PAINTED BUTTERFLIES

A couple of weeks ago I spotted something on Instagram and fell in love with it instantly. It was in the page of one incredibly talented baker, Mary Mansfield, check her work here. I dropped her a message asking some details about her painting technique, and she was adorable, super helpful. So I took a deep breath and tried it myself. Basically you flood the cookies with white Royal icing, let it set for a day, and then use diluted gel dye to paint them. I tried Everclear and I tried water. Everclear has so much alcohol in it that it dries super fast and gives the icing a matte finish. I had trouble controlling the intensity of the color and their mixing, so I ended up switching to water. But you should figure out what works best for you.

This is your white canvas… I went with small cookies, because the smaller they are, the less likely I would mess them up beyond recognition as butterflies. Or so I thought. Once they are flooded and totally dry, you can gather your weapons of choice and start playing. My favorite of all was this blue baby. Reminds me of some that used to be common in Brazil.

You can use sharp strokes with the brush, or add a little water or alcohol to the surface of the icing and then do a kind of watercolor painting touching the dye on that wet spot and moving it around. Things sometimes get a bit out of control. I told Phil that this painting is similar to driving on icy roads: you slide here, you do a save there, you almost crash, but in the end it’s all good. If not happy with the outcome, follow my advice to quickly eat the evidence. As to the body, add it after the paint is dry, using toothpaste consistency royal icing. Let it dry and if desired, paint it.

So here are my 12 little butterflies, in different tones and styles…

THE RED SERIES

In some cases I painted the bodies because they developed craters, a real nightmare that I’m not that good at avoiding. Additionally, when the paint dried on the wings, I went back on some and added a few details with silver or gold luster powder.

THE BLUE SERIES

And the final four, which in fact were the ones I made first, so I was struggling a bit. Particularly with the one of the top left, there were “issues.” I went through a few “Oh, NO, what have I done?”, but decided to keep it. It also developed a huge crater, the poor baby. One abused butterfly.

You might think this is too time-consuming, but in fact the dye dries so fast that you cannot spend too much time fiddling with it. Decide what you want to do, pick a set of two, three colors at most to work on a single cookie, and hope for the best.

Butterflies are one of my favorite subjects to “cookie.” I have a few more examples to share in the near future, using different techniques. So hopefully I’ll see you back here soon!

SUGAR COOKIES: THE GROOVY SERIES

I dedicate this post to Dr. Aritri Majumdar.

From black and white, I do a 180. This time is all about color. The mini-projector is the easiest way to deal with all the designs, so if you are seriously into cookie decorating, I must tell you this little gadget will shake your world, in a very positive way… Please, sit back and let me show you some of the cookies that happened in our kitchen in the past few weeks.

Mandalas are wonderful to play with…

And you don’t have to limit yourself to simple circular shapes, the same basic style can be applied to many different designs…

Mandala or not, just embrace the colors, and have fun!

All cookies were made either with my default Neat Edges recipe, or the recently blogged Spicy Chocolate Cookie. For decoration, links to the food safe pens and luster powders can all be found in the end of this post.

THE MANY FACES OF THE OREO COOKIE

As I just published on my regular blog, this is a cookie recipe I am quite fond of. It has a grown-up aura due to the chipotle heat (but kids love it too), and it holds any pattern during baking, making it perfect to play with patterned rolling pins and cookie molds. In my original post I shared simple cookies imprinted with a fondant mat (check it out here). Now let me show you a few variations using the same exact dough.

OREO STYLE COOKIES

You can use a patterned rolling pin and cut rounds, filling the with the traditional Oreo-type cream. I used the filling recipe from this post. Simple and delicious. A little gold dust with vodka, Everclear or lemon extract to paint the design, does a nice job.

You can also use a little impression gadget made for fondant (this set from Wilton is wonderful) and go with happy colors. They are all luster dust from Oh Sweet Art, my favorite brand.

For a totally different look, they can also be cut in small squares. I love this patterned rolling pin, very modern. All my patterned rolling pins were bought at etsy.com. Do a search for embossed rolling pins and get busy!

You can also keep it very simple, roll the dough, cut and just add a brush with gold in the end.

ICING ON THE COOKIE

They can also play the role of the traditional sugar cookie, the sweetness of the icing goes well with the chocolate base.

For this version, I flooded with white, let it set overnight, then used a stencil to paint a pattern with the air-brush. A little black pen makes the design pop. I am quite fond of the hexagon shape.

In this final version, I flooded the flowers and leaves (for flowers I used fuchsia from Sugarflair and Tulip Red from Americolor), let it set briefly (maybe 30 minutes), and added details with piping consistency icing. A little Diamond dust to finish them with some sparkle. Because… I am addicted to sparkle.

I hope you enjoyed this small collection of cookies, and try the recipe, using it in any way you like. You might have to play with the amount of chipotle, so I advise you to start with the small amount and see how you like it.

MARLYN’S PEACOCK PAISLEY COOKIES

I fell in love with these cookies the moment I saw them on Marlyn’s Facebook page. They seemed way beyond my skill level, but when I watched her tutorial, she stated that they would be a great ‘beginner’s project.” I tried to make them back in January, but was not too happy with the outcome. Not only my royal icing was a bit “flat”, but I messed up the dimensions of the design in relation to the cookie size. Since then I’ve been meaning to re-visit the project, and now I finally did. To speak like they do in a certain tent of my past, “I am chuffed.” Truly. Thank you, Marlyn!

These cookies are a labor of love, but so much fun to put together! If you become a supporter of Marlyn on Patreon, all her detailed tutorials and templates are available for you (she has almost 600 posts listed on Patreon). But you can also download just the templates for these cookies on her ko-fi page for a very small fee.

The cookie has three components: a base layer with flooding consistency (two colors), a floral Royal icing transfer, and decorative lines added with piping consistency icing. The most important thing is to make sure the size of your cookie matches well the template of the design.

I could have printed the design a tiny bit smaller, but I am ok with the way it turned out. One easy way to get the cookie ready to work on is to air-brush the exposed region, so that you can easily see where to pipe the flooded base. But you can always just draw the outline with a food pen.

Start by making the Royal icing transfer, keep in mind it must dry for 24 hours so it can be peeled off safely from the parchment paper.

My advice would be to pipe it on acetate instead of parchment. Maybe brands of parchment behave differently, but mine wrinkled a bit, and that resulted in some of the transfers not laying fully flat on the flooded base, particularly the pointed edges.

Next, time to work on the flooding. You will need two colors, teal and green, but as you can see, the green part ended up exactly the same as the color of the Royal icing transfer. Of course, if I wanted to do that, it would never happen! Murphy’s Law. Note to self: create more contrast next time.

The final details rely on piping fine lines, the step that can truly make or break your cookies. The Royal icing transfer is super smart, because it serves as a guide, but you still need to get the consistency of the icing right. I am always afraid of it, but keep picking projects that force me to do it, because that’s the only way to improve.

The cookie also works on a white background, but it is not as dramatic, in my opinion. At any rate, this cookie shape is one of my favorites to play with. So many possibilities!

I hope you enjoyed this post, and consider following Marlyn on IG and Facebook. She comes up with free tutorials at least twice every week, and her creativity and skill will blow your mind.