INTRODUCING THE GNOME & FLORAL ADVENTURE

If you’ve been following my cookie blog, you are familiar with all the online classes taught by Amy from Seriouslysweet. For the new year, she came up with a very fun series: each month we get to make two cookies, one gnome and one floral, with a similar color scheme so that they go together like a perfect match. January started with Frosty Gnome and his blue-tone flower. I cannot tell you how much fun it was to bring these cookies to life, and you can do it too! Just join her site (link below) and sign up for the whole series. You will need the cookie cutters also, although you could conceivably cut them by hand or use a similar cutter you already own. The videos are all pre-recorded and the classes follow her usual format, so you will also receive a little card with all the specific things you need for each cookie.

To join Amy’s online tutorials, visit her site clicking here.

I love when cookies make me smile, and these gnomes do it, big time! So many details… First, you need to make the nose with fondant or modeling chocolate, once that is ready you can start piping the different sections and adding all the bells and whistles.

Apart from the fondant noses, you’ll need little snowflakes made with wafer paper and a small punch type cutter, but if you don’t have that, you can add snow-shaped sprinkles. The paper creates a nice lift, though. The gloves get some texture with the needle, and the beard is made using one of Amy’s favorite techniques, which I don’t feel it is right to share, as the class is a paid event. The final touch is a large snowflake made with fondant, and spray painted with Wilton pearl Color Mist. I made a little heart to go with that set also… Aren’t the gnomes the cutest?

The matching flowers are much simpler to make, even if they seem complicated. All you need is Royal icing in the right consistency (thick), a petal and a leaf piping tips. I added some sprinkles to the center and once the icing was fully set I painted the edges with luster powder, white for the petals and copper for the leaves.

I’ve enjoyed every single online class from Amy, but this one has got to be one of my favorites of all times! It was wonderful to see that little gnome taking shape, and although it is not a class for beginners – you need to be comfortable making and handling Royal icing in several different consistencies – it is not over the top advanced.

If you’d like to challenge your cookie decorating a bit, I urge you to join Amy’s site and sign up for the upcoming classes. Her group on Facebook keeps getting bigger and bigger, it is great to see everybody making progress in their own path of decorating cookies.

Amy, I look forward to February and its set of gnome and floral!

ONE YEAR AGO: The Year of the Tiger Cookie Platter

PLAYING WITH COLORED DOUGH

Recently Marlyn from @montrealconfections shared several ideas to make very cool cookies using colored dough instead of relying on icing. I love the concept! You can see one of her videos clicking here. If you are a member of her Patreon site, a much more detailed tutorial is available here.

Without further ado, my first attempt with this technique…


I love the way these cookies are super “decorated” but without a single drop of icing. You can follow Marlyn’s video to get a better idea of how it is done, but it all starts with a batch of chocolate dough (any recipe you like), and several batches of sugar dough, split in different colors. What I do is make a regular batch, and before the dough gets fully mixed, I divide it in portions. Then, I grab the first portion and place it in the Kitchen Aid, adding the lighter color to it (in this case, yellow). Mix that, add the other dough, add another color, no need to wash the bowl.

From that point, all you need to do is roll the colored dough and play with shapes and colors…

Roll the chocolate dough, place the pieces on top, roll it again
(with a parchment paper on top) to make it all flat…


Cut shapes…. and bake!


Any leftover dough can be squished together to make a nice marbled dough that you can use in many different ways…


Marlyn proposed the Inspiration Challenge for October using this type of technique, so stay tuned for my “homework” coming up in my next post…


ONE YEAR AGO: Spooktacular Shortbread 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

ANDI’S WET-ON-WET FLORALS

This set of cookies were part of an online class I took recently (click here for details). Andi is a wonderful instructor and when you subscribe to the class you get a super detailed PDF not only with all the recipes and templates, but also in this case a little tutorial on how to draw this particular type of flower. For me, this kind of basic info is extremely helpful. Right after I finished the cookies planned for class, I took a little departure and made a small set of my own, using her basic approach. I highly recommend her classes. This was a reasonably simple one, I am trying to decide if I should take a deep breath and go for one of her more advanced versions. You know how that might end… (wink, wink).

This online class had four designs, but two of them I messed up. One of the things that needs to be considered is that designs with a big area of wet-on-wet might cause the icing to overflow the edge of the cookie, which distorts the image. I added too much of the base color without taking that in account. But the heart-shaped cookies worked very well. Also in the class we had a square cookie and a large, round cookie with a monogram inside. I need to re-visit those in the future.

I cannot go into all the details for the different stages (due to copyright issues for the class), but what I loved the most was adding the black details using a fine brush and this particular food color, which is Andy’s favorite for this type of work. It truly works super well. It is a dye designed for air-brushing, it dries reasonably quickly, but it is very forgiving. You use it straight from the bottle, no need to adjust anything.

One of the cookies I had issues with started from a square shape and a band of gold luster painted on the naked cookie. I used that idea and made a composite square cookie. In this case, instead of wet-on-wet, I painted the design with luster gold and then used the black Amerimist gel color to add the details.

