Back-to-School Cookie Decorating

Another school year is upon us. Whatever your new normal looks like these days, a batch or two of these back-to-school cookies will surely brighten your students’ day. Enjoy these cookies at home, pack them in lunch boxes, or even gift them to teachers and classmates!


Before We Begin, Here’s What You and Your Little Bakers Should Know About Sugar…

Sugar cookies are a soft, chewy classic that never gets old. While sugar plays an obvious role in the sweet sugar cookie flavor that we all know and love, this key ingredient also has some not-so-obvious functions. Sugar makes cookies brown and gives them their crisp texture. It also locks in moisture to keep the cookies soft and moist.


Sugar is also key to the icing recipe below. This icing uses confectioners’ sugar, or powdered sugar. Its powdery texture helps achieve smoothness in sweets such as icing and frosting.


These back-to-school cookies take some time, but the finished results are so worth the wait. Let’s get started!

Tools You’ll Need

Sugar Cookies



  1. Combine the ingredients to prepare one batch of sugar cookie dough. Form the dough into a large disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
  2. Place the chilled dough on a flat, lightly floured work surface. Use a rolling pin to spread and flatten out the dough until it is about ¼-inch thick.
  3. Using the apple, pencil, and rectangle (notebook paper sheets) cookie cutters, cut the dough into shapes. If the dough sticks to the cutters, dip them in flour and continue cutting out cookies. Roll the remaining dough out and cut into shapes again. Discard any excess. The dough should yield five to seven of each cookie cutter shape.
  4. Transfer the cookie cutouts to two or three sheet pans lined with parchment paper or silicone mats. Place the sheet pans in the refrigerator for 20 minutes to chill.
  5. Preheat the oven to 325°F while the dough chills.
  6. Remove the pans from the refrigerator and immediately bake the cookies for 8 to 10 minutes, depending on the dough’s thickness. The baked cookies will be pale white and soft to the touch. Remove the pans from the oven. Leave the cookies on the pans for 1 minute and then transfer them to wire racks. Cool completely.




  1. Sift the confectioners’ sugar and cream of tartar together. Transfer to the bowl of a mixer.
  2. With the mixer running on low speed, gradually add the egg whites until incorporated. Increase the mixer speed to medium-high, and continue to mix until the ingredients are well blended. The mixture will thicken and form smooth glossy peaks that hold their shape.
  3. Add just a few drops of food coloring at a time to achieve the desired color.
  4. Add a few drops of water at a time to adjust the icing to the desired consistency.
  5. Cover the icing with plastic wrap and let it rest for 30 minutes. Air bubbles will rise to the surface. Stir the icing until all air bubbles disappear.
  6. Spoon the icing into piping bags fitted with the desired tips. DECORATE! Cover unused icing with plastic wrap to prevent hardening.

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