PAINTED BUTTERFLIES

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!

SUGAR COOKIES: THE GROOVY SERIES

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.

SUGAR COOKIES: BLACK AND WHITE SERIES

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…