Blog Cream Cheese Cookies

Blog Cream Cheese Cookies

The other day, I was in a craft store picking up some supplies and, near the jars of food coloring, some small tubes of shiny decorating dust caught my eye. I must confess, although I've been baking and decorating cookies for years, I had never tried these. I bought a jar of pearl dust and hurried home to experiment.

I baked a batch of cream cheese cookies using the Tropical Fish cookie cutter, iced them with colored royal icing, and decided to accent the scales with the pearl dust. I blended some dust with a small amount of lemon extract and used a small paintbrush to apply it to the dried icing. Painting the cookies was quick and easy and it made for a nice, subtly shimmery effect. Now I'm eager to try some of the other decorating dusts and will show you the results in the upcoming weeks.

If you shop at a well-stocked craft store—or online—you'll find a wide and somewhat confusing array of decorating dusts. Here are the types you can buy, from least to most shiny:

Petal Dust has a matte finish and, as the name implies, it's mainly used for coloring the petals of gum-paste flowers. It comes in a wide variety of colors.

Pearl Dust gives a subtle iridescent sheen but does not add much color. It comes in metallic and pearl shades.

Luster Dust has a shiny, lustrous finish. It comes in a wide variety of colors.

Platinum Dust is an FDA-approved powder that is similar in effect to luster dust. It comes in a limited selection of subtle colors.

Shimmer Dust is an alternate term for luster dust. (It is also the name for a decorating product that is sprinkled onto cookies, rather than being brushed on.)

Sparkle Dust is a larger grained powder than luster dust and gives a sparkly, or wet, effect. It comes in a wide variety of colors.

Disco Dust is similar to sparkle dust but has slightly larger grains and produces a more sparkly effect.

Highlighter Dust gives a very shiny metallic appearance; it comes in gold and silver.

Any of these dusts can be brushed dry onto iced cakes or cookies, or you can mix them with a small amount of clear spirits (like vodka) or almond, lemon, or clear vanilla extract and paint with them. It's worth noting that these dusts are labeled as non-toxic, but most are not approved as food ingredients by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). But though you wouldn't want to consume large amounts, they are as safe to eat as those silver and gold nonpareils traditionally used for decorating.

If you often decorate with luster dust or some of the other varieties, tell me about your favorite way to use them. And if you haven't tried them yet, consider picking up a jar. I hope you'll have some fun and add a little shimmer to your holiday baking this season.

My favorite shapes for Cream Cheese Cookies include the Tropical Fish cookie cutter, the Alligator Cookie Cutter, and the Dragonfly Cookie Cutter.