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I spend a lot of time answering emails about cookie baking, decorating, and storing.  Although I love to hear from you and help you with your cookies I thought I'd put together this page for those who need answers quickly.  I hope this helps. Remember that you can always email me at: lesley@kitchengifts.com  -- Lesley

Frequently Asked Questions

Baking Cookies
?
Is there a good recipe for cutout cookies?
?
Are there any secrets to making cutout cookies?
? How do I get my cookies even when I roll them out?
? Why are my cookies getting bubbles when I bake them?
? How do I keep my cookies from breaking when I move them to the cooling rack?
Storing/Freezing/Mailing Cookies
?
Can I freeze my cookies?
? Can I freeze iced cookies?
? How far ahead can I make/decorate my cookies?
? How do I package my decorated cookies to mail them?

Icing Cookies
? Do you have a good recipe for buttercream icing?
? How do you make royal icing?

?
Why should I use royal icing instead of buttercream?
?
How do I know my royal icing is the right consistency?
? How long do I need to let my cookies iced with royal icing dry?
? How do I make red icing?
? How do I make black or brown icing?

Cookie Decorating Dilemmas
?
How do I make cookie bouquets?
? Are dragees edible?
?
What causes air bubbles in my icing?
?
What causes blotchy icing?
? How do I add sparkling sugar to iced cookies so that it sticks?
? I want to pipe designs on my cookies.  How do I know which decorating tip to use?
? I want to color my icing but I can't find the color I need?
? What is piping gel and how do I use it?
 

?Is there a good recipe for cutout cookies?

Cutout cookies require a recipe that has very little "spread".  You want that Christmas tree or fire truck to look like a Christmas tree or a fire truck.  I've tried lots of recipes but my favorite is my No Fail Sugar Cookie Recipe.  It holds it shape for even the most intricate design.

?Are there any secrets for baking cutout cookies?

Baking great cutout cookies is not rocket science but it can be frustrating for beginners.  I've put together an entire page on mixing and rolling cutout cookies.  Click Here to find it.

?How do I get my cookies even when I roll them out?

Getting your cookies even is important when you are baking.  Uneven cookies will bake unevenly.  There are two really cool products that will guarantee that your cookies are perfect!  Check out the Dobord -- my personal favorite and the Accu-rolling pin which is also great (I just got used to my dobord).

?Why are my cookies getting bubbles when I bake them?

If your cookies are looking like air bubbles are forming inside them while they are baking chances are your oven isn't hot enough.  This frequently happens to even experienced bakers during their first batch -- they forgot to let the oven warm up long enough.  Allow your oven at least a half hour to preheat.  Don't rely on the oven sensor.  If your second or third batch produce the same results you might invest in an oven thermometer to check the internal temperature of your oven.  Adjust your oven temperature setting accordingly.

?How do I keep my cookies from breaking when I move them to the cooling rack?

Most cookie breakage is due to moving them from the baking sheet to the cooling rack too soon. Remove your cookies from the oven when you just begin to see the tiniest bit of brown on the edge of one of the cookies in the back of the oven.  Set the baking sheet on the counter and leave it alone for 5 minutes.  The cookies will finish baking and begin to cool.  The cooling will allow the dough to contract making your cookies sturdier when you do move them to the cooling rack.

? Do you have a good recipe for buttercream icing?

Yes!  Check out the page I put together on Buttercream Icing.  If you'd rather avoid the mess, check out Dixie's Whipped Icing.  All the work is done for you and it is a perfect piping consistency.

? How do you make royal icing?

Royal icing is what has been used on most of the cookies you see on Kitchen Collectables' web pages.  It dries hard and can be frozen -- unlike buttercream.  I have three recipes for you for Royal Icing.

? Why should I use royal icing instead of buttercream?

As Julia Child frequently said, "Everything tastes better with butter!"  That aside, royal icing is much more versatile  than it's buttery counterpart. If you add flavoring such as vanilla, almond, lemon etc. royal icing tastes pretty darn good!   Royal icing hardens so that you can stack your cookies for storage.  Cookies iced with royal icing can be frozen without the icing separating.  Royal icing keeps for up to two weeks so you can make it ahead of time -- frequently recommended if you are making dark colors.  Royal icing can be thinned to a flow consistency so you can create smooth finishes on your cookies.  Check out these two pages that I put together on using royal icing to decorate cookies:  www.kitchengifts.com/cookiedecorating.html 

? How do I know my royal icing is the right consistency?

Consistency is everything with royal icing.  Making your base consistency -- see the recipes on the Royal Icing Recipe page -- and then work from there.  Practice make perfect.  For flow consistency icing, the icing you'll use to coat your cookies, you'll want  your icing to be the consistency of heavy cream.  Here's a good test -- take a small teaspoon of icing and drop it onto a sheet of waxed paper.  Count to ten.  The icing should flow, flatten and stop creating a quarter sized circle within that time.  It should be smooth.  If it isn't, add a drop of water at a time until you get it there.  If the circle is bigger than that you may need to thicken your icing with a little confectioner's sugar.  The icing that you use to add decorations to your cookies will be slightly to a lot thicker than the flow consistency. Again, practice until you get it where you want it.  Practice on waxed paper before you start on your cookies.  Royal icing is VERY forgiving.

