These marbled butterfly cookies are perfect for first timers with royal icing, as they are easy to make and colorful to look at. The sugar cookie dough is also easy to put together with standard pantry ingredients and makes delicious cookies.
There are a lot of ways to decorate butterfly cookies.
You can make them true to life with butterfly colors, you can add all sorts of fun designs not seen in the wild, or you can go the extra mile and marble them.
These marbled butterfly sugar cookies are incredible to make, go great for special events like butterfly birthday parties, and they are really easy to do even though they look detailed.
In this marbled butterfly cookie tutorial, I’ll show yow how to make the marbled butterfly cookies, how to decorate the marbled butterfly cookies and how to achieve the marbling effect for even more fun.
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What Ingredients Do I Need for Marbled Butterfly Cookies?
To get started, you’ll want to gather all of the ingredients to both make and decorate the marbled butterfly cookies.
The cookie base is a sugar cookie cut-out base, as opposed to a normal sugar cookie base.
This is fantastic because it prevents the dough from spreading due to the chilling required and the interactions of the ingredients.
You don’t want to put them in the oven and find that you have blobs instead of butterflies.
For the dough, you’ll need: icing sugar, granulated sugar, flour, butter, eggs, vanilla extract, salt, and baking powder.
The next step is royal icing, which you can make while the cookies are baking.
This is made up of meringue powder, icing sugar, water, and vanilla extract for flavoring.
I like to make my royal icing with meringue powder as I find it easy to use and store, and it can be consumed by everyone without any fear unlike egg whites which can be unsafe for pregnant women.
Must-Have Baking Tools (seriously)
- Silicone baking mats – I use this brand and my cookies slide right off without burning!
- a cookie scoop – get this one. It makes the perfect rounded cookies every time!
- silicone spatula – try this set. It’s the best way to get the most out of your dough and batters
- rolling pin guides – I use this one. Genius way to roll your dough out evenly!
Tools You’ll Need for Marbled Butterfly Cookies
You’ll also want some baking tools for the marbled butterfly cookies, which include:
- different color food coloring – gel food coloring is always better than liquid for icing
- rolling pin guides to roll dough – I use these ones
- toothpick or scribe for adjusting the icing
- baking tray
- baking paper or silicone baking mat – this is the best brand
How Far Ahead Can I Make Marbled Butterfly Cookies?
Many people want to make cookies ahead of time for a special event, and you can make these up to 2 weeks ahead of time and store them at room temperature in an airtight container.
To refresh when it’s time to eat, put a piece of bread in with them for a bit – sounds weird, but it works!
If you want to make them further than that, you can make the bases and freeze them for up to 3 months.
I don’t recommend freezing royal icing or fully decorated stars because the royal icing can freeze a little bit funny and in general I find that the chances you’ll ruin your decorated cookies are much higher than if you just freeze the bases.
Why Royal Icing?
Royal icing can be intimidating to people who haven’t used it before, but it’s one of the best icings to get a smooth finish and marbles beautifully.
Buttercream is an option for some people who just want basic icing on top of the cookie, but you won’t get the crisp lines and the control you get with royal icing.
When you’re making royal icing, use the royal icing recipe and make sure that you get the consistency you want.
I prefer to use a single consistency, about 12 seconds, which is measured by the time it takes for the line to disappear after you draw one in the icing with a knife.
Seriously, just count it out!
If it’s less than that, you’ll find it too runny, and if it gets a lot more than that, the icing may not be thin enough to also use as a “flood” which is the base of the cookie.
Use piping bags to disperse the royal icing, or you can even use a sandwich bag with the tip cut off if you’re really desperate.
Always cut the tip small at first, as you don’t want a large opening like you do for other icings.
Smaller gives you more control, and if it’s too small, you can always cut more off – but you can’t cut less off!
Pipe by keeping the tip about an inch off of the cookie and letting the icing drip down slowly, rather than keeping the tip right on the cookie.
It sounds counterintuitive, but keeping the piping tip further away really does give you more control.
Tips on the Cut-Out Sugar Cookie Dough
The sugar cookie recipe you should use for these marbled butterfly cookies is the cut-out sugar cookie recipe, which is formulated to allow for the cookies to keep their shape and not spread.
If you don’t follow it and chill your cookie dough, then your cookies will spread in the oven and no longer be butterflies.
When you’re cutting out the cookie dough, make sure to lightly flour your cutter and try not to pull on the dough too much – this can cause warping that you won’t see until the cookie is baked.
How to Decorate Marbled Butterfly Royal Icing Cookies
Butterfly cookies are so easy to do marbling with, and they create a gorgeous wing-like decoration.
All you need to do is outline the butterfly in whatever color you want.
I chose white to make the colors pop more, but you can just as easily do this with other colors.
Then, flood the base of the cookie with the same color.
Immediately, while the icing is still wet, draw horizontal lines with other colors of icing across the wings.
When you’ve finished, take a scribe or toothpick and drag it through the lines, so from the top of the butterfly to the bottom and back up again.
Leave about a centimeter’s worth of space between the lines.
And that’s really it – it will create the marbling effect you’re looking for and look great!
You can use random colors if you want a more haphazard appearance, or alternate colors, or simply use one color to make your lines and one to flood.
It’s completely up to you and how you want the final product to look.
- 24 cookies using cut-out sugar cookie dough
- 1 batch of royal icing, separated in the colors you want to decorate
- Bake the butterfly cookies using the sugar cut-out cookie recipe
- Make a batch of royal icing using the royal icing recipe
- Separate out the royal icing into as many colors as you want to decorate with and put into piping bags
- Outline the butterfly in white
- Immediately flood the cookie with white
- Immediately draw horizontal lines across the butterfly in whatever colors you want
- Use a scribe or a toothpick to drag lines vertically through the lines about one centimeter apart
- Let dry for 12 hours
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