Tuesday, September 21, 2010

"So, just how long is it going to take me to make and decorate cookies?"

works for me wednesday at we are that family
"So, just how long is it going to take me to make and decorate cookies?"   The short answer is...it depends.  It depends on how many you're making, of course, and how many colors of icing you are using, and how detailed the cookie design is, and how you are packaging them. Whew.

But, let me try to give you a rough idea. Let's go with 2 batches of cookies because if you're going to take the time to make them, you might as well make more than one.
First, the cookies.  Using this cookie dough recipe, plan on about 1 hour per batch.  With a 4.5" cookie cutter, you'll have around 12 cookies.  I bake mine 6 at a time, since I have a single oven.  I could do 2 sheets and rotate the them during baking, but I am usually too distracted by twitter getting in some housework (ha!) and forget to rotate.

Cookies (two batches)....2 hours
Cookies (cool completely)...1 hour

Next, the icing.  I use royal icing.  It's just as quick to make a double batch as it is to make a single.  I usually double my recipe just to ensure I have enough.  To make the icing and tint it, assuming you're making more than 2 colors, takes about 45 minutes.

Icing....45 minutes

Decorating the cookies. This is a little difficult to estimate and you'll have some down time here.  Assuming you have 24-30 cookies, you'll need to prep your icing bag and outline your cookies.  For a simple outline, allow 30 minutes.

Outlining....30 minutes

Next, you'll want to "flood" the cookies with thinned icing.  For me, thinning takes a while because I add water just a bit at a time.  You'll need to thin the icing, let it sit, stir, then flood.

Flood icing (thin)....15 minutes
Flood Icing (rest)....10 minutes
Flood icing (fill)......45 minutes

Usually, you'll have some sort of detail to add to the cookies.  First, the filled cookies need to "rest" for an hour or so before the next step.


Rest....1 hour

Finally, the detail work.  You may be adding sanding sugar, sprinkles, luster dust, extra piping, or all of the above, so this really varies.  Assuming the detail is a bit of simple piping on each cookie, allow at least a minute per cookie.

Detail.....30 minutes

Then, let them dry overnight.

Dry.....overnight

***This does NOT include clean-up time!***

So, for about 2 dozen, simply decorated cookies, I would allow 5 hours of baking/decorating with 2 hours and 10 minutes plus overnight of inactive/rest time. (Did I add that right?) But, remember, it depends! :) 

{In other words, don't start a cookie decorating project at 8pm the night before you need them.}

My advice....make the cookies a day ahead.  Even two days.  Even more than that and freeze them.  Yes, they freeze...even fully decorated.

Another hint, royal icing can be made ahead of time, too.  The icing will not be as stiff the next day, so if you have fine detail work to do, you may want to make it the same day.  Otherwise, it's fine.

I love this post from my friend Gail of One Tough Cookie...here's a little nugget of wisdom from her blog: "No matter how much time you allow for decorating the cookies, allow more."    See, she's smart and CRAZY TALENTED!

That's what works for me.  Do you have any hints for timing your cookie decorating?

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