These tropical leaf cookies go great with summer cookie sets or an island theme, and they’re super easy to ice and make using only one color. The sugar dough base is soft, while being firm enough to hold together, and you’ll be impressed with yourself every time you make them!
When I think of island cookies, tropical leaves coming to mind, swaying in the wind.
These tropical leaf cookies might not not actually sway, but they’ll definitely make for a great summer or tropical cookie.
The one thing to keep in mind is that the way the cookie is laid out with lots of thinner bits of dough branching off means it is prone to breakage if you throw them around, so be gentle with these works of cookie art!
In this tropical leaf cookie tutorial, I’ll teach you how to decorate tropical leaf cookies, how to make tropical leaf cookies, and how to use royal icing on these tropical leaf cookies.
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Ingredients You’ll Need for Tropical Leaf Cookies
To make tropical leaf cookies, you’ll need the ingredients for both the royal icing and the sugar cookie dough.
The sugar cookie dough uses the following ingredients to create its no spread, wonderful sugar cookie taste: powdered sugar, flour, granulated sugar, vanilla extract, eggs, and butter.
In my cut-out sugar cookie recipe, you’ll learn exactly how to combine them together to make for the best sugar cookie base around.
For the royal icing, I use meringue powder, water, vanilla extract, and icing sugar.
Royal icing really isn’t that difficult to make or use, which I’ll talk more about below.
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 Tropical Leaf Cookies
After you’ve rounded up the ingredients for tropical leaf cookies, you’ll want to make sure you’ve got the right tools on hand. These include:
- a baking sheet
- reusable silicone baking mat – this is the best brand
- green food coloring – always use gel food coloring with royal icing for best results
- piping bags for the icing (I don’t use tips, just disposable icing bags) – this is the best brand
- a scribe or toothpick (this is for adjusting the icing or popping air bubbles) – I use this scribe
- tropical leaf cookie cutter – this is a great one
Tips for Making the Dough for Tropical Leaf Cookies
When you use the recipe to make the no spread sugar cookies, you’ll want to make sure you follow it exactly when it comes to chilling the dough.
I know this can be the most annoying part about making cookies because you just want to get on with it, but the crisp edges that come with these cookies and make them look nice really depends on the cookie dough not spreading out past the shape you cut it in.
By keeping the dough in the fridge at certain steps along the way, you’re making sure the butter doesn’t melt before the rest of the ingredients can catch up, which can cause spread in the oven.
I use a hand mixer to combine the ingredients and then dump it all out on the counter at the end to knead with my hands.
This can help crumbly dough come together even better.
When you go to roll out the dough, I use these handy rolling guides to help me roll it to an even thickness.
You can also use wooden dowels or you can get rolling pins that have built in guides.
This is important as unlike a drop cookie or cookie that you want to spread, you want these to be as uniform as possible, both depth wise and length and width wise.
Tips for Making the Icing for Tropical Leaf Cookies
Royal icing can be something that newer bakers shy away from.
It feels inaccessible as you need piping bags and can’t just slop it on like you can with other types of icing.
But don’t be afraid!
I was a completely new beginning baker, and after just two times practicing, I was starting to get the hang of it and could make basic royal icing cookies that looked like a professional did them.
You just need to jump in!
When you make the royal icing using my royal icing recipe, you’ll want to make sure you pay attention to the consistency you’re creating.
For these cookies, I both outlined and flooded (filled in the middle) of the cookie with the same exact icing from the same bag.
Sometimes, people create a stiffer icing and a thinner icing of the same color to outline with the stiff icing and flood with the thinner icing, but I prefer to use an in-the-middle version that you can do both with because it saves time, piping bags, and is just less hassle.
I also prefer the more seamless look that it creates on the cookie.
The consistency of icing I used for these cookies is about 12 seconds, which you can count by pulling a knife through the icing and counting how many seconds it takes for the line to completely disappear.
You can actually freeze royal icing if you make too much, but in my opinion it’s never as good as when it’s first made, so try to make just as much as you need or have a lot of cookies to decorate so you can make sure to use the icing up.
Food Coloring with Royal Icing Tips
You’ll want to use food coloring to change the white royal icing into green for the tropical leaves.
You can get liquid or gel food coloring, but I much prefer gel food coloring as it creates a deeper color and doesn’t add too much liquid to your icing, messing up the consistency you just achieved.
Add a drop at a time until you get to the shade you want, which can really be any shade of green you want for these leaves.
How to Decorate Tropical Leaf Cookies
When it comes to decorating these cookies, first outline the cookie in green icing.
Then, immediately flood the cookie with the same green icing.
Shake the cookie slightly to get the icing to settle, and let completely dry.
Some people say to let your cookie dry for 8 to 12 hours before adding anything else on top to let it completely dry, but if you don’t have that kind of time, give it at least an hour before trying to add anything else.
When it’s time to add the detail, I like a simple outline and then start at the bottom and add a line through each leaf, working your way up to the top.
These cookies are great to complement an island cookie or tropical cookie theme, rather than just stand on their own.
- 24 cookies using cut-out sugar cookie dough
- 1 batch of royal icing in green
- Bake the leaf cookies using the sugar cut-out cookie recipe
- Make a batch of royal icing using the royal icing recipe
- Color the icing green and put into piping bags
- Outline the leaf in green
- Immediately flood the cookie with the same green
- Wait 2 to 3 hours and then decorate the leaf with additional green lines
- Let dry for 12 hours
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