I have been working on my sugar cookie decorating skills for a while. There are two different camps to decorating sugar cookies: plopping on a glob of butter cream frosting or meticulously outlining and thinning royal icing to achieve the perfect smooth finish. For a while, I thought I wasn't that detail oriented of a person to go through the process of using royal icing. I'm usually perfectly happy to get a nice sugar cookie with a dab of frosting. I thought, however, I would like to try to improve my decorating skills and to see how much patience I had when it comes to decorating. In case you are interested, the steps to making these cookies are (1) make the dough, (2) roll, cut and bake the dough, (3) make royal icing, (4) tint and thin the icing just enough to be able to pipe an outline around the edge of a cookie, (5) wait, (6) thin the icing and "flood" the cookie, (7) wait again, and (8) finally enjoy the cookie (of course, unless you want to add more details using the thicker frosting you made in step four)!
The first time I attempted to use royal icing to decorate cookies, the whole process took 5 hours of work (not including any waiting time) and the end result didn't come close to the picture perfect cookies I imagined. After a few rounds of practicing, I've gotten better, but I could still use more practice. The important thing, however, is that the cookies taste good. You would hate to put in all the work and not enjoy the cookies in the end, right?
LESSON LEARNED: Decorating with royal icing can be tricky, but if you practice at it, you will get better!
Recipe for my favorite cutout sugar cookies