THE MANDALA HAND

Of the many cookie adventures I’ve embarked in the past year, I suppose this was the most challenging. Maybe. It is a heavy competition with the Chinese New Year of the Tiger set, also designed by Marlyn. It involved cutting four different stencils, layering the different colors by air-brushing, and once all is said and done, piping fine lines all over the design. I made the cookie twice, and share two different ways to do it. The second version a little easier because you will be using a food safe pen to make the outline.

This is a very large cookie, about 7 inches tall. It needs to be large or you will have too much trouble working the details. Marlyn shared the stencils needed for the air-brushing. I had some trouble adjusting their sizes to match nicely, but managed to make the design work. It is so busy that some small variations did not compromise too much. Below you see the steps, each stencil is used in a particular order so that the colors will not only work on their own, but also combine with the previous color added, to give a different one. Super clever.

The first stencil is the yellow color, and also requires a mask (eye-shaped) so that the eye stays white. The air-brush would blow that mask away, so a little magnet is added to keep it in place – however, when I decided to tweak that layer of color, I forgot to put the magnet back, and the mask flew away, so some yellow went into the white region. Live and learn. Cookie and learn, actually. The top right photo has two colors layered already (yellow and pink). The bottom right has the blue stencil added, and finally the bottom left shows all the colors applied (yellow, pink, blue, and green). Pink and yellow at parts combine to give orange, and blue and pink combine to give purple. Once all that is done and dry, the fine line piping can begin…

It is really a labor of love, but so much fun to see this cookie take shape!

I made a second one the following day because I felt I needed to practice. And decided to try filling the outlines with a food pen instead of piping Royal icing. It gives it a different look, and it is considerably easier to do, so keep that in mind. In this case, I flooded the background with gray icing. And added a spray of PME luster over the whole cookie once it was dry.

Every once in a while, I try to challenge myself by making a cookie that scares me to death… this was one. Huge thank you to Marlyn, who manages to demonstrate every single step so well that common mortals feel like they just might be able to cookie-it!

PLAYING WITH LEAVES

Inspired by a recent Facebook live from Haniela, this is a fun, unique way to decorate a simple leaf-shaped cookie. A mixture of textures, colors, and sprinkles come together to play with the basic design. Some cookies used the perforated mat as a component of the design, similar to what I shared in the latest online class by Amy (click here). Haniela used piped Royal icing flowers, I went with fondant decorations.

The cookie in the center is from the Mother’s Day Florals shared a couple of weeks ago (see post here).

For some of the cookies, the leaf was divided in two, the background painted with gold (or lightly brushed with a thin layer of green royal icing), and after flooding the other half, cookie crumbs dyed with green were added for textural contrast. Haniela’s tutorial goes over every detail of all these designs. Video available here.

Texture can also be added by laying a piece of crumpled parchment paper on wet Royal icing, and allowing that to set overnight. Once the paper is gently peeled off, the texture stays on the surface. Pretty cool technique. You see those in the picture below.

They can form a nice trio by coupling with a happy sun cookie, made with a spider-web cutter
(design by Marlyn, from Montreal Confections).

And the set below would be perfect for a Mother’s Day gift…

I love the use of the perforated mat to help decorate a cookie, and have some ideas for future projects using this approach. Stay tuned!

STENCIL FUN: A TESLA COOKIE SET

I’ve had my Cricut cutter since Christmas last year, a very thoughtful gift from my beloved husband. The learning curve to play with that baby is steep. So far I’ve mostly used stencils available online – many provided by Marlyn, from Montreal Confections, many from shops at etsy.com. In this post, I share with you my first adventure designing stencils myself. They were all super simple, using images available in the internet, and a straightforward cut. Stencils are great to design cookies for special occasions. This set was made for a potluck party we hosted recently for all Tesla owners in our town.

The simplest one was just the Tesla logo with the characteristic modern font. Once the image is found online, Cricut can size it to the desired cookie area. For that cookie, I flooded the base with red, let it set overnight, and spray painted with black. Since this is such a simple image, it is very important that the lines are sharp. I use a screen between the stencil and the air-brush to make sure no under-spray takes place. That takes a little practice, but now I feel a bit more confident using it. Some screens sold especially for cookies can be expensive. I am quite happy with this one, that is large enough to cover any size stencil, and also more affordable.

