Brush embroidery is a fundamental cookie decorating technique made to look like lace embroidery. This intimidating-looking technique is in fact incredibly easy. You almost can’t fail! All you need are some basic cookie decorating skills and a paintbrush.
Learn how to do brush embroidery for glamorous, impressive cookies!
What you need:
- Baked, shaped sugar cookies
- Fondant or royal icing to cover your cookie
- Royal icing for the brush embroidery
- Piping bags
- Round piping tip No. 2 or No. 3
- Small round or square-tipped paintbrush
- Small bowl with water or a damp cloth
- Small non-stick roller
- Floral template of your choice
- See-through baking paper or tracing paper
- Soft pencil
- Edible gold luster dust
- Vodka, lemon extract or piping gel
- Silicone mold
Make, cut and bake the cookies according to your recipe directions. You can use the brush embroidery technique on any cookie shape, but I like to start out on simple round cookies.
Before moving on, make sure the cookie covering has set completely. You’ll need a sturdy surface to make the brush embroidery work.
Step 3 (optional):
You can absolutely freehand your piping, but if you prefer to work off a template, now is the time to get it set up.
Choose and print a flower design that’s about the same size or slightly bigger than the cookie (it’s OK if it runs off the edges). Trace the template onto see-through baking paper or tracing paper with a pencil.
Turning the traced design over so that the pencil lines are on the surface of the fondant (don’t worry, graphite is non-toxic). Scratch the back of the pencil drawing with the pencil to transfer the lines to cookie.
Fill a piping bag fitted with a small round piping tip with medium to stiff consistency royal icing.
Pipe a smooth line of the icing by first touching the tip of the bag onto the surface of the cookie to anchor the icing. Squeeze out a tiny bulb of icing and while applying steady pressure on the bag, lift the icing string that forms and pull the icing line to follow your template or create a shape.
When nearing the end of the design, lower the line slightly and place the line onto the cookie by stopping the pressure and putting the bag against the cookie to end the line. Lift the bag away from the surface.
Tip: When piping a brushed embroidery design, always pipe one line at a time (such as the outline of a petal or leaf). Brush the icing with a paintbrush before moving on to the next part of the design.
If you’re unsure about piping straight lines, instead pipe wriggly lines. Keep the piping tip on the surface of the fondant and then make tiny side-to-side movements with the bag while squeezing out icing.
Dampen a small round or square-tipped paintbrush in a small bowl of water. Dry off any excess moisture.
Use the brush to pull the icing inward toward the center of the design, leaving the outside edges of the icing intact.
If you start to struggle or the brush clogs up, just dampen your paintbrush again. Be careful not to wet the brush too much, as water will liquefy the icing and it will look smudged rather than brushed.
The same technique applies to the wriggly lines.
Step 6 (optional):
Wait at least an hour for the icing to dry. As an optional extra, you can paint the brushed embroidery details with gold. Mix edible gold luster dust with vodka, lemon extract or piping gel to make paint and paint it on the design with a small paintbrush.
Step 7 (optional):
Brush embroidery doesn’t have to be used alone! You can add a piped border, other piped details or even molded royal icing to add final details.
I find brushed embroidery is much easier to apply than it looks and can be used on cookies, cakes or cupcake toppers. How will you be using this technique?
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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in October 2015 and was updated in February 2018.