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!

PUPPY LOVE

In my mind, cookie decorating has similarities with riding a bike. I am at the stage of riding with training wheels, insecure to let them go and find my balance. I rely on tutorials, on things I see and try to mimic. This post is one rare example in which I tried to let the training wheels go to make something out of my own imagination. The cookies were designed as a Birthday gift for someone who adores his puppy. I did my best to “cookie it.”

Once again, the recipe was my default: Grown-Up Spicy Chocolate Cookies, baked in two shapes, round and oval. Due to my complete inability to draw, I rely on images found in the internet to project on the cookies. A very fine black tip food pen, and then the fun part begins, painting them .

I used luster powder in several tones of beige, brown and copper, mixed with Everclear. Once the paint dries, the food pen comes back to refresh the outlines, as some parts are inevitably covered with paint. The birthday cake was a bonus cookie in the set…

This was my first time making 12 custom-designed cookies. It was a bit stressful, but I am happy with the way they turned out.

To wrap up this post, a few of the practice cookies I was playing with before settling on the final ones.

I also like the plain, black and white outlined cookies, but it’s too hard to resist the appeal of colors. Painting is just so relaxing, I love it.

Hopefully I will be letting go of the training wheels a little more often. Then I might share my productions with you. Assuming they don’t have to be consumed as evidence of decorating crimes…

SUGARPRISM, A NEW KID ON MY BLOCK

It is interesting how you may stumble on something amazing just by accident. I honestly don’t remember what exactly took me to Michelle’s Facebook group page (Painting with Sugarprism), but once I got there and saw everything she does and teaches on that page, I could not wait to try her product, called Sugarprism. It is a powder that you mix with water and use as you would acrylic paint. But it is fully edible and… wait for it… wait for it… delicious! It is vanilla-flavored and it will never ever negatively interfere with any of your cookies, cakes, pies, chocolates. You can read about Michelle Tincombe with a click here. She is an award-winning cake baker (HBO-MAX Baketopia episode 7) and painter-extraordinaire. Her In this post I will show you some of the cookies I’ve made in the past few weeks, using Sugarprism in different ways. I am still learning, and some of my concoctions I consider “work in progress.”

Sugarprism comes in pouches with 40g each and all you need is a TINY amount diluted with water to the consistency you like. It all depends on what exactly is your goal. For instance, to make this flower over fully set Royal icing, I used a reasonably thick consistency of the colors, so that each brush stroke stayed where I wanted it to stay…

A person with good painting skills would be able to add the black details with black Sugarprism and a super fine brush. I don’t see that happening in this lifespan of mine, so I did that with a fine tip food pen. Painting is so relaxing! I know I do it like a 5yo, but I promise you, I thoroughly enjoy it…

A similar approach was used in the flowers below…

I used a slightly more diluted version to paint the blue background in these chocolate stick cookies, also previously flooded with white Royal icing… And a concentrated solution for the center of the little flowers.

I then mixed the pink and the blue and used the mixture in different proportions to make the background for the doggies, drawn with a projector (you know I cannot draw to save my neck).

The paint is truly very forgiving and a pleasure to work with!

Another way to use Sugarprism is over a naked cookie. Many people prefer cookies without icing and I think those people deserve some decorations too…

Those are chocolate cookies (recipe here), made with an embossed rolling pin. Flowers were painted with red Sugarprism and outlined with gold luster powder + vodka. The taste of red food dye can be a problem, it is often bitter. No worries if you use Sugarprism.

The same approach works wonders on a regular sugar cookie. Below a Honey Sugar Cookie made with a springerle-type mold. I used a set of Fall colors from Sugarprism for my little bee.

I’ve been playing with geometric designs lately, and will talk more about them soon. These were inspired by one amazing cookier, Tunde Dugantsi, from Tunde’s Creations.

I made them in two versions, plain and with a Royal icing transfer flower in the center.

Sugarprism gives amazing coverage and if you use a concentrated suspension it will be very bright and happy.

But the technique I am most excited about? Stained-glass effect. I diluted Sugarprism with water, making it a thick suspension. That was mixed with corn syrup and used to paint sections of a Royal iced cookie. The sections were piped with white Royal icing (icing tip #3) dyed gold with luster powder + vodka. A bit of a labor of love… A little fondant flower in the center finished the cookie, but it will also work well without it.

Finally, one from my “work in progress-folder.” Michelle shared an amazing cookie she made using the “galaxy” design, and I tried it myself. It is not nearly as cool as hers, but she gave me some advice and I might try it again soon. Check hers out in this post of her facebook page, it is very beautiful.

If you like painting cookies, you need Sugarprism in your life. Michelle Tincombe, the official inventor and double-patent holder of the product, worked for 4 years to get approvals and patents, and finally place Sugarprism in the market. Her page on Facebook and her youtube channel are endless sources of inspiration, although I must say a lot of it is beyond my skill level.

BEE YOURSELF!

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.