Basic gingerbread is transformed into reindeer, foxes, raccoons, and other woodland wonders with the help of royal icing.

November 18, 2020
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Credit: Johnny Miller

Though she loves classic gingerbread people and adores making gingerbread houses, Martha is always looking for new ways to decorate cookies for the holidays. This year, our founder whipped up some of the cutest gingerbread creatures around. All these cookie decorating ideas start with her favorite Basic Gingerbread Recipe, and you'll also need plenty of Royal Icing on hand for the finishing touches.

Royal-Icing Woodland Creatures

Stamp out shapes using fox and raccoon cutters before chilling and baking according to Basic Gingerbread Cookies directions; let cool completely.

To make the foxes, separate white royal icing into three batches; tint one orange and another black with food coloring, leaving the third white. Fill three separate pastry bags fitted with couplers and small round tips (such as Ateco #2) with orange, black, and white icing, respectively. Use an edible pen to draw your designs onto your cookies, or outline all shapes freehand with icing; you should start by outlining any white shapes. To fill in, change to a slightly larger tip (Ateco #3 or #4) and flood, pulling to edges with a toothpick. Let the icing dry completely between steps. Repeat with orange shapes, then use black icing to pipe arms, hands, eyes, mouth and feet. Let the cookies dry before enjoying or packaging to share with loved ones.

The raccoons follow a similar process. Start by separating white royal icing into three batches; tint one gray and another black with food coloring, leaving the third white. Fill three pastry bags fitted with couplers and small tips (such as Ateco #2) with gray, black, and white icing, respectively. Use an edible pen to draw your designs onto your cookies, or outline all shapes freehand with icing; you should start by outlining any white shapes. To fill in, change to a slightly larger tip (Ateco #3 or #4) and flood, pulling to edges with a toothpick. Let the icing dry completely between steps. Repeat with gray shapes, then use black icing to pipe arms, hands, eyes, mouth and feet. Let the cookies dry before filling in the black stripes on tail and mask.

Credit: Johnny Miller

Gingerbread Mushrooms and Reindeer

Stamp out shapes using mushroom and reindeer cutters before chilling and baking according to Basic Gingerbread Cookies directions; let cool completely. Separate white royal icing into two batches; tint one red with food coloring, leaving the other white. Transfer icing to separate piping bags fitted with couplers and small round tips (such as Ateco #2).

To frost your reindeer, outline each cookie with white to create antler, tail, and hoof details. Sprinkle with sanding sugar, if desired. Pipe spots along back, then use red icing to create nose. Let dry on wire racks, icing-sides up.

To frost your mushrooms, start by outlining each cookie with white icing—you can leave the centers empty or fill them in, depending on your preferences. If filling in, let each cookie dry completely before creating dots. Then, create dots with white or red icing. Let dry completely on wire racks, icing-sides up.

Credit: Johnny Miller

Iced Gingerbread Trees

Stamp out shapes using large tree cutters before chilling and baking according to directions in Basic Gingerbread Cookies recipe; let cool completely. Fill pastry bags fitted with couplers and small tips (such as Ateco #2) with green icing, or a few different shades of green for a more realistic look. Outline each cookie with green, then switch to a slightly larger tip (such as Ateco #3 or #4) and fill them in. Outline top tier of tree and fill in; outline second tier of tree and fill in and so on, which should give the impression of multiple layers. Sprinkle the finished cookies with sanding sugar, if desired, and let them dry completely on wire racks, icing sides up.

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