For the second type of cookie, I went with a gray background and either black or red air-brushing of the stencil image.

Yet another image – also found with a search for Tesla clipart in google – used a gold background and brown air-brushing. And finally the classic image of Tesla Model X (the one we own) with the Falcon wings open. I made some silver, some black.

Just for variety, I made a set of charging stations using the mini-projector and food pen.

This was a fun set to plan and make. Stencils make it quite straightforward, comparing the time needed to make each of the charging station cookies, the ones with the stencil are ready in the blink of an eye!

You can get by ordering stencils online, but it will limit a lot what you can do. In many cases you can order a stencil in different sizes, but there is little flexibility. For instance, some might offer three sizes, small, medium, or large, and you will have to bake your cookies to fit those sizes. If you own a Cricut (or Silhouette), you can tweak stencils to your needs, and also make your own. I have a lot to learn still, and to be absolutely honest, I feel quite discouraged at times. But I guess that is expected when learning a new skill.

A VINTAGE DRESS SET

A couple of weeks ago during a weekly Facebook live, Marlyn hosted a tutorial in which people could decorate in real time with her. Cookies were hand-cut and baked before class. Handbag and shoes were not part of the live demo, she had a little tutorial to show how to do those previously posted in her Patreon site. The skirt and blouse had some pre-decorating done, and were then finalized during the event. This set would be a perfect gift for Mother’s Day, or Teacher’s Appreciation Day, or a simple “I Think You Are Special” offering. You can watch the whole video following this link.

The cookies required stencils to provide guidelines for piping, but you could conceivably draw that free-hand. Some of the steps of the preparation are detailed below

For the shoes, after flooding in white, the stencil is used to add the red details, using an air-brush. You could draw them by hand and fill the red using a food safe pen. Once that is done, the rest is all piping with Royal icing. The shoes were by far the trickiest for me, my first pair was not fit to be seen in public and had to be consumed as evidence of a cookie-crime. I did a little better on the second pair, which is the one included in the group photo.

The handbag has a very clever design. The rough texture is made with sugar dyed with blue food color. I love the tiny details of gold, which are sequin sprinkles such as these. They also go in the blouse, tying the design together nicely.

For the skirt, a petal tip was used to decorate the border, and after that flooding with yellow + air-brushing lines to guide in the final decoration during class.

So these components were all we needed to attack the decoration with Marlyn…

It went by super fast, and again I learned a lot. This basic design can be tweaked to do all kinds of colors and patterns but I loved the look that Marlyn planned for the set. She puts so much attention to small details, they do elevate a cookie to higher levels. And often it’s not that complicated, but just a little something extra to consider. Like the lighter color on the inside of the shirt, the ruffles on the bottom of the shirt and skirt, the little golden sequins.

There we were, hard at work!

Marlyn and Hani, thanks for another great live session on Facebook! I am not sure there will be more of this kind, but I had fun with every single one of them so far…

ONE YEAR AGO: For the Love of a Golfer

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!

Around 50 countries celebrate Mother’s Day on the second Sunday of May… If you are curious about this issue, in the end of this post I include a world map with all the details. Floral cookies are often the theme. Today I share with you a small collection made in the past few weeks. Some following tutorials online, some of my own making.

Perhaps my favorite, this version was inspired from the one and only Amber….

Round cookies are flooded in the color of your choice. Amber then uses a needle to scratch the basic design and pipes beads and details. She made a central flower with Royal icing, I went with fondant decorations sprayed with PME luster. It is a very good opportunity to practice bead piping, as you will be doing it over and over. Gather your Zen…

From yours truly…

This was my first time coupling decorated chocolate discs with Royal iced cookies. I love making these decorations because they are super effective but quite simple. For a detailed explanation, you can visit an old blog post of mine with a click here. You can take an easier route and use candy melts, as it is such a small component of the cookie, but it is up to you how much work you’d like to invest in it. I flooded the cookie with dusty rose icing, waited just 5 minutes and set the disc on top. Once it was all set, I piped a border in brown. The universe of chocolate transfer sheets is huge, like all universes are… I have a hard time picking patterns, but these butterflies won my heart at first sight.

