New to sugar cookie decorating? You’re not alone. Where do you start? I’ll tell you. Get some good cookie cutters in whatever shapes you want to make. Luckily, the list is endless these days. And, if you cannot find what you want, you can purchase an easy to use kit to make your own cookie cutters in minutes.
Have a good, sturdy and tasty sugar cookie recipe? If not, don’t fret. A Google search will turn up millions of sugar cookie recipe results.
Once the cookies have been baked and cooled, you’ll probably stand there looking at them trying to decide just how you’re going to get them to look like the designer cookies you saw in various bakeries, at a party or online. As long as you pick a quick and easy design, you’ll alleviate the stress and have fun decorating.
To get started decorating, use a food safe paint brush. Take some piping gel and place in a small container. This will be your “glue” between the fondant and the sugar cookie. Hold your cookie in one hand and lightly paint the inner part of the cookie leaving the edges clean. You should barely see the piping gel on your cookie. This is important because the fondant cutout is not as large as your sugar cookie. Set this cookie aside.
Before rolling out your fondant, it is important to make sure that your entire working surface is clean. Keep a white cotton towel nearby to use between fondant color changes to clean off your non-stick mat and rolling pin. Use a non-stick mat so that your fondant does not stick to the mat or distorts your fondant cutout when it is removed to place on your cookie. Do not use confectioner’s sugar if your fondant is sticking to the mat or rolling pin. It is better to use a little Crisco on the rolling pin to alleviate this problem.
Start rolling your fondant out in one direction, lift it completely off the mat, turn it 90 degrees, roll, lift and turn 90 degrees, roll, lift and turn 90 degrees until it reaches the thickness you want. One quarter inch (1/4″) thickness seems to be standard, though some people use 1/18″ thickness. See which works best for your design.
Not sure which fondant to use? You should try several different brands because they all taste different. Don’t like the flavor? Add some of the concentrated flavors available at cake stores or online. Pick one that compliments your cookie flavor. The fondant available at the craft stores has been improved so try it on your sugar cookies. Use coupons to save money. Need a lot of fondant? Buy the 5 lb. container. Some companies have fondant that works well with decorated sugar cookies. It comes in many different delicious color flavor combinations. You can order samples online. Another company offers deep rich colored fondant in purple, red, yellow or black, and it is available in most cake stores and online retailers.
When your fondant has been rolled out, take the same cookie cutter used to bake the cookies (make sure that it is cleaned using a dry cloth) and cut out your fondant. The best technique to use to get a clean cutout is to press firmly all the way down, continue to hold your hand completely on top of the cookie cutter, and then give it a slight twist. I call this technique “press down and wiggle.” This clean edge cutout in the beginning saves time when you don’t have to remove ragged edges. Remove the cutter and lift your fondant cutout up and place on top of your piping gel covered cookie. Take your finger and slide it all over the cookie being careful not to press down or leave fingerprints. Now you have a smooth surface on which you can create your design.
Decorating is the best part! Use simple tools to get started, and the process, save time and money. The first set you should purchase is the Designer Pattern Press Set. It is available at most craft stores. In this package, you will find some very elegant presses. The symmetrical swirl, small and large fleurs de lis, corner flourish, flower, heart bow, scroll and curliques. These presses can be used to decorate cakes. Whether you’re working on wedding cake cookies, baby shower cookies or any other design, you’ll find one of the presses will suit your need as a beginner. Just practice imprinting your fondant before you start designing your cookies so you know how much pressure is needed to get a clean pattern imprint. This set is a deal under $8 and a steal you use a discount coupon. Play around with them. They will become your tools of the trade and will give you professional results every time. When you turn them in different directions, sometimes going on and off the edge of the fondant, you create a lot of different options for designs to use.
The second tool to purchase is the Quilting Patchwork cutter. This can be used horizontally, diagonally and vertically to make interesting designs. Need to make a monogram cookie for a wedding? Embellish the edges of a square cookie and use a stamped initial press for the center. Want something fancier? Put sugar pearls in the cross sections to make your cookie more elegant. An easy way to add sugar pearls is to use the pointed end of a small paint brush to make an indentation in the fondant (a slight dip) where you want the sugar pearl to land, and then add the sugar pearl. It will go right into the slot just like a pinball into the hole. Need to add a line of pearls? Use a ruler to make a line impression in the fondant. Sit your cookie on a rimmed plate and then pour the pearls over the line. You can easily line up the pearls and press them all the way down into the fondant. Once the fondant is dry, the sugar pearls will not move.
Check out craft stores or departments for more easy to use and inexpensive tools. Some of the same presses used for clay can be used on your fondant. Experiment. Rubber stamps are also inexpensive (again, think coupons) and great tools for embellishing your fondant. Look at the depth of the design on the stamp to get an idea of what it will look like when you press it into the fondant. Some presses only make light imprints. Use these presses only for your cookies and not for your crafts.