Fifty Shades of Grey…or Red…or Purple: Ombre Sugar Cookies

When I make a batch of cookie dough, I often have a little bit left over.  With the extra dough, I usually make a few random shapes to decorate when I have free time.  Un-iced, the cookies store very well in the freezer.  When I saw SweetAmb’s ombre cookie tutorial, I knew I wanted to try to make some ombre-style cookies, but in my own way, using a few stashed cookies from the freezer.

Instead of varied shades of icing, I decided to make an ombre effect using colored sugars.  I love the effect, especially on a round cookie!

A brief tutorial, after the jump.

To make these round ombre cookies with colored sugars, I created a blend of sanding sugars with increasing proportions of color.  For these red to yellow cookies, I made up 2 teaspoons of sugar of color.  I only decorated 2 cookies, but I had a little sugar left, so 2 teaspoons could be used to decorate about three 4-inch cookies.

The trick to creating the ombre sugar blend is gradually increasing the amount of the lighter color while proportionally decreasing the darker color.

From left to right:
2 tsp red sugar
1-1/2 tsp red, 1/2 tsp yellow sugar
1 tsp each red and yellow sugar
1-1/2 tsp yellow, 1/2 tsp red sugar
2 tsp yellow sugar

Blend the sugars well.

For the red and yellow sugars, I created 5 shades, but there’s no set rule.

When I first learned to decorate cookies, I would apply colored sugars directly to freshly-piped royal icing.  However, I found that the sugars tended to sink into the icing and mess up the design by causing the icing to fall off the sides of the cookie.  Now, I use a paintbrush to apply piping gel to a fully iced cookie and add the colored sugar to the brushed area.  I find this method much easier and less messy than applying it to wet icing.

Because yellow is the lightest color of sugar I used, I decided to ice the cookie yellow, as well.  For ease of applying the piping gel, I used my set of concentric round cutters and a yellow edible food marker to mark guidelines for the brushing.

You may notice that I created 6 areas for icing but I only have 5 sugar colors. Yeah, I forked up. Ignore this. I fixed it while I was icing by fudging a few rows so the sugar extends to the edge of the flooded cookie.  But you get the point.

Use a clean brush and apply piping gel to the center-most circle.  Apply the darkest or lightest colored sugar and remove the extra sugar by shaking off any stray sugar bits.

Continue with the next lightest or darkest color by applying piping gel to the next concentric circle.  I find it easier to apply the gel and sugars from the inside of the cookie to the outside.

Continue applying the gel and the sugar.  Be sure to remove any stray sugar bits.  A stray red sugar grain could alter the effect in an all yellow area.


The effect can be done in reverse, too, with the darker color in the center.

The sugars can be applied in rows rather than concentric circles.  For this cookie, I used clear and purple sanding sugars.

The colored sugars applied in rows rather than concentric circles.

To create a more seamless ombre effect on the parallel rows, I applied the gel in wavy lines to trick the eye and make the colors seem more blended.  Straight lines will make the transition lines very visible, and I did not like the effect.  Do as you please, though.  If you want to see a photo of the cookie with the the less-liked straight-line ombre effect, too bad.  I ate it.

What can I say?  Cookies are delicious!

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4 Responses

  1. Miss Cuit says:

    These are awesome! Brilliant technique, love the final result!

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  2. January 27, 2013

    […] Valentine’s Day heart cookies, I busted out the ombre sugar technique featured in a few previous posts.  Using four different colors of sanding sugar (red, white, light pink, and bright pink), I […]

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