CRACKLED ICING SUGAR COOKIES

For those who prefer a cookie with more austere decorations – in other words, not a huge amount of Royal icing – this method is perfect. Today I share two versions: one with sugar cookies, another with chocolate cookies. Two ways to embellish them, either using Royal icing piping consistency, or adding small pieces of cookie dough.

Let’s start with the white background of sugar cookies… The one in the center is the “dare to be different” cookie, with regular Royal Icing in yellow and piping consistency white for details.

For the crackled effect, brush the surface of the raw cookie with a thin layer of AMERICOLOR WHITE gel color (it must be Americolor, other brands do not behave the same way). I usually freeze the cookies for 10 minutes, then bake at 350F straight from frozen. There is a bit of a trade-off with the leavening agent: the more you add the more evident the crackled effect, but the cookies will not have very sharp edges. My default recipe for sugar cookies (click here) balances this equation well. The chocolate cookie recipe I use (click here) does not have any leavening agent, but it expands enough to profit from this technique.

For the chocolate cookies, the small heart was made using a technique I first learned from Marlyn (Montreal Confections). Roll the dough, cover with plastic wrap and press a small cookie cutter to make the shape. That gives it a very nice rounded top. Add to the cookie after brushing with the white gel color, and bake. These will have zero Royal icing.

These are very simple cookies, but might give the impression you spent a lot of time decorating them… You can also use other colors for the background, as long as you go with the Americolor brand. And no, I do not work for that company…

ONE YEAR AGO: Fun with Royal Icing Leftovers

COLORED COOKIE DOUGH

Along the same lines of last post, today I share one more technique to decorate cookies using different colors of dough. Again, a method that will please those who, for one reason or another, prefer not to have Royal icing. When you couple a chocolate base with the colorful dough, the effect can be quite striking. Marlyn, from Montreal Confections, is once again behind the idea (all details are demonstrated in her youtube video). Dough can also be molded or cut with small cookie cutters and used to decorate a larger cookie. So let’s get to work!

I baked several egg-shaped chocolate cookies and used them in different designs on the same day. For the stripes, you need to roll dyed cookie dough super thin and freeze the stripes, as Marlyn demonstrates in her video. Then, the frozen stripes are placed on your room temperature cookie, gently rolled to press, and cut. Using a plastic wrap between the cutter and the cookie gives a very nice rounded shape. Marlyn comes up with details that are simply brilliant!

Whenever we make cookies, there is always some small amount of dough left, not enough to roll again and cut. That is a perfect source for adding color and saving in the freezer. Just dye each leftover bath a different color, and wait for the right opportunity to bring them out, roll, cut stripes – or different shapes – and add to cookies.

Another simple way to decorate is adding fondant shapes, and a little border with Royal icing and sprinkles. The smaller oval around the head of the bunny is made with a smaller cookie cutter gently pressed in the raw dough right before baking.

The final technique I used that day was cutting a little piece of dough with a very small cutter (using the plastic wrap trick), and placing on the cookie. For contrast, I brushed the surface with Americolor white food dye, to give that cracked effect I like a lot.

A few details around the edge, and here it is, together with the fondant bunnies…

Since my mind cannot get too far from Ukraine these days, I made a couple of cookies inspired by that amazing country.

This post reflects my approach to baking cookies. I don’t sell them, so I never need to worry about making many cookies with the same design as part of a set. Each set of cookies I bake, I can take in different directions to practice new techniques. Below you see all the cookies I made that afternoon. One cookie dough, one shape, several designs.

A BOUQUET OF FLOWERS

For a little IG video on this pizza box concoction, click here
(I am still learning my way through the reels)

We need something to counteract winter. Valentine’s is just around the corner. Two reasons to make a flower bouquet composition. There is a little story behind it, though. Marlyn, Cookie-Guru-Extraordinaire, asked members of her group what they would like to learn in 2022. Several of us (yours truly included) said that creating our own stuff was a big issue. Unless I see a cookie design to follow, I get paralyzed. A couple of days later Marlyn posted a pizza-box cookie sketch, and suggested we used that as a starting point to come up with our own design. I will share her sketch at the end of the post. In a way, this blog post is like a homework assignment…

For the cookies, I used this recipe (I omitted the black cocoa, used the full amount of Dutch processed). Following Marlyn’s sketch, I used my Cricut to cut a piece of cardboard to use as a template for the cookies (base and little card). Regular mini-cookie cutters were used to make flowers. Everything was baked and then the real adventure began…

From this point, I worked on the pieces of the base and the little card, as they needed to fully set before continuing. The wrap was iced with Chefmaster Gold + Cork, then a piece of crumbled parchment was placed on the still wet surface. The paper is removed next day, revealing the structure underneath. Next, I lightly brushed some copper luster powder in a few spots of the wrap.