Below a few steps of the prep for these cookies… First, painting with gold, icing with green, and using a stencil to add a pattern just in one area of the cookie. Luster gold to paint a very loose design of the flowers, and the black details added once it all dries, which is less than 10 minutes.

I really loved this method, and will be exploring different shapes of flowers in the future. I also love how a very elegant design can be made with just three colors of Royal icing.

ONE YEAR AGO: Brush Embroidery

THE MANY FACES OF WHITE

Every weekend I like to work on a special cookie decorating project, either to learn a new technique or to practice something I still feel insecure about. But I also like to have a set of cookies waiting without any specific design in mind. My favorite approach is to just pick some simple shapes (squares, ovals, circles) and flood them with white or a very light pastel tone Royal Icing. Next day they are ready to be decorated. The possibilities are pretty much endless. Today I share a series of cookies in which the starting point was a simple white background.

DESIGN #1
STRIPES & DETAILS

Maybe my favorite of this series… I used food safe pens to paint a series of bands of color, then used piping consistency icing to add little details. Super basic. Inspiration came from painted rocks, if you go on Instagram or Pinterest you can find a ton of designs to inspire you.

.

DESIGN #2
STRIPES & FONDANT ACCENTS

A lot simpler to do because the stripes don’t need to be precisely separated, I just used luster powder in 4 different colors to paint the background. Fondant shells in gold complete the look.

Even simpler, stripes can be added with a fan type brush, just touches of gold coupled with a modern fondant flower (made with this mold)

.

DESIGN #3
MINI-PROJECTOR

So many images available in the internet or in coloring books, just google something, grab your projector and go to work… Lately, I’ve been a little focused on a certain breed of dog… The one below was painted with food safe pens and the bubbles added with piping consistency Royal icing.

The two images below were “borrowed” from one of my favorite pages in Instagram, Jillfcsrocks. And no worries, she is aware that I get her images on my cookies… She is also a cookie-maker! They were painted with Sugarprism.

Another cookie painted with Sugarprism, this one demanded a little more time, but I had fun letting my inner Van Gogh coming out (cough, cough).

.

DESIGN #4
STENCILS

Probably the easiest, most efficient way to decorate a cookie, coupling stencils with the air-brush. My main advice is to invest on a screen (like this one) to get really sharp edges on the design. That is not too important in busy patterns such as the black random spots, but it will help other types of drawings like the paw prints and the dragon. Are you watching House of Dragons? Fun show…

Stencils can also be joined with piping in white and then painted. Probably the most involved decorating method of all the examples in this post. When you couple it with painting (in this case, Sugarprism), it is a very nice way to get a more realistic image. Big thank you for Marlyn from @montrealconfections for helping me with the design of this stencil.

ONE YEAR AGO: Heart of Honey Pizza Box Cookie

PAINTED ROYAL ICING TRANSFERS

When you decorate cookies, it’s pretty common to have leftover Royal icing. It does freeze well, but you can also make royal icing transfers in all sorts of shapes without worrying about color at this point. Let them set for a few hours or overnight, and then use any method of your choice to color them. Michelle, the inventor of Sugarprism, is a pro at this. The birds below were made following her lead.

I got so hooked into the process that right away I started making several different transfers. The advantage of making them all white, is that you can choose the colors later, to match any cookie you are working on. Here are my first two babies… The first one coupled with Royal icing in piping consistency, and the second with painting (luster powder) + food pen.

The main thing to consider when making the transfers is using a slightly thicker consistency and piping in stages so the design won’t be flat. This works when making flowers, butterflies, birds, pretty much any image. As to how to add color? Any method works: food pens, Sugarprism (both the acrylic and the watercolor types), food gel diluted with vodka, luster powder. I normally bring all my tools out to play and go with the flow.

A few more designs using the transfers… The one below is definitely one of my favorites ever! I brought back my days of studying Mandarin and incorporated a modern rose with the ideogram for love. I find that particular ideogram very beautiful. One of its components (the central motif) is the ideogram that represents the heart. The Chinese language has incredibly beautiful details that captivate the mind.

For the butterflies, I used a different method to paint flowers: dry dusting with luster powder using a sponge brush in a very loose pattern. Next, a food pen adds the real drawing, which does not need any precision.

That is a very easy method to add flowers, and it will give the impression that you spent a lot of time in each cookie, but that’s really not the case. Plus, it is very forgiving.

So here is my small collection of cookies using the transfers I made in the past couple of weeks. As you can see, a transfer can stand alone on its own, or you can add details around it. Your cookie, your choice. But whatever you decide to do, having a little treasure chest with transfers ready to be painted is a very efficient way to decorate cookies. I hope you give that a try!

ONE YEAR AGO: Not Always Black and White

EMBROIDERY SUNFLOWER COOKIES

I am beyond excited about these cookies! Huge thank you to Haniela for her very detailed tutorial on Patreon – this one available only for her supporters. If you are serious about cookie decorating, consider joining that crowd. Totally worth it. Many techniques were involved, and you need to be able to work with fine lines, the finer the better to get the best effect of embroidery. They are a bit labor intensive, but the whole process is a lot of fun.

