Monday, September 27, 2010

Rangoli Decorated Sugar Cookies

I recently joined a group of very creative and enthusiastic bakers called ' The Daring Bakers '. Every month you are supposed to create something new based on who is hosting that month. The September 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mandy of “What the Fruitcake?!” Mandy challenged everyone to make Decorated Sugar Cookies based on recipes from Peggy Porschen and The Joy of Baking.

I was so excited as I love sugar cookies as much as my five year old. Mandy requested that we use her sugar cookie recipe, which I have written below. I have also posted two different royal icing recipes; one using meringue powder ( the one I used ) and one using fresh egg whites ( recipe provided by Mandy ). The cookies are really great to decorate. They taste good and maintain their shape during baking and also are not very fragile. I rolled my cookies to 1/4 " thickness and baked for 11 minutes,and they came out great.

The theme of my cookies are Rangolis. September marks the advent of our major festivals and it continues throughout the fall season. Rangolis are generally drawn outside the main entrance of the home, but during the festival season the Rangolis become even more colorful and intricate. I thought it would be a good idea to make Rangoli cookies to give as gifts during this season. I really enjoyed making them. This is my first attempt at decorating cookies with royal icing so please bear with me. My only tip is to let the outline dry before filling in the colors. I used the Wilton Gel Icing Colors ; the Red ( no taste), Royal Blue, Kelly Green, Buttercup Yellow, Pink, Violet and Orange. The way I did it was that I first outlined the base and let it dry overnight. Next day I outlined the design and let it dry for a couple of hours and then lastly I added the color and let the whole thing dry for another 12 hours.

Rangoli Decorated Sugar Cookie


For the Sugar Cookie

200g / 7oz / ½ cup + 6 Tbsp Unsalted Butter, at room temperature
400g / 14oz / 3 cups + 3 Tbsp All Purpose / Plain Flour
200g / 7oz / 1 cup Caster Sugar / Superfine Sugar
1 Large Egg, lightly beaten
5ml / 1 tsp Vanilla Extract / Or seeds from 1 vanilla bean

For the Royal Icing

4 cups powdered sugar / icing sugar, sieved
2 tbsp meringue powder
6 tbsp water


For the Sugar Cookie

• Cream together the butter, sugar and any flavourings you’re using. Beat until it just becomes creamy in texture.

( Tip: Don’t over mix otherwise you’ll incorporate too much air and the cookies will spread during baking, losing their shape ).

• Beat in the egg until well combined, make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the sifted flour and mix on low until a non sticky dough forms.

• Knead into a ball and divide into 2 or 3 pieces.

• Roll out each portion between parchment paper to a thickness of about 5mm/1/5 inch (0.2 inch)

• Refrigerate for a minimum of 30mins.

( Tip: Recipes commonly just wrap the whole ball of dough in clingwrap and then refrigerate it for an hour or overnight, but by rolling the dough between parchment, this shortens the chilling time and then it’s also been rolled out while still soft making it easier and quicker ).

• Once chilled, peel off parchment and place dough on a lightly floured surface.

• Cut out shapes with cookie cutters or a sharp knife.

• Arrange shapes on parchment lined baking sheets and refrigerate for another 30mins to an hour.

( Tip: It’s very important you chill them again otherwise they’ll spread while baking ).

• Re-roll scraps and follow the above process until all scraps are used up.

• Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C Fan Assisted) / 350°F / Gas Mark 4.

• Bake until golden around the edges, about 8-15mins depending on the size of the cookies.

 (Tip: Bake same sized cookies together otherwise mixing smaller with larger cookies could result in some cookies being baked before others are done ).

• Leave to cool on cooling racks.

• Once completely cooled, decorate as desired.

( Tip: If wrapped in tinfoil/cling wrap or kept in airtight containers in a cool place, un-decorated cookies can last up to a month.)

For the Royal Icing

  • Add the meringue powder to the sugar and mix well. Now add the water and beat till it all comes together.
       ( Tip : Do not over beat as you do not want air bubbles forming in the icing ).
  • Cover with cling wrap and store in an air tight container at room temperature till ready for icing. This icing hardens when it comes in contact with air. I find this consistency just right for piping the outlines. For flooding within add a little more water to make it thinner. Add the appropriate colors put in piping bags and decorate as desired.

Alternate Recipe for Royal Icing

315g – 375g / 11oz – 13oz / 2½ - 3 cups Icing / Confectioner’s / Powdered Sugar, unsifted
2 Large Egg Whites
10ml / 2 tsp Lemon Juice
5ml / 1 tsp Almond Extract, optional


• Beat egg whites with lemon juice until combined.

