How to Decorate Cookies with A Simple Butter Frosting

decorative sugars and sugar pearls with tubes of colored butter frosting
eSpiralCookie 7572crop
Diamond Ring Cookie trial design #1: Piped frosting with sugar pearls, flooded ‘diamond’ with sugar glitter with a fun spiral tummy.

Many cookie decorators use Royal Icing and for good reason, it’s versatile and has excellent keeping qualities. But one of the ingredients of Royal Icing is egg whites. My hubby and I don’t eat eggs (and haven’t for decades), so, I use an old-fashioned Butter Frosting. Plus Butter Frosting tastes MUCH better! (I’ve been told by folks in the know.)

Simple Butter Frosting for Cookie Decorating

* Organic (salted) Butter, 4 Tablespoons (1/2 cube)
* Organic Confectioner’s Sugar, 2 cups, sifted (lump free)
* Organic Vanilla, 1/4 teaspoon
* Organic Whole Milk, 1-2 Tablespoons or more as needed for the “perfect” consistency (not too stiff or too runny)

decorative sugars and sugar pearls with tubes of colored butter frosting
Cookie decor for a simple gold & white theme: vanilla, white & yellow glitter sugars, pale yellow sugar pearls, tubes of butter frosting in white, yellow, and tangerine hues.

~ CREAM the butter until very soft.
~ Slowly ADD the confectioners sugar, a cup at a time, mixing very thoroughly.
~ ADD a drop (or several) of milk as the mixture gets too stiff.
~ FLAVOR with the vanilla.
~ ADJUST frosting consistency and texture with a bit more milk, until it holds a peak, but still is malleable enough to blend if the surface is slightly marred.
~ DIVIDE the frosting into smaller bowls and color with edible gel tints. (I chose a theme of white, yellow and gold.)

decorated diamond ring cookie on a messy work table
My friend Pam had fun with the cut-out ring cookie, but it was too fragile to use as the final design.

Invited my girlfriend, Pam, over Saturday to decorate with me. She and I both enjoy food, cooking, and decorative details so I thought it would be a fun way to stay inspired and have a catch-up chat.

There are a few ‘tools’ that made our cookie decorating easier: disposable frosting bags (which can be washed and re-used if you wish), with a set of couplers and screw rings, #4 frosting nozzle was the perfect size for all-round use (you can purchase larger or smaller sizes for other details or functions, tweezers for picking up and placing the sugar pearls, nut picks for manipulating the frosting or scattered glitter sugar crystals.

cookie decorating tools and supplies, disposable frosting bags, couplers, nozzles, and more
The basic cookie decorating tools: disposable frosting bags, couplers & nozzles, tweezers for picking up and placing sugar pearls, nutmeat picks for manipulating piped frosting.

Then it was time to experiment with decorating designs!

The spiral belly cookie at the top of this post was my first idea…and a favorite. The spiral pattern wasn’t planned, but simply a way to cover the center of the cookie with frosting, which I was intending to smooth out. But I liked the pattern and left it alone.

Next, I tried making the ‘diamond’ fancier with a tan hued vanilla sugar glitter accent, but decided it wasn’t particularly outstanding. Though it smelled wonderful and would be good for certain designs.

Added the numerals 75 in the center of the cookie, an idea I liked. But the naked cookie showing bothered me and I wasn’t confident of being able to neatly fill in those empty spaces with a contrasting frosting.

Pam and I both liked the tangerine hued frosting covered with the yellow sugar glitter. I wanted to use it somewhere in my final design. Decided the center of the cookie was best. (NOTE: You can change the colors of your frosting subtly by using colored sugar glitter over the frosting.) Wondered if I could pipe frosting over the glitter sugar surface, so I did a few tests on the cut out rounds you see in Pam’s ring cookie photo. It worked GREAT as you can see in the photo here.

So my finished design looked like this:

decorated diamond ring cookie with 75 numerals in the center
Finished design for 75th Anniversary ‘Diamond Ring’ Cookies: Piped frosting with sugar pearls, flooded ‘diamond’ & center circle with white & yellow sugar glitter.

Decorated my final entries the following day. Only to discover, it’s challenging to get the designs to look exactly the same. My cookies weren’t perfect and the sugar glitter spread ‘out of the lines’ defined by the frosting colors.

I’m not sure how the judges will rate my cookie entry? But they were pretty and I was pleased enough. Much to my surprise, my Facebook friends were enchanted! And inspired to try their hands at fancy cookie decorating one of these days.

I would have enjoyed doing an entry of three DIFFERENT designs, rather than all the same pattern. I’ll suggest that to the fair contest planner for next year. Till then I’m going to find excuses to practice my skills. Pam’s ready to come back and give cookie decorating another go!

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If you need a good sugar cookie recipe, the one I used was a combo of an old-fashioned recipe from my Fannie Farmer cookbook and one from Sweetopia.

3 thoughts on “How to Decorate Cookies with A Simple Butter Frosting”

  1. Looking forward to trying this recipe – always on the lookout for good recipes for my vegan friends & just anything that taste better!

  2. Hi! Kim ~ Thanks for coming by FWB. It was lovely to see you & meet your family at the wedding!

    Technically, this cookie frosting isn’t ‘vegan’ since it uses butter & milk. It probably would work with coconut oil (if the weather’s not too warm) and a non-dairy milk, but I haven’t tried that yet. I don’t have many opportunities to decorate cookies…don’t dare have homemade cookies in my house without an audience to eat them. May give it a try around Christmas time.

    And, yes. Yummy taste rules! Second (or first) to a beautiful food presentation.

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