Here's something special for Food section readers this year, designed by Raeanne Hytone of Raebakes.com: her step-by-step directions, with full-size templates, for three edible gingerbread ornaments. When we asked Hytone to estimate how long these cookies take to decorate, she demurred: "It seems like a long time, but not everyone will do all parts of the designs. There is a lot of drying time involved. Just have fun!" We did.
- Baked, cooled cookies in two consistencies: "outline" and "fill" (see recipe)
- Gel paste coloring (black, red, green, yellow or golden yellow)
- Disposable pastry bags, tips and couplers (optional)
- Toothpicks or a small paintbrush
- Small squirt bottles (4 inches tall; 1 per fill color)
- Wire racks and/or baking sheets, for drying
- Dragees (gold, silver, pearl)
- Ribbons for hanging cookie ornaments
Drying time for outline icing should be at least 10 minutes if filling with the same color, 30 minutes If filling with a contrasting color. For fillicing, allow to dry for several hours or overnight.
1. Make white, red, black, green and white outline icings; place in separate pastry bags fitted with small tips.
2. Make black, white, pale yellow, green and red fill icings; place in separate squirt bottles.
3. Use white outline icing to draw the outline of the roof line, top of the chimney, two stairs, door frame and large window frame (for window and door frames, use 2 thin lines drawn next to each other, or use a larger tip and make a single line.)
4. Use red outline icing to draw bricks on the chimney.
5. Use black outline icing to draw the sign, planters, tree trunks and a vertical line to make the double front doors.
6. Use green outline icing to draw two trees.
7. Use black fill icing to fill the sign and planters.
8. Use white fill icing to fill the roof line, top of the chimney and stairs. (Fill one stair step and let dry a little before filling the second stair step.)
9. Use pale yellow icing to fill the large window. For the disco ball, use tweezers to carefully place a large silver dragee near the top of the window directly onto the wet icing.
10. Use green fillicing to fill the trees. Use tweezers to carefully place tiny gold dragees for lights directly on the wet icing.
11. Use red fillicing to fill the front doors. Use tweezers to carefully place a tiny gold dragee doorknob directly on the wet icing. (Fill one door and let dry a little before repeating for the second door.)
12. Use white outline icing to write SNOWDUST BALLROOM on the sign and to draw the stem for the disco ball (use the fi nest tip you can, preferably size 0).
13. Use black outline icing to draw silhouettes of gingerbread dancers in the window. Add tiny amounts of black fillicing with a toothpick as necessary.
14. Use white outline icing to "glue" gold dragees to the roof line as lights.
1. Make red, black and white outline icings; place in separate pastry bags with small tips.
2. Make red fill icing and place in squirt bottle; have ready the small pearl dragees.
3. Use red outline icing to draw the outline of the dress and to draw her smile.
4. Use red fill icing to fill the dress; let dry for several hours.
5. Once dress is dry, use black outline icing to draw hair and eyelashes.
6. Use white outline icing to "glue" edible pearls or dragees to make the earrings and necklace.
7. Use black fill icing in a squirt bottle or pastry bag fitted with a very small tip to make dots for eyes.
1. Make black and red outline icings; place in separate pastry bags fitted with small tips.
2. Make black and white fill icings; place in separate squirt bottles.
3. Use black outline icing to draw the outline for the pants and bow tie; use it to draw the hair.
4. Use black fill icing to fill in the tie and pants; let dry for several hours or overnight.
5. Use black fill icing to make dots for eyes; add a dot at the center of the bow tie.
6. Use white fill icing to make 3 buttons.
7. Use red outline icing to draw the smile.
Our four experts answer your questions on ingredients, baking, decorating and storing.