06 Dec|Categories: Cookies
Cookie decorating parties are my favorite holiday tradition. You can decorate cookies with your best girlfriends over a glass of wine (or two)— or, during school break, why not get the kids together and keep them busy for hours? Nothing beats a warm kitchen, the smell of cookies, and the glow of Christmas lights.
The best part about cookie parties? At the end you’ll have beautifully decorated cookies you can give out as gifts, or if you’re like me, you’ll slowly deplete your cookie stash by eating them one at a time, because what's just one more cookie?
Here’s my secret to being a rock star cookie decorating party hostess
Select a day that will work best for everyone, and invite your friends.
Pick a theme! This makes it easy to select sprinkles, cookie cutters, and edible decorations. I love a winter wonderland theme! Think snowflake cookie cutters, cute snowmen, Christmas tree cookie cutters, and pretty sprinkles in white and pastel shades. Or, if you’re a more traditional gal, go for the Santa cookie cutters, reindeer, and candy cane cookie cutters with fun red and green brightly colored sprinkles. It doesn’t matter what theme you pick, your guests will appreciate the well thought out plan.
Create your cookie menu. You can’t go wrong with sugar and gingerbread cookies. The number of guests attending helps determine how many cookies to bake. Don’t go crazy on the different shapes of cookies you make, just pick a few and make life easy.
Once you have your friends invited and your theme picked out, it’s time to start shopping and prepping for the party!
Things You’ll Need:
Boxes, bags or trays for transporting your guest's decorated cookies.
Snacks and drinks for your guests.
Plastic tablecloths and paper towels to make clean up easy.
Things to do ahead of time
Pick three to four cookie cutters that match your theme
Three or four cookie shapes is plenty and makes prep easy. Select cookie cutters that require basic decorating, like a gingerbread man cookie cutter, snowflakes, and candy canes. Those extra detailed cookie decorating videos you see on facebook are sped up, in real life, one cookie could take you an entire day, and who has time for that?
Buy some fun sprinkles and edible icing decorations
There are so many sprinkles to choose from, how can you decide? Sprinkles are what makes a cookie decorating party extra fun and allows your friends to get creative. You’ll want lots of icing eyes, sanding sugar, jimmies, nonpareils, dragees, and edible pearls. It’s also handy to have some Christmas-y premade edible icing decorations.
Pick a Color Palette
One easy way to make sure everyone’s cookies look great is to select a color theme for them. Instead of mixing up every color under the sun, pick three or four. This way, all the colors go great together--ensuring that even the most decorating-phobic leaves with pretty cookies!
Make Cookie Dough and Bake
Use our tried and true cut-out sugar cookie dough recipe (see how to make our cut-out sugar cookie recipe here). You can make and freeze this cookie dough recipe up to one month before your cookie party. It’s our favorite sugar cookie recipe because it doesn’t spread out when baking, so you’ll have perfectly shaped sugar cookies and no Pinterest fails.
Be sure to remove the dough from the freezer, and let it thaw in the refrigerator at least two days before you plan to bake your cookies. You can bake your cookies two days before your party, store them in covered plastic containers.
Make Royal Icing
Make and color royal icing up to a week before your party, it’s quick and easy to make with our royal icing mix! Color with AmeriColor Gel Food coloring, just a few drops it all you’ll need to make beautiful vibrant Christmas colors.
Store in covered containers in the refrigerator until your ready to use them. The day of the party, scoop royal icing into disposable piping bags, just snip the tip of the bag and you’re ready to go!
Or you could skip piping icing and make something different like Snowman Thumbprint Cookies.
The Day of the Party
Set up workspace
Set up a large table with sprinkles, royal icing filled piping bags, spatulas, and baked cookies.
Line each place setting with a piece of parchment paper for your guests to work over. Pour sprinkles out of pouches into small prep bowls for easy sharing and sprinkling, this makes it especially easy for kids to grab the sprinkles with their tiny hands.
Have extra parchment paper sheets laid out on a separate table to set cookies on to dry, keep your decorated cookies on a different table to avoid an elbow accidentally hitting your masterpiece.
Decorate and have fun!
Let your guests have a ball decorating their cookies, and leave perfectionism at the door. Cookie decorating parties are all about having fun and leaving with memories and delicious Christmas cookies. Don’t be afraid to eat a dozen cut-out cookies or get a little icing on your nose, because that’s what Christmas is all about!
Send them home with cookies
Let the cookies set for at least an hour before guests bring them home. The icing still won’t be fully hard, so handle the decorated cookies with care. Make sure you have some cake boxes ready for guests to store their cookies in during the drive home, place the cookies in a single layer inside the boxes.
Give yourself a pat on the back, you just hosted a cookie decorating party your friends and family will look forward to year after year!
