These simple, yet elegant Hand Painted Thank You Cookies are made with a buttery, chewy sugar cookie base, topped with vanilla royal icing and hand painted with food color. They are a thoughtful and beautiful way to say thank you to someone special.
I love Jane Austen. I’ve read all of her books from cover to cover more than a dozen time. I’ve also watched pretty much every screen adaptation of her stories – everything from BBC to Hollywood. And every time, I read or see her work, I fall in love with it all over again. Pride and Prejudice will always be included in my list of all-time favorite books. As a matter of fact, I love it so much that it was the first book I read aloud to my daughters. When each of them was born, and I would feed them for what felt like forever, I read Pride and Prejudice out loud to them. Yes, there were barely 2 weeks old by the time I finished reading them the story, but nevertheless, it was the first book they ever heard.
So what exactly does Jane Austen have to do with these Hand Painted Thank You Cookies? Well, if you’ve ever seen the Hollywood version of Emma, the opening credits include a hand painted cast of characters. While Emma is probably my least favorite Austen story, I’ve always wanted to make cookies in the style of those paintings.
So, when I was brainstorming ideas for my older daughter’s teachers’ gifts at the end of the year, I thought about the paintings from that movie. I knew I wanted the cookies to be light, airy, girly, and just plain pretty. That’s how I came up with these Hand Painted Thank You Cookies.
These cookies may remind you of the Decorated Chalkboard Cookies for Teacher Appreciation I made a few weeks ago. Those were for my pre-schooler’s teachers. For my older daughter, I wanted something just as personal, but a little less heavy. Something that conveyed the lightness and brightness of summer finally starting.
These Hand Painted Thank You Cookies start off with my sugar cookie recipe. Once I baked off 3 1/2 inch circles, I frosted them with plain, untinted royal icing. Then, using a thin paint brush that I use exclusively for food, I diluted some gel food color, and painted each of the cookies.
I’m happy with the way they turned out, but I have a feeling that I’ll be trying a whole lot more hand painting before I feel completely satisfied! But hey, practice makes perfect (or closer to perfect). I’m already trying to figure out what type of cookie I can hand paint next. If you have any ideas, I’d love to hear suggestions in the comments below!
- For the Sugar Cookies
- 1 cup, unsalted butter, softened
- 1½ cups confectioners’ sugar
- 1 large egg at room temperature
- 1 tbs good quality vanilla extract
- 2½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp salt
- For the Royal Icing:
- 5 tbs meringue powder
- ¾ cups water
- 1 tbs good quality vanilla extract
- Avacado Green AmeriColor Food Gel
- Deep Pink AmeriColor Food Gel
- Electric Purple AmeriColor Food Gel
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- In a large bowl, sift the all-purpose flour and salt. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar.
- Once fluffy, add the egg and vanilla. Mix until just combined.
- Add the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined.
- Place the dough in a bowl, and allow it to rest for about 15 minutes. Do NOT refrigerate this dough. The cookies must be rolled out and baked right after the dough is made.
- Line sheet pans with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
- Lightly flour a work surface and roll the dough out to about ¼ inch thickness. Cut out desired shapes and bake for about 7 to 8 minutes. If you’d like soft cookies, make sure that the cookies do not brown.
- Once the cookies are baked, allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheets for about 5 minutes. Then transfer the cookies to a cooling rack to cool completely.
- In the bowl of a mixer place the meringue powder and water. Whisk by hand for a few minutes until the powder is dissolved and the mixture bubbles.
- Add the vanilla and hand whisk for an additional minute.
- Place the bowl in the mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.
- Add all the confectioners’ sugar at once.
- Mix on medium speed for about 5 to 7 minutes. You know the mixture is ready when it’s white, fluffy, and stiff enough to hold peaks.
- Using a piping bag fitted with a #2 round tip, I outlined and flooded the cookie with the untinted royal icing.
- I set the cookies to dry completely (at least 3 hours).
- Once completely dry, I placed a drop of pink gel food color on a ceramic plate. Using a very thin paintbrush reserved only for food, I diluted the pink food color. Freehand, I painted each of the words (teachers’ names and thank you).
- Once the text was dry, I went back, using the same watered-down food color method, I painted the vines in green. Followed by a few flowers in purple food gel.
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