I don’t know what it is like to wake up to the sound of bombs. To be forced to say goodbye to a husband, a father, a brother, and flee with a suitcase and kids. Or to stay and face the unthinkable. From far away I admire the courage of the Ukrainian people, and the leadership of Mr. Zelenskyy. May they be strong enough to win this senseless war. May we all help in any way we possibly can.
Month: February 2022
EGGSCELLENT EGG HUNT: ONLINE CLASS WITH AMY
Today I share the outcome of yet another zoom event organized by Amy, from Seriously Sweet at Davis St… This time the whole set was Easter-inspired, and I am absolutely smitten by this collection… Several different techniques were used to make them. We finished the six cookies in under 2 hours, they went by so fast. Yes, we had fun! I invite you to join her Facebook group, so you consider joining us next time.
Before class, we were supposed to bake the cookies, have two of the Easter eggs iced in white and fully set, and make a few Royal icing transfers using the templates that Amy designed and shared earlier. A few more details as fondant decorations, and we were all set!
Below you see some of the steps involved for a few of the cookies.
The lamb used thick icing pressure-piped to make the wool appearance. And the eyes were Royal icing transfers, super cute… The watercolor egg used a technique new to me, coupling luster powder with everclear sprayed with a little atomizer. So cool! The wooden sign used royal icing sculpting, and the egg a nice wet-on-wet pulled with a needle.
To me, the trickiest technique once again was using the stencil coupled with thick royal icing. The present version was a little more complex than the one we made for Christmas cookies because we now used three different colors at the same time. I barely managed to get the design to show, as you can see in the photo below, on the left.
I loved them all, and everybody did well in the class, even those who were just beginning to decorate cookies, because Amy goes at a nice pace, and explains everything in great detail.
It is hard to pick favorites, but my heart flips between the two below…
And to add my own interpretation to my favorite cookie of this series, I made a batch of chocolate dough and used it for the sheep, in a way that considerably reduces the amount of Royal icing. It does not have the same dramatic look of Amy’s version, but if thick icing is a concern for those enjoying your cookies, this version might please you.
All you need is to ice the body in white, wait 20 minutes or so and add texture with a fondant ball…
Once that is done, pipe and/or glue your decorations and you are done!
Amy, thank you for another great class, I can hardly wait for the next!
CARDINALS IN A TREE: A PIZZA BOX SET
Marlyn first shared this tutorial last August in her Patreon site (you can also watch a simplified version here). At the time I felt a bit intimidated by all the details, and kept postponing the making of it. I said to myself “maybe I can do it before the end of this coming winter.” With a little more than 1 month to spare, I finally went for it… And now of course, I think I should have done it sooner!
Let me walk you through the steps… It all starts with baking the base cookies cutting them according to the template that Marlyn designed. Additionally, two cardinal cookies that will fit together, and the decorative corner pieces.
Added details are the cute acorn pieces, made by coating brown M&Ms with Royal icing, using a small petal tip. And if you look closer, you’ll see she uses a technique to add white splatter on the blue base, mimicking snow falling.
The corner pieces are decorated with piping consistency green and brown…
And of course, the most important component is the cardinal couple…
The whole design is very clever… The branches are piped following the separation between the base components, and once that is fully set, Marlyn gilds the lily further: piping green leaves and adding a little snow on top of the branches, white icing + sanding sugar.
Of course, the cardinal cookies stand alone without any problem… I love them so much!
OF BEARS AND BUNNIES IN LOVE
I firmly believe that celebrating love should be a year-long event. Today I share a few cookies using Royal icing with a thicker consistency to achieve a subtle tri-dimensional effect. I’ve tried it in the past but had trouble with it. My icing was never thick enough to hold a shape. I am slowly finding my way through this method. In the end of the post I share links for the two tutorials I followed to make these cookies.
Below you see the basic steps to make the hugging bears… Flood the base with pink, let it fully set. Draw the basic outline and fill sections that do not touch with icing, allowing each section to set before moving to the next one.
