MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Sharing the last collection of cookies for the season, these are simple to make, and I like their almost minimalist look, particularly the Christmas tree. I wish I had saved the source of my inspiration for the little gift packages, but I took a screen shot of some Instagram stuff, never saved the actual post and was unable to find it again.

Apart from simple Royal icing details in red and green, fondant details make them special. I always use white fondant and paint in any color I want later.

You can do a lot with just three colors of icing, and during Christmas season, it’s pretty much all you need…

Two tones of green can also make a pretty cute wreath design, when coupled with red accent sprinkles…

Just pipe them as shown below and run a needle through the center, drawing a circle.

This year I’ve done a lot of Christmas trees, but not as many ornaments…

It is now time to say goodbye to Christmas cookies… makes me sad, but in a way every season that ends leaves that feeling that too many cookies were left unbaked. But another season comes to get excited about… Can you feel the Valentine vibes forming?

AMY’S CHRISTMAS COOKIES: A FUN VIRTUAL CLASS

If you follow my cookie adventures, you know that I am always trying to learn from the great decorators out there. I recently joined a virtual event hosted by Amy, from Seriously Sweet in Davis St, and it was a lot of fun! The class was supposed to be beginner to intermediate level, and we had to make six designs. The picture above shows two of them, plus two small cookies I made with leftover icing from class. Everything super well explained, all we had to do was bake the 6 different shapes, and have four of them iced the day before, so we could work with stencils, stamps, and colors during class. Since the event was by zoom, we could always ask specific questions and even show our cookies to her and other participants in case of eventual drama.

For the preparation, we flooded the angle tree with green, the center of the ornament with red, the candle and the star with white. We also had the option of making little fondant decorations, if we wanted to follow her exact design, which I obviously chose to do. During class we did brush embroidery for the angel, and painting with watercolor technique for the star and candle. All at a nice pace, with very detailed instructions by Amy, who was decorating hers, in real time. The only cookie that gave me trouble was the tree, I could not make the stamp go smoothly over the whole surface, but still like the effect. I need to practice stamping, it is not that easy for me.

It is hard to pick a favorite, for me it is a tie between the ornament and the wreath…

The painting method for the star was very cool, and as Amy pointed out during class, the technique can be used for many different designs. For a more advanced adventure, she suggested we could write “Fa-la-la” over the tree with the musical sheet in the background, but I did not feel quite up to the challenge. Writing with Royal icing will require a bit more mental prep from me.

So here they are, my six babies from class!

Amy, thank you so much for organizing this class, I always learn a ton of stuff during your events… I look forward to the next one!

If you’d like to join one of Amy’s future classes, visit her IG page and join her Facebook group, you will meet lots of cookie-addicts and will improve your skills while having a lot of fun.

A CHRISTMAS TREE PARTY

Moving along the Holiday Baking Path, today I share a series of Christmas Tree Cookies with different styles of decoration. Some are gingerbread with very little icing, some are sugar cookies also very austere in the icing department. Some are simple, some a bit more involved. Some are modern, some more traditional. I hope you will find a cookie with your name written on it…

This is the perfect cookie for those who are anti-Royalists, as far as icing is concerned. I used a large oval cookie cutter and a mini-tree shape. Cut the tree from the center of the oval cookie, lifted it out, painted green with Sugarprism. The great thing about Sugarprism is that the color is unchanged during baking. And it tastes great, a nice vanilla flavor that won’t interfere with your cookies. Placed the painted tree inside, and baked them together. Finally I just glued some confetti sprinkles with a tiny drop of icing. Basically, it is a naked cookie, but looks pretty decorated, right?

Now for a slightly unusual shape, I used this cookie cutter. I think it calls for a more modern design, so I went with three different types, the first with minimal icing + white sanding sugar, and the other two either flooded white and with added swirls, or iced with fine green lines all over. In that one, a bit of copper luster powder was added for a little extra bling, as well as a golden star made as royal icing transfer the day before.

As some may know, I have a hard time resisting the Call of the Zentangle, so I had to incorporate a black and white tree version. Flooded white and details added next day with a black food pen. The white star is molded fondant sprayed with PME luster pearl.

Same shape, same white flooding as a starting point, a super simple design: draw lines with black pen and glue confetti sprinkles all over the lines.

