The last couple of days before Christmas had been like blur to me. I was feeling under the weather...(I hate colds!) But I was too excited to bake and decorate my cookies that lying on bed to rest was definitely not an option. I tried to spread out the work in three days so I won't feel the stress of being rushed. So three days before Christmas, I made the cookie dough -- sugar cookies and gingerbread cookies. Two days before, I shaped and baked them. It was on Christmas eve that I got to decorate. And tough I felt lightheaded and achy all over, I have to admit it was so much fun! I couldn't wait to try out my next cookie decorating project! I'm starting to envision new designs, and I can tell I'm gonna be hooked.
I got the sugar cookie recipe from Bridget of Bake at 350, and the gingerbread cookie recipe was from the book I got a few years ago, Christmas Cookies from the Whimsical Bakehouse. I was having problems with the gingerbread dough, probably because of the humid weather in this "snow-forsaken" tropical country! I had to get it in and out of the freezer almost every five minutes because it was turning out too soft and too mushy to handle. Surprisingly, the sugar cookie dough was VERY workable. I could roll and re-roll it several times, and it didn't get sticky-soft on me like the gingerbread did.
I got my design inspirations from the blogs I love to follow. The polka dot design on trees was inspired by Glory of Glorious Treats, and the swirls were inspired by Marian of Sweetopia. The swirl design was a little intimidating at first, but once I got to try it, I realized it was pretty easy.
I've wanted to make snowflakes cookies ever since but I do not have any cookie cutter for that. Then I saw the idea of designing snowflakes from a plain round cutter and used it as well.
I'm loving the swirls.
And I've shaped way too many cookie trees. So I played with the swirls a bit.
But the design I most enjoyed doing were the gingerbread kids. I was planning to make them look all alike, but it was more fun to make them unique. It kinda gives them their own personality. =)
I loved it so much that I used up all my left over icing for these girls and boys.
I think altogether, my Christmas cookie project was quite successful. Well, despite the little imperfections on my piping here and there...and the runny red polka dot icing...and the crooked outline on the snowflakes that's supposed to be perfectly round...and the...(okay, let's just stop right there.) It was successful. And I'm happy! =)
There are several things that I've learned from this project that I'd like to share. I think no matter how many blog articles I read or how many videos I watch, first-hand experience is still the best teacher.
1. You really DO need a coupler...several of them, actually. I only have one coupler that came with the piping set I bought a few years back, and I was using three sets of piping bag with three different colors of icing. I thought I could get away with it, but the two piping bags without the couplers had icing oozing out from the sides of the tip! It was a little messy...
2. Make sure you let your icing dry overnight UNCOVERED. I was a little paranoid of leaving my cookies to dry out all exposed to air. So while on the baking sheets, I covered the cookies with parchment paper. I was pretty sure the icing was already dry on the surface..but the next morning when I checked on them, some of the icing touching the paper came right off the cookie! (That's okay though, we just ate damaged ones before the guests arrived so all they saw were the pretty ones.) =)
3. Too much icing can kill your appetite! Admittedly, my flood icing on the cookies were a little inconsistent. Some are thin and some are thick as blob. (I blame it on my unsteady hands.) The cookies which got the thicker portions of icing were cloyingly sweet but the other ones were okay.
I sure hope I can remember all those lessons I learned when I take on another cookie decorating project. And I can feel that it won't be long until I try my hands on these again. =)