Once all the piping is done and fully set, I used luster dust and vodka to add some shading and Sugarprism Tuxedo Black with a very thin brush to add the outline and details. A little bronze luster powder for the nose. For the eyes I used a black food pen, and a tiny touch of white royal icing.
A little black beaded border to close the design…
It is not easy for me to paint fine lines with a brush, but it’s another example of stuff that if you avoid, you’ll never improve. So for the bears I faced the challenge.
And now, it’s time to change gears and focus on the bunnies…
The process is more or less the same, except that the background was royal icing painted with a brush to get some texture.
I used a Sugarbelle food pen that is perfect to draw a design without showing too much like a black pen would. It is sold in a set of three, and they are called “template markers.” Available here. One of my pens arrived dry, and that seems to be a common problem with them, so keep that in mind.
For the black lines I went with a food pen, because the lines needed to be precise and sharp.
Now, let’s talk about the tutorials. Those are a little unusual. For instance, I don’t know who is the person doing the actual decorating. The owner of the etsy shop is called Yulia, and the shop is based in California, however the video is probably narrated in a foreign language. They cut that sound and play music in the background instead. A text in English explaining the basics pops up as she works. Compared to real tutorials online in which you can listen to the explanation as everything is happening, it is a bit awkward. But the cookies are all very beautiful and the explanations make them doable. You get a series of files to download, with template, materials, and a video which is usually more than 1 hour long. This is the link to the etsy shop, where you can browse through all the many lessons available.
STAY TUNED FOR MY NEXT COOKIE ADVENTURE…
GINGERBREAD HEART COOKIES
HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!
Today I share something special… my first tridimensional cookie set, following the guidelines of Tunde Dugantsi, from Tunde’s Creations (blog post with recipe and all details here). I’ve had these molds for a while, but lacked the courage to try them. I am so glad I did… I was quite nervous about the whole thing, from rolling the dough, shaping on the mold, and baking, but it all went quite smoothly. I am over the moon with my 3D-gingerbread babies!
Let me walk you through the process of making them…. The composite picture below shows the molds – they come with a set of 12 plus the perfect cutter to the the dough in the right dimension. Tunde shares her optimized recipe for the hearts, a classic gingerbread with plenty of cinnamon, ginger and cloves. To make un-molding easy, the molds are lightly sprayed with oil. I had no issues to bake them, a sharp pointed knife gently inserted on the side helped them release from the mold.
I was worried about the dimensions of the cookies after baking, but for the most part they paired quite nicely.
Once they are baked, the cookies are painted with a mixture of egg yolk, heavy cream, and red food dye.
After the painting dries, the real fun begins… Decorating the cookies with Royal icing. First I sketched a small heart shape in the center, and used that as a guideline for the design, piping with a PME tip 1.5. Once that is fully set, the two cookies can be joined together with Royal icing, adding some goodies inside (I used caramel-filled M&Ms), and a ribbon. A little more Royal icing piped as beads on the opening between the two cookies and the 3D cookie is done!
It was a very nice project that scared me to start with, but once I got the baking out of the way I felt a little more relaxed about it. The decorations made by Tunde are absolutely amazing, her skill with piping designs is unparalleled. I did what I could, simplifying things quite a bit.
The same mold can be used with different types of cookie dough. When you get the molds through Tunde’s etsy shop (click here to order), you will get a leaflet with a couple of interesting recipes in addition to the basic gingerbread. As I mentioned in my last post, love never goes out of fashion, so expect to see more 3D hearts as 2022 flies by…
FOR THE LOVE OF HEARTS
As I promised, in this post I share cookie decorating styles inspired by tutorials online, or ideas I see in places like Pinterest and Instagram.
THE FLOWERY HEART
Amber (@sweetambs) showed how to make this flowery cookie during a live Facebook (click here to watch it), and I jumped on it right away. It is a basic wet-on-wet icing. After flooding with a background color (I used white), you pick one or two different colors for flowers and you choice of color for leaves. Those end up as spots without precise edges. The icing is allowed to fully set, and then a fine black pen brings the full design to life.
