I bake a LOT of cookies, but tend to gravitate toward the soft and chewy type - normally a drop cookie but I have also done rolled and pressed cookies. Recently my daughter asked me to make a cookie she saw on TV. The cookie she described had a raised design and had colored sugar only on the raised design.

I am guessing those cookies are some type of shortbread cookie (a cookie with little or no leavening so the imprint stays sharp) either baked in a mold or stamped before baking. However, I cannot find any information on how to decorating just the raised image or the just the imprint. Every web site I have looked at basically covers the entire cookie with colored sugar or uses some variety of royal icing.

How do you decorate just the embossed part of the imprint with colored sugar? Are cookies like this made with stamps, molds, or stencils? Any help would be much appreciated.

  • 5
    Do you have a photo of the cookie you're looking to copy? Or do you know if she saw it on a food show or in an ad? If it was a mass-produced cookie, it may not be easy to replicate in a home kitchen.
    – Catija
    Commented Mar 2, 2015 at 18:59

3 Answers 3


Basically, there are two options:

  1. Use a stencil.
    This means, your design can be only slightly raised (or not at all), because the sugar will create a 3D illusion. There are plenty of examples online, here is one from Martha Stewart (in honour of upcoming St. Patricks Day). This can be done befor baking or afterwards by sugaring an image stenciled with thin icing.
  2. Dip the cookie upside down.
    You will need a rather distinct raised image for this. Dip the cookie upside own into a bowl/plate of sugar, making sure to touch the surface only with the raised parts. Depending on your dough you might have to use some water first to make the sugar stick better. You will need a rather thick and well-cooled cookie that can keep its shape while handling.
    If you want to decorate baked cookies, brush very little thin icing on the raised part, then dip. Make sure to use the absolute minimum of icing, because otherwise it will start running down either when turning the cookie or while drying, taking the sanding sugar with it in the worst case...
  • Could you also paint a thin glaze on baked cookies (this would also help the sugar adhere onto the raised section) and then dip or sprinkle with sugar? The sugar would only adhere to the glazed part.
    – Catija
    Commented Mar 2, 2015 at 19:01
  • Yup. But make sure that your glazing is applied only very sparingly. If you use too much, it'll run down when turning. I'll add that in for clarity, thanks.
    – Stephie
    Commented Mar 2, 2015 at 19:05
  • I agree with @Catija comments, both here and to the OP. I hope the OP clarifies the question, but +1 for an excellent answer to an unfortunately vague question.
    – Jolenealaska
    Commented Mar 3, 2015 at 7:27

Put the sugar on a flat surface, put the cookies in upside down. Getting the sugar to stick will depend on your type of cookie. You might try brushing the cookies with a bit of water to moisten the raised parts.


I immediately thought of the sand laying technique used in Mandalas. I can't find a straight description of the technique itself, but it involves rapping a solid rod on a hollow, usually ridged tube filled with colored sand (or in your case, sugar). It's an incredibly exacting technique, to be sure, but that makes it easier to practice and get right in my limited artistic experience.


I hope I'm not being blasphemous, but if someone knows a better a better metaphor for a beautiful work of art that's "ritualistically dismantled once it has been completed and its accompanying ceremonies and viewing are finished to symbolize the Buddhist doctrinal belief in the transitory nature of material life" than a cookie, then I don't even know what to believe any more.

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