? How long do I need to let my cookies iced with royal icing dry?

Royal icing is funny.  If you put it into a pastry bag it will dry in the tip within seconds.  If you leave a bowl of it, unsealed, on the counter it will dry within minutes.  But, once you put it on the cookie it needs 8 to 12 hours to dry completely.  This may cause you concern that your cookies will be stale, but trust me on this, there is enough moisture in that icing to keep your cookies fresh.  Once you put the base icing on you can safely add details within a hour or so.

? How do I make red icing?

Red icing can be tricky to make.  Many professional decorators avoid it because it is kind of a pain.  To make red icing you need to plan ahead.  You'll need to make it at least one or better yet, two days in advance.  If you try to make it the day you need it you'll either (a) not be able to get it dark enough, or (b) you'll add so much food coloring that it will turn blotchy after it dries on the cookies.  To make red icing, take the amount of royal icing you anticipate you'll need -- maybe a little more just to be safe -- and add food coloring -- I like our gel colors -- to get it to a nice dark pink.  Now, put it away for two days.  It will darken over time.  When I make red icing I use maraschino cherry juice instead of water as my liquid and almond flavoring.  This takes the icing to a nice pink and it tastes good.  Then I add enough gel color to get my dark pink icing.  After two days I have a dark red icing.

? How do I make black or brown icing?

This is definitely a frequently asked question.  I've done a whole page on this for you.  Go to:  http://www.kitchengifts.com/blackicing.html

? Can I freeze my cookies? Can I freeze my iced cookies?

Yes!  You can freeze uniced cookies or cookies iced with royal icing.  Make sure your cookies are stored in an air tight container.  When removing them from the freezer do NOT open the container until the cookies are back up to room temperature.  This will prevent condensation on the cookies.  How long?  This depends on your thoughts on how long you like to leave things in the freezer.  Stored in an airtight container I'd say up to a month.  If your life is so busy that you need to make the cookies more in advance than that you definitely need to slow down a bit.

? How far ahead can I make/decorate my cookies?

If you are freezing them, see the question above.  If you don't want to freeze them or you have used buttercream icing I'd say two to three days.  Keep them tightly sealed in the meantime.  

? How do I package my decorated cookies to mail them?

Carefully!  If your cookies are decorated you'll want to take special care to see that they arrive at their destination safely.  Bag each cookie individually.  At your local UPS store or similar packaging/shipping store purchase some thin bubble wrap.  Wrap each cookie in bubble wrap.  Put the cookies in a box lined with peanuts or bigger bubble wrap.  Pray. If you are shipping a large quantity of decorated cookies you might consider talking your local pizza shop into giving or selling you pizza boxes.  Wrap the cookies as we did above and put the pizza boxes into large boxes with tons of peanuts.  Pray.

? How do I make cookie bouquets?

I got so tired of answering this question I did an entire web page on it.  Go to:  www.kitchengifts.com/makingcookiebouquets.html 

? Are dragees edible?

Ever since we were little we have all loved to decorate our cookies with those little gold and silver balls.  (They now come in pearl and pastel as well)  Are they edible?  This depends on who you ask.  According to the FDA, no.  In Europe, yes.  In our newsgroup we have discussed this question quite a bit.  We pretty much agree that as kids we all ate them and didn't get sick.  We also agree that we probably wouldn't recommend that anyone eat them.  Use them to decorate and then pick them off -- it will save your teeth.

? What causes air bubbles in my icing?

Air.  Are you mixing your icing with an electric mixer? If you have a free standing mixer use the paddle, not the whip.  When your icing is mixed, tip the bowl to a 45 degree angle, take a large spatula and stir it slowly  in a back and forth motion.  This should eliminate most of the bubbles.  When you add the liquid to create your flow consistency icing let the icing sit, well sealed, for an hour or so.  If a pesky bubble shows up on your cookie, take a tooth pick and pop it.

? What causes blotchy icing?

Blotchy icing is a phenomena that occurs after the icing is dried and could be caused by several things. Here are some things to consider.  First, did any oil come in contact with the icing?  This could cause your icing to separate.  Second, occasionally oil from the cookies leeches up into the icing.  Putting on very thin coat of royal icing -- a glaze coat -- and letting it dry before adding the icing may help to seal the icing.  Third, did you use more food coloring than you needed?  Dark colors are more prone to this than other colors and we suspect that this may be an issue.  See "How to Make Red Icing" above. Fourth, was your flow icing thin enough to flow but not too thin?  Too much liquid may be a factor.  Finally, humidity affects icing.  Try to keep your cookies in a cool dry place while they are drying.  Hope this helps.

? How do I add sparkling sugar to iced cookies so that it sticks?

This question has been asked so often that it too merited it's own web page.  Go to: http://www.kitchengifts.com/usingsugar.html

? I want to pipe designs on my cookies.  How do I know which decorating tip to use?

Good question.  Check out:  http://www.kitchengifts.com/decoratingtubes.html

? I want to color my icing but I can't find the color I need?

Creating custom icing colors is fairly simple.  Check out this chart for creating custom colors.  http://www.kitchengifts.com/colorchart.html

 

 

 












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Kitchen Collectables, Inc.
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