COOKIES FOR A FIRST BIRTHDAY

I’ve mentioned before that one of the things I love the most is making a set of cookies for a special someone. The daughter of one of our former graduate students just turned 1 year old, and I sent them a little package to celebrate the occasion. I hope you’ll find some ideas to inspire you in this small collection.

The number one is a tiny little cookie, not what I had originally in mind. I had ordered a larger cookie cutter and amazon messed up. My package was “lost”, they refunded the money. Oddly enough, a few days after the birthday (when the cookies had already been made and delivered), the package got transferred from UPS to USPS (?????) and arrived at the front door. Maybe I should order right now a number 2 for next year?

I chose a basic pink theme, using different techniques to decorate. From mini-projector to piped and painted Royal icing, brush embroidery, and Royal icing transfers.

Butterflies seemed also appropriate for a little girl…

So here is the full collection, a little Baker’s Dozen….

ONE YEAR AGO: Vamos a la Playa

AMY’S TROPICAL TREASURES

To join Amy’s Facebook group and be on top of future online classes, click here.


This is the 8th online lesson I took from Amy… time flies when we are having so much fun, right? This lesson was medium to advanced, and as is often the case with Amy’s designs, lots of different techniques were involved, often several in a single cookie. There were three videos before the online event to make sure we had all the preparation done correctly. Without further ado, here is the full set of my tropical babies!


There were seven cookies made as the main set, and we also had the option of making a few more in the shape of half-hexagon.


Below you can see all the prep work for class made the evening before…


Some pieces are painted fondant, some are Royal icing transfers (like the hibiscus, made in two stages, flower and stamen).

Of all the techniques involved, the one I need to get better at is stenciling with thick royal icing. I have issues keeping the stencil in place (even using the frame to hold it), and making a smooth layer. We did three different cookies, one with a solid color to stencil, and the other two with two-tones (purple and green). I had some issues with each of these three, but in the end they got other decorations on top and I did my best to hide the “boo-boos.”


Let me highlight some of the cookies and list the techniques used for them…


Flood with purple. Two-tone stencil with thick Royal icing. Flower is painted fondant. Leaves are fondant and Royal icing transfer.



Flood with purple with texture (embossed paper). Brush embroidery flower. Leaves are wafer paper and fondant.


Flood with green and diamond dust for shimmer. Royal icing stencil. Hibiscus flower is Royal icing transfer. Leaf is painted fondant.


Flood with solid purple. Royal icing transfer for hibiscus flower and leaf. Maybe my favorite cookie of the set.

I loved this class and the use of very few colors to make all cookies, so that they flow together beautifully. Purple, green and ivory, in different shades and textures. Perfect for a wedding or as a Birthday gift for a special friend. Thank you so much, Amy, you ARE a master teacher!

ONE YEAR AGO: Jeweled Butterflies

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

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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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

AMY’S CHRISTMAS COOKIES: A FUN VIRTUAL CLASS

If you follow my cookie adventures, you know that I am always trying to learn from the great decorators out there. I recently joined a virtual event hosted by Amy, from Seriously Sweet in Davis St, and it was a lot of fun! The class was supposed to be beginner to intermediate level, and we had to make six designs. The picture above shows two of them, plus two small cookies I made with leftover icing from class. Everything super well explained, all we had to do was bake the 6 different shapes, and have four of them iced the day before, so we could work with stencils, stamps, and colors during class. Since the event was by zoom, we could always ask specific questions and even show our cookies to her and other participants in case of eventual drama.

For the preparation, we flooded the angle tree with green, the center of the ornament with red, the candle and the star with white. We also had the option of making little fondant decorations, if we wanted to follow her exact design, which I obviously chose to do. During class we did brush embroidery for the angel, and painting with watercolor technique for the star and candle. All at a nice pace, with very detailed instructions by Amy, who was decorating hers, in real time. The only cookie that gave me trouble was the tree, I could not make the stamp go smoothly over the whole surface, but still like the effect. I need to practice stamping, it is not that easy for me.

It is hard to pick a favorite, for me it is a tie between the ornament and the wreath…

The painting method for the star was very cool, and as Amy pointed out during class, the technique can be used for many different designs. For a more advanced adventure, she suggested we could write “Fa-la-la” over the tree with the musical sheet in the background, but I did not feel quite up to the challenge. Writing with Royal icing will require a bit more mental prep from me.

So here they are, my six babies from class!

Amy, thank you so much for organizing this class, I always learn a ton of stuff during your events… I look forward to the next one!

If you’d like to join one of Amy’s future classes, visit her IG page and join her Facebook group, you will meet lots of cookie-addicts and will improve your skills while having a lot of fun.

A CHRISTMAS TREE PARTY

Moving along the Holiday Baking Path, today I share a series of Christmas Tree Cookies with different styles of decoration. Some are gingerbread with very little icing, some are sugar cookies also very austere in the icing department. Some are simple, some a bit more involved. Some are modern, some more traditional. I hope you will find a cookie with your name written on it…

This is the perfect cookie for those who are anti-Royalists, as far as icing is concerned. I used a large oval cookie cutter and a mini-tree shape. Cut the tree from the center of the oval cookie, lifted it out, painted green with Sugarprism. The great thing about Sugarprism is that the color is unchanged during baking. And it tastes great, a nice vanilla flavor that won’t interfere with your cookies. Placed the painted tree inside, and baked them together. Finally I just glued some confetti sprinkles with a tiny drop of icing. Basically, it is a naked cookie, but looks pretty decorated, right?

