It’s 3 o’clock in the morning, and the day before Thanksgiving. We have seventy special cake orders to fulfill, fifty cookie cakes to make, and ninety holiday miniature cakes to decorate. We also need to make over a hundred doughnuts, sticky buns, and pastries, a thousand cookies, and petite fours. With the bakery opening in four more hours, What do we do?
Oh the stress!
This was the state of my brain every morning before a major holiday. Too many items to make, not enough hands, and customers buying three items for every one we make. One year, I went to work at midnight on Wednesday morning to help knock out Thanksgiving production. The bakery was always bombarded every holiday, pandemic or not, and we had an arsenal of leftover fall decorations to get rid of before Christmas.
So, I rolled up my sleeves and threw everything but the kitchen sink on my decorated cookie cakes. And… they actually turned out okay! This was the day that I realized how a good plastic plaque, some roses, pumpkins, and edible glitter could transform something as basic as a cookie cake into a festive holiday cookie.
We had hundreds of “Happy Thanksgiving” plaques and a ton of odd fall buttercream colors leftover in buckets. So, here is how I decorated these lovely cookies that sold out in an hour.
BAKE AN 8” COOKIE
If you are short on time or not yet ready to bake your own cookie from scratch, most supermarkets will sell you a plain 8” cookie that you can decorate yourself.
As an alternative, you can also line an 8” cake pan with parchment paper, spray the outsides with non-stick spray, and then press 1 package (16oz) of your favorite refrigerated cookie dough into the pan. You can use the usual baking suspects such as NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE®, Pillsburry™, or Trader Joe’s® Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough. Preheat your oven to 325°F (165°C) and bake the cookie for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown on the edges. Probe the center with a toothpick. If it comes out clean, then the cookie is ready. Allow the cookie to cool for at least 20 minutes.
If you would like to bake the cookie from scratch, try my Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe and bake 16 ounces worth of cookie dough in an oven preheated to 325°F (165°C) for 15 to 18 minutes. Allow the cookie to cool for at least 20 minutes.
Once your choice in cookie has cooled completely, then you are ready to decorate.
SMOOTH THE TOP OF THE COOKIE WITH BUTTERCREAM
First, I put a smooth layer of buttercream over the top of the cookie. You can use your favorite store-bought buttercream, or make Swiss meringue buttercream at home. I recommend using store bought for your first time, only because making Swiss meringue buttercream is a process, and food coloring does not show as well on Swiss meringue buttercream.
AIRBRUSH THE TOP OF THE COOKIE CAKE
I airbrushed the top of each cookie cake using either olive premium airbrush color, sunset orange mixed with golden brown, or sunset orange mixed with super red. I created a gradient effect with the highest concentration of color along the perimeter of the cookie, and the least concentration of color in the center of the cookie.
If you do not own an airbrush, simply smooth down a layer of solid color over your cookie cake.
ADD A BORDER AND VINES
Using a #17 tip, I piped a reverse-e border along the edges of the smooth layer of buttercream. This does two things:
- Cleans up the edges left over from smoothing the buttercream on top of the cake.
- Make the cake aesthetically pleasing.
Using a piping bag filled with grass green buttercream and a #3 tip, I applied pressure to the bag and piped out squiggly vines in a crescent shape.
ADD ROSES, PUMPKINS, AND GLITTER!
To finish, I created pumpkins using a #852 tip, squeezing hard without swirling the tip. I topped the pumpkin with a stem by piping fudge with a #17 tip. I used a #102 rose tip, rose nail, and slim offset spatula to pipe roses between each pumpkin, and finish the crescent shape with rose buds.
To complete the look, I placed a “Happy Thanksgiving” plaque over the center of the cookie cake, and added an explosion of white edible glitter!
I love the colors that fall brings to the baking realm. Autumn is a hyper colorful season with an assortment of beautiful shades ready to inspire your baking decorations.
I hope you enjoyed my Thanksgiving Cookie Cakes! If posts like these reach 100 likes, I will begin to share more constructive cake tutorials!
- 8” Cookie Cake
- DecoPac Premium Gel Colors
- DecoPac Premium Airbrush Colors
- Bakery Crafts White Edible Glitter
- #852 Ateco tip
- # 102 Ateco tip
- # 68 Ateco tip
- #17 Ateco tip
- #4 Ateco tip
- #3 Ateco tip
- Rose Nail
- Slim offset spatula
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