The bead border I made with white, and later painted it with luster gold + vodka. The steps to make this cookie are shown in the composite photo below.
THE COLORFUL HEART
This design was inspired by Marlyn’s recent Facebook live (available here), in which she made amazing “tassle-heart” cookies. I simplified the design quite a bit, and used two of my favorite colors: dusty rose and wedgewood. Then it is just a matter of playing with fine lines and dots, in any way you feel like. Making the hole in the center gives these cookies a totally different look which I like a lot. The process is simple, you flood with two colors, eye-balling the shape. That has to set for a few hours. Then piping consistency icing in wedgewood is used to make the details. The cookies look nice without the extra piping, if you prefer. They have a classic look that way. Or you can add a few dots using wet-on-wet.
I consider this a work in progress, as I did not hit the consistency of the royal icing correctly to do the design. I followed one of Amber’s tutorials, and used her own stencil to guide the piping, but that is one technique that still eludes me. So I intend to get back into this in the near future. The process starts by flooding the cookie and allowing that layer to fully set. Then, the stencil is used to air-brush with a color that will be light enough to get hidden under the piping. I chose gold.
Once I realized how difficult it was to pipe the design, I did a few extra cookies skipping that step, and just allowing the stencil to shine… So consider that if you run into the same issues I did!
THE LACE HEART
This was made following a Facebook live from Haniela (available here). I actually used a cookie that had a stencil image underneath, so you can see some golden bits that should not be there, but I wanted to practice this new (to me) method. I will make it again because I love the look.
After piping the design, the opening is painted with a very dilute Royal icing. If you hit the consistency of the piping correctly, this is actually not too difficult. I’d say it looks more complicated than it is, but of course, I still need practice, as my fine lines were just a tad thick.
SUGARPRISM PAINTED HEART
This one was made during a Facebook live tutorial by Michelle, and it is my third time joining her FREE classes. I still cannot quite believe I painted that without any projector or transfer of design to the surface of the cookie. She is truly like a magician guiding the hands of those watching. I made one during class and a second one the following day by myself, watching the video again. You can find Michelle on instagram and facebook.
Not exactly a tutorial, but I’ve seen this type of design on Instagram and Pinterest, and improvised my own. Super simple, you start with a few lines and then use the needle to draw lines in both directions A few little dots close the deal. All wet-in-wet, which is the most forgiving type of sugar cookie decoration.
THE MENDED HEART
Another design inspired by many similar ones out in the IG-Pinterest universe. Divide the heart in sections, decorate each any way you want, let that set. Use piping consistency icing to add stitches, and a border. DONE!
I hope you could find some inspiration for your cookies, as Valentine’s Day approaches! I feel that there’s never enough time to cover all the styles that appeal to me, but in a way the heart motif is one that I don’t mind doing regularly throughout the year, so expect to see more…
FOLLOWING MY HEART
Yes, it is that time of the year, all we can think about in the cookie department is romance, hearts, reds and pinks. I have quite a few cookie ideas to share – as I followed several tutorials in the recent past – but today I launch this party with my own designs.
THE PUZZLED HEART
This cookie cutter was a gift from Tanya, my tent-baking friend. She used her 3D printer to bring it to life. Last year she made a stunning composition using it, and I decided to give it a try now. Several decorating methods were used: brush embroidery for the small heart off-center, texture with a fondant ball, wet-on-wet and air-brushing with stencil.
It is very important to use a recipe without any leavening agent when making a cookie puzzle in which the pieces should join together nicely after baking. I baked them slightly apart from each other, and used my default chocolate cookie recipe which has no baking powder. Once that is done, the decorating fun can begin. All the wet-on-wet and the brush embroidery can be finalized once the cookies are cold. The air-brushing requires many hours for setting the base, even better if you do it the following day. The texture is added about 30 minutes after flooding, but you must be gentle and carefully test it. You don’t want to break the skin, just form a nice rounded indentation. However, don’t worry if it cracks at certain spots, in the end it won’t be a problem.
