A wordless post, inspired by Sugarbelle.
A wordless post, inspired by Sugarbelle.
These cookies were made following a tutorial from Marlyn (available in her Patreon site), and although a little involved, they will make you happy and relaxed as you see them develop, one little section at a time.
Finally the body is filled with white Royal icing, and gets a shower of sparkling sugar.
The same design works on different shapes of butterflies. The first time I used a different cookie cutter and had some issues with the fine lines, but still like the overall look.
No matter how carefully we calculate the amount of Royal icing to make of each color needed, there will always be some amount left in the bag. Some people have the patience to turn them into sprinkles. I have zero interest in doing that. However, Marlyn found out a perfect use for leftovers: spread a thin layer on parchment paper, let that dry overnight, and break into pieces. In this post, I share two examples of cookies using crumbled dried royal icing as part of the decoration. Full credit to Marlyn for coming up with such cool ideas. I close the post with a little hexagon-departure that I hope will inspire you for the 4th of July.
(Instagram video available here)
BICOLOR HEXAGON COOKIES
Starting with the Terrazzo cookies, you will need a little parchment paper cut in the shape of your cookie. Distribute the pieces on top in any arrangement you like, any color combination. Gently cover with white Royal icing, place the cookie on top, and flip the whole thing over. Let it dry overnight (very important). Peel the paper off and then all you need to do is make the edges neat with a boo-boo stick or a microplane, and finalize a decoration on the edges. A little Diamond dust is always a nice final touch too. Make sure to watch Marlyn’s video to get a better understanding about how it all works.
It can be a little tricky to get the pieces to stay in the place you want them to be, and also to make sure the icing does not sip too much under the pieces. I did not get cookies as beautiful as Marlyn’s (check her IG video here), but I am still pretty happy with them. After making the edges straight, you can add icing and sanding sugar to get the final look.
The bicolor is quite a bit simpler to make and I also love the effect, very modern. The coral color got a bit of air-brush while still wet, a technique I’ve been using often. Again, this step is optional, but it does add a lot to the design.
Once both sides set, pipe the center with white Royal icing and lay the pieces on top. One more little detail about the icing fragments: before crumbling into pieces, I followed Marlyn’s tip and air-brushed the dried layer with a little gold. The step is optional, of course, but it adds a nice shimmer.
This basic pattern works with many different types of decorations, I’ve used the crumbles, nonpareils, and sanding sugar for variety.
As I promised in the beginning of this post, here is my little departure on this design, adapting it for the upcoming holiday of 4th of July.
I am married to a watermelon-addict. When I saw that Marlyn created a trilogy of watermelon-based sugar cookies, I knew I was going to make them all. And so I did. Not in the same day, mind you… but taking the scenic route, which is the best route, always. Each cookie brought a little new thing to try. I cannot pick a favorite, love them all. Thank you, Marlyn! So here they are, in order of increasing complexity.
A simple cookie shape, made more interesting when playing the role of a watermelon. New trick learned in this cookie? Using the air-brush to add some pizzazz to the basic color. The air-brush works on the wet icing, no need to wait for it to crust, in fact it is best used this way to get the desired effect.
WATERMELON ICE CREAM CONE
From this cookie the main lesson learned was piping the cone. Super nice technique that can be used in many designs… think baskets for instance!
Next time I might reduce the amount of icing in the piped swirls over the cone, maybe make a single layer of swirls instead of two, or piping a flattish layer then adding sprinkles on top. Who knows, maybe there are watermelon-shaped sprinkles out there?…
This time I switched things around and went with a Chocolate-Mint Sugar Cookie base. For this design, the techniques incorporated are related with air-brushing: making a shield (I used regular paper) and cutting two stencils (like described in the previous post).
The shield (top left) is used to airbrush the edges of the glass. Then two different stencils come to play, one to make the light pink base, and the other to intensify the pink color.
All these designs were demonstrated in a single video tutorial by Marlyn, from Montreal Confections, in her Patreon page, where you also have access to a printout for the templates. You need to be a supporter to have access to this series. If you are passionate about cookie decorating, I believe that becoming a supporter is a great move. Nothing beats getting detailed instructions from a pro in a format that allows you to ask questions and get feedback.
To make these cookies, I followed this very detailed youtube video shared by Haniela. The great thing about following “cookiers” around is that you never run out of new things to try. For this particular adventure, I had to cut my own stencil, a process that was not as smooth as I hoped, but not too bad either. If you don’t want to decorate using the combination of air-brush and stencil, it is totally fine to use a food pen to add the central design. The advantage of the air-brush is the delicate variation in tone it gives. Plus, you can also do as Haniela showed in her video and use two different colors if you want to get fancy. Since this was my first time, I stayed with a single orange tone.
To get this template, or any other of Haniela’s many available stencils, visit her ko-fi shop with a click here. The cookies need to dry fully after icing, so that the stencil can sit on top of it and not hurt the Royal icing base. Once you do the air-brushing (or paint the design with a food safe pen), it’s time to face the dreadful fine piped lines. I’ve been forcing myself to do decorations that rely on it, so I get some practice. The design made by the stencil is all you need to guide you.
The cookie in the center was piped with the smallest tip, a PME #1. It ended up more delicate, definitely my favorite, but by far the trickiest one to make. In her Instagram posts, Haniela shows many examples of mandala cookies, all starting with the same basic air-brushed center.
I had some extra cookies that were decorated with a store-bought stencil using the same basic colors.
