Holiday Cookie Tips
Consider the lowly toothpick. It's such a simple thing, but its uses are endless, according to Karen. "I keep them on the counter next to the salt," she says. "I use them to check my cakes and to add pulled frosting details." Pull a toothpick through frosting while it's still wet to add a visual effect. Try zigging and zagging. And remember: If something doesn't work, you can always eat it.
Karen collects candies, sprinkles and colored sugars the way an artist collects paints. To keep track of the dozens of containers, she stores them in color-coded stacks in an antique armoire in her dining room. Use your imagination, she advises. Red shoestring licorice can be tied into a bow, and cinnamon dots make holly berries or even Santa's nose.
Invest in a new pair of tweezers and keep them in a handy place in the kitchen. "They're good for placing any tiny bits, like small sprinkles, on your cookies," Karen says. "I have big hands and no nails, so these really help." Even if you have long nails, you won't have to worry about getting frosting or sugary things stuck under them.
Don't have a pastry bag? Karen relies on ziptop bags for piping delicate designs on her cookies. Just put in the frosting, seal and snip off one corner. "I can even use a coupler and piping tip when I use the freezer bags," she says. "I mainly use the quart size. And I love the cleanup! Talk about no mess. When you're done, just throw it away." What could be easier?
Karen stores her cookie sheets on a rolling rack in the closet. She's also a firm believer in lining the sheets with parchment paper: "It extends the life of the pan and makes it easy to reuse the sheet to bake different types of cookies. Just toss the old parchment and reline." For quick cooling and drying, she stacks pans in alternating directions to save space.
Little things mean a lot. Ziptop bags do everything from storing batter or dough to piping details on cookies. A small offset spatula is great for frosting. A ruler measures pans and cutters, and also works as a straight edge. Tweezers are handy for putting small decorations in place. Scissors open any kind of bag without a hassle.
Video: 3 Holiday Cookie Recipes
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