Saturday, November 24, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving! Marbled Leaf Cookies

I'm a few days behind schedule posting these cookies, but since it still is Thanksgiving weekend, I guess I'm just making the deadline. I've made these cookies for the past two years, and each year people are amazed at how I got the colors to blend together and swirl. Believe it or not, decorating these cookies is much easier than you might think.

The first step is having your sugar cookies baked, cooled, and ready to decorate. Line them up on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Mix up your royal icing colors. For these, I mixed four different colors: gold, brown, orange, and plum. You will need both piping and flooding consistency icing, although you'll need much more of the latter. 
Piping consistancy means the royal icing is pretty stiff and doesn't lose it's shape. You use this to outline the cookie, using a pastry bag and a #2 tip. 
The outline serves as a barrier for the flood icing, so it doesn't drip off the sides of the cookie. Flood icing is the same type of icing as piping, but it has been watered down so it has the consistency of glue. 

If you were mixing royal icing, once stiff peaks form, you'd divide it up into containers for each color you plan to use. Then you'd mix your color (use gel icing colors, they work better) and take a little bit and add it to your piping bag. The rest of that icing color you'd add water to a teaspoon at a time until it looks sort of like glue. This is flood icing.

The next step for these cookies is to add your base flood color. Using a squeeze bottle, squeeze some icing around the cookie. You don't want to fill the whole cookie, though.
Once you have enough icing on the cookie, grab a toothpick (actually have a box handy -- you'll need them) and use it to spread the icing to all the corners of the cookie.
I've found flat toothpicks work best, but any will do. Your flooded cookie should look like this:
Now you're ready for the fun part. Take a color of flood icing and squeeze drops, lines, or other designs on the cookie. Not too many but just a few.
Repeat with the next color.
Repeat again with the next color.
Make sure you have plenty of toothpicks handy. Grab one and drag the toothpick through the icing to create the marbled look. It's important not to scrape the toothpick against the cookie, just the icing. Work quickly before the icing sets. 
It doesn't matter which direction you go with the swirl, just mix the colors together until you're happy with the way it looks.
Here are a few tips. Notice how I arranged the cookies on the cookie sheet above? Make sure there is space between each cookie. You also want to avoid having to reach over other cookies to decorate. When I want to decorate the other side, I just turn the cookie sheet. 

The next tip is to have plenty of toothpicks handy. Don't use the same toothpick to create the swirl that used to smooth out your basic flood icing. 

Finally, allow the cookies plenty of time to dry. You'll need at least 12 hours before you can move or package them. Don't worry, the icing keeps the cookies from getting stale. 

I packaged these cookies in cellophane bags and tied them with orange ribbon to take to my in-laws on Thanksgiving. 
The marbled technique could easily be used to create other holiday cookies. Christmas trees? Ornaments? 

One last note: Many thanks to my husband for taking the pictures of me decorating the cookies. It's hard to decorate and shoot pictures at the same time. I'm thankful to him for this and for so much more!

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