I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not the best cookie decorator. Despite watching hundreds of cookie decorating videos online (like these gorgeous globe cookies from Taste of Home) the ability to work icing into an avocado or mini succulent has remained a very distant dream.
Fortunately, Taste of Home’s Senior Food Stylist, Shannon Norris, cued me in on her decorating secret: Cookie letter stamps!
Perfect for a birthday party or holiday, these plastic letter stamps let you string together any name, word or phrase and stamp it directly into the cookie dough. That means no more messy cookie decorating sessions filled with sticky royal icing and endless runaway sprinkles. It’s also a great way to get novice bakers, like your kids, in on the decorating game.
Keep reading to get Shannon’s super easy step-by-step instructions for stamped message cookies.
At least I’m not the only one: Here are 9 mistakes almost everyone makes with royal icing (plus how to fix them).
How to Make Stamped Message Cookies
What You’ll Need
- Cookie dough of choice
- Rolling pin
- Cookie cutters
- Baking sheets
- Cookie stamps (we love Dough Cut’s stamps)
Step 1: Prep your cookie dough
To start, mix up a batch of your favorite cookie dough. Shannon’s go-to is a simple butter cookie, like this recipe, but feel free to use any cookie dough you’d like. The stamps’ indents hold up best in study cookie doughs that don’t have leavening agents in them, so double check that the dough you’ve chosen won’t rise too much.
Once your cookie dough of choice is mixed, pop it in your refrigerator and let the dough cool for 30 minutes to an hour. This will make the dough easier to work with and hold it’s shape better.
Step 2: Roll and cut
Preheat your oven to the cookie dough’s direction.
Remove your cookie dough from the fridge and place it between two sheets of parchment paper. Lightly flour the dough to prevent it from sticking to the parchment paper. Then, roll out your dough until it’s a ¼-inch in thickness. If you have a hard time getting consistent thickness when rolling your cookie dough, check out this ¼-inch rolling pin ($21). The indented center makes sure you won’t roll thinner than a ¼-inch, so you can roll along with confidence.
Once rolled, remove the top layer of parchment paper and cut the cookie dough with your preferred cookie cutter shapes. You can go with a standard square or circle, or play to a holiday with a present, stocking or sweater. It’s up to you!
Editor’s tip: If your cookie dough has warmed and you’re having a hard time transferring the cookies to the baking sheet, try using a metal spatula, like this one from Sabatier ($13).
Step 3: Get stampin’
Transfer the cut cookies to a baking sheet and gently brush off any excess flour with a pastry brush. The flour won’t dissipate as the cookies bake, so get as much off as you can.
Now it’s time to stamp! Shannon uses a set of numbers, letters and symbols from Dough Cuts that are threaded onto a handle to form a word, name or phrase. For this set, and most other available online, you’ll want to put the letters in reverse order, so when it’s pressed into the dough the letters are correct. You can always test on a piece of scrap dough first, to make sure the letters are in the right order.
Once you have your stamp put together, gently push it into your uncooked cookie. You’ll want it to push far enough into the dough that the letters make an indentation, but not so much that the handle pushes into the dough, too. Then, gently pull the stamp straight up and out of the dough. Pulling the stamp out on an angle can cause the stamped word to smudge a bit.
Editor’s tip: If you’re doing multiple batches of cookies, you might want to put your cookie dough back in the fridge while you’re stamping. This will help the cookies retain their shape and keep the letters legible.
Step 3: Bake
When all of your cookies are stamped, pop them into the oven and bake them according to the dough’s direction. Once done, remove the cookies from the oven and allow them to cool completely.
Step 4: Enjoy!
You’re all done. Package up your cookies and give them as a birthday, housewarming or holiday gift.
If you can’t stay away from the frosting and sprinkles, feel free to add some additional decoration along the edges of the cookies. Allow any royal icing to dry completely before packing them up, and wrap frosted cookies on a platter rather than packaging them up.