If you want to decorate cookies but don’t have the time or inclination to roll and shape and bake the cookies, buy plain store bought cookies like Salerno Butter Cookies, Ginger Snaps or Nilla Wafers and decorate those.
Here’s a Salerno Butter Cookie dressed up as a wreath using Royal Icing.
Update: I had mentioned this to Kate in an email, but should post it here too. You don’t have to be afraid of Royal Icing anymore! (Raw egg whites) Better’n’Eggs (and other brands including store brands) have pasteurized egg whites in a milk carton. 1/3 cup = 2 large egg whites. You can make as much Royal Icing as you like, and use what’s left over for healthy egg white omelettes. The nice thing about this is that there is no yolk waste.
1 pound powdered sugar
1/3 cup egg whites (or two egg whites)
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar (helps to bind the egg whites)
2 teaspoons of water
Mix it all in a mixer. You can make different consistencies. add some more powdered sugar to make it a bit firmer (good for the green on the above cookies, for using a star tip for Santa’s beard, the fur on his coat and hat, etc.) If you want to cover a cookie in icing, use a round tip and draw a line around the outside, then use slightly more watery icing to fill in. The icing will spread out, but won’t go over the side because of the icing dam. A toothpick dipped into food coloring can be used to “draw” features in newly poured icing (works well with white).
Try to use gel coloring if possible (Wilton makes this) but you can use the liquid drops from the supermarket. If you do, it will thin the icing so be prepared to add a little more powdered sugar if you want firmer icing.
Royal icing can be kept in sealed plastic containers at room temperature for days. Mix different colors in different containers. If you don’t have cake decorating tools, you can still pipe icing dams using a plastic sandwich bag with a low corner just nipped off.