After many retail seasons, I have observed some holiday trends that I will share so you aren’t caught short. Many last minute shopping frustrations occur when preparing to bake batches of holiday cookies.
The first thing to disappear from our shelves is usually meringue powder. Why? Well, cookie bakers know why: royal icing which is generally made with meringue powder as opposed to beaten egg whites. Buy yours now before it becomes hard to find; this usually happens when magazines and newspapers start printing holiday cookie recipes.
- The proper consistency will allow you to easily spread it easily over the cookie. If it is too runny, it will spread beyond where you place it. To thicken it up, add more powdered sugar. If too thick, add water. In both cases, add a little at a time, like a tablespoon or so.
- To keep it from hardening, cover the icing with plastic wrap or place in an airtight container.
- If you are going to use decorations like Dragees or sugar sprinkles, add them before the icing hardens so they will stay where you want them.
- If you will be using additional icing patterns or using food doodlers, let the icing harden first. This gives you a nice canvas from which to work.
After gingerbread boy and girl, the other traditional cookie cutter shapes (candy cane, wreath, christmas tree) will disappear. The best way to avoid this is to buy a set of various shapes. If you lose one later on, you can always buy an individual replacement.
If you aren’t into making your own icing, buy bottled icing. Just snip the tip off and follow the directions to get the correct consistency. Use larger bottles instead of piped royal icing and the thinner bottles for detail work. I used both with good success in holiday’s past.
As for your cookie decorating tool, you can use the traditional bag or use one of the new solutions. I like the Kuhn Rikon decorating set which uses squeeze bottles to push the icing out through the decorating tip. The reason I like it so much is that young and old can use the little bottles to ice cookies and cupcakes. When you stop squeezing, the icing stops, plus the caps are couplers allowing you to change tips easily. Multiple bottles provide an efficient way to ice using different colors. The bonus offset spatula allows for easy icing distribution. The bottles clean up easily, though I wouldn’t put them in the dishwasher. Note that the bottles may take some time to dry fully, particularly the accordion ones.