Well, the holiday rush is finally over right? Or is it? My name is Melissa, and I am the owner of The Baked Equation. We had a huge rush for orders to fill over Christmas, and I was looking forward to some down time. But it seems that we are now gearing up to prepare for Valentine’s Day, and next thing you know, Cadbury Eggs are going to be filling the shelves! Now, just to let you know, I love Valentine’s Day. I know some people think it’s a cheesy holiday, but what is there to hate about telling people you love them and giving them fun treats?
I wanted to share an easy cookie project that you can do with friends and family. I like to bake up a couple dozen postcard-sized cookies and put them out for people to decorate and write love notes on. I know that decorated cookies can look daunting, but let me assure you, it does not have to be difficult. This is a great craft to do with your kids as well!
Rectangle cookies covered in royal icing or fondant
Wilton Dab-N-Color Edible Color
Fine tip edible markers
Clean rubber stamps that have never been used
You might be thinking, what do I do if I don’t have a rectangle cutter? I learned a neat trick from my friend Vicki at Sweet Tweets. Just use the top of a butter dish, and you’ve got the perfect shape. Brilliant! Make sure your cookies with royal icing are completely dry. Letting them dry overnight, uncovered, is best. You do not want the icing to crack when you place the stamp on it. Do not worry about the cookie drying out. Royal icing acts like a blanket over the cookie and keeps it moist. Take your edible marker and draw a line down the center. Then, on the right hand side draw three little lines. Let the ink dry. You don’t want to take the risk of it smudging. Once it is dry, you can write whatever you would like. Or you can leave it blank and let your kids fill that portion out. Nothing is more heartwarming than a child’s printing.
My first bit of advice is that you shouldn’t choose super complex stamps. Stamps with a lot of details are hard to do on cookies. Make sure the stamp you are using has never been used with ink. Clean the stamp area with a little bit of vinegar. Take your Wilton Dab-N-Color jar and place a little bit of the edible ink on the plastic plate. Dab the stamp of your choice in the ink, and then practice stamping on the towel. By practicing on the towel you can see the areas of the stamp that are not picking up the color well. Once you feel comfortable with the ink on the stamp, place it on the cookie firmly. Then remove. When finished, gently wash off the stamp with warm water. The edible ink will come right off.
Cookie troubleshooting: It happens to the best of us. What happens if the ink smudges? What do I do if part of the stamp does not show up? Every cake or cookie decorator has learned that sometimes you have to improvise. Mistakes happen. Smudges happen. Here are some suggestions:
On the cookie above, it smudged when I was using the edible marker to write the word love. All you have to do is take clear vanilla or vodka and a small brush. Dip the brush in the liquid then dab it on a paper towel. Then use the brush as an eraser to the area. Now, most of the time this works. In this case, it did not fully take the smudge away. This is where improvising comes in. I decided instead of throwing away the cookie and starting over that I would make it look shaded. So, I dipped my brush into the vodka and a little bit of the red coloring to make the area look slightly pink. Now, I know when I say the word “vodka” some people get uncomfortable. Before becoming a baker, I never knew that vanilla is approximately 40% alcohol. The great thing about using is vodka is that it is cheap, tasteless, and the alcohol evaporates. It makes a great medium for painting on cookies with gel food coloring.
What do I do if the stamp doesn’t fully get on the cookie? You can take a tiny brush, dip it in the corresponding coloring, and add the missing area. For instance, that is what I did above. The outside of the hearts did not come out on the cookie. I took the brush and added the rim of the heart.
While stamps are really easy to use, sometimes they do not come out perfect. Being willing to be flexible and improvise!
Most of all, remember to have fun. I have learned that people love cookies, even those with imperfections.