If you are good at drawing, you can do a similar design free-hand, but I used a mini-projector to help me out… The candy corn shape works well for that.

Another option that is pretty simple: ice with white and wait for that to set for about 30 minutes. The do little indentations with the handle of a brush or a fondant tool. Glue the confetti and a golden star. Simple and I think pretty cute, particularly for a small cookie.

For another modern-ish version, after flooding the angled tree with white, I used a stencil to add a delicate leaf pattern. The design was made a bit more evident with a beige food pen, and gold luster powder added to the base and accent star. The whole cookie was then lightly sprayed with PME gold.

For the next design, I was inspired by a recent Facebook live from Marlyn (watch it here, starts at 25 minutes). Her tree was much more complex, but I simplified mine a bit to go with the simple triangle shape of the cookie.

To make the snowflakes I used a puncher thingie (similar to this one) to cut wafer paper, then glued a silver nonpareil in the center.

I intend to go for the tree design that Marlyn shared before this season is over, so stay tuned.

Brush embroidery is also a very easy way to decorate this type of cookie, sanding sugar giving it a nice, snowy look.

But of course I must close the post with my obsession of 2021…

I hope I’ve inspired you to bake some Christmas trees cookies for your family and friends. I saved a design from Marlyn for a post that should be published the day after tomorrow, as I consider it a work in progress. Stay tuned!

LET’S GET SPOOKY!

But let’s do it in style, under the guidance of the great Amy, from Seriously Sweet on Davis St. I could not join her tutorial live, as when that happened I was too concerned with teaching, but a few days later I jumped into it. The great thing about her tutorials is that you can watch them whenever you want in case you cannot join the live session.

I absolutely loved making this series. There were additional cookies demonstrated in the tutorial, but I only managed to make these two. Introducing…

Susie, the Happy Spider!

For the spiderweb cookie, Amy taught us how to give the background a nice texture, and all the details to pipe the web, how to get the dimensions correctly. I made my spider with fondant and dyed it silver. Eyes were tiny little drops of Rainbow Dust Metallic Red.

As to the background it’s all in the consistency of the black Royal icing, as well as the technique to spread it.

SPOOKY TOMB DUET

Aren’t those super cool? Once again Amy taught us how to get the funky background, that can come in handy for many types of cookies.

In the same tutorial she shared a very nice tombstone cookie, and a cauldron. I had made a cauldron the week before, but hers had extra touches of cool, like addition texture to the surface. I will have to re-visit the cauldron issue next year, as spooky baking season is coming to an end. I am not sure how I will deal with Halloween withdrawal syndrome. Am I alone in my misery?

SPOOKTACULAR SHORTBREAD COOKIES

This is a sister-post from yesterday’s publication in my main blog, where you can find the full recipe for these babies. I truly loved their taste and texture and hope you’ll give them a try. In these versions, the spooky quotient was increased with skulls and scary eyes. The shortbread has no leavening agent, so it is a good choice to bake the little skulls, molded in a plastic ice cube tray (available here). Just make sure to keep an eye during baking, as they bake fast. It seems obvious, but let me make sure to reinforce it, you do not bake in the tray, you mold them, release them and bake them free. Maybe there are molds out there made of silicone or metal and you could conceivably do the full baking in them.

As to the scary eyes, those were a ton of fun to make. I followed a very detailed tutorial from Heather Salmon, available in the closed Facebook group “Painting with Sugarprism.” She actually shared two different ways, one with isomalt, which I think is even nicer, but because my cookies are donated and I don’t know who gets them, I was afraid that a young kid could choke on the isomalt. It can be a bit hard. So I opted for fondant. My mold had a little hole for the pupils, so I had to do a bit of patching up with extra fondant to get a fully round surface. Then it was all a matter of painting with Sugarprism, and a final spray with PME pearl luster.

The advantage of all the Halloween decorating things, is that you don’t need to be artistically gifted. It is all good in the end. Imperfections just make it all more real.

The little cat was painted with Baby Black luster powder and the eyes with red. I left the skulls plain, straight from baking, but they could look great with bright red eyes also.

The eyes were placed over black royal icing, thick consistency, piped with a petal tip. After it was fully set, I painted a bit of metallic red from RainbowDust on the edges (available here).

