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How to Make a Cookie Stencil

Cookies can be so ornate these days that they are actually works of art. If you are interested in creating your own little artistic masterpieces, consider cookie stenciling. Many stencils can be purchased online or in a kitchen store for cookie baking, but you can also make your own. Heart shaped cookies with the words "I Love You" stenciled across them would make a thoughtful valentine's day cookie bouquet.

It’s labor intensive, but fun to make a cookie stencil. Think of the stencils you used as a kid or stencils you see in art stores. You can, in fact, use any stencil that you find. You just need a clean stencil and a clean X-Acto knife to cut the cookie out.

Start with a sugar cookie dough. It’s best not to use a dough that is store bought. Those doughs are designed for slice and bake recipes. They tend to flatten out and burn in the oven if you try to do anything else with them.

Make your cookie dough batter from your favorite recipe. Then let it chill while you create your stencil.

You’re going to need sheets of acetate or vellum which you can find in office supply or discount stores. The acetate sheets are the ones that teachers use for overhead projectors. Vellum is just a clear sheet that artists use. It’s thicker than tissue paper so you can cut it, but you can see what’s underneath much like a tracing paper.

Find a design you like. It can be from a book or from online. Use a design that is not so intricate that you will be cutting until all hours of the night. You want to start with a simple stencil. Maybe a leaf or a bird.

Once you have found your design, print it out. Lay it down on your work surface. If it’s not the right size, you’ll want to reduce or enlarge it now on a copier. Place the acetate or vellum over the image. Trace it with marker. Remove the image and cut it out. Intricate parts of it will need to be cut with the tip of an X-Acto knife, so work on a rubber mat or a cutting board, never your table.

Once the design is cut out, you’ll be placing it on the cookie dough. Round up a ball of cookie dough and then press it flat. Or roll out a big piece so you have a whole sheet to stencil on. Place the stencil on top of the cookie area you want to cut out. Cut out the areas that make the design on stencil. Then cut around in a square or circular shape for the size of the cookie you want. Lift with a spatula carefully and transfer to a cookie sheet. Bake as per your recipe’s instructions.

If you want a less labor intensive way to use a cookie stencil, use food coloring powder and a stencil brush. You can tamp your brush into the powdery food coloring and stamp it onto the cookie directly. Cut the shape of the cookie out with a cookie cutter in a circle or other shape that fits your stencil’s design. Food coloring powders can be found at large craft stores or in cake supply stores.

It’s fun to make stenciled cookies. They’ll look like you spend a long time making them, but actually, once you cut the stamp they are very easy to do. Try cutting out flower shaped cookies and create a beautiful flower cookie arrangement. Have a stencil making party where you and friends get together and make a bunch of stencils. Then you can all trade stencils so everyone gets a chance to go home with a luscious batch of delicious and adorable cookies.

Another version you can do with a stencil is to make ornaments with it. Do the same thing you would with the cookie dough, but use home made salt dough or a baking clay. Of course, you can’t eat them, but they’ll look pretty on your tree or as package ties.

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