You know…some days you just need to express yourself through cookie art. Right? I recently purchased a few cookie stencils and decided to give them a try. Not the easiest thing in the world to do, but here is my first attempt at both flood icing some shortbread cookies, letting them dry/harden and then trying my hand at stenciling with a little chocolate frosting. They're not perfect, by any stretch of the word, but at least I can scratch cookie stenciling off my bucket list. Been there. Done that. May try it again to perfect it and hopefully end up with cleaner edges...we'll see :)
Basic Shortbread Cookies
2 sticks of butter (at room temperature)
½ c. sugar
½ tsp. vanilla extract
2 c. all-purpose flour (more for dusting)
½ tsp. salt
2 egg whites, beaten
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice3 c. powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
In large bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Add vanilla extract.
In separate bowl, combine flour and salt. Add flour mixture slowly to butter and sugar. Mix well until fully combined.
Turn dough out onto floured surface. Use rolling pin, roll dough out to between 1/4 to 1/2 inch thickness. Use cookie cutters of your preference and place each cut out onto a cookie sheet (I used a 2-inch round and a 2-inch square for mine).
Bake 30-40 minutes. Remove from baking sheet and allow to cool on wire cooling rack.
Combine the 3 ingredients to prepare the royal icing in a medium-sized bowl. If the consistency is too thick, add just a little water to thin it out (if it's too thin, add a little more powdered sugar). It needs to be pourable but not too runny. Add 2 or 3 drops of food coloring to achieve desired color. Stir well.
Very carefully pour your royal icing in a squirt bottle (use a funnel if necessary - it's so much easier than a piping bag. You can thank me later) and secure the applicator. Use immediately as the icing will harden if exposed to the air for very long.
On cooled cookie, begin with tip of squirt bottle to outline your cookie with the icing. I tried this two different ways: 1) I outlined several cookies first creating a barrier to keep the icing from dripping down the sides and I let it dry before filling/flooding with icing and 2) (because I have not been blessed with the "patience" gene) I just started on the outer rim and worked my way inside filling with the icing. I much prefer the 2nd method because I didn't like the way the outer line looked when it dried.
Once you've flooded the surface of your cookie with the royal icing, use a toothpick to spread icing evenly toward edges and to break up any air bubbles that have formed.
Allow icing to cool and harden before any further decorating (a couple hours or you could start this process, allow them to harden overnight and finish the next day).
Once icing is hardened, carefully place a cookie stencil over the cookie and hold down on one corner. Using a offset spatula, load very little frosting (I just used regular cake frosting in a can at room temperature) and spread over your stencil beginning with the corner closest to you and working your way out. Be sure to spread evenly with a very thin layer. Carefully remove stencil. Embellish as desired.