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Christmas cookie decorating is supposed to be fun, of course — but it doesn't hurt if your designs become Instagram-famous, right?
Don't think you're up to the task? The author of Creative Cookie Decorating and a Hallmark cookie judge, Emily Hutchinson, has cookie decorating tips & tricks (and yes, fixes) that might just up your game.
GENIUS COOKIE TIPS
TIP NO. 1: If cut-out cookies lose their shape in the oven, reshape them while they're still hot.
"I love cutting my cookies out in really festive ways," Emily says, "and I like using a snowflake, a stocking and a Christmas tree. [But] have you ever put your cookies into the oven and it looked like a snowflake when it went in and it came out and it was blob-ish?" We've all been there!
Here's the fix: Using an offset spatula, as soon as you pull those cookies out of the oven, just gently press in the sides. It's very important to do it right when they come out, Emily says — when they're still nice and hot and malleable.
TIP NO. 2: If you make an icing mess, just cover it with sprinkles.
"We don't throw away cookies in this house," Emily says. (AMEN, Emily)
Here's the fix: Instead, gently dip the cookie into a plate of sanding sugar or sugar crystals to cover up the "mess."
TIP NO. 3: To create a flat, smooth surface for designs — stick buttercream-frosted cookies in the freezer upside down.
Completely frost your cookie using a piping bag (or freezer bag!) and place it frosting-side-down on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet that will fit in your freezer. Gently press down until you see the buttercream slightly peek out from the sides of the cookie. (Don't squish too hard though!) Freeze for 15 to 20 minutes.
When you take the cookies out of the freezer, quickly peel them off the parchment paper. Using an offset spatula, gently press down any imperfections. Now your cookie is the perfect blank slate for a festive design — here are some of Emily's favorite, easy decorating ideas:
EASY DECORATING IDEAS
1. Simple Snowman (with piping bag)
2. Heart or Christmas Trees (using sprinkles, cocoa powder & parchment paper stencils)
Using little parchment paper squares, Emily creates her own stencils — hearts and Christmas trees, in this case — and uses them to decorate with frosting & sprinkles or with cocoa powder.
3. Textured Mittens (using more frosting & freezer bag —no piping bag needed!)
Emily uses more frosting and a freezer bag to create this textured mitten design. Watch her technique in the video above.