The lateral cookies were iced with Laurel green, then air-brushed with gold. I also air-brushed the central base, without any icing. The little card was painted with food safe pen, using a stencil to guide the writing. Then the flowers were decorated, and a little heart added just because… The whole process is shown below.

This was challenging but fun… I now share the initial sketch planned by Marlyn so you can see the starting point.

It was fun to put to use several different techniques to make this box. I debated whether to add leaves, but I like the look with the flowers only. If I used royal icing to pipe leaves, it would be messy to eat the cookies, as I would have to pipe them in between the pieces. So there you have it, a little shout-out for Spring, with romance in the background.

Huge thank you to Marlyn for taking the time to devise this challenge…

ZENTANGLE COOKIES: TANGLED UP IN ZEN

Have you heard of zentangle? It is an art form that uses repetitive patterns, ideally on a 3.5 inch square piece of paper, or as zenganglers call it, a “tile”. I’ve always enjoyed doodling, much to despair or my Mom, as I would do it on the wall by the phone (remember landlines?) with a pencil. We’ve had quite a few heated arguments those days. I would be on the phone for more than 3 hours, talking to my boyfriend Roberto late at night, and next morning my Mom would wake up and have a royal fit when she saw my “art” on the wall. Fun times. Fast forward a few decades and doodles turned into zentangles, what was a wall became a cookie. All you need is a smooth base of Royal icing, fully set. And a fine tip food-safe pen. Embrace the patterns and have fun!

The classic pattern is black and white, and you can design your own little tangles or search online for ideas. The Tangled Universe is waiting for you!

I like to use other shapes also, rectangular and candy corn are favorites or mine, but pretty much anything works.

The pumpkin design is not exactly a zentangle, but it has repetitive patterns that are also quite soothing to draw. For the design above I used a mini-projector.

Free hand also works, just don’t be too concerned with perfection… in the end it all works fine, I promise.

I like to add a little color to a zentangle pattern, even if not traditional… Another way to bring color is to add it to the background, as I show in the cookies below.

For this cookie, Americolor Cork was used in the background, and the Zentangle pattern worked as the petals in the flower.

It is quite amazing how much the pattern changes if you do it black and white or bring a very assertive color to play.

These two above might be my favorites, maybe. The contrast of bright orange with the pattern makes my heart sing!

That could be a nice cookie platter for a dessert table, with a Halloween vibe…

So many patterns… so little time! I have a long list of zentangles to “cookie”, so expect to see more popping up in this baby blog of mine.

HALOWEEN PIZZA BOX SCENE

STAY CREEPY, MY FRIENDS!

I am thrilled to contribute with my little pizza box concoction to the goodies made by my Great American Baking Show friends. It’s been a while since we got together to bake on a set theme, but better late than never!

I love the concept of pizza box scenes, devised by Marlyn from Montreal Confections, and in fact used one of her ideas for the background cookie. The cookie was made with an impression mat for the wood grain texture. Chocolate sugar cookies are the best for the effect, right before baking you brush a little white food gel to reveal the texture in all its glory. The same cookie was used for the night sky.

COMPONENTS OF THE PIZZA BOX SCENE

A pumpkin-hat combo that I made using two cookie cutters joined together…

A little black cat pressed into the night-sky component, painted with Sugarprism…

A caldron with store-bought spooky eyes and neon-green bubbles…

Fondant decorations for the little ghost (he is friendly!) and bat (he is not rabid)…

Royal icing, piping consistency for the full moon…

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The caldron must be made in stages, so that each group of bubbles has a chance to crust, otherwise they just join together, and the effect will be los

I hope you enjoyed this little pizza box cookie combo. One of the things I like about this version is that some cookies are left plain, so those who prefer less sweetness will appreciate their inclusion. Make sure you use a very flavorful cookie recipe, for the chocolate I recommend this one.

Make sure to stop by the homebakers IG page to see what my tent-baking friends made for this virtual get-together.

AND NOW FOR PUMPKIN COMPLETELY DIFFERENT

Dedicated to all Monty Python fans out there.

Count on Marlyn to turn the pumpkin cookie, pretty much mandatory this time of the year, into something unusual and special. If you read my regular food blog, in the last In My Kitchen post I shared a little silicone mold to make a filigree type decoration. It is exactly what I used to decorate the pumpkin cookies, following Marlyn’s design (detailed video available here).

The making of the cookie is actually very simple. For a watercolor effect (starting around 8 min of Marlyn’s video), flood with white and then add patches of color with very diluted gel food dye (Everclear works best to dilute it). Let it dry, and add the fondant decoration, painted with gold luster dust (I used Egyptian gold). Alternatively you can just flood with a solid color like the one on the left side below.

