A Touch of Paint

{Handmade Christmas, part iv}

If those cookies are too plain for you, how about a little paint job?

I once painted these cookies, and dozens of others, but I can't take credit for the sweet little hobbit houses and snails above. They were a gift from a friend who also hand-paints china for Herend, the lauded hand-crafted porcelin of Hungary that was once so precious it couldn't leave the country's borders. These two stunning pieces sit in the Herend museum, about 20 minutes from our home in Porva, and command a price on par with some paintings at the MoMA, but take a little royal icing to some homemade gingerbread and I promise you'll get your painting fix for a while.

Start with a snappy, well-baked gingerbread, and you'll only need a touch of paint to make them pretty. One of the best darn gingerbread cookie recipes I've ever baked comes from Gourmet, {here} which bakes up flat and even every time. Next, whip up a batch of royal icing and drop in some natural food colorings {here}, which aren't as potent as others but potentially far friendlier. Now comes the fun part, mixing your primary colors to get a pretty palet. How about a color chart to help you get started?

P.S. If you plan to stack or wrap your cookies before you give, let painted cookies dry unwrapped overnight {out of the family pet's reach}, or until dry to the touch.

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New York City, United States
Sarah Copeland is a food and lifestyle expert, and the author of Feast: Generous Vegetarian Meals for Any Eater and Every Appetite, and The Newlywed Cookbook. She is the Food Director at Real Simple magazine, and has appeared in numerous national publications including Saveur, Health, Fitness, Shape, Martha Stewart Living and Food & Wine magazines. As a passionate gardener, Sarah's Edible Living philosophy aims to inspire good living through growing, cooking and enjoying delicious, irresistible whole foods. She thrives on homegrown veggies, stinky cheese and chocolate cake. Sarah lives in New York with her husband and their young daughter.