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In mid-October of last year I accidentally stumbled upon the enrollment form for a cookie decorating course at a plant nursery that I frequent. As I sat there and stared at my phone I thought back to the years and years I’ve wished I could decorate sugar cookies. For ages I would often peruse gorgeously decorated cookies online but I could never muster the courage to give it a shot. I don’t know why I was so intimidated but I just knew I would ruin a bunch of cookies and a bunch of icing and I’d suck and then be heartbroken. But sitting in a classroom with a teacher who could explain to me why something didn’t work was an extremely exciting prospect.
And so I signed up and went to my class and fell in love with sugar cookie decorating hard. There I decorated my very first set of 6 cookies that were Halloween and Disney themed and they weren’t perfect but dang if they weren’t darn decent for a first attempt.
And since I paid for my spot in the class I totally didn’t feel badly about asking a million questions. Luckily I was in a class with mostly first time cookie decorators so we were all throwing questions out all fast and furious. And so I learned a lot. Like an absolute freaking ton and I was going to make all of the cookies when I got back home.
But then I got super busy. You know, like you do.
About a month after my class I finally got the time to practice my new sugar cookie decorating skills. I dusted off my old sugar cookie recipe and modified it to the tips and tricks I learned in class. This was the first time I had made roll out sugar cookies in a decade and the first time I had ever made royal icing. I was a bit apprehensive but I made some super cute Thanksgiving turkeys and I learned a lot. Like a ton. Christmas cookies were gonna be unreal!!!
Then I got sick and cookie-amazingness was put on hold… ugh. And I stayed sick for weeks and weeks (and am still not 100%). But after 2 weeks of anxiety that I wasn’t going to be able to suck in my next breath and boredom of sitting around so as not to cause an unnecessary coughing fit I was freaking BORED. That’s when I realized I could sit down at my kitchen island and make cookie dough and if I rolled it on the pretty thick side it wouldn’t take a lot of physical effort. And then I could tint my royal icing and decorate my cookies sitting down.
Heck, I could practice my new crafty cookie love, not be bored out of my gourd, and sit still enough that I wouldn’t make myself cough from any effort. Huzzah!
Now I’ll tell you that my sugar cookie recipe uses half a pound of butter and in about 3 weeks time I’ve used 8 pounds of butter. :) And I’ve been learning from my many mistakes. And today I feel pretty confident sharing with you my third ever set…
…these too cute Decorated XOXO Cookies for Valentine’s Day!
If you’re like me you might be a little bit worried that taking on a new hobby is going to be really expensive. Well, I have good news! You can get into cookie decorating super cheaply and I’ll give you some details on where I got what after doing some serious shopping around.
Here’s a quick, basic supply list:
- Sugar Cookie Dough
- X, O, and Heart Cookie Cutters (details below)
- Cookie Sheet & Cookie Cooling Rack
- Royal Icing (my recipe coming soon!)
- Disposable No Tip Piping Bags
- #3 Round Icing Tip (optional)
- Cookie Stylus or Toothpicks or Popsicle Sticks
- Pink, Red and White Food Color (I used Tulip Red, Deep Pink, and Bright White)
I got all of my cookie cutters at Walmart. The X shaped cookies are from an X and O set for $1.44 from the Valentine’s section. The O is from a set of graduated circle cutters I already had from Amazon. <— You can always use round cutters and can snag this set for around $10 (prices fluctuate on Amazon like crazy so check the price before you buy). You can also find circle cookie cutters at stores like Walmart or crafting stores like Hobby Lobby if you don’t want a big set. The little heart in the center of the O cookies came from a graduated heart cookie cutter set from Walmart that cost $2.96.
These piping bags are amazing because you don’t need any piping tips meaning you don’t have to buy any tips! But they’re also amazing because you totally can use piping tips if you want! In fact, I used a #3 Round Icing Tip from Hobby Lobby to make the perfect little beads around my cookies! I went when baking supplies were half off (check out their ad, the baking section goes on sale really frequently) and got my tip for only $0.49.
To move the icing around, called flooding, you can purchase and use a scribe. However, you can also use popsicle sticks and toothpicks which most of us already have on hand (making those free!)
Supplies done, let’s get to making some!
How to Create Decorated XOXO Cookies
Firstly you’ll need to cut out and bake your sugar cookies per your recipe’s directions. For each XO pair you will need an X, O, and little heart. I always suggest cutting out a few more than you need to account for any mistakes or ugly cookies. I use these mistakes/ugly cookies for taste quality control (I eat them :)
Color royal icing in your choice of colors. I made red, pink, and white. Transfer to piping bags and cut a small hole out of the bottom to make a line similar in size to the image just below. If your hole is too large you can always transfer that piping bag into another (just toss the bag, icing, the whole shebang) into a new piping bag to cut a smaller tip.
Draw an outline of the shape of the cookie in the center of each X and O. Set aside and allow the icing at least 1-2 minutes to begin drying.
To Make Your X Cookies:
Squeeze your icing bag with a decent amount of pressure and fill in the outlines with icing (this is called flooding). Use a scribe, toothpick, or popsicle stick to move the icing around and fill the area neatly.
*Quick tip – you can also gently tap the bottom of the cookie on your work surface to help flatten the icing out quickly.
Now we’re going to decorate each cookie using a Wet on Wet technique. Wet on wet means you apply several colors of icing onto the surface of cookie while the icing is still wet. This turns the different colors into a single layer of icing that will dry nice and flat. In order to achieve a nice, flat layer you’ll need to work quickly…
While the base color of icing is still wet, pipe circles of icing into the wet icing around the edge of the design.
Drag a scribe or toothpick through each of the white dots of icing to pull and drag the icing into a nifty little heart shape. *quick tip – It’s okay if the tip of your scribe scratches along the surface of the cookie, your icing should flatten back out to be smooth. If it needs a little help to smooth out, gently tap the cookie on your work surface to help the icing spread flat.
Set this cookie aside and allow it to dry for a few hours.
*Quick Tip – royal icing dries more quickly if you place a fan next to your cookie racks. It also helps the icing not dry to a weird, dull finish in humid conditions. (This is the fan I use – I keep it covered and put away when not in use so it doesn’t get dusty. )
If using a #3 tip for nicely shaped circles, place that inside of a piping bag and cut the tip just enough that the end of your metal tip peeks through. Hold the bag directly overhead of your cookies and apply gentle pressure to create beads of icing. Continue making these round beads all around your cookie. Set aside overnight so all of the icing can fully dry to a hard surface that can be stacked.
Note – if you don’t have a #3 tip or don’t want to buy one, just practice making little dots using your no tip required piping bags!
To Make Your O Cookies:
For each “O” cookie continue the same process of wet on wet hearts and white beads. Take your small heart shapes and ice in white. Allow both of these cookies plenty of time to dry (overnight is best). Glue the heart into the center of the O shape using a little bit of royal icing onto the back of the heart. Allow an hour or 2 to dry well enough to hold into place before moving.
Put your dried cookies together for the cutest hugs and kisses around!
That’s It! Adorable Decorated XOXO Cookies for Valentine’s Day Easy As You Please!