Get ready to unleash your inner cookie artist as we dive into the delicious world of decorating with a guest expert who knows all the sweet tricks. We’re thrilled to introduce Amber Spiegel, the creative genius behind @sweetambs. Amber’s accolades include being a top food influencer named by Forbes, and her designs have graced the pages of Martha Stewart Weddings, InStyle, and more. But enough of the formal stuff – Amber’s here to sprinkle us with her cookie-decorating wisdom. So grab your apron and get ready to transform those humble cookies into edible masterpieces, all thanks to Amber’s incredible tips. Whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned baker, her insights are about to take your decorating game from zero to hero. Get ready to be wowed by Amber’s tips on how to make your cookie creations truly stand out!
Choosing the Right Tools & Supplies
So, you’re just starting out? No worries, we’ve all been there! A trusty sandwich bag and toothpicks can be your icing allies. But when you’re ready to level up your game, let’s talk essentials: think decorating bags, couplers, and decorating tips. And oh, the creative adventurer in you? Embrace edible paints and luster dust. For baking, I prefer aluminum half-sheet pans lined with parchment paper or a perforated baking mat. No greasing required! And when you’re ready to make a bigger investment in your craft, I recommend getting a stand mixer, which can handle bigger batches of dough and icing. Also, the paddle attachment is great for making perfect icing.
Check out some of my favorite baking and decorating supplies which I’ve listed in my Amazon Store.
Baking a Perfect Cookie for Decorating
Ready to transform those cookies? It all starts with the right recipe, something that will hold its shape in the oven and tastes great (it’s a delicate balance!). Look for a cookie recipe that’s specifically made for decorating with icing. A cookie that spreads and puffs up in the oven will make it difficult for the icing to stay in place on the cookie. Head over to the Cookie Art Club (which includes a free trial!) for a treasure trove of my favorite recipes.
Choosing the Best Icing for You
Icing isn’t just for topping; it’s an art form! Get cozy with royal icing, buttercream, and glaze. My favorite is royal icing because of its versatility. You can use it in a variety of consistencies to make everything from a super smooth icing base to a 3-dimensional rose. And it dries hard, which makes it perfect for packaging and sharing. Access my royal icing recipes and video on how to make royal icing at the Cookie Art Club.
Getting the Right Icing Consistency
This can be one of the most challenging aspects of cookie decorating. Smooth icing is the name of the game. Say hello to the trio: stiff, medium, and flood-consistency icing. Each has its magic, from intricate details to dreamy layers.
Stiff consistency icing holds a stiff peak. This is the consistency of the icing with no extra water added. It is used for decorations that hold their shape, like 3-dimensional roses, brush embroidery, and borders. Medium consistency holds a soft peak. Add a little bit of water at a time to thin the icing to this consistency. Medium-consistency icing is used for piping fine details like lettering, filigree, and small borders. Flood consistency icing creates a smooth layer of icing on the cookie. To test the consistency of the icing, take a spoonful out of the bowl and drop it back in. It should take about 20 seconds to be completely smooth.
Conquering Royal Icing Challenges
While royal icing is my favorite of all for decorating cookies, it can be finicky! Here are some tips to make sure you don’t encounter any of the common issues that can arise when working with royal icing:
- Don’t over-mix your icing. This can incorporate too much air, leading to fragile icing and color bleed.
- Don’t add too much water. It’s very easy to go overboard, so add the water only a little bit at a time.
- Don’t add too much color. Use a concentrated gel color. It won’t change the consistency of your icing and it’s strong enough that you can get vibrant shades without using the whole bottle.
Head over to the Cookie Art Club for more icing tips.
Let’s Get Decorating!
Grab that icing bag and let’s unleash creativity! Always fill your bag halfway or a little less – having too much icing in your bag will make it difficult to control and can cause pain in your hand. Keep your piping forearm resting on the table and your other hand on your piping hand for extra support. Take your time and go slow — patience and practice are key. It can take years to master the art of cookie decorating, but enjoying the process is the most important part. You can always scrape the icing off the cookie and start again. Or just eat your mistakes!
Sealing the Cookie Deal – Storing & Shipping Your Cookies
Once your edible creations are finished and the icing is dry, share your artwork with friends and family (nearby or across the world!).
To save your cookies for later, you can place them into an airtight container and keep them at room temperature for up to a week. Or, heat seal them in cellophane bags and keep them at room temperature for up to a month. You can also freeze the cookies for up to 3 months.
To ship your cookies, make sure they’re individually wrapped in cello bags and package them in a gift box stuffed with plenty of tissue paper, bubble wrap, or another box filler material. Place that box into a shipping box surrounded by more box filler to make sure the gift box isn’t rattling around inside – this will ensure that your cookies arrive intact.
Watch a detailed video on how to pack your cookies for shipping here.
Let’s Nail This!
Armed with these power-packed tips, you’re all set to rock the cookie-decorating universe. From icing finesse to artistic flair, your cookies are about to steal the spotlight. So, let those creative vibes flow, and let’s get those cookies decked out in style – happy decorating, my fellow cookie artist!
About Amber Spiegel
Amber Spiegel (@sweetambs) is a cookie decorating expert. She studied baking and pastry at The Culinary Institute of America. After winning a Wilton cake decorating contest, Amber became a cookie and cake decorator for the company. Since 2011, Amber has been a full-time self-employed cookie decorator, offering online classes, decorating kits, and tutorials (video and text) on her blog (www.sweetambs.com). Her designs have appeared in Martha Stewart Weddings, InStyle, and Brides magazines as well as in the Huffington Post and Better Homes and Gardens. Forbes magazine named her a top food influencer in 2017. Amber lives in Kingston, New York.
WHERE TO FIND AMBER:
Cookie Art Club: https://sweetambs.mn.co/ << FREE TRIAL!
Latest Book: Cookie Canvas
Cookie Decorating Kits: Global Belly