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

THREE YEARS, THREE BAKES FOR ARITRI

I dedicate this post to Mrs. Shyamasree Majumdar

Three years ago today the world lost someone very special. A brilliant young woman, who was getting ready to embrace science as a life-time commitment. She loved color. She loved to sing. She loved life. Some cookies that I make have what I call the “Aura of Aritri.” Like these ones. I think they would have made her smile.

This series, with a mandala-design was made with stencils and air-brushing. I think she would have appreciated both the patterns and the colors. They were flavored with Chai extract from Olive Nation, and a touch of vanilla.

FLORALS

This series was flavored with Fiori di Sicilia, and decorated either with brush embroidery + luster powder painting, or by stamping, a technique I definitely need to practice a bit more.

MACARONS

Aritri loved macarons, and these, flavored with Pistachio-Lemon, were decorated with her in mind. Just food-safe pen over the baked shells, and a light spray of PME pearl luster.

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HAPPY EASTER!

I am already a bit sad that Easter is going to be over… As far as cookie decorating goes, it is hard to beat the diversity and cuteness level that this holiday brings. Sadly, I still have some cookie cutters that were left unused, and must wait for next year to make their appearance. Today I share a few designs, my favorite is Marlyn’s Bunny Head, crowned with flowers. So so cute! But there is more: a bunny carrying a basket of flowers, a few Easter eggs, and a naughty bunny stealing a fancy Easter egg to run away with it.

Marlyn has a super detailed tutorial available in YouTube for the bunny head (click here). If you are a member of her Patreon site, you’ll find the stencil file to make decorating the cookie easier (click here).

I opted for a chocolate cookie, so I air-brushed the design in white over the naked cookie as a starting point. The stencil is used again over the iced cookie to add the final details.

Marlyn piped the floral design on the cookie, I made my life a bit easier by using fondant decorations, and the piped small leaves to tie the design together.

MOVING ON…

For the bunny with a basket, I followed a tutorial available in Cookie-a-thon by Lauren Jacobs, aka The Cheerful Baker (click here for her IG page). Some of the steps are shown below…

I modified a few details in the basket and added a little facial feature. I love this cookie shape!

To go along with it, I used a similar technique for florals to make Easter eggs.

I could not help but make a Zentangle design, so it all starts with dots equally spaced on the iced cookie, and then a little drawing with a food safe pen. PME pearl luster spray gives the cookie a shine I really like.

So here is my little Easter collection…

I close this post with the Naughty Bunny, made after a tutorial from Timbo Sullivan during a Facebook live. It is mostly fondant, so if you don’t like the taste, consider the cookie just as a decoration. Lots of different techniques were explained in his tutorial, and the take home message for me is that I need a lot of practice to make eyes. His work is flawless! But I still like my little Naughty Bunny… Everything is fondant, except the pink details on ears and paws, and the grass the bunny is sitting on.

FROM CHRISTMAS TO SPRING

Back in January I shared my first cookie “challenge”, making a pizza box concoction after Marlyn suggested a basic motif as a starting point. You can see my homework here. Once again, Marlyn proposed a little cookie challenge to make us work on creativity. The task was to use a wreath-shape cookie cutter (common for Christmas designs) but decorate it with a Spring-Easter motif. So here is what I came up with…

I really wanted to work on a basket weave, so that was the initial idea for the design. Next, I added a bunny to apply the technique I recently learned in one of the online tutorials I followed (blogged about here). I used a stencil and air-brushing to add a little detail to the golden background, and finished the cookie with fondant decorations. Some of the steps are shown below.

For the basket weave, I used a PME tip 1.5 with brown icing in piping consistency. I worked slowly, taking deep breaths… Once that was done, I piped the bunny’s head and planned the details in fondant.

I felt that the whole design needed a little green to bring a bit more Spring into the mood… And the face of the bunny got a little shading with luster powder once it was fully set.

So there you have it, my second “homework assignment”, turning a Christmas wreath into a Spring composition… What do you think? Do I get a passing grade?

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.

DESIGN #1
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.


DESIGN #2
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.

DESIGN #3
FILIGREE HEART

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!

DESIGN #4
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.

DESIGN #5
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.

DESIGN #6
MANDALA HEARTS

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.

DESIGN #7
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.

DESIGN #1
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.

DESIGN #2
MODERN HEARTS

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.

DESIGN #3
BRUSH EMBROIDERY

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.


