Cookie Stamps Are the Quick and Easy Way to Make Decorative Treats—Here's How to Use Them
If you want to create tidy, impressively decorated cookies fast, we're about to let you in on the tools home bakers have relied on for years: cookie stamps. These small, engraved plates are typically made from metal, acrylic, wood, or silicone, and they generally come in festive designs—think geometric patterns, snowflakes, dinosaurs, pumpkins, and more—that you simply press into your favorite unleavened cookie. And because they're so easy to use, they're a way to get all skill levels into the kitchen, especially kids.
If you need the keys to stamped cookie perfection, you're in luck! We asked three baking experts—Jennifer Dalquist, executive vice president at Nordic Ware, chef Sarah Rosenkrantz, an instructor at the Institute of Culinary Education, and Elizabeth Nelson, test kitchen lead at Wilton—to weigh in on the best ways to get the most out of your new favorite baking helper. Follow their advice and you'll be turning our stunning cookies in no time at all.
Which Type of Cookie Stamp Is Best?
According to Nelson, "Each material has different benefits, but silicone is usually easier to clean and is generally dishwasher safe." If you prefer a design with more detail, Dalquist points out that "cast aluminum allows for very intricate details to show up in the cookie dough, and because it's metal, it can be chilled easily and retain its temperature so as not to soften the dough." The downside to metal and wood cookie stamps is that they tend not to be dishwasher safe and should be hand washed.
What Kind of Dough Is Best?
Our experts warn that leavening agents are the primary downfall of a stamped cookie, which means avoiding doughs with baking powder and baking soda. Rosenkrantz advises that a good recipe for creating a stamped cookie will essentially be "a shortbread recipe with added egg to provide structure to the dough." However, she adds that "gingerbread cookies could also work, as long as they're the kind you'd use to build a gingerbread house."
Making a Great Impression
While this may vary based on the recipe, chilling the dough is an excellent way to combat soft dough and keep it from sticking to the stamp. Rosenkrantz recommends a double-chill method in which you "start with chilled dough, stamp it, and chill it again so that the shape holds while the cookies bake." How do you know what's too chilled or not chilled enough? Dalquist says, "You should still be able to squeeze the dough with your thumb and index finger and leave an imprint without too much effort, and without the dough melting and falling apart."
To guarantee a clear impression from your stamp, Dalquist and Rosenkrantz both agree that using a natural aluminum cookie sheet is a huge help. The surface of the cookie sheet will grip the cookie just enough to allow for easy removal from the stamp. Additionally, Dalquist recommends "using a rocking motion to release the stamp from the dough instead of pulling straight upward" when making your impression.
The Best Ways to Use a Cookie Stamp
There are two methods for using a cookie stamp. The first is to evenly portion the dough into balls and apply the stamp to each with even pressure. Rosenkrantz says "walnut-sized dough balls, about 1-1 ½ inches" are an excellent place to start. The second method is to roll your dough out until you've reached a uniform thickness; Dalquist recommends no more than ⅜ inch thick and to apply the stamp in rows. Nelson is a fan of the roll and cut method because "it can be easier to control the placement of the design, and you'll end up with cookies that have a consistent thickness." Nelson also recommends coating the stamp's surface with a light dusting of flour to help get a perfect impression in the dough in between each cookie.
Will The Cookies Need Any More Decorations?
That's entirely up to you. Part of the appeal of a cookie stamp is its ease and speed of use as compared to traditional piping methods. For those of us who love a bit of extra flair, instead of dusting the stamp with flour, Dalquist says to "try rolling the cookie dough ball itself in colorful granulated sugar, powdered sugar, or cocoa powder" before stamping. Then, once you're finished, all that will be left to do is marvel at how much time you saved and eat cookies.