Because this method is rather tedious, this is something that you might want to begin at least a minimum of 3 days out from an event you would want to display these for. (That time frame includes baking your cookies.)
Also, because of all of the prep and supplies involved, you may want to plan out ahead of time what your end result may be. In the case of the above cookies pictured, I included one style that I had done for a Catholic School Graduation, in which the base icing was stenciled, dusted with gold pearl dust, with a fondant cross and sugar pearls for accent. (No stamping involved in that one, so it was a bit more basic.)
The second style that I have pictured were cookies for a "Fairy tale" themed party. Watercolor media for the base, with a stenciled royal icing design, gel stamped images, and molded fondant shapes. The stamping is very tricky, and is not always perfect in outcome- but that's ok because art isn't always perfection in a sense! In order not to drag this tutorial out, I will try to simplify this method as much as possible, and because the amounts will vary based on how many you're doing, I will just include the items needed to make your creations!
***NOTE: Because we are working with food items, I have added "brand new" for the supplies that would normally be used for craft paints, ink, etc. that are toxic. Never use paint brushes, stamps, etc. for cookies or edible items that have previously been used for standard toxic art projects. We don't want to make anyone sick!
Baked sugar cookies
Brand new paint brushes (various sizes)
brand new paint tray (or, could use disposable plates)
brand new stencils in various designs/ sizes
gel or liquid food color, or cocoa powder
vodka or clear flavored extract
food coloring pens
fondant, marzipan, chocolate wafers (for piping decorations to attach)
silicone molds or gum paste cutters
gel or rubber stamps (brand new)
edible glitter, pearl dust, powdered food color
sugar pearls/ sprinkles
flat spatulas- medium and small
1) Have a plan ahead of time. (Or, at least a main idea of how you would like your cookies to look.)
Make your royal icing, (according to your recipe), color if necessary, and begin with the base ice.
**If using a stencil for the entire base, use a flat spatula to apply the icing over the stencil, and remove excess icing before carefully peeling off stencil.
***Allow icing to dry for about 2-3 hours, (depending on humidity & climate you live in.) Do not refrigerate!!
Place in a cool, dry location.
2) Options: Use stamping at this step, maybe in various colors with word stamps or images.
Or, using a tiny bit of vodka or clear extract, combine with gel or liquid color to get a paint consistency, and brush on the cookie in whatever colors or pattern you wish. Thicker food gel "paint" is needed to brush on the image of the gel or rubber stamps you are using. Always test your stamps on a paper plate first!
****Allow to dry for about 2-3 hours, or until it feels dry to the touch.
3) While paint or stamping step is drying, use this time to mold any fondant or marzipan pieces: various shapes, flowers, etc. that will appropriately work with your design. Allow these pieces some drying time as well before finishing with edible glitter, dust, etc.
Sugar sheets can also be used for finishing! Various patterns are available in stores, or plain as well. Simply use tiny gum paste or cookie cutters to cut out shapes, or plain sheets can be stamped using food gel and ink stamps as well. Lay these pieces flat on a covered sheet tray until ready to use.
4) After base paint on cookie is dry, either stencil more royal icing on at this point, (on a section of the cookie), or using your gel food coloring and rubber or gel stamps, stamp images on cookie.
***Allow to dry for about 2-3 hours.
5) Final step: If using powdered food color or pearl dust for finishing, brush on cookie at this time.
For attaching edible objects:
Using a small amount of royal icing in a piping bag for the "glue", attach any fondant, chocolate, piped royal icing, sugar pearls, sprinkles, sugar sheet pieces, or marzipan shapes where you would like.
***Allow to dry for about 1- 1/2 hours.
Once dry, you are ready to eat or display!! Be sure to send me a pic of your masterpiece!