to work with, just make sure you’re using gel or powdered colors (versus liquid). For more on coloring icing and tips for achieving some of the more stubborn colors, THIS post will give you all the inside info.
Once you’ve whipped up your fresh batch of royal icing, the next thing you’ll need to start learning is consistencies. Royal icing consistencies is arguably the hardest thing to learn about cookie decorating. Mostly because it has a lot to do with feel and just takes some time to get. For today’s designs, we are sticking with one consistency to make it easier. We will be using what’s known as a ‘flood’ consistency for all this decorating. And I’ll explain exactly what that means and how to achieve it. For more in-depth education on consistencies, THIS post is super helpful. But mastering the flood consistency is your first step, so let’s chat.
What Is A Flood Consistency?
The flood consistency is basically the base layer that you’re usually decorating straight onto the cookie. Often cookiers will pipe or layer on additional sections, designs or details on top of the flood layer. Or sometimes you can simply make amazing designs with just a flood layer! In today’s designs, we’re using the flood consistency exclusively but using a technique called wet-on-wet to create unique designs. Learning to consistently flood a cookie is an essential skill but flooding with just one color can feel pretty boring. Which is why using wet-on-wet designs allows you practice your skills while also creating beautiful designs!
So how do you create this flood consistency?
Once you’ve whipped up your fresh batch of royal icing, you’re going to use water (in tiny amounts) to thin it down to your desired consistency. You see, when you have a fresh batch of royal icing, it will be pretty stiff; too stiff to flood a cookie with. I strongly suggest using a spray bottle of water to have the best control over how much water you’re adding to thin.
I suggest putting about 1-2 cups of icing in a bowl, since you don’t need to thin the entire batch at once (that would be a lot of work). If you’re going to color your icing, do that now. Gel colors are water-based, so you always want to color your icing before thinning to your desired consistency. If you did it in reverse, you may end up with icing that is thinner than you wanted. Once ready to start thinning, start adding water, a few sprays at a time and mixing with a spatula. You’ll start to notice the icing getting thinner. Take some time to pay attention to how the icing feels on your spatula, how it drips off, how quickly or slowly it returns to a flat surface in the bowl. These are all things that are going to help you learn that ‘feel’.
Every cookier is different in the exact flood consistency they like best. But generally speaking, most cookiers use a flood consistency between 10-15 seconds. This refers to using a timing method where if you ‘cut’ through the icing in the bowl with a knife, it will take approximately 10-15 seconds to return itself to flat and smooth. Some cookiers like a flood closer to 10 seconds and some like a flood closer to 15; you will find your preference too! For a beginner, I recommend sticking with a flood closer to 12-15 seconds. This slightly thicker flood will help you learn to outline cookies without the flood running over the side.
For today’s designs, you will see in the video that we will flood the entire round ornament cookie. In two of the designs, we immediately add other colors in the same consistency to create details. This is the wet-on-wet technique I referenced earlier.
One tool you will absolutely need is a scribe. You can get fancy scribes, but I honestly use the ones that come with the tipless bags I use, which you can find HERE. Regardless of the design you’re creating, you will ALWAYS use your scribe, which will quickly be your new BFF.
Before we jump into the video to see the decorating in action, I want to make one more recommendation for beginners. Take time just flooding cookies to master this technique. Once you can successfully master a whole cookie, try flooding just a particular section and letting that crust before flooding the neighboring sections. You’ll see an example of this in the video with the hat cookie.
Easy Christmas Cookie Decorating Video
Without further ado, you can find the video HERE. Keep in mind that this is sped up; I am certainly not decorating this fast! But this gives you the good visual to see how the icing settles and how the designs take shape. So, take your time, go slow, be patient and keep practicing. We ALL started in this exact same place!
If you’ve found this post all about easy Christmas cookie designs helpful, please share or leave a comment below! And certainly, feel free to reach out if you have any questions, I’m happy to help!
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