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If the standard gingerbread man with his icing smiley face just seems a little old this year, consider taking a cue from New York pastry chef Amber Spiegel. Of course, be warned: to get on her level of cookie decorating, it takes a lot of practice and patience.

Using royal icing, a number of specialized tools, a steady hand and a lot of patience, Spiegel creates cookies that look almost too good to be true. They feature intricate patterns calling to mind antique wallpapers and ornamentation, 3D elements like tiny flowers and “beading,” the illusion of cushioned surfaces and even tiny cameos. Everything is made of icing, and completely edible, even though eating these creations might be difficult. They”re so complex that a single cookie can take up to 45 minutes to decorate.

The results are totally worth it though.

For those of you who now have raging cookie-decorating jealousy, never fear. Spiegel offers a number of tutorials and recipes on her website so that you, too, can begin training to become a cookie monster master. Just like anything, Spiegel says that with enough practice, anyone can learn to create cookies this amazing. “If you keep at it, you”ll be able to decorate like a pro,” she says.

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