SMITTEN KITTEN MITTENS

Winter is here to stay for a while. Time to get warm, sit by the fireplace, perhaps with a kitten cuddling nearby. Kitten-Mittens were born following a tutorial from Marlyn, blue mittens were my departure from her basic design from another of her instructional videos.

This is actually the second time I’ve made these cookies, the first time (about 8 months ago) I did not have a stencil cutter, so my design was compromised, the facial features too big. Now that I am the happy owner of a Cricut, I could use Marlyn’s stencils to air-brush the eyes, nose, and whiskers.

As you can see, air-brushing does two things for the design: guides the piping, and creates a nice little “shadow” underneath. With Marlyn, it’s all about details!

Closing this post, a couple of mittens made during my recent Snowflake adventure

That is all for now, stay warm, and bake some cookies!

DIVALI-INSPIRED GINGERBREAD COOKIES

When I look outside and it’s all covered in snow, I miss the colors of Spring. In this batch of cookies, I brought vivid colors to play together. Inspiration came from my friend and former graduate student Aritri. I think she would have loved them. She was The Queen of Color.

To make these cookies, I used a paisley-shape cutter, and flooded with purple or turquoise. Let that set for a few hours, then made small batches of several colors of Royal icing, piping consistency.

Once that is done, it’s all a matter of letting the patterns freely form…

The candy corn is a nice shape to play with also… The cookies below were designed to minimize the amount of icing. This first cookie was sprayed with PME pearl luster, and the set below painted with TruColor Blue Turquoise.

I hope you like these cookies, I really loved making them…

SMILE FOR THE CAMERA!

A BOUQUET OF FLOWERS

For a little IG video on this pizza box concoction, click here
(I am still learning my way through the reels)

We need something to counteract winter. Valentine’s is just around the corner. Two reasons to make a flower bouquet composition. There is a little story behind it, though. Marlyn, Cookie-Guru-Extraordinaire, asked members of her group what they would like to learn in 2022. Several of us (yours truly included) said that creating our own stuff was a big issue. Unless I see a cookie design to follow, I get paralyzed. A couple of days later Marlyn posted a pizza-box cookie sketch, and suggested we used that as a starting point to come up with our own design. I will share her sketch at the end of the post. In a way, this blog post is like a homework assignment…

For the cookies, I used this recipe (I omitted the black cocoa, used the full amount of Dutch processed). Following Marlyn’s sketch, I used my Cricut to cut a piece of cardboard to use as a template for the cookies (base and little card). Regular mini-cookie cutters were used to make flowers. Everything was baked and then the real adventure began…

From this point, I worked on the pieces of the base and the little card, as they needed to fully set before continuing. The wrap was iced with Chefmaster Gold + Cork, then a piece of crumbled parchment was placed on the still wet surface. The paper is removed next day, revealing the structure underneath. Next, I lightly brushed some copper luster powder in a few spots of the wrap.

The lateral cookies were iced with Laurel green, then air-brushed with gold. I also air-brushed the central base, without any icing. The little card was painted with food safe pen, using a stencil to guide the writing. Then the flowers were decorated, and a little heart added just because… The whole process is shown below.

This was challenging but fun… I now share the initial sketch planned by Marlyn so you can see the starting point.

It was fun to put to use several different techniques to make this box. I debated whether to add leaves, but I like the look with the flowers only. If I used royal icing to pipe leaves, it would be messy to eat the cookies, as I would have to pipe them in between the pieces. So there you have it, a little shout-out for Spring, with romance in the background.

Huge thank you to Marlyn for taking the time to devise this challenge…

SPRINGERLE COOKIES

For a little tutorial on painting the cookies, visit my youtube channel here.

Baking Springerle turned into an annual tradition for me. I love the slow pace, the patience involved. The dough takes a bit of time to put together, whisking the eggs to achieve maximum volume, slowly incorporating flour, then rolling, pressing the molds, and letting the cut cookies sit and dry for a couple of days before baking them. In gentle heat, so they never get dark. For my default recipe and to learn a little more about these delicate cookies, click here . And now let me share some of the biscuits I made this past holiday season.

My recipe starts with 3 eggs, and that makes a large enough batch for about 30 cookies, although of course it depends on their size. Once they are baked and cold, it is time to paint them…

My favorite method is mixing luster powder with alcohol, either vodka or everclear. Vodka dries a little slower, so it is more forgiving to use. This year I got to play with a new color, called Mermaid (featured in my recent In My Kitchen post).

The same design will look quite different depending on the color scheme you choose.

One of my favorite shapes is the Flower Staff mold because is is so unusual…

You can see it better here, next to another favorite of mine, a special mold I received as a gift years ago…

In every batch I like to mix some modern shapes with the classics, because they can be fun too…

Here they are, sitting in the sun on a winter day…

Springerle is perfect to bake romantic, flowery motifs… Think Valentine’s!

