LET THE HOLIDAY BAKES BEGIN!

I admit that I’m always finding little boo-boos in my cookie projects, but every once in a while a batch makes me totally happy… This was definitely one. A million thanks go to Haniela, I slightly adapted one of her recent productions shared during a Facebook live. You can check the full tutorial for her version here (starts at 7 min 30 sec).

Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way!

So there you have it, my favorite cookie project in the past few months…

First thing to do is get the Royal icing transfer decorations ready. They can be made days, weeks in advance. Basically you pipe little rounds with yellow icing, let that set and add a band of same color in the middle. The little balls must fully set before the next step, which is drawing with a food pen the little decorations. Hani shows exactly how to do them in the video (link in the initial paragraph of this post). I used gold luster powder mixed with vodka to highlight the central ribbon. The hexagon cookie is iced with white, and after overnight drying the plaid design was air-brushed using a stencil. After that, the branches and red ribbon are piped, and the jingle bells glued. I really love these cookies!

Stay tuned for more Holiday bakes coming your way!

BABY TURKEY COOKIE PLATTER

I made this set for a person who did something very nice for me, but prefers not to be named. The cookie cutter set comes from Dots and Bows Designs. Available at etsy following this link.

Several techniques were used to make this set. For the back feathers, I used wet-on-wet for the little dots decorating three of them. The bottom feathers were flooded with Royal icing (Americolor Gold), and air-brushed with bronze sheen color using a stencil. The same bronze color was air-brushed on the edges of the feet and the head. They are a bit hidden in the final cookie composition, but you can see them below.

The body was given some texture using a little fondant ball tool, but you can also use the handle of a brush. You do that texturing once the icing sits for about 20 minutes, or a bit longer. Just be gentle. Once it was fully set, I brushed a little copper luster powder mixed with vodka, very diluted. The wings were decorated with wet-on-wet, similar to what I’ve done recently in this set.

If you omit the stencil decoration, the set can be fully made in one day. But the stencil component requires the base to be fully set, so take that in consideration when you plan it.

The black pupils were painted with a food safe black pen after the white was fully set. I did not want to mix just a little bit of black Royal icing, but do as you prefer.

Once the set was ready, I glued the pieces in place with stiff Royal icing, and placed them in a gift box with a few extra cookies. Small maple leaves, and a Zentangle heart…

HEART OF HONEY PIZZA BOX COOKIE

My final (for the time being) pizza box production, this time the inspiration came from Marlyn, with some minor modifications (IG video available here). Her original box is very clever, it was made as a gender reveal thing. Each little bee in her box was a cookie filled with a particular color. As you bite into it the gender is revealed. My little bees are simple molded fondant, and I incorporated some flower cookies and other small details around the center. A pizza box perfect for a little girl who is sweet as honey…

All cookies were chocolate, and the base was cut in a heart shape and then four pieces around it, to mimic a tree bark. The texture comes from laying a piece of wrinkled parchment paper on top of the Royal icing as soon as it is piped. That sits for many hours (overnight is best), then you can peel the paper and get the design to stay. I brushed some gold luster powder to add more contrast. You can see Marlyn demonstrating that technique here.

To get the subtle pattern on the heart, Marllyn air-brushes the image with a stencil, then uses those lines to guide the piping with Royal icing. Once that sets (30 minutes is enough as the icing is thick), a very thin royal icing of the same color is gently brushed on the surface. I finished with a little gold air-brush on the edges.

For the little flowers I made the centers as Royal icing transfers, covering them with silver non-pareils. After all the cookies are decorated and fully set, the final scene can be assembled inside the box… The little butterfly is also molded fondant.

My favorite component is the center heart, I find it very sweet and charming…

So that concludes my trilogy of pizza box cookie scenes. I am sure I will be making new ones in the near future, because I love the concept and it is so nice to adapt it for a particular occasion or person.

Pizza boxes, 7-inch square available at amazon.com

MR. SEAHORSE AND HIS FRIENDS

All cookies in this post were inspired by Instagram videos published by Marlyn, from Montreal Confections.

MR. SEAHORSE
(quick tutorial here)

A very distinguished creature, this was perhaps the most complex cookie of today’s series, but if you take your time and don’t worry too much about making it perfect, you’ll be fine. Actually this advice I should follow myself (wink, wink).

The tricky part of this cookie was its shape, very delicate and easy to break. Handle it with care. Stiff consistency was used to pipe the details of the back with a petal tip, I used 104. Once that is done, the rest is straightforward. Pink dots and drawing with black food pen were done after the base was fully dry. I added a little shimmer on the details, pearl dust powder with vodka.