From Haniela, a star-to-flower cookie flip…

I loved this cookie so much! It is a little more involved, but Haniela’s tutorial goes through every step in deep detail (video available here, starting at 10 min). Piping Royal icing in sections, air-brushing, and fine lines are all part of this wonderful cookie.

From yours truly…

A cookie flip of my own… Ice cream cone cookie cutter upside down, made into a little basket with a flower and leaves.

From Haniela, Daffodils


Full tutorial available here… I actually made these cookies around Easter 2021, and never blogged about them, so better late than never. For the center, piped details, Haniela mixes two colors, yellow and orange, for a beautiful effect.



From Amber, two floral motifs…

Brush embroidery is one effective way to bring elegance to a cookie, and Amber is a total pro at this. I used her Royal icing recipe that calls for a higher amount of meringue powder for both of these floral cookies. It has a little more elasticity and it takes slightly longer to crust, so when you need to pipe several colors it is easier to work with. Like the example below, many different colors need to be incorporated and worked with a needle, so if the icing crusts too quickly, you’ll have problems.

For the above cookie, you can follow Amber’s tutorial, available here. Other options are shown in the tutorial also, all quite amazing.

From yours truly…

Very simple design, cookies were flooded with wedgewood blue, once fully set I painted simple flowers using Sugarprism. A similar pattern was recently featured on macarons (see here).

Another adventure using Sugarprism, painting flowers over white iced cookies. I used pink, red, black and green colors. These are very small cookies, two-bites…

Stick cookies, a format I adore… Very simple also, using Royal icing transfers set over iced cookies. Simple lines with green Royal icing, piping consistency, and you are done!

I hope you enjoyed this small selection of florals to celebrate Mother’s Day… Speaking of it, as I promised in the beginning, here is the day around the world

picture from this site.

ONE YEAR AGO: Stained Glass Sugar Cookies

3D MACARONS, THE SAGA

First things first, the denomination 3D is not quite right, as every single cookie in the known cookie universe is tri-dimensional. But, I will stretch the definition of the term and use it, as “hemisphere” macarons is not a description I find very appealing. As to saga, all I can say is that this project is not for sissies. Quite likely it will not work on your first attempt. Or second. But it is worth persisting, because the light in the end of that tunnel comes in the form of some pretty cute little macarons. All credit goes to the Queen of Macarons, Phay Shing (check her amazing blog with a click here, and her IG page here).

The basic goal is to have a macaron shell shaped as a little hemisphere. It sits on top of a regular macaron for the base. I followed the tutorials from Phay available in her blog, and used both Swiss and French meringue as the basic recipe. It requires a very delicate macaronage balance because the batter cannot be too loose or it will slide off the silicone base, or too thick, because it won’t form a smooth surface. I had successes and failures with both the Swiss and the French, so it is more a question of how you handle the batter than the formula itself.

Ideally, once you pipe over the silicone, the batter should reach the bottom and not accumulate there, or you will have a lip extending off the base, and it may also compromise the circular shape you are hoping for. As to baking, they take maybe a couple of minutes longer than the regular shells, and I did not have any issues releasing them from the mold. I let them cool for about 10 minutes, then gently probed the base with a thin spatula.

Another consideration is the filling. I did not want to have a big amount of buttercream inside, so for the ladybugs, I included two mini chocolate-Easter eggs to occupy some of the space, and completed with buttercream to close the shells.

This was my first successful attempt at 3D macs, some of the shells were not uniform enough to make a nice lady bug, but I was happy with the outcome anyway…

One of my adventures resulted in shells that had a bit of a rough texture. That’s when a turtle comes in handy…. In fact, lots of different decorations will work with this type of macaron… These were all painted with Sugarprism.

My most recent adventure involved little bees. In this case, I added 10% pecan flour to my default French meringue recipe, and that gave a nice speckled look to the shells. After painting the bee pattern, I glued little wings made with wafer paper. The regular shells were painted with Sugarprism, which was also used for painting the bee’s body.

To fill the shells, I used tiny little M&Ms plus a honey-lemon buttercream.

