Once baked, decorated, and packaged what is the shelf life of an average cookie? TIA!
I don't know an exact length of time but my friend once mailed one to me ...in a white paper business envelope...and it was great. So if they can withstand that kind of time travel and rough post office treatment they have a substantial shelf life. They are sturdy.
For customers or for your own personal use? Decorated with Royal Icing?
When I sell them (which is rare, that's not the focus of my bakery), I will bake on Day 1, decorate Day 1/2 and package/deliver on Day 3. I will tell the customer they are good for at least a week at room temperature in a jar or container.
For personal use, if they are individually heat sealed in a treat bag or in an airtight container, then they will probably be fresh for 2 weeks, but I stick with the 1 week guideline for customers.
Off the record, my hubby has been known to eat cookies that were wrapped well as much as a month later and said they tasted fine, but he also has an iron stomach.
These will be for personal use, and probably decorated with both BC and RI (but not on the same cookie). I really dislike biting into a hard, stale cookie, but need to leave time open closer to Christmas. So far I've stayed strictly with cakes for business.
Bake the cookies as far ahead as you like. Freeze them un-iced, that works for up to 2 months if the cookie gremlins in your house don't find them.
Take out baked cookies the night before you want to decorate, leave them on the counter, and do your best in the morning. Once decorations are dry, I keep them in tin cans for a good week. IF they last that long...
You can also freeze decorated cookies.