February 5, 2015

How to Host a Valentine's Day Cookie Decorating Party

Baking has never been my area of giftedness. I love to cook, and feel like I'm pretty good at it (mostly), but practically every recipe I've ever attempted that involved baking was a disaster. I think it has to do with the fact that baking is more of a science and I don't like to follow recipes.

But I do enjoy the creative aspect of baking. I think it stems from my great-grandmother who baked and decorated beautiful celebration cakes for many years. Once she let me decorate a doll cake (where the doll's dress was the cake) and I was mesmerized by the piping bags and how the perfect streams of icing flowed out them, creating little squiggly lines and flowers.

Today I'm joining my friends at Knoxville's WTNZ-Fox43 to talk about Valentine's Day. But since baking up beautiful and delicious treats isn't my specialty, I had another idea. What if you could take the pressure off yourself, avoid the baking and just get to do the fun part: decorating!

I'm sharing my idea for hosting a Valentine's Day cookie decorating party using your favorite store-bought cookies. It might seem like cheating and if you're a baker extraordinaire, this might not appeal to you. But I think it combines my favorite things: an easy project + getting to be creative.

To host a Valentine's Day Cookie Decorating Party of your own, you might need:

- Cookies (of course!)
- Frosting (white)
- Food coloring (to tint the icing)
- Chocolate chips (for melting or decorating)
- Sprinkles, nonpareils, jimmies, colored sugar, etc.
- Candy (whatever you want)

It's really all about letting your creativity run wild. And with the cookies as your canvas, how can you go wrong?

For this cookie creation, I started with some chocolate chip cookies (from the grocery store bakery). I found some neon pink frosting (or you could get white and do a custom tint with food coloring) and spread it thickly between two cookies. Then I rolled the edges in sprinkles. Pop it on a skewer for a cute cookie pop or into a cellophane bag. Tie it up with ribbon and it's an instant Valentine's Day treat.

For something a little bit more fancy, you might want to create tuxedo cookies. I started with the grocery store equivalent of Thin Mints (grasshopper cookies?), and piped a line of white frosting down the center. The sugar bows were found in the cake decorating section of my grocery store. See how the white frosting makes the shirt and the cookie is the jacket? Too cute! 

Another easy cookie to decorate is the humble Oreo. I dipped some in white chocolate (tinted pink) and gave them a sprinkling of gold sugar. I think it has an elegant look, don't you? 

This was such a fun project because it let me get creative, but I didn't feel any pressure to actually bake anything. I think I'm onto something. 

Valentine's Day is just around the corner and it's such a fun holiday because it lets us celebrate love! Don't get stuck in a rut of boring candy or feel like you have to spend a ton of money to make someone feel special. DIY some decorated cookies as gifts or even invites a few friends over to decorate cookies together!