I cannot sugar coat this pill, those are labor intensive, and at least for me, half of the shells piped in silicone won’t be good enough to use. I imagine this success rate will go up the more I practice. Phay makes amazing macaron productions, including cute teacups in which she serves the shell with the opening up, glues a handle also make from macaron batter, and a regular shell serves as the little plate underneath the cup. Totally adorable. I have a long ways to go, but every marathon starts with the first step…

ONE YEAR AGO: My First Cookie Platter

AMY’S FABULOUS FLORAL CLASS

I fell in love with these cookies moment she shared their pictures to announce the online event. I would not say this was a beginner’s level adventure, but Amy explains each step so well, that I believe even someone very new to cookie decorating could follow. Plus, to give you an idea of her level of detail when preparing for the event, the week before she uploaded SIX videos of cookie preparation. Some cookies had to be flooded, some fondant decorations had to be made and painted. It is a set perfect for Mother’s Day or any romantic occasion. Engagements, weddings… Pure beauty.

The set is designed as seven hexagon cookies to form a beautiful platter when joined together. One of the things that are required is baking the cookies over a perforated mat. Actually, these mats are a complete game changer as far as cookie baking goes, so I highly recommend you get one. I simply never bake over parchment anymore. The base of the cookies is perfect when you use the mats. Many brands available, like this one. Amy used the texture given by the mat as part of the design in two of the cookies.

The cookie on the left is flooded allowing part of the base to show. That gets painted in gold. The effect is simply amazing, don’t you think? On the right, several colors of icing in thicker consistency are smeared over the base.

The day before class, this is what we had to get ready… Several cookies flooded, some wet-on-wet flower motif, and one cookie flooded and immediately covered with embossed parchment paper.

Apart from that, fondant decorations and wafer paper decorations made and painted.

Side-note…. Amy demonstrated how the exact same silicone mold can give you two quite different flowers, depending on how much fondant (or modeling chocolate) you add to it.

There were a few techniques totally new to me, like working with edible fabric to make a bow. It is a little tricky but not that bad, actually. A little patience is required.

I also got to use this super cute ring to hold glue for the first time. It makes it a lot easier to work with the wafer paper bits and tiny sprinkles. You touch the glue with the needle and apply where you want it, no need to reach for the big bottle and risk making a mess. She included one in the box sold independently of the online class, I’ve only found it for sale in bulk (click here).

It was also my first time working with printed wafer paper, which adds a lot of elegance to a cookie.

I’ve participated of several classes online with Amy, each one teaches me so much, but this was truly special. Each cookie fascinated me. Below, my top three favorites. The first one required piping the roses and leaves on the cookie, so perhaps it was the most advanced of all, but Amy guides each step of the piping with perfect attention to details. How to hold the piping bag in the perfect angle, how to move your hand at each petal. A great learning experience!

Amy, I cannot thank you enough for yet another amazing online event. Already looking forward to our next adventure together…

DREAM CATCHER FLORAL

One of my favorite cookies of the past couple of months, I saw this design on a post in Facebook, and made my own. I simplified by using fondant flowers instead of piping them. It is not exactly a dream catcher motif, but I suppose it’s close enough….

You’ll need to get those fine lines going, the finer you can get them, the better the outcome. I went as fine as I could, but intend to repeat this type of design in the future and aim higher. Or, maybe I should say aim finer? 😉

It all starts with a frame-shape cookie cutter flooded in red. Then just eye-ball the design, going down the cookie in rows, as shown in the composite below.

For one of them, I tried to do a more complex pattern, that could have worked better with finer lines. Still, for a first attempt, I like the way they turned out. Once you have the lines piped, get some fondant flower and add them with a tiny bit of Royal icing. The leaves were piped with thick consistency icing and a very small leaf tip from Ateco (ST50).

Since I had the fine lines going, I did one more design over white background. I think they go well together.

I visualize similar designs with a background in Americolor Wedgewood, or Dusty Rose, or even a simple gold, flowers with different shapes and colors. Perfect for Mother’s Day, or just to offer to a special friend.

ONE YEAR AGO: Fun with the Mini-Projector

MY COOKIE BLOG TURNS ONE YEAR OLD!

One year. 111 posts that documented last year’s journey through the cookie universe. Today I share a few thoughts on what cookie baking and decorating means to me.