The fall leaves were inspired by Amber, from @sweetambs (watch quick video here). The same watercolor technique, but applied to the naked cookie, so the colors will end up much more vivid. Then the veins are piped and painted with gold or copper. I really love the look of these cookies, and they both are pretty simple to decorate, plus the fall leaves will please those who prefer a cookie without too much Royal icing.

Visit my recent https://bewitchingkitchen.com/2021/10/01/in-my-kitchen-october-2021/In My Kitchen post to see the silicone mold I used for the decoration. There are plenty of options available in stores like amazon, etsy or aliexpress, make sure you consider the size of your pumpkin cookie cutter to get the appropriate mold.

A little play with coral colors in different techniques: air-brush with stencil, textured icing (laying crumpled parchment paper on the wet icing and waiting 24 hours to remove it), and the watercolor pumpkin.

I am a lover of all things Summer, but I have to admit that the Fall with all the warm colors and interesting shapes is one of the best seasons for cookie baking and decorating. Stay tuned for a lot more…

CAT IN A TEACUP

Teacups are cute. Cats are cute. When you join them both, the Cuteness-meter goes nuts. I cannot take credit for the idea, I simply followed Marlyn in one of her video tutorials. You can join two cookie shapes if you have the appropriate cutters. I did not have anything that would work well, so I cut them by hand.

I made some with my default chocolate cookie recipe, and some Sugar cookies flavored with Elderflower (Olive Nation essence). Once the cookies are baked and cooled, the basic design is added with a food pen, and sections are piped with Royal icing.

The spoons are baked separately. To decorate them, I used Gold royal icing coupled with gold air-brushing.

The fine gold lines really make the design come to life. I was terrified of messing up the cookie in this final step, but overall I am pretty happy with the outcome.

These cookies were part of a gift for dear friends who are cat-lovers. So in the package a few other kittens were included.

I think what I love the most about cookies is making up a gift-set. Thinking about a theme the person will like, a color scheme, I find the whole process absolutely wonderful.

A WELCOME TO FALL

It is that time of the year. Temperatures will drop, and the trees will soon change color. These cookies are my little shout out to Autumn. Some inspired by Marlyn, from Montreal Confections, and adapted to my skill level.

I fell in love with these cookies the moment I saw the video by Marlyn. The challenging part for me was piping the basket, and I do need more practice, but overall I am happy with the outcome. You should definitely see Marlyn’s version, because she added a little bear peeking from inside the basket, the cutest little detail (Instagram entry here). I simplified it by using fondant flowers instead. The chocolate dough is my default, by the way. I sent these cookies to a dear friend, and used the smallest amount of chipotle, as I did not know her take on the pairing of cocoa with pepper…

The cookie cutter I used was this one. It all starts by piping an outline for each balloon section, and piping the basket weave. Then, flood the different regions according to your choice of pattern (dots, swirls), and you are almost there. Some fondant decorations and additional piping is all you’ll need. I had some leftover Royal icing which I put to use in my Hexagon Ode to Fall. I had no idea where I was going with it, but I liked it a lot. It ended up with an ET-meets-Aztec aura…

Another cute cookie project conceived by Marlyn (her creativity is unreal), involves the candy corn shape. Recently I got a special cutter that makes four small cookies at a time. It is what I’ve used in this fun batch. Check her IG post for all details.

This is a much simpler project, although it does require the piping of fine lines as a starting point. You can get by without them, but some of the visual impact will be lost.

The final detail is a little luster powder in red or pink to make the cheeks blush. I tell you, my friends, cookie decorating is all in the small details, and if you follow the artists out there, you will learn a ton from them.

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

JURASSIC PARK PIZZA COOKIE BOX

As I promised, here is my second pizza box cookie, made to please a certain young boy who is fascinated by all things dragon. For a change, I did not follow any particular design, made this one from my own imagination. Baby steps, my friends. Baby steps.

I baked the base divided in two parts, one for the sky (with a cloud made with wet-on-wet icing), one for the grass field. Two dinosaurs and a little palm tree to complete the scene. Sugar cookies were flavored with orange, and the dinosaurs were made with a chocolate dough.

The sky was decorated with luster powder in baby blue, and got the silhouette of a Pterodactyl in full flight…

The green also got a little more detail by air-brushing in copper a few spots here and there. Same copper tone was used to brush the tree trunk, just ever so slightly. Then, all that was left to do was decorate the dinosaurs and assemble the scene…

I think I need a new dinosaur cookie cutter, so that my next box will include two different species of this important extinct family. Maybe a little lizard could go well too, although it’s important not to crowd the box too much. A tiny lizard? Yeah, that will do…

Stay tuned for one more Pizza Box Cookie Scene!