MR. CLAUS IS ALSO COMING TO TOWN

There is no way Mr. Claus would leave the love of his life alone, so here he is! Another amazing online event by Amy, from @seriouslysweet, I could not decorate live with all the other participants because we were away on a trip, but the moment I came back home, I baked the cookies and went to work. This cookie cutter set is also available at dotsandbows with a click here. For a flashback to Mrs. Claus, go here.

Totally smitten with this cute old guy… So many details and techniques in this set! I finally got the hat effect – a folding of the fabric – to work. As I mentioned before, this type of detail I do not feel ok about sharing, as this was a paid event hosted by Amy. I am thrilled that it now worked ok for me. Poor Mrs. Claus went with a flat hat, without enough pizzazz.

We started by sketching all the details on the cookies, then slowing decorating each area, using all the methods of piping, from flood consistency to very thick for the white details. I feel that I messed up the eyes a bit, they did not turn out as good as Mrs. Claus’ but overall I am happy with this set.

My favorite technique is definitely the little ruffle on top of the gloves and boots. I just love doing it, and once you get the consistency and strength to squeeze the bag (with no icing tip), it’s very easy and fun.

So this closes the double Christmas set, the Claus Couple, ready to spread Holiday Joy around the world!

Amy, thank you once again for your super detailed instruction and patience with all of us following your online adventures!

ONE YEAR AGO: Zentangle Strikes Again

MRS. CLAUS IS COMING TO TOWN

Too early? Nah, never too early for the visit of such a cutie pie… I am so enamored with this set, made thanks to the detailed online class hosted by Amy last weekend. Isn’t she adorable?


Amy taught some super cool techniques, and I cannot share the details, as this was a paid class and it would be unfair to her to publish it for free here. Trust me, though, if you are interested in improvement for your decorating skills, her online classes are a must! You can join her Facebook page and get updates on future classes with a click here.

This set of cookie cutters is from dotsandbows, and you can find it here. They work as a stacked composition of four to make Mrs. Claus in all her cute glory. Before class we needed to have the cookies baked, Royal icing in different colors and consistencies made, and fondant decorations dry and painted.

Below, some of the steps, starting with the sketch of all we would do to each cookie, everything drawn by hand, Amy explaining exactly where to place each line, how to curve it, etc. For me, who cannot draw a full moon… super helpful!

The coolest technique was to make the hat. I did not hit it correctly, but Amy showed us how to make the hat acquire folds, and wow, that was something! But my consistency – rather the consistency of my Royal icing – was a little too thick and I need to re-visit the issue in the future.

I also love the detail on the rim of the glove and the top of the boot, it is the second time she uses this technique in her decorating classes, and I now feel pretty comfortable with it.

I just loved this cookie design so much! I look at her and it is impossible not to smile… Thank you, Amy for another fun couple of hours on a Saturday afternoon… I look forward to the next adventure!

ONE YEAR AGO: Baby Turkey Cookie Platter

MARLYN’S INSPIRATION CHALLENGE FOR NOVEMBER

This month, the challenge was summarized in four simple words: “stand up your cookies.” Sounds like something out of a certain tent, right? Not sure if you are watching Great British Bake Off this year, but one technical challenge had an empty page with “make a lemon meringue pie,” Poor contestants…. But, I am not in a tent, no pressure, no cameras, no microphone shoved in my face as things get tricky. Here I am to share the results of my labor, I am quite happy about this composition, and hope you like it too…

For Marlyn’s Facebook page, click here

For Haniela’s Facebook page, click here

The base for the composition is my default chocolate cookie recipe, which you can find in my main food blog with a click here. I constructed a little box, but ended up not using the base, just the sides as it went glued on the base anyway. So here are all the parts baked.

Once the basic components were baked, I started decorating. A couple of weeks ago I took an online class with Haniela where she taught us how to pipe succulents using Royal icing, and I made a bunch during class, and decided to incorporate them in my cookie scene.

