This week EXPRESS asked us to host a cookie decorating party as part of an event to launch their holiday collection. We went to town and bought a million different kinds of sanding sugars, dragees, jimmies, and luster dusts. We had the best time meeting and decorating cookies with the other ladies at the event. We thought it would be really fun to share with you our sugar cookie recipe and some tips and tricks so you can host your own cookie decorating party!
Because we were throwing this cookie party to celebrate EXPRESS and their new holiday collection, we thought it would be cute to have fashion cookies. So we got a bunch of cookie cutters in the shape of t shirts, high heels, dresses, and skirts. We pre-flooded everything so that by the time the party started people could get straight down to the fun part, which is decorating. It was so cool to see how creative people got with the decorations on their cookies.
We also made really cute take home bags so people could travel with their newly decorated cookies. The bags may look fancy, but they are so easy to make! All we did was run some white kraft paper goodie bags through our printer and printed out some circle labels. If you want to get really crafty, we cut out a little paper ribbon our of paper we printed a pattern on to use for a little color and extra decoration.
If you guys are thinking about throwing your own cookie decorating party, here are some quick and easy cookie decorating tips to help you guys get the best results!
-royal icing: this particular icing can seem intimidating, but trust us, its totally not! The recipe we provided gives you a stiff icing, perfect for piping lines and creating detail work.
-When working with royal icing, it’s best to first divide your batch into small bowls and create all your desired colors (if you’re using professional grade gel colors, begin using a tiny bit at a time and continue to add more and more as you need it. It’s so concentrated that the nice shade of baby pink you were going for will suddenly be hot pink before you know it! I usually dip the end of a bamboo skewer into the gel colors and dab my icing and mix. I do this until I get the color I want…little by little.
-Once you’ve loaded your piping bags and are ready to begin decorating, remember that you’ll get a better result when your tip doesn’t actually touch the surface of the cookie. You want to sort of ‘air’ drag the line of icing to create a border or any detailed work.
-flooding cookies: once you’ve created a border and it has fully dried, you are ready to add a small amount of water to your icing to loosen it and then pour it into the area you want filled. I like to use my finger to spread the icing around and a toothpick for smaller areas. The icing must dry completely before you can begin decorating.
-it’s fun to paint the surface with luster dust and we used it like paint by dabbing a small amount onto a paint brush and painting it on dry as well as adding a small amount of alcohol to the luster dust to make it more concentrated/deeper colors…just play around and have fun with it!
-since we brought all the cookies pre-baked and flooded with plain black and white surfaces, we also created what we called our “glue” for the evening. It was a super loose royal icing (1/2 cup royal icing plus 2 1/2 tablespoons water) that we used by dabbing onto a paint brush and gently brushing onto the cookies to allow sprinkles and other decorations to properly stick to the surface.
-patience is key here! I know that sucks, but you’ll really achieve the best results if you wait for each application to dry before moving onto the next! (this is why cocktails (or nonalcoholic, but sparkly beverage) snacks and great company are always a good idea!
Rolled Out Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing
Makes 30-36 cookies
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated white sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
3 1/2 to 4 cups all purpose flour
3 large egg whites
4 to 4 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 350˚F.
2. In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or a large mixing bowl, using a hand mixer), cream together butter and both sugars.
3. Scrape down sides of the bowl and add eggs. Beat until fully incorporated.
4. Add salt, baking powder and both extracts and mix until well combined. Add 2 cups of flour and mix until incorporated. Scrape down sides of the bowl and begin adding flour 1/2 cup at a time until a dough comes together that is neither sticky or dry.
5. Form dough into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
6. Roll dough out onto a lightly floured surface until about 1/4 inch thick.
7. Cut cookies using desired cutters and place onto a baking sheet, about 1/2 inch apart.
8. Refrigerate cookies for 30 minutes before baking for 7 to 9 minutes. Allow cookies to cool completely before topping with royal icing.
9. Royal icing: In a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, whisk together egg whites until light and frothy. Begin adding sugar, 1/2 cup at a time until fully incorporated. Continue to beat mixture until light, fluffy and shiny, 4 to 6 minutes. Stir in vanilla extract. (to make loose icing to flood cookies, stir 1 tablespoon water into 1/2 cup royal icing and stir until smooth)