RAINBOW TROUT
(quick tutorial here)

I absolutely loved making these cookies! Piping consistency for the fins, a simple white flooding on the body part. Then, the air-brushing comes (watch Marlyn’s video for the proper way to handle the gadget, it does take practice). You can play with different colors. Two fishes got additional markings with luster powder in copper color. They all got some shimmer on their fins, because bling makes everything nicer.

LITTLE TROPICAL FISH
(quick tutorial here)

These are the simplest to make and they do have a nice visual impact. All kinds of bright colors will work, it’s all wet-on-wet plus some food pen for the little details, but that step is optional.

Watch Marlyn’s video, this is a nice cookie project that you could even tackle with kids. Make sure to use PME black pearls for the eyes, because those do not bleed into the icing, a very common problem with other products. You can always paint a little black dot with a food pen to make it easier.

And here they are, swimming together…

Stay tuned for another Summer-inspired cookie concoction!

FOR THE LOVE OF FLAMINGOS

Flamingos are magnificent birds and the cookie world devotes a lot of attention to them. If you don’t believe me, do a search for “flamingo cookie cutters”, and you will see what I mean. Today I share my take on one adorable version demonstrated recently by Amy, Cookier Extraordinaire. You can follow her detailed instructions here. Cookie cutter available here.

The day before (or many days before), you’ll need to prepare the wings, which are made using a petal tip such as Wilton 104, and stiff consistency Royal Icing. Amy has printable templates in her ko-fi shop, or you can wing it (did you see what I did here? Apologies).

A little touch with pink air-brushing around the edges brightens up the cookie. I used fondant molded flowers to decorate the head of the flamingos, you can use a different shape of flower as Amy did in her tutorial. Cookie cutter used for this project from etsy.com.

Here are all my girls!

If you are a beginner cookie decorator, don’t be intimidated by this series because they are not hard to make at all. If you want to simplify, the wings can be made with a food pen instead of a transfer. The air-brushing step can also be omitted. But of course, each small detail brings a lot to the final product.

I must say I’m a bit surprised by how strong-willed flamingos can be…

Mary and Monique get along well most of the time…

But Maribel and Margaret just don’t see eye-to-eye!

Amy, thank you once again for the great tutorial, you make it all easy and fun…

That’s all for now, folks! See you next time…

VAMOS A LA PLAYA!

Some cookie projects are a complete pleasure, beginning to end. Once again I followed a tutorial from Marlyn (Montreal Confections). You can watch the basic process here, as part of a recent Live Facebook event. A full, detailed tutorial (with a nice supply list) is available in her Patreon page. The basic idea is quite simple: two colors flood the cookie, mimicking sea and sand. But then she brings the details, the real gilding of the lily. And the simple details turn each cookie into a fun, adorable beach scene.

The adventure starts with a round cookie, pick a size compatible with the decorations that will be added in the end. However, I generally dislike cookies that end up too big, so I went as small as feasible for my shells and starfish.

For the water component, Marlyn suggests painting a wavy design with the air-brush, and a final shiny coat with a spray of PME luster. Those two small details considerably embellish the cookies.

The sand component is added after the water part is fully set. I used Golden Rocks from Wilton, lightly processed in a mini-grinder. You can use Graham cracker crumbs too. Finally, brush embroidery comes in to play the role of waves. Just make sure that the Royal icing is in piping consistency and don’t use water in the brush because it can interfere with the air-brushing. It is all clearly explained in Marlyn’s tutorial, by the way.

The shells and decorations were made using this mold.

I find making decorations with silicone molds very relaxing, as you may have noticed from a recent post. And they last for a long time, so you can make them way in advance. I added a light spray of PME luster to all of them, but painting with luster powder + alcohol works great too. The spray is just faster and simpler.

If you love baking cookies, make sure to follow Marlyn through her IG page. She is always coming up with new ideas, it’s hard to keep up, but I have fun trying, that’s for sure!

AMY’S PINEAPPLE COOKIES

If you’ve been around this baby blog of mine for a while, you may have noticed that I follow a few selected “cookiers” very closely. Amy, from Seriously Sweet on Davis Street, is always inspiring me and pushing me to try more challenging techniques. At some point I will gather the courage to attempt one of her super elaborate “Tiki” creations. Hopefully soon. But today I share one small component of that series, her cute Pineapple Cookies. They were a ton of fun to make. My favorite part? The leaves, piped with a tipless bag, generating a cool 3-D texture. I was super scared to try it, but Amy’s tutorial is perfect! You can watch it here, the pineapple decorating starts around the 12 minute mark. Cutting the bag to pipe the leaves is shown at 27 minutes, give or take a few seconds. Brilliant!

