Click images for details or to buy in the USA.
Click images for details or to buy in the USA.
Cookies can be beautiful works of art put on display on a buffet table during the holidays or for special occasions, and decorating cookies can be fun, and much simpler than it looks. There are lots of tips, tools and techniques to make this an enjoyable experience instead of a chore, and some spectacular recipes and designs to choose from.
You can cut cookies in a huge variety of shapes and images for decorating! Here are some popular cutters available:
I’ve tried so many different kinds of baking sheets, and Nordic Ware are the best I’ve come across. Food doesn’t stick, they have superior heat conductivity, and they clean up like a dream, no matter what you use them for. You can even get them with a lid now, which can be handy. When baking cookies, I usually fill up the biggest sized cookie sheet, then fill a second sheet while the first batch cooks. Or if you prefer, in a convection oven you can fill three standard size sheets and bake them all at once. I just find it a bit easier getting one sheet at a time onto a cooling rack without worrying about any of the cookies over baking.
Stacking cooling racks are perfect when counterspace is an issue, and are really handy when you’re baking large batches of cookies. I like big cooling racks, and if the cookies are quite thin, then cross-wires are nice too so they don’t poke through the gaps and break. Some tiered racks, like the second one pictured below, also have front supports so they work well for multiple pies too.
Whether you prefer a small cookie spatula or a big one, its best to get one with a firm, sharp edge. I often use a sharp edged brownie or lasagna spatula so I can remove two cookies at a time.
Some people prefer the old method of piping bags, but many are converting to squeeze bottles. If you want to try squeeze bottles, use the ones with frosting tips. A good tip for filling: mix your separate colored frosting batches in ziplock baggies, then snip a corner of the baggie and squeeze the frosting out to fill the bottle.
There is a great selection of colors available in food coloring, and mixing your own can result in an amazing selection
If food coloring is of concern to you, you might want to try substituting part of the liquid in your icing with the following for natural coloring (don’t worry about the taste – you won’t notice it). Just simmer the fruit or vegetables in a small quantity of water and let the colored water concentrate (or boil down bottled juice), then substitute for as much of the liquid in your icing recipe as you want depending on depth of color.
Cookies look professionally made when stencilled with an airbrush. It seems like it would be a lot more difficult than it is – see video below.
Fit your stand mixer with a paddle attachment. In the bowl, combine sugar and meringue powder. For a border or detail consistency, mix on low speed, adding a scant 1/2 cup water. For a thinner consistency for flooding, separate some of the icing and add more water. Mix until icing holds a ribbonlike trail on the surface of the mixture for 5 seconds when you raise the paddle.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder and salt. Cover and chill dough in the refrigerator for at least one hour (or overnight).
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roll out dough on floured surface 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Cut into shapes. Place cookies one inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets.
Bake 6 to 8 minutes in preheated oven. Cool completely before frosting.
Makes 5 dozen cookies.
If you need some inspiration, either for cookie recipes or decorating techniques, here are some great books to get your creative juices flowing – 1001 Cookie Recipes is my favorite!
Please share your tips by commenting!
Perfect party appetizers always disappear as soon as the plate hits the buffet table. Many are old favorites everybody knows and loves. Unfamiliar appetizers can still be instant hits if visually appealing and aromatic. I’ve put together some recipes to wow your guests with, and some contemporary serving products to make your work easier and your display more attractive. Click recipe names to link to the recipes, and click the pictures to link to some beautiful appetizer serverware and accessories.
Deviled eggs are always quick to disappear on a party table, a familiar face in a crowd and sure to please anybody.
Restaurant style buffalo wings are deep fried, then dipped or surrounded in hot sauce. I like the prespicing in this recipe.
Blue cheese dressing is a classic accompaniment to hot wings.
If you’ve never had a bloomin’ onion give it a try, a fancy presentation of an onion ring that looks great on a buffet table and goes with just about any dip.
A nice varietion on crab stuffed mushrooms.
This nacho chip dip is a popular crowd pleaser.
I like the half jalapeno version of this recipe, its spicy but not overbearing for those of us with sensitivity to the heat.
Little meatballs are a nice pass-around at a party. Have some recepticals around for used picks and napkins.
Another nacho chip delight, this dip is very pretty in a clear bowl.
Chicken wings are one of the most popular party appetizers, so try to have a couple of varieties available as they will go fast.
Making your own pretzels is easier than you would think. There are a lot of pretzel salts on the market that are actually just coarse sea salt so watch for the proper kind.
You can use your imagination and make an endless variety of these cute little kabobs, but this version will get your creative juices flowing – cute and easy!
Have a bowl of mustard nearby for dipping these into. No need for crescent roll or phyllo dough for this easy made from scratch recipe.
A popular dip at the Olive Garden, spinach dips work with thin toasted bread or nacho chips.
Something to satisfy the hungrier party guests, sliders are easy to make if you assemble the patties ahead and time and have all the assembly ingredients at hand and ready once you’ve grilled the patties.
Baked cheese works well with apple slices, grapes, bread, crackers or nacho chips and goes over well at a party. Brushing layers of phyllo doesn’t take that much time, and produces a very flaky crust.
How about some homemade chips for your party? These can be made ahead and served cold or served warm after cooking.
Onion dip goes with chips, or works well on a veggie dip platter. Homemade offers a bit of a pleasant change in taste from the usual store variety.
A popular shrimp copycat recipe can be served on little lettuce, spinach or basil leaves, or leave a supply of toothpicks on the table for your guests’ convenience.
Don’t forget the labels so people know what they’re eating!