(  Tip: It’s important that the bowls/spoons/spatulas and beaters you use are thoroughly cleaned and grease free ).

• Sift the icing sugar to remove lumps and add it to the egg whites.

( Tip: I’ve listed 2 amounts of icing sugar, the lesser amount is good for a flooding consistency, and the larger amount is for outlining, but you can add even more for a much thicker consistency good for writing. If you add too much icing sugar or would like to make a thinner consistency, add very small amounts of water, a few drops at a time, until you reach the consistency you need ).

• Beat on low until combined and smooth.

• Use immediately or keep in an airtight container.

(Tip: Royal Icing starts to harden as soon as it’s in contact with air so make sure to cover containers with plastic wrap while not in use ).

Decorating Your Cookies: Royal Icing

The most important thing when it comes to decorating with Royal Icing is the consistency. There are two ways of flooding your cookies. Some like to do the outline with a thicker icing and then flood with a thinner icing. Some like to use the same icing to do both which saves time and you don’t have to have two different piping bags for each colour you’re using.

The Same Consistency Method

• Mix your royal icing according to the recipe/instructions.

• Drag a knife through the surface of the Royal Icing and count to 10.

• If the surface becomes smooth between 5 & 10 seconds, the icing is at the correct consistency.

 ( Tip: If your icing is too thick, thin it by adding a few drops of water. Mix, do the 10 second test, then if it’s still too thick, add a few more drops of water, repeat, etc ).

 ( Tip: To thicken your icing, add small amounts of icing sugar until thick enough for the 10 second test ).

Two Different Consistencies Method

• Mix your royal icing according to the recipe/instructions.

• Separate into 2 different bowls, one lot of icing for outlining, the other for flooding.

• For the outlining icing, drag a knife through the surface of the Royal Icing.

• If the surface becomes smooth at around 10 seconds, the icing is at the correct consistency.

 ( Tip: If your icing is too thick, thin it by adding a few drops of water. Mix, count to 10 seconds, then if it’s still too thick, add a few more drops of water, repeat, etc ).

 ( Tip: To thicken your icing, add small amounts of icing sugar until thick enough for the 10 second test ).

• For the flooding/filling icing, drag a knife through the surface of the Royal Icing.

• If the surface becomes smooth at around 3-4 seconds, the icing is at the correct consistency.

 ( Tip: If your icing is too thick, thin it by adding a few drops of water. Mix, count to 3-4 seconds, then if it’s still too thick, add a few more drops of water, repeat, etc ).

 ( Tip: To thicken your icing, add small amounts of icing sugar until thick enough for the 3-4 second test ).


• Separate Royal Icing into separate bowls for each colour you plan on using.

 ( Tip: Make sure to cover the bowls with cling film or a damp cloth to prevent the top from setting and then making lumps ).

• Using a toothpick, add gel or paste colouring to each bowl and mix thoroughly until desired colour is reached

 ( Tip: You can use liquid food colouring but you might not be able to get the desired strength of colour, liquid colouring will also thin out the icing so you’ll need to add more icing sugar to thicken it again ).

Prepping and Filling Your Bag

• Attach your icing tips to the piping bags using couplers.

 ( Tip: You don’t need to use a coupler but it makes it easier if you want to change tip sizes ).

 ( Tip: A size 1 tip is best for doing intricate details. A size 2 tip is good for some details and outlining. Fill or flood with sizes 2 – 5 ).

 ( Tip: You don’t need a piping bag, you can use a parchment cone or ziplock bag with a tiny bit snipped off the corner. I would however recommend getting a piping set if you don’t have one as it will be much easier and more precise ).

• Stand the piping bags in glasses with the tops of the bags folded over the top of the glass.

• Fill your icing bags with each coloured icing.

• Tie the ends of the piping bags with elastic bands.

Decorating: Outlining

• Fit the piping bag with a size 2 or 3 tip.

 ( Tip: Or snip a very small bit of the corner off of a parchment cone or Ziploc bag ).

• Hold the piping bag at a 45 degree angle above the cookie where you want to start the outline.

• Gently squeeze the piping bag and start moving in the direction you want to outline the cookie.

• Start lifting the piping bag away from the cookie so that the flow of icing falls onto the cookie, making it an even and neater outline.

• As you start to reach the beginning of the outline, bring the piping tip closer to the surface of the cookie to meet the start of the icing outline.

 (Tip: If you’re doing an intricate cookie, like a snow flake, you won’t be able to lift the tip as far away from the cookie ).

• If you’re doing a different colour border, e.g. a black border, let the outline dry before flooding. If using the same colour for the outline as you’re flooding with, begin flooding after doing the outline.