The Flower Staff in a more subtle coloring…

Finally, a very special mold, the center one below, a gift from Phil. It is not easy to find molds made from real wood, those are pretty much antiques. He managed to find one, and it is so so beautiful, the intricate details… I love it!

Painting Springerle is one of the most relaxing activities…

Traditionally these cookies are flavored with anise oil, which for some is not a very pleasant flavor. If you like the overall look but prefer a different flavor, orange oil is a great alternative.

FOR THE LOVE OF SNOWFLAKES

Snowflakes are one of the coolest cookies to decorate, plus you can find cutters with so many different shapes, the possibilities for fun are endless. Today I share several ideas, some with barely any icing, so that everyone can be pleased. Some got inspiration from Marlyn (Montreal Confections), some from Tunde (Tunde’s Creations), but most were my own. Let’s start this party!

I love this shade of blue, which I made mixing Royal blue with a hint of black. Flood, let it dry for a few hours, then draw designs with white icing in piping consistency. I used a PME 1.5 tip. The color combination and design of two of the cookies were straight from Marlyn’s tutorials.

Of course, some might prefer snowflakes to be white, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it…

For the top and bottom cookies below, I sprinkled some sanding sugar after piping the design. It gives the cookie a different look, and if you mess up those lines, sanding sugar is the perfect cosmetic surgery for it!

White can also be coupled with different colors. Depending on the colors you choose the effect can be subtle or dramatic… your cookie, your choice…

I could not resist including some star shapes with snowflake-inspired decorations, and a flower got in the mix too. I have no logical explanation for that one.


Below, one of my favorite sets… I loved the combination of golden with brown…

Now for those who prefer less icing, you can skip the flooding and simply add designs with piping consistency…

The subtle shine in some is obtained with a light spray of PME pearl luster, but of course that is optional, the cookies look fine without it.

Another way to decorate with little icing is painting the surface of the cookie in different colors. You can use regular gel dye diluted with water or vodka, or you can use a product I absolutely love, called TRUECOLOR (found at etsy.com).

Here is a little step-by-step with a Truecolor turquoise shine… Pretty much any repeating pattern will look ok in the end, just go with the flow… Inspiration for the turquoise sets came straight from Tunde’s Creations.

One of my favorites is a base of Truecolor Red Shine…

I hope you enjoyed this little sampling of snowflake cookies, and found some inspiration for your upcoming cookie adventures…

HAPPY NEW YEAR FROM THE SNOWY VILLAGE!

This set of cookies was fun to make but a little challenging in some ways. You must be attentive to the dimension of the roof components, particularly the thickness of the cookie. Those parts cannot be rolled too thick, they won’t look good and won’t assemble properly. The whole design was conceived and demonstrated by Marlyn (livestream video available in two parts, here and here). I simplified mine a bit, eliminating wafer paper decorations on the edge of the roof. One of my favorite parts of this set was making the rocky path in front of the door. Check out Marlyn’s version to be amazed!

When I first made the cookies, the roof components would not align properly on top of the house, bringing back nightmares of what happened to me in a certain tent. Catastrophic developments that later were broadcast to a few million viewers. Family members and friends included. I quickly donated those roof parts for three very happy pups, and re-made them with more attention to overall dimensions. I used my roller cutter the second time around, and it worked like a charm.

Another component I had to re-make was the snowman. First I used a mini cookie cutter from Sugarbelle, but it ended up too big. The snowman looked like a giant in front of the house. I decided to cut the shape by hand instead.

Each set then takes a base (I used a tumbstone shape), a big triangle for the face of the house, two sticks for the roof, and either a small snowman or a tree to decorate the front. The pebble path is of course optional, but I loved making it.

The roof parts got painted with a light coating of Royal icing, and the front of the house was flooded in red, leaving an opening for the door that was iced with purple. White and green Royal icing in piping consistency were used for all details.

I hate to sound repetitive, but if you want to take your cookie decorating to a higher place, consider joining Marlyn’s site at Patreon. It is one of the best investments you can make, the only “problem” is that she is so productive and shares so many interesting projects that it’s hard to decide what to do next. So stay tuned for more adventures in cookie decorating as 2022 rolls around… Soon this little baby blog of mine will turn 1 year old!

LET IT SNOW, LET IT SNOW, LET IT SNOW!

We have not had any snow yet, but to quote a certain series… Winter is coming, better be ready for it. And for snowmen, nothing brings more happiness than plenty of snowflakes falling from the skies above.

A gingerbread cookie, with a simple decoration, flood the base in red, the globe in light blue, and let it set. Then pipe the body with thicker icing, add black pearls for the buttons, and let that set for an hour or so (thicker consistency dries a bit faster, and if you are gentle enough you can continue with the additional details). The snowballs should be added in stages so they don’t join together. Finally, the arms, scarf, smile and blush on the cheeks close the design.

Moving on, a little series I really enjoyed, inspired by Kathy, from Art Projects for Kids.