I like this type of design because it is so exotic and unique. I used this set of cutter + stencil. Very high quality cutter, it comes with two stencils, I’ve only tried one of them so far. Cookies are flooded in different colors, then the pattern is air-brushed. All that’s left to do is pipe the design with a Wilton 3 tip, to get thick lines.
In a similar spirit, but with a free-hand approach, my duo of “Game of Thrones” inspired hearts…
I did not know exactly where I was going with them, but in the end, I loved the combination of gray and fuchsia. I flooded the cookies in white, piped a simple design, and then used luster powder + vodka to paint the different sections.
In this set I used chocolate cookies because I find that the brush embroidery looks particularly interesting with a dark background. Very easy to decorate, once you do the embroidery, just flood the center in any color of your choice, and add dots while still wet. I like to pipe dots of different sizes because then a random pattern looks nice. When the dots are all the same size, the spacing needs to be more carefully planned, as the ones below.
Same style in red and white, and a little departure using fine lines to make a lace ribbon in the center. After that the upper and lower regions are flooded with red. It is a bit more work, so making a dozen of those would be time consuming and tedious maybe. But I made only a couple, to practice the fine lines. I try to incorporate a design with fine lines in some of my weekly bakes.
Another style, super simple. Gray at the edges, white to flood the center, and when that sets a red food pen is used to make the red stitches. Easier than piping, but you can definitely pipe Royal icing if you prefer.
Cannot stop making those at every change I get… They closed my latest post with the Gnomes, and now they show up again. The one above is my favorite Zentangle pattern because it is easy and fast to do, but it gives the impression of being labor-intensive.
Not quite zentangles, but in the same style of repetitive pattern…
These were imagined by my beloved husband, and transformed into cookies by yours truly. It turns out that I have a little daily routine with Buck, our 14 year old Jack Russell: I hold him and keep telling him over and over… “I love you to pieces”. Phil thought it would be cool to make a little series celebrating different pets. I used a mini-projector for all except the kitten, which was – very bravely – drawn free-hand, from a cartoon I found online.
THE BAROQUE HEART
For this set of cookies, I used Cricut to cut a stencil exactly in the shape of the cookie. Then all that’s needed is flooding the base, allowing to to fully set, then air-brush the design. I used fuchsia from Sugarflair as the base, and air-brushed purple, which I also used later to make a beaded border. With PME tip #2.
The trickiest part is air-brushing. To minimize the possibility of smudging, I use a screen placed on top of the stencil, but that makes it hard to judge how well the dye is reaching the cookie. It is not very easy to get all cookies with exactly the same intensity of color, but maybe that’s part of their charm… never two exactly alike!
This closes the series of hearts I’ve made since the year started.
In the next blog post, I will share versions made following tutorials online.
OF GNOMES AND UNICORNS
To open the month of February, I bring two mythical creatures I am quite fond of. The gnomes were adaptations from a recent tutorial during a Facebook live with Hani (click here to watch, it starts at 21 minutes). The unicorn was my own design, using a stencil made with Cricut. I have a rocky relationship with my Cricut, he’s been mean to me a few times, and deeply hurt my feelings. But then, the unicorn happened, and we are in good terms again. Until next storm. Which may or may not be already brewing…
These were designed by Haniela, she used a cute little envelope as decoration, made with royal icing transfers. I had some fondant hearts hanging around, and decided to put them to use. The noses are made with Royal icing transfers, or you can pipe after the base is set, which is what I did for the feet and hands.
His name is Felix…
He is the guardian of measuring spoons…
This is a large cookie, because I wanted to have enough space to pipe the design. After flooding in white and allowing the base to fully set, I used my stencil to air-brush in a sheen, light gold color, just to guide the piping.
Next, the lines were piped in gray using a Wilton 3 icing tip so that they would end up thick and form a solid margin to flood in colors later. The eyebrows were painted black with a food safe pen.
So here they are, my mythical little creatures ready to celebrate a season of love!