It's a relief to start off with a simple bake after really hectic days working on the macarons. Well, simple to me :p. It's pretty tedious to decorate iced cookies but straightforward. No tricky meringues or electric mixers involved, and you can leave your bake lying around to dry or the dough resting in the fridge while you are busy with other things. These cookies keep very well, up to a month in a cool and dry place.
I always choose to use brown sugar cookies as my cookie base instead of regular sugar cookies although they don't appear as pretty because they really taste and smell so much better! I always get rave reviews for these in terms of taste.
It's the same recipe I use over and over again so I won't type it out. Please refer to this post for the recipe for brown sugar cookies and royal icing, and this post on how to make homemade templates. Roll the dough to 1/4" thick. As a rule of thumb, the more detailed the iced features are, the bigger you should make the cookies or it will be a real pain to include all the details. The reindeer cookies are about 12 cm tall because there are a lot of fine details.
Just to share some photos of the process...
Tracing out reindeer outline using edible marker and homemade template
All outlined! It took me a day's work to bake and outline all 20 cookies.
Use a Wilton 1S tip to outline the reindeer by tracing the edible marker outline. I use charcoal powder to colour the icing black.
I believe I haven't actually shown photos of this step. Here's how I fill outlined cookies. Pipe some icing within the boundary...
Then use a toothpick to nudge the icing into tight corners.
Day 1 of icing cookies!
Day 2 of icing cookies! All done!
Just some tips on colouring royal icing, add a little colouring at a time to avoid making the colours too strong. Don't be afraid of mixing colours to make the subject more realistic or have colours that are softer on the eyes. E.g. tone down shocking pink colour (using purely pink gel food colouring will result in this) with a tiny toothpick dip of green, teal or blue; adding a tiny dash of charcoal, black or purple food colouring to make the the electric blue appear more muted. The brown hues of the reindeer are actually made up of a mixture of cocoa powder, and brown, orange, and ivory gel food colouring. The grey hooves of the reindeer are made from leftover light brown icing with some charcoal powder and a drop of white gel colouring. Starting from a brown base makes the grey appear warmer. How do I figure this out? You are not going to like my answer :p. 凭感觉 or "by feel". After a while I just know what colours to add to the mix by looking at a reference picture. I still can't get some colours perfectly right all the time but practice helps :).
Remember to let the iced cookies dry thoroughly before storing or packing. I speed up the process by oven drying using the fan mode with the heat turned on for a few seconds. It may take an hour or so to dry thoroughly. Alternatively, leave the cookies out to dry overnight in an air-conditioned room. Drying out in the open in hot and humid Singapore may not be such a good idea.
All packed and ready to party!