What I've Learned About Cookies

Well, since I showed you what I look like pregnant and then posted those cookies a few days ago, we're basically best friends forever now, right? I mean, I can totally stay in my pajamas when you come over at 2 in the afternoon. And we can eat ice cream together for no reason at all. And I can tell you my secrets and you won't hate me or save it up inside until some day when I bug you and then you go and tell everyone, including my mom and that kid I had a crush on in 9th grade. You wouldn't do that to me now, would you? Because for the record, I don't think that kid cares anymore.

Seriously, though there is something I have been trying to decide if I should tell you for kind of a while now. In an effort to "keep it real" (because that is something COOL people do and I desperately want to feel cool one last time before my kids get old enough to tell me that I'm really, really not.) I've decided to tell you.

You may know that I started this blog in January of this year. But here is the lion under the rug-- (elephant in the room? How do you say that?) before that time, I had really only decorated maybe 10 sets of cookies. I never wanted to tell you this because I was afraid as soon as I said it that you would all go searching back through the archives of my cake making days to find those "special" sets of cookies and then stop coming round for visits. And I didn't want you to. I was ashamed of them. I wanted to delete them. And then I realized THOSE COOKIES ARE ME. I made them. They made me the cookie decorator that I am today. Well, probably not today because I have big plans to do nothing at all today. But definitely the cookie decorator that I am going to be tomorrow. And the one I was last Thursday as well. All those awful cookie photos are just chinks on my learning chain. And to save you the effort of searching back through the archives for them...I've decided to post them right here. And hopefully save you some of my own life cookie lessons


These are my very first royal icing cookies. Ever. Like, in my whole life. I learned something really important with these cookies. COLOR MATTERS. Don't be afraid to use a little more food coloring to get a shade of icing that is actually appetizing and/or appealing.

At the same time...don't do it one drop at a time. The more you mix your royal icing...the more air gets into it. I mixed and mixed and mixed this brown icing. It was so light and airy. It took a weirdly long time to dry. And after it was dry, if you tried to break the cookie in half, the icing came off all at once and shattered. (Not ideal.)

If you don't like the icing colors before you make your cookies -- you're not going to like the cookies after they are made. I have found that it is best to choose the shades of icing before I ever start mixing them. I use markers  but I know some people use paint samples or wedding planning websites for good color combinations.

Dark colors don't happen right away. They take time. When I make black or brown, I add cocoa powder to the royal icing first. It gives me a tasty base that is darker to begin with. For black, I add the food coloring until it is a dark gray and for brown, I also stop 2 shades lighter than I need. They get much darker over night. When I make a deep red... I start with red food coloring until it turns dark pink and won't go redder. Then I add some brown and a tiny bit of black. And in the morning....I have a beautiful deep, dark crimson red. (Here's a hint though. If you accidentally add too much brown...you can get it more red again by countering it with a bit of Wilton burgundy.) See these cookies? I should have stopped long before I did. They dried SO DARK! And let's not even talk about how NOT smooth they are.


Okay, actually, maybe we should talk about that. Take the time to get the consistency right before you ever put your icing into a bag or bottle. Its worth it. If the icing is too thick you will have points on your edges and weirdy not smooth icing.

If your icing is too thin, it will run over the edge. And if your cookie is more than one color of icing, it will pull your designs right off the edge. And you will cry. And cookies are not for crying. (For the record, this cookie was made by my son. But I've done plenty like this. I just don't take pictures of them. You know, too much crying and all.)

Don't underestimate the beauty of photo editing -- I'm not talking about creating cookies entirely from pixels here. But some days...it rains all day long. For months. And I just can't get the light I want. So I edit.

Some cookies look better than others. Only photograph your favorite cookies. Pick out your very favoritest of all your favorites and put those on top. Hide the ones you don't like so much. I would never take a picture of myself pregnant and without make up and put it on the internet...oh wait, that was a bad analogy. What I'm saying is that people know you are choosing what you present to them. So, make a choice you are happy with.  (I hate that my dots all ran together on the egg cookies. So I hid them.)

There is NOTHING wrong with photographing your cookies on a plate every time. But if you want be different, take different pictures. Take photos of your cookies in the way that is most comfortable for you (like on the plate) and then try arranging them just one other way. You may be surprised at what you find.


Don't be afraid to do something TOTALLY different once in a while. Also though...don't be afraid to not post those super weirdy cookies if they turn out to be something that really should never have happened. :)

Make cookies that taste good. Try not to burn them. And if you don't want to eat them, find a different recipe. I actually don't like regular sugar cookies. So I make chocolate ones. And that works for me. And it makes me happy.

Sometimes you hate your cookies. Take pictures anyway. Because sometimes you don't hate those cookies a week later. 

Sometimes though, cookies just don't turn out very well for all your planning and trying and mixing and piping. And you DO still hate them a week later. And you know what? It's just a cookie. 

And THIS my friends, is officially THE LONGEST post in the history of my entire cookie blogging life. I think I'll go have some ice cream now. In my pajamas. And...you may as well know it....there are still some dishes in the sink that need washing. Whew. There. It's all out. No more secrets.

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