FOOD // DIY Watercolor Christmas Cookies (Part I)

Want to impress at your next Holiday party, or just make a fun treat for yourself? Consider hand-painted sugar cookies. I spent a couple hours baking up my own batch of watercolor painted, lemon-almond cookies, in bright, vibrant colors. Read on for instructions and tips!

The cookies: You can use any rolled cookie recipe. The important thing is to end up with a smooth, even surface for your icing layer. I added lemon juice and almond extract to a basic sugar cookie recipe for a little extra flavor.

The icing: Royal icing has a lot in common with Papier-mâché. They both sound impressive, but actually only take two ingredients. (Furthermore, they both taste pretty bland.) The advantage of royal icing is that it dries to a hard, smooth surface, which is perfect for painting with food color.

To make the royal icing, Simply blend three egg whites together with 4 cups of powdered sugar. Whip for 7 to 10 minutes, or until stiff peaks form. Be careful not to over beat the mixture; you'll want it to be at a flooding consistency. (More on this later.)

The flavor of powdered sugar mixed with egg whites is patently uninteresting. To jazz it up, feel free to add in some almond extract, lemon juice, ginger syrup or any other flavorings you can think of. I made my cookies with extra lemon juice and vanilla. In the past, I've added lemon zest to the royal icing, which was a bad move. It ruined the smooth, glossy surface of the dried icing, which is the whole point.

To ice your cookies: Use a piping bag or a plastic squeeze bottle to draw an even, round line around the perimeter of your cookie. Then, fill in the circle slowly, letting the icing settle and spread out as you go. This technique is called flooding, and you can find great tips online here.

After your cookies have been frosted, give them time to harden. Patience is key! It may take a couple hours before they are ready to paint. Check back for our next post, where we'll paint the cookies!

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