It all starts with a little drawing on the baked cookie to help you out….

Then the sections of the pineapple are piped, allowing sections that are not touching each other to crust. Just 15 minutes or so, is more than enough, and you can come and complete the remaining sections.

Once the pineapple segments are crusted, Amy suggests using the air-brush to spray the edges with a very light touch of green. Ideally try to get all the outlines of each section, working very gently. These small details make the pineapple come to life. A bit of gold brushed on the leaves is also a nice touch. A cookie without those details would still be pretty nice, but if you can go the extra mile, why not?

I highly recommend that you watch Amy’s tutorials on Facebook, and consider joining her fun Facebook group called “Cookie Snack Attack with Seriously Sweet.” If you love to bake cookies and want to improve your technique while interacting with a bunch of people hooked on all things Royal icing… that group is for you!

FOR THE LOVE OF AUDREY

Audrey Hepburn. Class, beauty, sophistication and sweetness in equal parts. I firmly believe we should cookie what we love, and since I’ve always been fascinated by her, it was just a matter of time. I would not dare trying to draw from a picture, not even with the help of a mini-projector. But this stencil captured her essence well enough. The whole process is simple, but some small details can have a huge impact on the final product. Read on…

I think her image begs for an oval cookie shape, so that’s what I used. I can visualize a Tiffany blue for the background, but this time I went with gold, using Americolor Gold gel dye in the icing.

The trickiest part of the cookie is air-brushing the stencil. Lighter colors are more forgiving, but black requires a lot of attention or you will have blurred edges.

One important detail to avoid blurred edges is a totally flat icing. If your icing dries with even very subtle waves, it will be pretty much impossible to lay the stencil flat and some parts of it will allow the dye to leak underneath. I made some in black and white, and like that look too.

Another way to get sharper edges is using a screen like this one placing it right on top of the stencil, and air-brushing over it. I have a love-hate relationship with the screen, because it is very hard to judge how much of the dye is reaching the icing, how much is retained in the screen. Particularly with dark colors, it is a tough call. You also have to clean the screen every couple of cookies, and that is a hassle too. So some of my cookies were made with the screen, some without. It turned out that all the ones made with the screen had sharper edges, but were too light and I had to go over the black areas with a pen.

To keep the festive atmosphere in play, I painted the beaded edges gold with Edibleart Decorative Cake Paint. It is the fastest and easiest way to do it. Luster powder + vodka is quite time consuming, as the suspension dries so quickly and it is hard to keep the level of gold constant as you work.

I have to say that this is one of my favorite cookies!
But then again… I am a self-professed Audrey-Cheerleader

FOR THE LOVE OF PORTUGAL

It took me a long time to finally go to the place where my maternal grandparents were born. That trip materialized when Phil and I celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary. We were living in Paris and flew to Lisbon to meet our dear friends from the US, Marijo and Vlad. A magical trip. If you’ve been to Lisbon you’ve certainly marveled at the tiles that seem to decorate every little corner of that town. Almost always dark blue and white. I share two ways to “cookie” them, and close the post by bringing the “Lucky Portuguese Rooster” to the party.

To make the tiles simply flood square cookies and let it set overnight. In this first style I used a mini-projector to copy images I found in the internet.

Then it is just a little labor of love, filling the spaces with a food safe pen.

Those are labor-intensive, but they are my favorite way to bring the tiles into the cookie universe.

Another way to do it, simpler and faster is using stencils like the one below:

Starting with the same type of flooded cookie, all you need is to couple the stencil with air-brushing. In this case, after the dye was dry, I sprayed a coating of Edible Lustre, from PME, to give a shiny look. The picture does not show it too well.

This method is easier and faster, but stencils can be temperamental. A little more enthusiasm and the dye might sip underneath and give a blurred edge.

And now, for the Lucky Portuguese Roosters… they remind me so much of my parents’ home! My Mom had a set in porcelain, they are usually sold in a group of three: large, medium, and small.

To make them, I used a special cookie cutter and made two sizes of hearts as Royal Icing transfers.

In Brazil we call them “Galo de Barcelos“, and they are almost always black, although other versions exist.

I also improvised on the little rooster, making a bit of a Portuguese-tile version of it. Apologies to purists, I promise to stick with tradition from now on…

I hope you enjoyed this small collection of Portugal-inspired cookies. Mexican tiles are also a fun source of inspiration, bringing more color into the equation. I will definitely explore that in the near future.

FOR THE LOVE OF WATERMELONS

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.

WATERMELON POPSICLE

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?…

WATERMELON SUNDAES

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.

Cookie cutters are from Ann Clark collection, available on amazon.com.