The random-shaped base was iced in green with a thicker consistency so I could give it some texture using a brush. The box was also iced with a thicker consistency and the lines added after 15 minutes or so with a needle. Air-brushing gave it a more natural look, so that the color is not too homogeneous. The copper color of the base was just luster powder, applied dry with a soft brush. Acorns are painted fondant, made using a silicone mold.


Squirrels and pumpkins were decorated with Royal icing.


The fun part is definitely assembling it all together… I really enjoyed planning and then making the scene happen. I took the cookie set to our department and I got pretty nice feedback on it. Of all the inspiration posts so far, maybe this is my favorite. Let’s see what Marlyn has in mind for December… Stay tuned!

ONE YEAR AGO: Egg Yolk Painted Cookies

COOKIE CANVAS, A COOKBOOK REVIEW

If you read this cookie blog of mine, you know that I follow a few cookie artists, trying to learn their techniques as demonstrated in tutorials and Facebook live sessions. Amber, from @sweetambs, is one of my favorite cookie decorators. She was a regular presence in Facebook lives, but last year took some time off to work on a special project. It turns out that the special project was the making of her latest cookbook, Cookie Canvas! I am absolutely thrilled to share with you two cookie compositions from this new book, as well as a little overview of the different chapters. In two simple words: the book is a “must-have” if you are into cookie decorating, or if you are simply fascinated by this unique art.

Without further ado, this is my version of her composition entitled
“FALL BOUQUET” (page 124).


I was mesmerized by this set from the moment I laid my eyes on that page. The trickiest part is definitely the vase. It requires piping one of Amber’s trademark designs: the filigree! For Amber, piping filigree is second nature. She can do it on live camera, they turn out perfectly spaced, it all works like a symphony. I admit that I had to resort to the mini-projector. Still, it is a very nice design to practice, because you can use it in countless types of cookies that call for a touch of elegance. Once that is done (and the instructions on the book are flawless), the other components are not hard at all. Bake the cookies (template for the vase is provided in the book), make icing colors, and dive in!


I changed just a few details, to incorporate extra cookies in the shape of small flowers. The vase would work for many different arrangements: big flowers, tropical foliage, fruits on sticks… Just tweak the shapes and colors. Of course, if the filigree is too intimidating, you can do something else, including air-brushing with a stencil. But in my opinion, the filigree really makes this set absolutely whimsical.


Another cookie I made from the book was a Lantern design. I could not quite do it the same way Amber instructs, because I did not have matte white powder. If you have her book, you can look for it on page 106, and you will see that by using that product she managed to produce the perfect effect of light getting dimmer and dimmer as you move away from the lantern. Absolutely gorgeous. I went with a sparkly background instead, spraying a bit of Diamond Dust.

And now that I shared two of my cookies, let me walk you through the book…


To order the book, follow this link.

The book opens with three chapters that will cover all the basics needed to indulge in the hobby of cookie decorating. If you are a total beginner, that’s where you should start.

Chapter 1: Cookie Decorating Basics
In this chapter she talks about the equipment needed, shares her favorite recipe for cookies and frosting, and goes over the basic methods of dyeing the icing, checking consistency (VERY important), flooding, piping borders and making piped roses. It ends with troubleshooting, I urge you to read that part, it will come in handy at times (wink, wink).

Chapter 2: Icing and Frosting Recipes
Amber shares several recipes to make alternative icings, and it really shocked me that I’ve never departed from my basic vanilla-lemon base. Will work on that soon, stay tuned.

Chapter 3: Cookie Recipes
I am always trying different ways to flavor my basic sugar cookie dough, and in this chapter Amber offers several tasty possibilities, such as Pumpkin Spice, Lemon and Almond, Lime and Coconut, Maple, Strawberry. I have tried a couple, and the Strawberry Cookie is worth buying the book for. There, I said it!