Now for a slightly unusual shape, I used this cookie cutter. I think it calls for a more modern design, so I went with three different types, the first with minimal icing + white sanding sugar, and the other two either flooded white and with added swirls, or iced with fine green lines all over. In that one, a bit of copper luster powder was added for a little extra bling, as well as a golden star made as royal icing transfer the day before.

As some may know, I have a hard time resisting the Call of the Zentangle, so I had to incorporate a black and white tree version. Flooded white and details added next day with a black food pen. The white star is molded fondant sprayed with PME luster pearl.

Same shape, same white flooding as a starting point, a super simple design: draw lines with black pen and glue confetti sprinkles all over the lines.

If you are good at drawing, you can do a similar design free-hand, but I used a mini-projector to help me out… The candy corn shape works well for that.

Another option that is pretty simple: ice with white and wait for that to set for about 30 minutes. The do little indentations with the handle of a brush or a fondant tool. Glue the confetti and a golden star. Simple and I think pretty cute, particularly for a small cookie.

For another modern-ish version, after flooding the angled tree with white, I used a stencil to add a delicate leaf pattern. The design was made a bit more evident with a beige food pen, and gold luster powder added to the base and accent star. The whole cookie was then lightly sprayed with PME gold.

For the next design, I was inspired by a recent Facebook live from Marlyn (watch it here, starts at 25 minutes). Her tree was much more complex, but I simplified mine a bit to go with the simple triangle shape of the cookie.

To make the snowflakes I used a puncher thingie (similar to this one) to cut wafer paper, then glued a silver nonpareil in the center.

I intend to go for the tree design that Marlyn shared before this season is over, so stay tuned.

Brush embroidery is also a very easy way to decorate this type of cookie, sanding sugar giving it a nice, snowy look.

But of course I must close the post with my obsession of 2021…

I hope I’ve inspired you to bake some Christmas trees cookies for your family and friends. I saved a design from Marlyn for a post that should be published the day after tomorrow, as I consider it a work in progress. Stay tuned!

A FAIRY COTTAGE COOKIE COMPOSITION

If you are serious about cookie decorating, I am sure you follow Amber, from @sweetambs. A while ago she posted a very special tutorial (exclusive to Patreon supporters) to make a Fairy Cottage cookie composition. A real masterpiece with quite a few steps. The thing that fascinated me the most was the pebble work on the surface of the house. You pipe each pebble individually as a Royal icing transfer, and then glue them to the cookie right after brushing some thick icing as a base. Each pebble is also painted with luster powder and vodka in black and brown, to make the final product even more realistic. I wanted to turn that into a pizza box concoction, so I reduced the dimensions of the house to fit inside the 7 x 7 inch box, and simplified the details a bit.

The two large cookies for the house were cut by hand, and I did the same for the small mushrooms, as I did not have any cookie cutter that would be compatible with the final dimension of the composition. Just make sure to keep an eye during baking because the small cookies will bake a lot faster.

The prep steps start with piping the pebbles with gray icing and letting them dry overnight. Paint them while still glued to the paper. Ice the walls and chimney, glue the pebbles. The hard work is done! The window panels were simple white icing painted later in yellow. The door was made with slightly thicker icing, to get some texture with a brush. Amber’s video is very detailed and you will have no issues following it. My favorite part was perhaps the roof, made with brush embroidery. Since the method allows the background to show, it is a nice touch to paint it brown with luster powder before proceeding with the embroidery step. Amber does a lot more to her fairy cottage in terms of details under the windows, and around the house, so make sure to check it out and be amazed. Here is the short version of her video, as posted on IG.

I hope you liked my Little Cottage, I am quite smitten with the pizza box format, which I find perfect to offer as a gift. That reminds me… I need to place another order at amazon for those boxes, because how could I risk running out of them?

BRUSH EMBROIDERY

This might be the technique I struggled the most with. My first four attempts were huge failures, but I kept trying. My advice, in case you’ve experienced the same, is to focus on the consistency of the Royal icing, and practice on a piece of parchment paper or, if you have one, a plastic fake cookie like this. Don’t put pressure on yourself trying to decorate a cookie you have a special friend in mind to offer to. Once you get comfortable with the consistency, you are 80% of the way there. Today I share a few examples, made in the past three months or so.

I think these might be my favorites, but oddly enough they were born from a little mistake. When I made guidelines for the pattern, I used a yellow pen, thinking it would not show after piping the details, but unfortunately it was obviously there, underneath. I then had the idea of using yellow luster powder and gold to paint the design, so that the lines would not be noticeable anymore. Worked like a charm, and I must say I was quite proud of myself.

The same basic design works well as white on any color you like…

The one below I did not quite get right the embroidery effect, so I decided to paint the design to make it work better. The bottom line is, even if you don’t get it 100% right, you can add some color, a bit of Diamond dust, and all will be fine.

Inspired by the great cookier Amber, I used a two-color embroidery, which is actually quite simple to do. You pipe the first color at the outer edge of the design (in this case white), then the second color right next to it, and gently pull them with a brush. The second color was Fuchsia, from Sugarflair (thank you for the wonderful gift, Caro!). These were piped on a naked chocolate cookie, so you don’t really need the royal icing base to make it work.

I shared this final cookie in the past, but I will include it again here, because it is a nice departure from brush embroidery conceived by Amber, in which the effect with the brush is made on a wet-on-wet base. Give it a try, it is simpler because you can use regular flooding consistency.

I love the elegance that brush embroidery brings to cookies. And when I speak of elegance, someone comes to my mind right away…

I hope you enjoyed this small collection of ideas for brush embroidery. It is also a nice method to use for bee’s wings as I showed not too long ago.

Stay tuned for a next adventure in cookie decorating, which will bring a Fall atmosphere to the blog.

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!