Last week some of my running mom friends and their little ones came over to my house to do some cookie decorating. I had offered to teach them how to decorate cookies after bringing some cookies to our coach's baby shower. It was a lot of fun (especially watching the little ones interact with each other), but I did forget just how much work it is to prepare to decorate cookies.
I learned how to decorate from taking classes at All in One Bake Shop (now Make It Sweet) whose classes I would highly recommend to anyone in the Austin area. One of the great things about their classes is they do a lot of the prep work for you, and the parts that we do in class they seem to have down to a science how to do it most efficiently. I'm learning more each time I do them, and after this time I found some more tips online that I think will make it faster. Also, I really wanted to show everyone how to make the royal icing and flood icing (thinned out royal icing) and put it in bags, but next time I would probably do that myself so there's more time for decorating. Some tips I have are:
- Simplify! Just choose a few colors and styles rather than several.
- Use glass measuring cups to mix each color. Then put half of the color in the piping bag and thin out the rest to pour into the bottles.
- If you have a lot of cookies to decorate and are pressed for time do all of the outlines of one color first that way you don't have to worry about the icing in the tip drying. If you have a bit of an assembly line of cookies it goes faster.
- I have some piping tip covers that seem to help a little, but one tip I read online afterwards is to put a damp paper towel in the bottom of a glass and put your tip in there.
There were a couple of little ones in our group who were at the point where I thought they might enjoy decorating, but I figured that holding a piping bag was probably beyond their level. I have some paint brushes that I use cake decorating so I gave them each a brush and put some of the flood icing (thinned out royal icing) in bowls. That seemed to work pretty well, and thanks to their moms it actually wasn't a huge mess!
My 10 month old wasn't super cooperative with my decorating efforts so I think I only managed to decorate a few cookies during the party. I was trying to figure out afterwards why I was having such a hard time piping (besides the fact that he kept trying to help), and then I remembered that I normally use my left hand to help guide a little bit. I ended up decorating some more later that night, but I still had a lot left the next day that I wanted to finish. I knew that the icing in the piping bags would be fine with the exception of what had hardened in tip (which can easily be taken care of with a toothpick), but the flood icing in the bottles separates overnight. I did a little research and determined that I should be able to remix it. I got out a liquid measuring cup so I could hopefully just pour it back in afterwards, poured the separated icing in, and just stirred it with a spoon. I have two different types of bottles - one with a wide opening and one with a narrow one. I was able to just pour the icing into the wide bottles, and for the others I had to use a funnel. I think I might need to get more of the wide neck bottles and more liquid measuring cups sometime before I do another big cookie project. It was so nice to sit down and finish the cookies while Lucas napped!
I really loved getting together with my friends to decorate cookies, and I hope we get to do it again sometime! Holiday cookies?