I decided to try using royal icing since it is what my friend, Cindy, uses (she shows her FABULOUS cookies here: www.cookiesbycindy.net/) and what is shown on http://www.cakecentral.com/ a website that Cindy directed me to. The royal icing looks so professional.
Yesterday we started a big winter storm and I knew it would probably cancel some of my normal activities for my teens, etc. so it seemed like a good couple of days to try new things. I used a bunch of new cookie cutters I'd bought last year on sale that I hadn't had a chance to use.
Yesterday I made the cookies.....today I decorated. This was the first time I used parchment paper.....both for rolling out my dough and for baking. I highly recommend it! I used it on top and bottom for rolling out my dough.....then put it on a cookie sheet and put it in the freezer for 15+ minutes. It did wonders when I cut out the cookies. They turned out so precise and beautiful. And baking them on parchment was perfect. They lifted right off with no effort.
This morning I made royal icing for the first time. You have to beat it for ten minutes....and since I still use a hand mixer, it was a bit tiring. But it was worth it....RI is fabulous! (And this could be a very good excuse to finally take the plunge and buy a stand alone mixer. :-))))
Using a bag with thinned RI and outlining and then filling the surface of the cookie was really fun. And oh how beautiful the surface is. The only thing I don't like is that it appears that RI gets pretty hard....almost crunchy....and I'm a soft cookie/soft icing kind a girl. ;-) I'm still undecided on whether I'll continue to use RI on the surface or go back to my shiny hard corn syrup icing.
These certainly aren't my best decorated cookies.....but I tried lots of new things this go around and found things to avoid in the future....and things to definitely do again.
Here's some of my favorites:
My brown turned out too dark again (my Americolor chocolate brown is more like a reddish tan [yuck!] and so I add black cocoa and invariably get too much.) Plus, my brown icing was too thin and the cool "weave" tip's indentations smoothed out.....but I still love this shape and how the flowers turned out.
Yesterday I also cut out tea cups and tea pots and froze them, so maybe next week I'll get those out and keep experimenting. :-)