‘Tis the season to bake cookies—but it’s time to think outside the box (and release your inner bird nerd) when it comes to holiday treats.
Let the birds inspire your baking this Christmas season. We promise these adorable designs are a lot easier than you might think. If you’d rather BIY (buy it yourself) than DIY, though, we’ll tell you where to purchase these stylish sweets, too.
Ready to supplement those traditional cookie shapes (trees, stars, candy canes)? Let’s get started adding some of these feathered cuties to the mix.
GIFTS IN AN INSTANT
1. In three easy steps, bake up unique and thoughtful gifts for your nature-loving friends.
2. Make more than you need. As you’re decorating your cookies, there will inevitably be cracks, breaks and other mishaps. It’s best to start with more than you think you’ll need.
3. Wrap ’em up. It’s best to wrap them individually in cellophane or single bags so they won’t collide and mess up your beautiful work.
4. Find a fun way to present them. Pick up a cute platter or holiday plate. Check a dollar store, or find something funky at a thrift shop. Finally, don’t forget to attach a pretty card or tag—if it’s bird-shaped or -themed, so much the better! Download this free gift tag.
FUN WITH FONDANT
For this cookie, use a tulip-shaped cutter with the center peak at the top cut out. When you get comfortable working with fondant, you can mix and match all sorts of colors and designs.
1. Put down a base coat of royal icing (a variety that dries hard), and allow it to dry overnight.
2. Using white fondant, shape the eyes; then press black sugar pearls into the center. Let these dry for half a day.
3. Use orange fondant to shape the beak and talons.
4. Finally, use a decorating tube to add belly feathers and ears to your owl. Allow the whole thing to dry overnight before you wrap it up.
Once you start experimenting with icing sheets, you won’t be able to stop. You can even make cookies with your own images and photos—the possibilities are endless.
1. Buy icing sheets online or at a cake-decorating supply shop. You can buy images ready to go, or make your own.
2. Apply an outline (known as a dam) of icing. Then spread icing that has been thinned with a few drops of water (called flooding).
3. Apply your trimmed image and press with a small spatula or toothpick. We used a Boo-Boo Stick from karenscookies.net. Gently press out all the air bubbles from under the print.
4. Outline the cookie with a complementary color of icing. Allow to dry at least 8 hours before packaging.
You don’t need much special equipment or materials to make these. In fact, be inventive and put your own spin on what to use for the center of the eye.
1. Use a 1-in. tulip cookie cutter; if you don’t have one, a circle will do. If using a tulip cutter, cut part of the base off each cookie. Then place pairs of tulips or circles together and bake on parchment-lined cookie sheet.
2. After the cookies have cooled, shape marble-size balls of fondant and press them gently into the cookies.
3. Place a sugar pearl in a contrasting color in the center of each eye.
4. Finally, use a toothpick to make indentations around the eyes.
Known as the wet-on-wet technique among cookie bakers, this is an icing treatment that anyone can master. You just have to move quickly!
1. Apply a dam of icing. Then thin remaining icing with a few drops of water—remember, this is called flooding.
2. Use contrasting colors for the design. This is where you have to work fast, because the icing must be applied while it’s still wet. Try a chevron pattern, polka dots, swirls, etc.
3. Let cookies dry for several hours. If you did it right, they should be nice and smooth.
If you can write, you can master this cookie technique. All you need is edible markers, available at most craft or baking-supply stores. This is a perfect one to get kids involved in, too. Let them write a special message, or their names.
1. Apply a dam of icing. Then spread icing that has been thinned with a few drops of water.
2. Let the icing dry overnight so the surface is smooth.
3. Now it’s time to write your message. I prefer the AmeriColor or Wilton food color markers. Use them to write a name or saying on the cookies.
4. Allow just a couple of hours to dry, and then you can wrap ’em up.
THE RIGHT TOOLS
The right cookie cutter is a big help. We loved the many bird-shaped varieties at the Cookie Cutter Co. In fact, we were impressed with their assortment from a cardinal and gull to a hummingbird and owl. Best of all, they were reasonably priced. Most of their birds are only $1! Check them out at cookiecuttercompany.com.
Author Karen Knapp is the talented artist behind these cookies. Visit her Etsy shop at etsy.com/shop/kjcookies.