I will definitely go back to the Mandala motif in the near future, the possibilities of colors and shapes are endless! Recently Hani made some with the fine lines in black and they turned out spectacular. I am dying to give that a try too…
Special gadgets used in this post:
Stencil cutting tool (it requires some patience and perseverance)
Glass board (surface to cut the stencil)
I promised you more butterflies, and here I am to deliver them. Haniela skillfully joined one beautiful springtime theme (the cherry blossom) with one gorgeous creature of our planet to come up with these unique cookies. Her tutorial can be found on youtube, or a more detailed version on her Patreon page. I made just a minor modification by using fondant molded blossoms instead of Royal icing transfers.
The sugar cookies were made with my default recipe, flavored with Sakura extract and a little vanilla. The mold I used for the flowers was from this store at etsy.com, but it is currently unavailable. Amazon has several types that might work, like this one.
The molded flowers were painted with luster powder in two tones of pink and the center got a touch of Egyptian gold. After the cookies are flooded and decorated using black and white Royal icing, they are allowed to crust before the final decorations are added: brown tree branches and green small leaves. Finally, glue the flowers, and you are done. Haniela added additional decoration to the wings of her butterflies, but I simplified mine a bit, knowing my limitations.
The molded blossoms will also work well on a simple white butterfly. I painted the body in Egyptian gold for additional contrast. And bling. Because bling makes a baker sing… (sorry, could not resist).
If you want the whole truth, this white butterfly was born because I ran out of black icing. There. Confession is good, I feel a lot better.
A couple of weeks ago I spotted something on Instagram and fell in love with it instantly. It was in the page of one incredibly talented baker, Mary Mansfield, check her work here. I dropped her a message asking some details about her painting technique, and she was adorable, super helpful. So I took a deep breath and tried it myself. Basically you flood the cookies with white Royal icing, let it set for a day, and then use diluted gel dye to paint them. I tried Everclear and I tried water. Everclear has so much alcohol in it that it dries super fast and gives the icing a matte finish. I had trouble controlling the intensity of the color and their mixing, so I ended up switching to water. But you should figure out what works best for you.
This is your white canvas… I went with small cookies, because the smaller they are, the less likely I would mess them up beyond recognition as butterflies. Or so I thought. Once they are flooded and totally dry, you can gather your weapons of choice and start playing. My favorite of all was this blue baby. Reminds me of some that used to be common in Brazil.
You can use sharp strokes with the brush, or add a little water or alcohol to the surface of the icing and then do a kind of watercolor painting touching the dye on that wet spot and moving it around. Things sometimes get a bit out of control. I told Phil that this painting is similar to driving on icy roads: you slide here, you do a save there, you almost crash, but in the end it’s all good. If not happy with the outcome, follow my advice to quickly eat the evidence. As to the body, add it after the paint is dry, using toothpaste consistency royal icing. Let it dry and if desired, paint it.
So here are my 12 little butterflies, in different tones and styles…
THE RED SERIES
In some cases I painted the bodies because they developed craters, a real nightmare that I’m not that good at avoiding. Additionally, when the paint dried on the wings, I went back on some and added a few details with silver or gold luster powder.
THE BLUE SERIES
And the final four, which in fact were the ones I made first, so I was struggling a bit. Particularly with the one of the top left, there were “issues.” I went through a few “Oh, NO, what have I done?”, but decided to keep it. It also developed a huge crater, the poor baby. One abused butterfly.
You might think this is too time-consuming, but in fact the dye dries so fast that you cannot spend too much time fiddling with it. Decide what you want to do, pick a set of two, three colors at most to work on a single cookie, and hope for the best.
Butterflies are one of my favorite subjects to “cookie.” I have a few more examples to share in the near future, using different techniques. So hopefully I’ll see you back here soon!
I dedicate this post to Dr. Aritri Majumdar.
From black and white, I do a 180. This time is all about color. The mini-projector is the easiest way to deal with all the designs, so if you are seriously into cookie decorating, I must tell you this little gadget will shake your world, in a very positive way… Please, sit back and let me show you some of the cookies that happened in our kitchen in the past few weeks.
Mandalas are wonderful to play with…
And you don’t have to limit yourself to simple circular shapes, the same basic style can be applied to many different designs…
Mandala or not, just embrace the colors, and have fun!
All cookies were made either with my default Neat Edges recipe, or the recently blogged Spicy Chocolate Cookie. For decoration, links to the food safe pens and luster powders can all be found in the end of this post.
One of the things I love the most is to bake a bunch of cookies without anything specific in mind. I cut them in different shapes, flood them with white Royal icing, and wait 24 hours for the icing to fully set. At that point, the fun begins. Whenever I feel like it (but with my cappuccino first thing in the morning is a favorite time), I decorate a few of them. You know I love colorful stuff, but there’s something to be said about a simple, black and white design. I share a few today, all made in the past few weeks.
All you need is a fine tip food safe black pen. My favorite for this type of work is this one. If you don’t have a projector, any design can be transferred using tissue paper, like Tanya, Tent-Baker-Extraordinaire, shows in her sweet video here. For more complicated designs, you won’t need to transfer every single line, you can do the overall frame and then fill in by hand with the fine pen.
Wild cats are a nice subject for the black and white approach…
But other animals will do great too…
If you are a horse person, a dog person, a cat person, there’s always the right cookie for you!
I also like to do a minimal painting sometimes, on a mostly black and white design…
The internet is an endless source of cool images, I save them and slowly work my way through. I close this post with perhaps my favorite image of this group, although the wolf put up a huge fight…