07 Nov|Categories: Chocolate
Red and Green Peppermint Chocolate Bars
Who doesn’t love peppermint bark during the holidays? But white chocolate lovers often get left out. Not anymore!
The combination of Merckens creamy white chocolate candy coatings and peppermint crunch makes a delicious--and easy--holiday treat. Even folks who don’t love white chocolate adore this Christmas candy.
Just like our classic red and green peppermint bark, this recipe makes great gifts. Wrap the bars in a foil candy wrapper and you’ll be Santa’s favorite.
These bars look so elegant wrapped in chocolate foil wrappers, You’ll feel so fancy peeling the foil away to take a bite.
What you’ll need to make them
Note: this recipe calls for one cup of red and green peppermint crunch to one pound of merckens coatings. There are about two cups in a bag of red and green peppermint crunch, so if you’d like to double this recipe, you’ll need an extra bag of candy coatings.
Combine Red and Green Peppermint Crunch with Merckens
To make red and green peppermint chocolate bars, mix one cup of red and green peppermint crunch into one pound of melted Merckens White Candy Coatings (see how to melt merckens candy coatings here). This is the same technique used for traditional peppermint bark.
Stir until the peppermint crunch is coated with the melted white chocolate.
Pour into Chocolate Bar Molds
Pour into a chocolate bar mold of your choice (no need to spray chocolate molds with any type of vegetable spray- the chocolate will release all on its own).
Use a spatula to spread out the peppermint crunch and chocolate mixture, and tap the mold onto the countertop to level everything out.
Unmold Chocolate Bars
Place the mold into the refrigerator for 10 to 15 minutes or until the chocolate has completely set. Remove from the fridge and carefully turn the chocolate bars out of the mold onto your countertop.
Wrap in Chocolate Foil Wrappers
The holidays are all about sparkle and shine, stay on trend and add bling to your chocolates by wrapping your chocolate bars with a shiny and colorful chocolate foil wrapper, they not only look pretty, but they protect your chocolate bars and keep them fresh for about 2 to 3 weeks.
Store wrapped chocolates in a covered container and in a cool place away from sunlight until your ready to give out as gifts.
If you want to go the extra mile, use pretty craft paper, or make and print custom chocolate bar wrappers and wrap them around the foil covered bars.
Secure with a cute sticker or a piece of tape. Your friends and family will be asking where you bought such pretty chocolate Bars, and you can proudly say “I made them for you!”
11 Oct|Categories: Cookies
Thumbprint Snowman Cookies are easy to make and decorate when you use Merckens White Candy Coatings!
They’re delicious and cute, and everything you could want in a Christmas cookie. They’re not overly sweet and go wonderfully with coffee on Christmas morning (Santa will love them too!).
You don’t need to be a cookie decorating maven to decorate them, so they’re great for kids and cookie parties.
What You’ll Need
One batch of thumbprint cookies baked and cooled (recipe below)
Bake the Cookies
Use the recipe below to make the thumbprint cookie dough, there’s no chill time required, so you can bake the cookies right away! If you want to get ahead of the holidays, you can bake a batch of these cookies 3 weeks in advance and freeze them. Just store undecorated cookies in an airtight container in your freezer, and when you’re ready to serve them, let them come to room temperature before decorating.
Our Thumbprint Snowman Cookie Recipe makes about 2 dozen cookies when using a tablespoon of cookie dough for each cookie.
Melt the Merckens White Candy Coatings
Once the cookies have cooled begin to decorate them.
In a disposable pastry bag, melt ½ pound of merckens white candy coatings in the microwave 20 seconds at a time, squishing the bag around in between intervals to distribute hot spots (Here’s how to melt Merckens Candy Coatings).
Fill the Thumbprint Cookies
Once the chocolate is melted, snip the tip of the bag and squeeze the white chocolate into the centers of the cookies, filling to the top.
When all of the cookies are filled with white chocolate, place them on a baking sheet and set aside to harden at room temperature for about 20 minutes or until the chocolate has set up and hardened.
Draw Faces with an Edible Marker
Using a black AmeriColor edible marker draw a face and eyes onto the white chocolate, clean the tip of the marker with a paper towel in between drawing to remove buildup that can form at the tip, making it hard to draw.
Make sure you only use an edible marker for this project, they’re filled with food coloring making them safe to use on baked goods -- regular craft markers are not food safe.
Pipe a Carrot Nose
Melt 1/4 cup of Merckens Orange Candy Coatings in a disposable pastry bag 20 seconds at a time in the microwave. Snip the very tip of the pastry bag and pipe a carrot nose onto the center of the white chocolate. Let the orange noses set up at room temperature for about 10 minutes
You’ll love how cute and easy they are, and if you recruit the kids to help you’ll have your cookie decorating done in record time. Nothing beats feeling like an accomplished cookie hero during the holidays.