Decorating: Flooding

• Fit the piping bag with a size 2-5 tip, the bigger the area being filled, the bigger the tip.

( Tip: Or cut slightly more off the corner of a Ziploc bag to create a slightly larger opening ).

• Quickly zigzag back and forth over the area you want to fill.

 ( Tip: You need to be quick when flooding the cookie so don’t worry too much if it’s not filled in neatly ).

• Using a toothpick or clean paintbrush, push the icing around into the gaps that are still remaining.

• Either pick up the cookie and tip it from side to side to even out the filling, or lightly bang the cookie down on your kitchen counter.

Decorating: On top of flooding

• If you’d like to do other patterns/outlines or writing on top of the flooded surface so that they are raised above the flooded background, simply allow the icing to dry, preferably over night.

• Fit the piping bag with tip sizes 1-3.

• Pipe patterns or write on top of the dry icing

 ( Tip: For writing, the consistency of your icing should be thicker rather than thinner, drag a knife through your icing and when the surface smooths around 12-15 seconds, the consistency is correct ).

Packaging and Storing

• Once fully decorated, allow cookies to dry for 24 hours in a cool and dry area.

• Stack cookies in an airtight container, from largest cookies at the bottom, to smallest and more intricate at the top, with parchment or wax free paper in between the layers.

• Store in a cool and dry area with the container’s lid firmly sealed.

• Will last for about a month if stored this way.

General Royal Icing Tips

• Keep a damp cloth handy while decorating your cookies so that if you’re switching between different icing bags, you can keep the tips covered with the damp cloth so that the icing doesn’t dry and clog them.

• If your icing tips do clog, use a toothpick or pin to unclog them.

• Always pipe a little bit of royal icing onto a board/paper towel before you begin to make sure there are no air bubbles.

• Remember to always cover bowls containing royal icing wither cling wrap, a damp cloth or sealable lid so that the surface doesn’t dry.

• Don’t store anything decorated with royal icing in the fridge otherwise the royal icing will become tacky.

I am sending this recipe to Mehjabeen's blog for the Iftar Nights event. Thanks for hosting the event. Also to the Diwali event hosted by Anu's Healthy Kitchen


  1. You have decorated your cookies so beautifully! I imagine they would have been much appreciated by the recipients!

  2. Those are beautiful cookies! I love the colors you used, they are so pretty, congratulations on this challenge!

  3. This is a true work of art! Amazing cookies!

  4. Thank you so much Renata, chef_d and Marcellina, you are all so kind.

  5. Waow, your rangoli cookies are beautiful! It is such a brilliant ideas! It is my first time on your blog and I am glad to have discovered it through the Daring Bakers!

  6. So pretty and intricate! Beautiful job!

  7. Those are absolutely gorgeous! And I love the originality of your idea for them. Welcome to the DBs. I look forward to your future posts.

  8. These are fabulous cookies! Welcome to the Daring Bakers--I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. I love the name of your blog--I put cardamom in almost everything!

  9. Wow! What gorgeous cookies! I think they look too beautiful to actually eat. :)

  10. So intricate and beautifully decorated. Lovely work Renuka! Leigh

  11. Thanks for dropping by. Your cookies are beautiful. loved your choice of colors. good job!

  12. Ciao! Thank you for visiting my blog!
    I love your cookies as well, and I'm so happy your son loved mine! Tell me how they get!
    Have a wonderful day!

  13. Hi,

    Gorgeous amazing the rangoli idea!!


  14. So classic and geometric shapes! Also well done for the impressive and neat presentation.

  15. Welcome to DB! For me, this is the best part, to see other bakers work, find news blogs, and know other culture! Rangoli it's a very beautiful tradition! I love your idea!


    Those are absolutely gorgeous!!
    How did you do them so neat??
    Congratulations and welcome to DB!! :)

  17. Rangoli cookies luk gud...Loved the way u decorated them....u have a lovely blog space too..

  18. Your cookies turned out gorgeous! Thanks for posting on my blog. Can't wait to do the next Daring Bakers!!

  19. height of creativity!!!! too good, these cookies look so pretty that one would think twice before eating them, and i bet they would be delicious too..... bbeeaauuttiiffuull

  20. I love these, like mosaic tiles! Such lovely colors, too. =)

  21. Thank you guys, really appreciate all the support.

  22. Lovely cookies, the vibrancy of colours against the white icing looks stunning!

  23. perfectly decorated...awesome your blog..first time here..

  24. These are seriously beautiful....& learnt a lot of tips too...thanks for sharing (first time here)

  25. OMG so very very Beautifull............ Totally impressedddddddd!!