Haniela put a lot of thought into the design. The base is made to mimic an embroidery frame, and you do that by etching lines on a fully set flooded cookie. I am not going to share all the details, as this is part of a paid tutorial, so below I show some steps of the process. Her video is very helpful and explains every single step.

She also provides a template for the flower design, to make it even easier to bring this cookie to life.

I should have made the fine lines a little more delicate, but my piping consistency was just a little off. Still, they ended with a slightly more “rustic” appearance. No major harm done.

The same technique will work for many different shapes and colors, so keep that in mind if you want to give it a try.

ONE YEAR AGO: Amy’s Pineapple Cookies

FLORALS

Spring and Summer, time to celebrate color, flowers, being outside and allowing the beauty of the universe to inspire us. I share with you cookies made in the past few weeks, using several different techniques, but all with flowers in mind. I start with my favorite, following as closely as possible a Facebook tutorial from Marlyn. For this one, sequential piping is coupled with air-brushing to bring to cookie-life Plumeria blooms.

Marlyn is a pro with the air-brush, it is not something I do without considerable hyperventilation, but slowly I am getting the gist of it. The yellow part worked well, I found the pink to spray too wildly at times.

Below some of the steps to make these cookies…

I love the simple elegance of this design, typical of Marlyn. If you don’t have an air-brush, you can still do the same by painting with gel color diluted with vodka or water. It will take a little longer, but other than that, no issues.

Moving on, some other florals that happened in our kitchen lately….

SUGARPRISM PAINTING

AIR-BRUSHING + STENCIL

CRACKED BACKGROUND + PAINTED FONDANT

Design inspired by Amber, from @sweetambs
tutorial from Craftsy

ROYAL ICING TRANSFERS

(drawing designed inspired by Amber, from @sweetambs)

I still have many floral compositions waiting in line to materialize as cookies,
so stay tuned for more soon!

ONE YEAR AGO: Gilding the Lily with Silicone Molds

A TRILOGY OF SUGARPRISM

Today I share three different ways to decorate cookies using Sugarprism, starting from the simplest version…

DESIGN #1 – YELLOW FLOWERS

For these cookies, my inspiration were flowers I saw in my walking-jogging route. Intense orange, with a reddish center. I iced the 8 petal flower shape with orange, and once that set I drew a circle that was iced with chocolate brown plus a touch of red. Once that set overnight, I painted the details with Sugarprism red, and finally added little dots of Royal icing in bright yellow.

It is a very simple design, maybe the trickiest part is adding the little yellow dots, because the consistency of the icing has to be just right. It is a good idea to practice on a piece of parchment paper, so that you can adjust with water or powdered sugar if necessary.

DESIGN #2 – MODERN STICK FIGURE

I fell in love with this image the moment I saw it on the Instagram page of Kathy Barbro, who teaches drawing for kids. I knew I had to “cookie it.” So I started with a Royal iced white background, and drew the design with a light food pen. Then I used Sugarprism to paint the different sections, and once that was fully dry, I went over the design and details with a black food pen. You can see some of the phases in the composite below

Little black dots with Royal icing made for a fun border that complemented the design well, I think.

DESIGN #3 – SINGLE STROKE PAINTING

I consider these cookies a work in progress. If you go on youtube and search for “single stroke painting”, you’ll find many wonderful examples, and many tutorials trying to teach you how to do it. They make it seem very easy, but clearly, there is a steep learning curve. Basically, you load two different colors on opposite sides of a flattish brush, press the brush on the surface and twist it to form a petal. I made a “canvas” of royal icing to practice and – full disclosure – my countertop once I was done with the cookies looked like a war zone!

It is a fun technique to work with. I intend to keep trying and also work on different types of flowers and leaves. So expect to see more of my amateurish attempts featured here… Lolita, the flamingo, does not mind, she actually seems quite smitten with my painting!

If you want to play with Sugarprism, visit Michelle’s website with a click here.


ONE YEAR AGO: Sugarprism, a New Kid on My Block

SUNFLOWERS FOR UKRAINE

Another design using piped Royal icing coupled with painting, this time I used Sugarprism.

Similar to what I shared recentl (click here), this version relied on a stencil air-brushed with gold as starting point… The surface was iced and fully set (color used for the base was Artisan Accents Azure Blue). White Royal icing was piped in sections that were not adjacent, so that if they accidentally touched, they would not merge.

Once all sections were piped, I waited for the center to start crusting, and then used a special little tool to add texture…

This step is optional, or you can use the handle side of a brush. But I find that it adds a more interesting look to the final design. A few hours later the fun – aka painting – starts. I used Sugarprism in Dandelion Yellow + Monarch Orange for the petals, Green + Teddy Bear Brown for the leaves. Teddy Bear Brown was also used to paint the stem.

The final step was the bling: center of the flower painted with gold luster + vodka.

It is hard to find hope sometimes. So many horrible things happen in our world, leaving us with a very intense feeling of impotence and frustration. At least through cookies, we can bring some sunshine and joy to those around us.

Stay tuned for more adventures with Sugarprism!

ONE YEAR AGO: Eyelet-Lace Strawberry Cookies