SUGAR COOKIES! I love (and hate) to make them! Let’s face it, iced sugar cookies are time consuming. I don’t care if you are the best expert in the world. These labors of love are well, laborious! The baking part is simple enough, but the icing!!! The icing is a ROYAL (get it) pain in the butt. The key to icing these is to get the right consistency. I am lazy and just do what they call the “20 second icing” method. I don’t usually outline with a stiffer icing and then flood with a thinner icing. I am too darn tired by the time I have all the icing colors ready to go. I get all my inspiration from http://www.sweetsugarbelle.com, including her yummy recipes, so be sure to visit her blog. She is amazing and has tutorials and such on icing the cookies, and lots of tips and tricks. I would like to share some mistakes I have made when making these cookies, so here are some things to avoid! Don’t be like me and frustrate yourself to no end!!
Things to avoid:
1. If you are new at this, I urge you: do not bake and try to ice the cookies the same day! You will be tired after baking and mixing the icing, and then you will just be “over it” and when the first few don’t turn out that great you get mad and throw in the towel. You are just tired. Best to bake one day, and make the icing and decorate them the next. Trust! Your feet will thank me.
2. If you have never made these before, do not pick the hardest design you have ever seen. Pick a simple design, one that you are confident you can tackle! Everything looks easier on YouTube and Facebook…e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g! I loved how these turned out. I made red the year before, and decided to do them in pink the next time around.
3. Use tumbler cups to put your icing bags in, it keep your frosting bags upright. Put a very slightly damp paper towel in the bottom to prevent your tips from drying out and clogging up.
4. Be sure you have mixed the icing really well, or you will get these lovely clumps that will block your frosting tip. Also, when you use the tip above about the paper towel…use a slightly damp (not too much or the icing gets wet and can do weird things) paper towel in the bottom of the cup you rest your frosting bags in. It is very frustrating when you are rolling along, and all of a sudden you can’t squeeze anything out of your icing tip! Do not squeeze the bag super hard, it will pop and frosting will ooze out everywhere…I have done this…it was not a good day. The one thing that has worked for me is to place the tip under super hot water. It melts the blockage and you will be able to continue.
5. Be sure to mix enough of the color you need. It is really really really really hard to match color if you run out. Maybe it is just hard for me, but if you are a beginner, unless it’s white icing, be sure to mix enough of the color for your project.
6. Not all baking sheets are created equal! I have different types of cookie sheets, they all bake the cookies at a different rate, so watch your next batch if it is on a different sheet, guaranteed you will have some dark edges if you don’t adjust the baking time.
7. Circles are hard! Yup, I said it. I have been baking all sorts of different cookies for a long time, but for some reason, I can’t outline a circle very well! It is easy to see the mistakes, so maybe don’t choose a circle shape the first go-round. I was trying to teach someone how to do these for the first time with these here baseball cookies…it was a bit frustrating for her I think. Even I did not have the patience that day…I baked and frosted the same day…shame on me!
8. Consistency is key! I try for that “20 second icing” method, so I only need to mix one bag of icing color and not outline piping, and flooding icing. Things can go really wrong if you add too much water. Go very slowly. Sugarbelle even suggests using a spray bottle to add just the right amount. If you go too far, the icing will sag right off the cookie and take forever to dry. You can sometimes remedy this by adding more powdered sugar, but then you have to take it out of the bag and start all over…I have done this too…no fun. I made these here cookies for my sister’s 30th wedding anniversary, and the black “L” icing was way too stiff. I was air brushing and icing, and my other sister was in town for the party, and again, I was tired. See tip one, again…I do not listen to my own advice. I will never learn!
9. Be sure you have lots of number #2 and #3 tips. You will need many. I use disposable icing bags because I don’t bake these all the time. It saves me from having to wash them out each time I use the bags. I would go crazy and never bake them again if I had to wash out icing bags.
10. Have fun and don’t be too critical. We can be our worst critics. They are only cookies, yummy ones, and they will be eaten quickly. Once they are all on the plate they look really nice, so don’t let the OCD in you win out. Everyone will love them, and you will then be asked to make thousands of them for people who do not want to pay you for them. Beware! :) And watch out for carpal tunnel symptoms!
The trick is to give them away fast, so you don’t eat too many! I actually prefer them without the icing. The Sugarbelle recipe calls for almond extract and powdered sugar, and it is really delicious! I hope you try them if you have been really wanting to. I would love to see your creations!