DESIGN #4
ZENTANGLES

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…


DESIGN #5
LOVE MESSAGE

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.

DESIGN #6
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.

Sneak Preview

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…

DESIGN #1
HANI’S GNOMES

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…

DESIGN #2
SALLY’S UNICORN

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!

OF BEARS AND BUNNIES

Three designs straight from Marlyn (check the Facebook live here) the last one I modified a little bit, but the basic idea was hers. As I mentioned in my recent post with the Tiger Platter, writing with Royal icing was not easy for me. The only way to get better is by not running away from it, instead trying it again and again. So, the two first designs involved quite a bit of writing. Clearly, I still need a lot more practice… I hope you like them.

DESIGN #1
I LOVE YOU BEARY MUCH

A simple plaque cookie, iced with light brown, and air-brushed with a stencil provided by Marlyn in her Patreon site. The cookie is decorated with little bear faces made by Royal icing transfers, and the air-brushed writing is then used to guide piping in a contrasting color of your choice. The same overall process is used in the next design.

DESIGN #2
SOME BUNNY LOVES YOU

As you can tell, I wimped out in this one, and could not bring myself to pipe the writing, so I went with plan B, leaving the air-brushed showing, and just added a little outline with a food safe black pen, fine tip.

DESIGN #3
THE FRANKENBUNNY

I love the concept of frankencookies, in which two different cutters get together to produce a new shape. These were a lot of fun to make, simpler than the other two, but with some little details to make it special. Marlyn’s version was quite a bit more involved, the bunny is holding small flags forming the word HOP. Super cute. I simplified mine by adding sprinkles.

Now let me show you some of the steps involved in making these three designs… Royal icing transfers, and airbrushing… As you can see in the lower left picture, you can conceivably leave the air-brushing alone without doing anything else. It would still work. But gilding the lily is fun!

And below you see the steps for the Frankenbunny… A star-shaped cookie cutter is joined with the bunny head from Sugarbelle set of mini-cutters. They are baked together and then decorated.

SEE YOU NEXT TIME!

THE YEAR OF THE TIGER COOKIE PLATTER

The Chinese New Year starts on the second New Moon after the Winter solstice, therefore it is celebrated usually between Jan 21st and Feb 20th. This year, the two-week festivities will start in China on Feb 1st. To make this cookie platter designed by Marlyn (check her step-by-step tutorial here), I meditated for a few hours, took 2022 deep breaths, and hoped for the best. I cannot lie, it was by far the most complex cookie adventure I’ve ever faced. A few little issues here and there – but I don’t think they affected the outcome. I am thrilled to share today, my little platter of cookies to welcome The Year of the Tiger…

Starting from the cookie shapes, this is the cookie cutter set you will need to make this platter. Or you can cut the shapes by hand, and use a round cutter for the center. Make sure to use a cookie recipe that won’t spread, with little to no leavening agent, so they will fit nicely together like this:

The day before, or several days in advance, you can make the tiger heads by Royal icing transfers. Marlyn is much more experienced and she just piped the heads straight on the iced cookie, then air-brushed the details once it all set. But I just could not bring myself to take that route. Too risky. I made more little tiger heads than I would need, so I could mess some up and still have enough to do the platter. The orange color is also air-brushed lightly on the edges once the pattern is dry.

One of the details to pay attention to, is making sure the head is not too big for the cookie. I realize I could have made my a bit smaller. But still fit ok, and had enough space for the final decorations.

The other components all get airbrushed using Marlyn’s stencils, to facilitate piping all designs… My favorite part? The ideograms…

Airbrushing with a stencil is a very nice way to guide piping details, especially if the cookie involves a repeating pattern. It is hard to pipe with Royal icing using a projector because you cannot move the cookie as you do it. Air-brushing solve that problem. Or you can also use a pen to draw the design using the stencil to guide you.

Once all the components are ready, all that is left to do is painting the yellow parts with gold. That step is optional but it does add a lot of drama to the composition. You know, the good kind of drama.

The trickiest part of the cookie set for me was writing Happy New Year… very VERY tough. I need practice. Other than that, I had a reasonably smooth ride. It is the kind of project that cannot be rushed. Pick a weekend, go slowly, and enjoy the ride.

I had a few extra little tiger heads, and incorporated them in another, simple cookie. I iced the cookie with red, let that dry completely, air-brushed the design with a stencil using gold. Then I glued the tiger head in the center, and finished the cookie with a black border.

So there you have it,
The Year of the Tiger Cookie Platter!