By Ginna Parsons
TUPELO – Making and decorating holiday cookies should be a happy experience for families at Christmas.
“It’s fun to create memories this way,” said Rose McCoy, owner of Rosie’s in downtown Tupelo and Creative Cakes in east Tupelo. “But if you get ill with your children over this, then go to the store and buy some slice and bake cookies. You want this process to be a joy.”
This year, McCoy will create thousands of decorated cookies, gingerbread men and brownies for her customers. But that doesn’t mean she doesn’t remember what it’s like to get in her home kitchen and whip up a small batch of cookies just for her family to decorate.
And over the years, with lots of experience, she has several tips to offer to help you make your cookie decorating experience a Kodak moment.
• Get out all your ingredients before you start baking. You don’t want to get halfway through mixing things and realize you’re out of baking powder.
• Use dry measuring cups for dry ingredients and spouted measuring cups for liquids. Use measuring spoons. Do not pull a teaspoon out of the silverware drawer as a substitute.
• When using a stand mixer to make your dough, always use a paddle attachment, not a whisk.
• Never use a dark pan or cookie sheet for baking. Dark draws heat.
• Put a piece of parchment paper on your kitchen counter to roll your dough out on. For one thing, you don’t have to sanitize your counter. For another, you don’t have to dust the counter with flour, and extra flour is what makes dough tough.
• When rolling out a disc of dough, place it between two pieces of parchment paper. Use “precision strips” (available at Creative Cakes) on either side of the dough, which act as a guide to make your dough a perfect 1/4-inch thick.
• After pressing a cookie cutter into the dough, flour a spatula to lift the cookie off the parchment paper and transfer it to a cookie sheet covered in parchment paper. The paper helps the cookies cook evenly and makes for easy cleanup.
• Lightly work scraps of dough into new dough. This helps keep the dough from being tough.
• Set your timer as soon as you put your cookies in the oven. Let them cool completely before icing (or freeze them and decorate later).
• Piping bags are best for piping icing onto cookies, but a good-quality freezer ziptop bag will do in a pinch. For writing, snip a bit off the end. For making a leaf tip, cut a “V” in the end.
• “Batching,” or decorating the same shaped cookies all at one time, makes the process quicker. For instance, decorate all your green trees, then all your red stockings.
• Use coffee filters to hold sprinkles, colored sugars, candy beads, etc. This keeps them from spilling onto the counter and makes for easy cleanup. You can also press an iced cookie into them without making a mess.
• When using sprinkles on buttercream icing, use the sprinkles as quickly as possible because buttercream sets quickly and the sprinkles won’t want to adhere as well.
• When piping icing, hold the bag in your hand anD squeeze the icing with the palm of your hand, not your index finger.
• Use odd numbers when possible … three holly leaves, three holly berries, etc.
• Have fun
“This is the season of giving, just as Christ gave his life for us,” McCoy said. “Give your family some time together making cookies and memories, and while you’re at it, give your neighbors a little something sweet, too.”