FORT COLLINS, Colo. – Cookie decorating is a common tradition around the holidays, bringing back memories of childhood with colorful frosting and sugary sprinkles, but where did this idea come from?
The Swiss were the first cookie decorators, making beautifully designed cookies as far back as the 14th century. They painted their cookies with egg yolks and food dyes, and depicted images from the Bible as a way to tell stories to everyone – even the illiterate folks.
The Germans were the next to jump on the cookie decorating bandwagon with their gingerbread cookies. After the Grimm Brothers wrote Hansel and Gretel, the story about two little kids who ate part of a witch’s decorative gingerbread house, the idea of creating and decorating the cookie spread to the common people and everyone wanted to join in on the decorating fun.
These days, anyone can participate in cookie decorating, and it isn’t a bad idea to offer them as holiday presents. Buying gifts for every friend and family member can get expensive and it can be hard to match a gift to every person, but if you’re willing to get a little creative, you can make beautiful homemade cookies that nobody is going to turn down. (And you might just impress everyone a little bit, too!)
Successful cookie decorating is all about the royal icing and learning how to master it. It can’t be purchased in stores so cookie decorators make royal icing from scratch. Unlike traditional icing, it can take a while to dry and requires decorating tools to use efficiently.
Tools of the trade:
- Mixing bowls
- Piping bags with various tips
- Bottles with narrow nozzles
Once you have the tools and the icing, all that remains is to bake the cookies and get creative!
Whether you decorate cookies with family and friends or you decide to give decorated cookies as gifts to your loved ones, the joy of the holidays wouldn’t be complete without this old and loved tradition.