Cookies share love

Food and love are associated, for obvious reasons. You can cook a special meal, bake a cake, a pie, a loaf of bread, all to show love and appreciation, but there’s something about a cookie that makes it just perfect for that. It is small, one or two bites, it can be decorated with that particular person in mind, and if you offer someone a dozen cookies, they can last for quite some time. One of my favorite things is to design a series of cookies with someone in mind. Like this set for my favorite golfer and his buddies….

Donating cookies became a regular part of my weekly routine. I would say that 99% of my cookies are donated at the end of the day on Fridays. I like to imagine they brighten up the day of whoever gets them, particularly kids. I’ve flirted with the idea of selling my cookies, but quickly realized that it would turn a wonderful hobby into something totally different. Quite likely not better…


Cookie decorating as a skill

Let’s face it, nobody was born with a cookie in one hand and a piping bag in the other, decorating like a pro. Every single cookie artist you admire started somewhere with very basic designs, with icing that rolled off the sides, or was “wrong” on some level. Don’t ever assume you cannot do it because you are not at their level. Cookie artists are there to inspire you, not intimidate.


The pleasure of improving

There’s something about learning a new skill and detecting progress that I find immensely satisfying. I don’t care what it is. Learning a new language, getting better at skiing, completing the first marathon… Cookie decorating offers the same pleasure. Each new technique brings a challenge, often associated with initial failure and some frustration. But if you don’t give up, you will conquer whatever skill is needed. And that will become a little invisible medal on your chest that will make you feel great, and might even spread to other areas of your life.


What’s the point?

Why work so hard making a cookie that will disappear in a few seconds? I get that remark sometimes when I share photos on social media. If you feel that way, cookie decorating is not for you. First, the “work” is not really work, but pleasure. Second, if you make something knowing it won’t be around forever, it just makes it more special. Not trying to say they are on the same level, but think about sand art: amazing artists will draw intricate designs on the sand before the tide washes them over. Why spend time and energy on that type of art? Because it does not need to be permanent to be appreciated. Because when you make a special cookie design to give to someone, you truly say “you are special to me.”


Cookie decorating, patience and self-criticism

Patience: a virtue I do not have. Self-criticism, quite the opposite. There is no way to rush certain steps in cookie decorating, or you will pay a painful price. By embracing this hobby, I believe I am a little more patient in general. It did not change me completely, I still get irritated at many little things, but a little improvement is there. As to self-criticism, I try to refrain from pointing all the little boo-boos I see in my cookies, because I realize how irritating that can be. I acknowledge them, and make a point to avoid them next time around. As in everything in life, there is a fine line to navigate. We need to be kind to ourselves.

Cookie decorating as a journey

I have always envied people who can draw and paint. People who can create art from their own imagination. Cookies gave me a venue to work within my very limited artistic skills, thanks to many artists out there (you know who you are) who share their knowledge and are so supportive and helpful. The possibilities of techniques, colors, designs, are endless, and so is the learning journey. If you have any desire to start such a journey, but feel insecure about it, please take the first step. Bake that cookie.

I invite you to step with me on the second year of my personal cookie journey. I promise sprinkles and color. There will be failures.But it will all be very sweet!

ONE YEAR AGO: Welcome to my new site!

APRIL INSPIRATION POST: COLORS AND SHAPES

As I mentioned, Marlyn from Montreal Confections has been proposing challenges for her cookie-followers to work on their own. Here is the assigned task for the month of April.

That was it, my friends. Two shapes. A few colors. Go to work.

After much mental back and forth, hyperventilation, monologues around the house, I came up with a flower composition to use all colors. Had a few issues with the fine lines, but other than that, I am reasonably satisfied with my cookie set…

It all started by planning the petals around the center, and adding one leaf, making it easier to incorporate the electric green…

Once the cookies were baked and the colors mixed, the fun began… Flooding the different components and adding some wet on wet for the center.

For the final details, everything had to set for a few hours, and the colors mixed in piping consistency. I hit the dark green so well that I spent a few minutes doing a short version of the Happy Dance.
Look at those green lines! Don’t you love them? I thought so.

All that was left was some colorful piping to use the other colors, and tie the whole design together.

I really love these little challenges because they force me to do something on my own. Yet another thing to love about cookie decorating. Getting out of your comfort zone to explore the universe of colors and shapes.

Thank you, Marlyn!