I’m definitely not a professional baker, but I have a huge sweet tooth and I like creating cute food (just like Jessica does). Also, I’m such a big Holly Fox fan! I spent so many hours watching videos of sugar cookies being decorated with royal icing – I find them mesmerizing! And after few weeks I felt compelled to give them a shot… THIS was my very first attempt at making sugar cookies; I struggled a lot with my piping tips: they wouldn’t stay in place (I had no coupler) and their hole was a little bit too wide. The result is not that bad though (not even close to the absolute perfection of Holly’s cookies) but there’s room for improvement. That’s why the following day I started working on these tropical cookies. I had what I thought was a brilliant idea: since the tips I had were too big and my disposable decorating bags were already cut out at the bottom, I decided to revamp my inner MacGyver and to use adhesive tape to adjust the holes as needed. Bad idea. Actually, worst idea ever. As soon as I started squeezing, the tape tore apart the plastic of my piping bag and royal icing started leaking and dripping down my fingers. I made a mess and the kitchen looked like a pastel toned war zone! I managed to salvage my cookies anyhow and – armed with patience – I finished decorating them. Right after that tape disaster I threw away all the remaining piping bags and ordered professional new ones from Amazon – this time I’ll be able to decide where to cut the end of my piping bags and no tape will be involved!
Let’s see my recipes for the cookies and the colored royal icing, but first promise me you’re not going to make the same mistakes as I did! 😉
2 large eggs (or 1 large egg and 2 yolks)
125g powdered sugar
300g whole-wheat flour
30g cocoa powder
150g melted unsalted butter
10-15g orange zest
1 pinch of salt
125g powdered sugar
1 egg white
Food coloring (of plant origin)
1. In a large mixing bowl sift together flour, cocoa powder and powdered sugar. Add the melted butter and whisk.
2. Then add orange zest, eggs, a pinch of salt and mix all the ingredients together.
3. Make the dough into a disk shape, cover it up with cling wrap and let it rest in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven at 170° C.
4. Take the dough out of the fridge, use a rolling pin to flatten it. Try not to use extra flour while rolling out the dough on your work surface.
5. Lay your favourite cookie cutter on the dough and press firmly. Be sure to cut the shapes close together to minimize dough scraps, because scraps can be re-rolled but no more than once or you’ll end up with an overworked dough.
6. Place your cookies on a baking tray with parchment paper on it. Put the tray in the fridge for about 5-10 minutes (this way your cookies will maintain their shape perfectly) and then bake the cookies for 15 or 20 minutes, depending on their size.
7. Set aside and let completely cool down. Let’s start working on the royal icing: in a bowl stiffen the egg white with few drops of lemon using an electric hand mixer.
8. Progressively add sifted powdered sugar while the hand mixer is on low speed.
9. If you need more than just one color to decorate your cookies, divide this glossy white glaze into several glasses, add your desired food coloring and stir with a tea spoon. When the color is homogenous, transfer the icing into decorating bags. This glaze is for immediate use but can be stored in a refrigerator for up to three days.
10. Cut the end of your piping bag and squeeze it! Use a toothpick to make small adjustments once you’ve placed the royal icing. Let it dry completely.
Where to buy cookie cutters:
The ones I used are from Sunnylife Australia* (flamingo, palm tree, pineapple, watermelon) and Amazon (giraffe, elephant). But you can find cute ones on Asos, Etsy and Aliexpress.
Tips: add few details to make your cookies look even better.
You can do that in three different ways (with three different results):
1. Fill in 2D details when royal icing is still fresh by using a different color glaze.
2. Add 2D details with an edible ink marker;
3. Once your first coat of royal icing is completely dry, add another layer to create a 3D effect (this is what I did on the flamingo wing).
If your royal icing is too thick, add only few drop of water at a time and stir energetically, you don’t want it to become too thin.
I used Lyra Aqua Brush Duo markers to make these super fast watercolor paintings. Each one of them took me no longer than 2 minutes and I think they could be a cute idea for small gifts or birthday cards.