It’s Time to Celebrate! Nautical Theme 1st Birthday Cookies

My nephew was turning one and I wanted to create a cookie in honor of his birthday.  The birthday party was being held on Cape Cod, so naturally it was a nautical theme.  Whale and sailboat cookies would be a perfect sweet ending to a day of fun and family.  I am comfortable making cookies, but decorative cookies is a new area of baking for me.  I learned so much during this process and have created more goals to meet next time.  It was also nice to go on this baking adventure with my toddler, as he helped me prepare the cookies dough, roll and cut out the shapes.  Luckily the cookie dough was sturdy enough to keep a nice clean edge and my energetic kitchen helper didn’t break too many.

Have you made decorative cookies before? What is your advice for someone starting out?

Cookie Recipe Source:  Holiday Butter Cookies from King Arthur Flour
Royal Icing Recipe Source: Royal Icing from King Arthur Flour
BTS of decorating cookies_makeandtaste

Decorative Cookies

Prep Time: 45 mins
Cook Time: 12-14 mins
Yields: 5 dozen 2" size


  • 1 1/4 Cups - Confectioners' Sugar
  • 1 Cup + 2 Tablespoons - Salted butter, room temperature
  • 1 Large Egg Yolk
  • 1/2 Teaspoon - Salt (or 1 Teaspoon if using unsalted butter)
  • 2 3/4 Cups - Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 Teaspoons - Vanilla Extract
  • Royal Icing:
  • 1/4 Cup - Meringue Powder
  • 1/4 Teaspoon - Salt
  • 3-4 Cups - Confectioners' Sugar, sifted
  • 3/4 Cup - Cool Water


  1. To make the cookies: Combine the sugar, butter, egg yolk and salt. Beating until smooth
  2. Add the flour, mixing until smooth. The mixture will seem dry at first, but it will come together
  3. Cut the dough in half, shape into a flattened disk and wrap in plastic
  4. Refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.
  5. When ready to bake, remove the dough from the refrigerator and let it soften for 20-30 minutes
  6. Dust your rolling surface with flour and roll out one of the cookie dough pieces to 1/8" to 3/16" and cut out desired shapes
  7. Re-roll the dough and continue to cut out shapes
  8. Place cookies on a parchment-lined baking sheet close together
  9. Bake cookies in a preheated 350 degree oven for 12-14 minutes, until barely brown around the edges
  10. Remove the cookies from the over and allow them to cool on the pan. If using parchment paper you can lift the paper off the sheet and set aside
  11. Icing:
  12. In a stand mixer add the dry ingredients and cool water
  13. On low speed incorporate the ingredients and have the sugar dissolve
  14. Increase the speed over several minutes until the icing is fluffy
  15. Divide the icing into smaller containers and mix with food coloring
  16. Apply the icing with a pastry bag, or an off-set spatula. Make sure to create a clean edge avoid bubbles. If bubbles to appear, simply use a toothpick to pop and smooth the surface

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