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7 Things to Know About Icing Cookies

S Caron By

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I love tradition. It must be that creature of habit inside, because when it comes to the holidays, I have a laundry list of traditions. For instance, you must have a glass of nonalcoholic eggnog when the decorations are all on the tree. The tree must be decorated by the whole family. Oh, and of course, you have to bake a ton of cookies.

Now, I have to admit, I actually don't frost or ice cookies often. I usually opt for other methods of decoration (heck, I have a bucket of sprinkles, sugars and more just for that). But that's not to say that I don't know how. Below are a few of my tips and tricks for icing cookies ... but before we get to that, I want to share another tradition that I absolutely adore - and it's not even mine!

Every December, just before Christmas vacation starts, a friend of mine invites her daughter's classmates over for a cookie decorating party. They bake, frost and sprinkle to their heart's content. And at the end of the few hours, each girl goes home with a package of homemade, hand-decorated cookies for her family. Doesn't that sound so fun?

My daughter is only two, so she's not inviting any friends over to decorate cookies ... yet. But someday, I might just have to add that to my tradition repertoire too.

Do you have a special baking tradition? Share in the comments!

Seven Things You Should Know about Icing Cookies

  1. You don't need special equipment to ice cookies - even if you want to draw designs on them. All you need is a bowl, a spoon, a sealable bag and a pair of scissors.

  2. Having special equipment is sometimes helpful - for instance, if you are looking to ice on a precise shape. But again, you don't need it.

  3. A cup of powdered sugar only sounds like a lot. Once you mix it with water, it will look like a lot less.

  4. Add the water a little at a time, so that you don't over water it.

  5. Your icing should be thick (think toothpaste consistency), not loose or runny (see Example A). If it's the right consistency, you can pipe just about anything ... as long as you are coordinated enough to do so.

  6. Don't expect icing to darken on standing - if it's not the right color in the bowl, then it won't be on the cookie either. So, don't be afraid to add more food coloring (or a lot more!)

  7. Basic icing will taste like sugar (that is pretty much all it is!). If you want something that will enhance the flavor of the cookie, use buttercream frosting and slather it on. Then, dust with colored sugars, shapes or whatever to make it pretty.

Icing Recipes:
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