Using Sanding Sugar To Decorate Cookies

Just when you thought cookies could not get any more delightful or delicious, along comes sanding sugar.  This colorful sugar gives cookies, cakes, and other baked goods a lovely sparkle that is perfect for any occasion or holiday.  It can be used to provide all-over color or to emphasize borders or other embellishments.  Here are some tips for using sanding sugar to decorate cookies.  Be warned, though: the cookies will disappear faster than usual.

What is Sanding Sugar?

As any baker knows, sugar is not just sugar.  We have table sugar, confectioners' sugar, brown sugar, coarse sugar, sugar in the raw, sugar substitutes...but sanding sugar is a bit different.  The “grains” are a little larger than those of regular table sugar.  The reason why it is ideal when making decorated cookies is that it does not dissolve when heated, so the crystal, light-reflecting quality remains intact even if you bake the sanding sugar into the cookies.

How to Decorate Cookies with Sanding Sugar

You can use sanding sugar before you bake the cookies and after. If you are making old-fashioned sugar cookies (like the ones here), you can make your dough and form the cookies.  After you have placed them onto a greased or lined baking sheet and flattened them, you can sprinkle the tops with sanding sugar, brush lightly with a web pastry brush (or your fingers, we won't tell!), and then sprinkle more of the sanding sugar.  This creates great, crispy texture on the top that complements the chewy cookie.  You can use white sugar or any of the other great colors available.  Again, baking does not dissolve the sugar but it does melt it a little. The effect is a glittery glow, wonderful color, and fabulous cookies.

If you choose to decorate after the cookies are baked, you have virtually endless options.  A very simple way to decorate is to let the baked cookies cool and then spray the tops with a non-stick cooking spray and then sprinkle.  To make lines or designs, put a spatula or kitchen tool on top of the cookie before you sprinkle your sugar.  Easy, quick, and fun.

If you want to get a little fancier, you'll need some icing.  This is going to act like glue for your sanding sugar, allowing you to create words, shapes, and more on your cookies.  Look here for some inspiration to get you started.  Take your cooled cookie and “flood” it.  This simply means to cover it with icing.

After it dries, use icing (the same color as the sugar works best) and apply it where you want the sugar. For instance, if you're making a smiley face, draw the face and then dip the cookie into a saucer-full of sanding sugar.  Let it dry and then dust off the excess.  You can use multiple colors, just be sure to let each dry before you move on to the next. This takes a little longer but the results are extraordinary – perfect for special occasions or to give out as cookie favors.

Look online for inspiration or let your creative juices flow while you make fantastic, tasty sugar dusted cookies that everyone will love.

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