If decorating cookies is part of your holiday tradition, perhaps this is the year to step up your game with a new technique. Marian, cookie decorating expert and author of the blog Sweetopia, shares a new tutorial that will help make your cookie plate extra special. Follow her easy steps and master the art of marbling (also called feathering or swirling).

To marble, you simply add one or more colors of icing to a base coat and then drag a toothpick through the icing to create a marbled effect. Sounds easy, right? It is!

If you’ve tried cookies like these before you know how simple they are to make, and if you haven’t, you’re about to find out just how easy they are to create. Check out the gallery for step-by-step decorating instructions.

Marbled Ornament Gingerbread Cookies

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 30 cookies

Serving Size: 1 cookie

Marbled Ornament Gingerbread Cookies

Ingredients

    For the cookies:
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoons ground cloves
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 6 1/2 cups (800 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder*
  • For the royal icing:
  • 3/4 cup (6 ounces) warm water
  • 5 tablespoons meringue powder (if not vanilla flavored, add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 2 1/4 pounds (about 5 2/3 cups) powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon clear vanilla extract**
  • For decorating:
  • Christmas ornament cookie cutters
  • Piping bags
  • Piping bag couplers
  • #2 piping tips
  • Icing bag ties or rubber bands
  • Toothpicks
  • Food gel coloring
  • Ribbon

Directions

Gingerbread Cookies

In bowl of electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and brown sugar on medium speed until fluffy. Mix in spices, then eggs and molasses. Reduce speed to low.

In separate bowl, whisk together flour, salt and baking powder. Add to butter mixture, and mix until just combined. Form dough into disk shape and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until cold, about 1 hour.

Roll out dough on lightly floured work surface or between 2 sheets of parchment paper to about 1/4-inch thick.

Cut shapes out with cookie cutters and cut a small hole in the top of each cookie for ribbon.

Place cookies approximately 2 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.

Refrigerate until firm; at least 15 minutes to 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake cookies until lightly golden; 12 to 14 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks.

*Omit baking powder if you do not want cookies to spread/rise.

Royal Icing

In bowl of electric mixer, add warm water and meringue powder (and clear vanilla extract if necessary. Whisk by hand until frothy and thickened, about 30 seconds. Add cream of tartar and mix for 30 seconds more.

Add all powdered sugar at once. Using paddle attachment on lowest speed, mix slowly for a 10 minutes. Icing will become thick and creamy. Tint with food colorings or thin icing with small amounts of warm water to reach the desired consistency.

Decorating Instructions

1. Once you have your cookies baked and icing made, it’s time to begin by piping your outline. Use a piping bag fitted with a coupler and #2 tip.

2. Let the outline dry for a few minutes to create a solid border. You’ll be able to see the border somewhat when the icing dries, so alternately you could fill or flood your cookie in right after piping the outline.

3. Once you’ve filled the whole cookie in, shake it gently left to right on your work surface, to help smooth the icing out.

4. Add your second (or more) layer or color of icing. Work as quickly as you can before the icing sets.

5. Take a toothpick and drag it through the icing, drawing S-like shapes. Each combination of colors creates another look. Just by changing the way you set up your lines and drag the toothpick, completely different designs emerge.

6. Once the marbled icing has had time to set (at least 15 minutes), pipe the grey icing at the top of the ornament. Let that set and pipe a few line details.

Happy decorating!

Note: You can also use Sugar Cookies or Chocolate Shortbread Cookies.

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