I love their different expressions and movements… Starting with flooded rectangles fully set, I drew the different snowmen with a food pen, then used Sugarprism watercolor to add the background. While that was still wet, I showered some white non-pareils.

Another very simple design for a snowman, uses a cookie cutter from Sugarbelle, in which each shape comes with appropriate stencils to help you decorate.

Two colors needed, white and blue. Starting with the band on the hat, so that you can add sanding sugar to that part, the rest is quite straightforward.

The stencil really helps quite a bit. I have a hard time judging how to space details in a cookie, so for me a set like this one from Sugarbelle makes life a lot easier.

From the same set, this little angel also materialized in our kitchen….

Closing this post, how could I not include Snowmen Macarons? These were filled with Pistachio-Lemon Buttercream, a slightly more decorated version from the ones I made last year.

After baking, all details were added with Royal icing in bright colors, plus the mouth and eyes with a food pen.

I often like to pipe some mini-macs just for fun, these were air-brushed with a stencil.

I loved making these! Some were a bit chubby, some had funny expressions, but they turned out as a happy family. And they have a message for you, now that a new year is about to start…

IS IT A CUPCAKE? IS IT A FERN?

IT’S A COOKIE CUTTER FLIP!

I love when a cookie cutter is used with new designs in mind, and this recent version from Haniela is one of my favorites. So elegant in its simplicity, and very effective. She demonstrates it in great detail here, starting at 2 min and 20 sec. If you have a cupcake cookie cutter, you are all set! In the same video she shows how to make a very cute Santa Claus, also with the same cutter. She is the Queen of Cookie Cutter Flips!

For these gingerbread cookies, you’ll only need four colors of Royal icing: white, black, cream and green. For the ferns, black stems and twines, make sure to have icing in piping consistency.

The twine decorations are simply small red dots painted with a food pen after the lines are fully set. Amazing how little details can elevate a design!

Piping ferns is a skill that comes in handy for countless cookie designs. It is quite forgiving, since you can add new layers in stages. A few red sprinkles (or royal icing dots) complement this look quite well.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Sharing the last collection of cookies for the season, these are simple to make, and I like their almost minimalist look, particularly the Christmas tree. I wish I had saved the source of my inspiration for the little gift packages, but I took a screen shot of some Instagram stuff, never saved the actual post and was unable to find it again.

Apart from simple Royal icing details in red and green, fondant details make them special. I always use white fondant and paint in any color I want later.

You can do a lot with just three colors of icing, and during Christmas season, it’s pretty much all you need…

Two tones of green can also make a pretty cute wreath design, when coupled with red accent sprinkles…

Just pipe them as shown below and run a needle through the center, drawing a circle.

This year I’ve done a lot of Christmas trees, but not as many ornaments…

It is now time to say goodbye to Christmas cookies… makes me sad, but in a way every season that ends leaves that feeling that too many cookies were left unbaked. But another season comes to get excited about… Can you feel the Valentine vibes forming?

CHRISTMAS COOKIES

Still in the spirit of the season, a few more ideas for your holiday bakes, starting with socks to hang by the fireplace…

They were made after a video from Marlyn (Montreal Confections), using a “frankencookie” approach (watch it here). A sock cutter is combined with a little head to form the final design. From that point, it is pretty straightforward: ice the different areas, let them set. Pipe decorative lines with black Royal icing, and the detail on top of the sock with a star tip and stiff consistency icing. While that part is still wet, carefully place a mini candy cane as decoration. The eyes and mouth were made with a food-safe pen.

The hexagons were featured recently in the blog (click here for the original post). Once the franken-sock cookie was fully set, I painted a bit of luster pearl on the white part of the sock. Because bling makes everything better.

Moving on, another very cute idea from Marlyn: when a Christmas tree and a dress fall desperately in love and have a baby… You can check her IG video for this cookie with a click here.

Marlyn used a template to get a perfectly symmetrical shape for the dress, I went free-hand. Each layer of the dress is piped independently, starting with the bottom layer. A darker tone of green is air-brushed on the edges, a step that adds quite a bit of pizazz to the dress. The red details and top of the dress are added later, as well as the black belt (with tip Ateco #44).

Finally, my own contribution to this post, with a super simple design using mini-cookie cutters from Sugarbelle. These are tiny, two-bite little things, perfect when you don’t really feel like indulging too much in sweets. All you need is green, red and white icing, plus sprinkles. The fern cookies require some piping consistency icing, but you can conceivably just use a food pen to simplify things quite a bit.

I am definitely going to be using mini-cutters quite often in the future. They are adorable and the set comes with 40 shapes plus a cool “idea sheet” to offer alternative ways to decorate each shape.

I hope your holiday season is going smoothly. For many, plans had to be canceled, meetings with family postponed once again due to the virus that won’t leave us in peace. Let’s hope for a much kinder year ahead…