As usual, I choose to focus on what I can do, rather than what I can't. That has led me to....
4 Ways to Flood a Cookie
1. You can actually flood the cookie with royal icing. Sweet Sugarbelle has some great tips on how to do this. When I can get the right consistency of icing and have the patience to flood a cookie, it is magic!
2. Another great way to achieve that fabulous smooth background color is fondant. Cheating? Maybe. But it is awesome. If you use a fondant smoother on your cookies when they are just out of the oven, you can gently smooth out any bumps before you attempt to cover your cookies. Oh yes, be prepared to place the cut fondant on a hot cookie and you won't have to add any other icing to glue it together.
3. If you are not opposed to painting, you can use an egg wash to get a solid background color on your cookie. This approach worked really well on these ornament cookies. Slightly opaque and shiny, it was a super quick way to add color. The down side is the edges weren't crisp. With all the detail for the ornament, it didn't matter. Just keep those edges in mind when planning your design. Even The Pioneer Woman likes this technique :-)
4. Finally, and I can't believe it has taken me years, Years, to figure this out: color your cookie dough. <face palm> For some reason the thought occurred to me last night to just color the dough. Duh. I made the royal icing transfer faces a day before to let them dry. Then attached to the cookies as soon as they cooled with a little dab of royal icing for each piece. I piped on a few additional orange line to mimic pumpkins and tah-dah. I think I might try this again and use a really thin powdered sugar glaze to add a little shine to the cookie before piping the details.
Seeing so many amazing cookie ideas on the web is inspiring. If a cookie project seems too complicated, focus on what you can do and create something fabulous :-)