Halloween and cookies are a match made in heaven. Or would it be hell? I have quite a few more designs to share, so stay tuned for more spooky things popping up on your screen…

ARE WE SCARED YET?

MARBLED SPOOKY COOKIES

The technique of marbling using dots of gel color on the surface of Royal icing is a nice and straightforward method to generate colorful effects. Recently I saw Marlyn achieve a similar effect by swirling three batches of Royal icing with different colors. She did that on a baking sheet, to get a shallow surface, quite a bit easier to work with the cookies. It all ends up very smooth, with perfect coverage. I picked Halloween-friendly colors and coupled the marbling with spooky fondant decorations or silhouette painting. I ended up feeling pretty spooked. How about you?

This is how Marlyn does the marbling… It is very easy to coat the surface of the cookie when the icing is poured this way, and since the icing needs to be a bit thicker it also covers quite well.

From that point, you can add decorations while the icing is still wet, or wait and glue them later with Royal icing.

For the witch below, I used a stencil and painted the image with a black food pen. The white cookies were just flooded with white icing and painted, free hand with a food pen. That is a simple design, no need to worry about making it perfectly symmetrical or anything.

I tell you one thing, I will be sad when Halloween is over… So. Much. Fun.

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…

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.

FOR THE LOVE OF FLAMINGOS

Flamingos are magnificent birds and the cookie world devotes a lot of attention to them. If you don’t believe me, do a search for “flamingo cookie cutters”, and you will see what I mean. Today I share my take on one adorable version demonstrated recently by Amy, Cookier Extraordinaire. You can follow her detailed instructions here. Cookie cutter available here.

The day before (or many days before), you’ll need to prepare the wings, which are made using a petal tip such as Wilton 104, and stiff consistency Royal Icing. Amy has printable templates in her ko-fi shop, or you can wing it (did you see what I did here? Apologies).

A little touch with pink air-brushing around the edges brightens up the cookie. I used fondant molded flowers to decorate the head of the flamingos, you can use a different shape of flower as Amy did in her tutorial. Cookie cutter used for this project from etsy.com.

Here are all my girls!

If you are a beginner cookie decorator, don’t be intimidated by this series because they are not hard to make at all. If you want to simplify, the wings can be made with a food pen instead of a transfer. The air-brushing step can also be omitted. But of course, each small detail brings a lot to the final product.

I must say I’m a bit surprised by how strong-willed flamingos can be…

Mary and Monique get along well most of the time…

But Maribel and Margaret just don’t see eye-to-eye!

Amy, thank you once again for the great tutorial, you make it all easy and fun…

That’s all for now, folks! See you next time…

VAMOS A LA PLAYA!

Some cookie projects are a complete pleasure, beginning to end. Once again I followed a tutorial from Marlyn (Montreal Confections). You can watch the basic process here, as part of a recent Live Facebook event. A full, detailed tutorial (with a nice supply list) is available in her Patreon page. The basic idea is quite simple: two colors flood the cookie, mimicking sea and sand. But then she brings the details, the real gilding of the lily. And the simple details turn each cookie into a fun, adorable beach scene.

The adventure starts with a round cookie, pick a size compatible with the decorations that will be added in the end. However, I generally dislike cookies that end up too big, so I went as small as feasible for my shells and starfish.

For the water component, Marlyn suggests painting a wavy design with the air-brush, and a final shiny coat with a spray of PME luster. Those two small details considerably embellish the cookies.

The sand component is added after the water part is fully set. I used Golden Rocks from Wilton, lightly processed in a mini-grinder. You can use Graham cracker crumbs too. Finally, brush embroidery comes in to play the role of waves. Just make sure that the Royal icing is in piping consistency and don’t use water in the brush because it can interfere with the air-brushing. It is all clearly explained in Marlyn’s tutorial, by the way.

The shells and decorations were made using this mold.

I find making decorations with silicone molds very relaxing, as you may have noticed from a recent post. And they last for a long time, so you can make them way in advance. I added a light spray of PME luster to all of them, but painting with luster powder + alcohol works great too. The spray is just faster and simpler.

If you love baking cookies, make sure to follow Marlyn through her IG page. She is always coming up with new ideas, it’s hard to keep up, but I have fun trying, that’s for sure!