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Every week, baking expert Alice Medrich will be going rogue on Food52 -- with shortcuts, hacks, and game-changing recipes.
Today: Of course Alice decorates her holiday cookies with straight chocolate. She really does know best.
I confess that don’t like cookie icing. Even when my daughter was a toddler and later when I supervised elementary school cookie decorating for her classmates, we used melted chocolate to decorate cookies instead of icing. Real chocolate: dark, milk, or white! If you insist on colors, you can tint white chocolate with oil-based candy coloring that is meant for chocolate. But the cookies will be plenty colorful from the candies and sprinkles that are stuck onto the chocolate anyway! The beauty of using chocolate instead of icing is that the cookies always taste great, even when the kids (or grown-ups) inevitably over-decorate them.
All you need is melted chocolate (not chocolate chips because they don’t melt well), lots of colored sugars, sprinkles, silver shot, candy pearls, mini M&Ms etc., and ziplock bags (or very small disposable icing bags or paper cornets).
Have little bowls of decorations available for sprinkling over the cookies after the chocolate is piped on. Spoon melted chocolate it into the ziplock bags, zip them closed, and snip the tip to make a very small opening -- not so much that the chocolate flows out too fast. If working with little kids, you might want to use rubber bands to keep the chocolate concentrated in the corner of the bags.
If chocolate sets or gets congealed in the bags, rewarm them with a hairdryer or very carefully in a microwave on low for a few seconds at a time.
Leave decorated cookies on a rack until the chocolate is dry and set; this takes a while, but the cookies are stackable once dry.
Alice's new book Seriously Bitter Sweet is a complete revision of her IACP award-winning Bittersweet, updated for the 54%, 61%, and 72% (and beyond) bars available today. It's packed with tricks, techniques, and answers to every chocolate question, plus 150 seriously delicious recipes -- both savory and sweet.
Photos by James Ransom