Chapter 4: Celebration Cookies
Now the decorating fun begins! This chapter is perhaps the one with most advanced cookies. You will learn how to make piped roses (wet on wet), use filigree (for beautiful wedding cookies), and brush embroidery to decorate a gift box (which you can of course simplify and make as a regular cookie). I love all the designs in this chapter, the Birthday Cake maybe is my favorite. The Graduation Cookie teaches a very cool way to do a marbled background (which I intend to try soon), and the Back to School, that closes the chapter, shows how to come up with a chalkboard look. Super cool.

Chapter 5: Seasonal Cookies
I love this chapter, beginning to end! It opens with Valentine’s Day. Amber is a pro at making designs that mimic leopard print, and that’s what she chose to feature a heart-shaped cookie. Totally modern! I considered making it to feature the post, but ended up picking the Fall Bouquet instead. Tulip Bouquets (with clear explanation on how to make the cookie stay on the stick), Marbled Eggs, Fall Bouquet, Lanterns and Stars (I made the lantern as a bonus featured in this post), are just a few of the examples. Maybe my favorite of this chapter is the Goth Pumpkin, on page 117. I absolutely MUST make it soon, before Halloween says goodbye. It is unique, elegant and vibrant. I am also smitten by her take on Snowflakes. I would say that in this chapter you’ll find designs that are friendly to beginners and even the Snowflakes (page 142) that look absolutely stunning, are in fact doable with her detailed step-by-step instructions.

Chapter 6: Anytime Cookies
This is simply FUN. She opens the chapter with Pizza Slices, perfect for a Summer party. Ice Cream Cups, Coffee and Donuts (love this series), Fruit Slices, Tie-Dye T-Shirts (cool to the limit!), Butterflies… I think (but it is hard to choose) my favorite would be the Dinosaurs (page 175). Very creative and not too difficult to put together. The way she cracked the icing to have the dinosaur little foot coming out of the egg, is just brilliant. Yes, I want to make that one soon.

Chapter 7: Templates
In this chapter you will find everything you need to make cookies that need to be cut by hand (such as the vase I featured), or piped on the cookie (like the lantern, also featured today). Also sketches to help you pipe borders and the amazing filigree.

So that’s that, my friends. Amber’s book is clearly a labor of love! Every design has many step-by-step pictures and a very detailed list of everything you need, from equipment to colors and consistencies of icing, to make the cookie come to life. I cannot imagine the amount of work that went into the making of this book! Beginners in cookie decorating will find plenty of designs to play with, and those who like to stretch their limits will also have a blast with the book. I think Amber says it all in the final paragraph of her Introduction to the book, and I will transcribe it here for you:

The designs in this book came with step-by-step instructions and are meant to be recreated by you so you can learn to decorate cookies. As you get more comfortable with decorating, I encourage you to combine these techniques to create your own unique works of edible art. Most importantly, have fun!

Amber, thank you so much for allowing me to share the designs I made so far. I cannot wait to make more of them, and to continue following you on tutorials both through Patreon and Facebook lives. It is a hobby that I embraced a couple of years ago, and thanks to the help of cookie artists such as yourself, I love more and more each day!

ONE YEAR AGO: Marbled Spooky Cookies

FOR THE LOVE OF A TEDDY BEAR

I fell in love with this cookie concept the moment I saw it in Marlyn’s IG page and then on her Patreon site. The twisted legs and the goofy expression won my heart. At that time, I felt the techniques involved were way out of my skill level. But I hoped that one day…. one day I would be brave to give it a try. Finally, it materialized. One little step at a time. Steps taken with twisted legs, to match the cookie spirit…

I just love this cutie pie! I opted for chocolate cookies as the starting point.. The head and legs are made from heart-shaped cutters, the body a simple oval shape. Next, a bit of “frankensteining” happens to add ears and arms to the head and body. Marlyn has it all very clearly explained in her Patreon tutorial.

From that point, you will need two tones of Royal icing for the basic components (outlining darker), and a fun technique with a plastic wrap to make the texture.

A little black royal icing for the eyes, some finishing details for nose and paws, and that goofy boy is ready to make a kid smile!