This year for Christmas, I wanted to bake and decorate all kinds of cookies. I searched and searched for all kinds of cookie cutters in the shape of different snowflakes, ornaments, trees, stockings… you name it. In the end, I only got to make and decorate snowflake cookies…so much for my grandiose ideas. I think I’ll tackle ornaments, trees, and stockings next year…and maybe snowflakes again.
I realized that although I like baking and decorating cakes, I enjoy decorating cookies far more. I think it’s because each cookie is a blank canvas where you can experiment with many different colors and swirls. With a cake, you pretty much have only one big canvas with no room for error. A mistake on a cake means having to re-bake and re-frost everything., so it’s more nerve-wracking and less tranquil. With cookies, however, you bake so many that an error on one means pretty much nothing. I can also be more creative with each cookie, experimenting on colors, designs, etc., allowing me to combine designs on different cookies I like into the next cookies. The whole process is more calming and peaceful which inspires even more creativity.
Instead of baking gingerbread cookies this year, I decided to make multiple batches of sugar cookie dough, adding cocoa powder to half of the batches to make chocolate sugar cookies. It worked out great because the dark color of the cookie was a nice contrast to the icing colors I created. Another new thing I tried this year was using silpats (french silicone baking mats). They…are…awesome! I’ve often struggled with getting nice even shapes for my cut-outs, but the silpats enabled me to make fragile, intricate snowflakes which would have otherwise fallen apart if I had to manually transfer the cutouts to a baking sheet. I basically rolled the cookie dough onto the silpats, used the cookie cutters to make the shapes, removed the un-used portion of the cookie dough, transfer the silpat (with cutouts) onto a baking sheet, bake the cookies, and voila! Perfect cookie shapes! I don’t know how I ever managed without them! Though I think some people use parchment paper, the silpats are re-usable and require minimal clean-up and care.
Using the silpats, I was able to bake >80 chocolate and regular sugar cookies (a collection of large, medium, and small sizes). Here is an assortment using a light blue flooding with white icing outlines/decorations. I think this color combination gives the snowflakes a more refined look (compared to white flooding with light blue accents).
Here is an assortment using white flooding with light blue icing outlines/decorations.
Something I tried which I think worked out rather well is using ivory colored icing on a bare chocolate sugar cookie and white icing on an ivory flooded sugar cookie. I rather like the combination and plan on trying it again next year with larger stocking cutouts. The contrast of ivory and white icing on a bare chocolate cookie also works rather well.
Although baking and decorating this amount of cookies was quite taxing and time consuming, I’m pretty happy with the overall results. I think I learned a lot in terms of color contrasts and want to experiment some more using dark burgundy and dark forest green colors…for the snowflakes next year! I think it will be pretty interesting as most snowflake cookies I’ve seen to date have been with white, light blue pastel colors…nothing at all stark.