Sunday, December 4, 2011

Holiday Snowflake Cookie Tutorial

It's that time of year again!  Dozens of decorated holiday cookies for your friends at the office, platters for your neighbors and of course a few to set out for Santa Claus on Christmas Eve.  In this crazy time of year decorating cookies can seem like more of a stress than enjoyment. but I am here to tell you that beautiful holiday cookies are a simple, fast, and fun holiday project.  Out of all the decorative cookies i've made, snowflakes are my favorite by far.  They are easier to make then you may realize, and since all are supposed to be unique, there is no need to focus on making them all look the same!  Below is a step by step tutorial on how to make one specific snowflake cookie.  Follow along and then get creative and make up some designs of your own!
You will need:

1 Recipe of Gingerbread or Sugar Cookie Dough
Royal Icing
Pastry Bag and Round Tip
Pastry Brush and Paint Brush
Decorating Sugar or Luster Dust

Mix up dough according to recipe. Chill.  Roll out dough to desired thickness.  If you like softer cookies, roll the dough thicker.  If you prefer a cookie with some crunch, roll the dough thinner.  As long as you roll the dough evenly the cookies will bake evenly no matter how thick or thin.
Cut out your snowflake shape.  Arrange on a tray lined with parchment paper and bake at 350degrees until cookies begin to brown around the edges.  Let cool completely.
Thin out your royal icing until it is a paintable consistency.  Make sure the liquid used to thin the icing is thoroughly mixed in to avoid streaking (i.e. eggwhites or water).  With a dry brush (a wet brush will make a streaky cookie), paint the white royal icing over the entire surface of the cookie.  Let dry completely. 
With royal icing thickened to a piping consistency,  Pipe one dot in the very center of the cookie.  To create a nice round pearl, release the pressure on the piping bag before you begin to pull it away.
Pipe a line from the end of each leg of the snowflake to the pearl in the middle. 
Pipe a half circle on either side of the line on each leg.  To give the outer side of the half moon a more substantial look, Push with slightly more pressure for a second before drawing the arched shape in toward the line.  This will add some decorative dimension to the design.
Repeat the arched piping on all six legs where the legs connect to the center circle of the cookie. I find that rotating the cookie is helpful that way you can pipe the decoration on each leg in the way most comfortable for you.
Repeat the arched piping once again, but this time only on every other leg of the snowflake.
On the legs without the last arched piping, pipe 4 dots in an upside down arch.  The outer dots being slightly large then the inner ones.
Add dots of various sizes around the rest of the snowlfake in a similar fashion.  The amount of dots you can add will depend on how large of a snowflake you begin with.  Larger snowflakes will have room for more detail.
Voila!  You have a beautiful snowflake!  Let the cookie dry for a couple hours to ensure the icing will not dent or crack.  If you want to add decorating sugar, sprinkle while still wet.  If using luster dust, use a dry paintbrush to dust on the sparkle.  If yo uwant to add sparkle or sugar just to the piped detail on the cookie, paint the detail with a small amout of clear alcohol once the cookie is dry and then apply the sugar or sparkle.  The sugar will only stick to the surface moistned by the alcochol and the alcohol will evaporate faster than water. 
Hope you have fun creating your own snowflake cookies to kick off this holiday season!  Once completing your cookies, share the sweetness with your friends, family, or the lady next store.....these cookies will sure to spread the spirit of the season!

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