LET’S SQUARE THINGS UP

Today I share five designs for square cookies, a shape that I think is under-estimated. Square cookies offer lots of possibilities for cookie decorating, and can also be grouped together to create a composite image. Remember the Quilt Challenge proposed by Marlyn a few months ago? When Marlyn did her version, she turned a simple square cookie into a quilt design made complete by joining four of the basic pieces together. Super clever! So to kick things off, I share my version of Marlyn’s Quilt cookie. I simply changed the color scheme and a few details.

DESIGN #1 – MARLYN’S QUILT

For a geometric pattern such as this to work well, you have to draw guiding lines on the naked cookie as a starting point. Then use piping consistency black to make a reasonably thick outline of all sections, add details with fine lines. As you can see below, I started with a yellow draft but made a few mistakes, so I started all over with a black pen. It all gets hidden by the icing, so no major harm done.

Once the outline and fine lines are set, it’s time to proceed with the flooding, using any decoration and color scheme of your choice.

It is fun to see the full design come to life as the cookies are placed together…

DESIGN #2 – COLORFUL TILES

For this design, I used a stencil downloaded from Cricut workspace, and a very light sheen airbrush color to paint it on a white flooded cookie. Next, I highlighted all details using several different colors of food safe pens, and added a little outline with black.

Since the sheen color is so subtle, it does not really interfere with the painting… The sheen color I used is from this set. For these cookies I opted for Blue Sheen.

DESIGN #3 – GRADUATION COOKIES

Once again, stencils come to the rescue… Another image downloaded from Cricut Workspace, I made these for a friend’s daughter who graduated last month. With a bonus round cookie, just because…

Similarly to the Colorful Tiles, I used a stencil air-brushed with a sheen orange color, and went over the details with food pen.

DESIGN #4 – MODERN WHITE SQUARES

I was inspired by Connie, a member of the Great British Bake Off group from Facebook. It was her first time decorating sugar cookies, and she came up with a design I loved, very elegant and polished. Monochromatic. Clean. This is my version of her cookies.

Cookies are flooded with white royal icing, and then the details are piped, with a few silver sprinkles added while the icing is wet.

DESIGN #5 – FUN WITH PROJECTOR

Recently I stumbled on this IG page and almost lost my mind with the amazing drawings she does on rocks. I contacted her to see how she fell about some of her images turning up in cookies, and she was fine with it, in fact she also makes cookies herself! These were my first versions, I particularly adore the meditating frog… I think the square shape is perfect to this type of cute design.

That’s all for now, folks! I hope I gave you some ideas to play with using a very basic cookie shape, that can be arranged in sets of four, potentially expanding the horizons of the final composition.

ONE YEAR AGO: The Many Faces of the Oreo Cookie

ZOO ANIMALS, A BIRTHDAY SET

As far as cookie decorating goes, I have two passions: learning new techniques, and making a set of cookies with someone in mind. This small collection was made for a sweet girl who turned 7 years old earlier this month. She loves animals, in fact, her mind is set on becoming a veterinarian when she grows up. Isn’t that super cool? Her Birthday party had Zoo Animals as the theme. I put my cookie mind to work, and made a few to match the theme. I start with a very sweet lion, design by Marlyn. It is made by joining two heart-shaped cookies: one for the head, one for the body. Royal icing transfers help compose his face. I fell in love with this set when I first watched Marlyn making it, so I knew it had to be part of this group. If you are not her supporter on Patreon, you can still see a quick video of this double cookie with a visit to this link on her IG page.

From lions, to llamas… Very simple design, just white flooding and then a few details with piping consistency icing and some sprinkles. The nose is made with thicker consistency white icing, after setting overnight the details of eyes and nose are made with a fine tip food safe pen.

Moving on, another cookie I’ve made in the past, but had to repeat for this set, I adore the goofiness of these giraffes… They were made with the help of a mini-projector (AKASO).

One of my favorites, also a repeat from my past… Pandas!

The simplest pair of this set… Koalas… Gray Royal icing flooded in stages, allowed to fully set, and a few details added with food safe pen.

And of course, how could I not include my favorite animal ever? This technique was inspired by Haniela, watercolor method using vodka and gel colors.

Some of the steps to make the cookies, including the Royal icing transfers for the lion’s face…

And, of course, stencils are always a nice way to compose a design…. I love the star shape-flip turning it into a modern lion. Cookie cutter and stencil from Sugarbelle.

I hope this batch of cookies gave a smile to the Birthday girl!

STENCIL FUN: A TESLA COOKIE SET

I’ve had my Cricut cutter since Christmas last year, a very thoughtful gift from my beloved husband. The learning curve to play with that baby is steep. So far I’ve mostly used stencils available online – many provided by Marlyn, from Montreal Confections, many from shops at etsy.com. In this post, I share with you my first adventure designing stencils myself. They were all super simple, using images available in the internet, and a straightforward cut. Stencils are great to design cookies for special occasions. This set was made for a potluck party we hosted recently for all Tesla owners in our town.

The simplest one was just the Tesla logo with the characteristic modern font. Once the image is found online, Cricut can size it to the desired cookie area. For that cookie, I flooded the base with red, let it set overnight, and spray painted with black. Since this is such a simple image, it is very important that the lines are sharp. I use a screen between the stencil and the air-brush to make sure no under-spray takes place. That takes a little practice, but now I feel a bit more confident using it. Some screens sold especially for cookies can be expensive. I am quite happy with this one, that is large enough to cover any size stencil, and also more affordable.

For the second type of cookie, I went with a gray background and either black or red air-brushing of the stencil image.

Yet another image – also found with a search for Tesla clipart in google – used a gold background and brown air-brushing. And finally the classic image of Tesla Model X (the one we own) with the Falcon wings open. I made some silver, some black.

Just for variety, I made a set of charging stations using the mini-projector and food pen.

This was a fun set to plan and make. Stencils make it quite straightforward, comparing the time needed to make each of the charging station cookies, the ones with the stencil are ready in the blink of an eye!

You can get by ordering stencils online, but it will limit a lot what you can do. In many cases you can order a stencil in different sizes, but there is little flexibility. For instance, some might offer three sizes, small, medium, or large, and you will have to bake your cookies to fit those sizes. If you own a Cricut (or Silhouette), you can tweak stencils to your needs, and also make your own. I have a lot to learn still, and to be absolutely honest, I feel quite discouraged at times. But I guess that is expected when learning a new skill.

BEAR WITH ME

For a non-native speaker of English, some expressions can be quite amusing. Bear with me is definitely one that makes me smile because no matter how hard I try to avoid it, the image of a teddy bear jumps in my mind. Playful and cute. So, bear with me as I go from English to baking. Sugar cookies, sandwich cookies, macarons. With bears in mind…

THE LITTLE PANDA BEAR

This design was based on a picture my niece Carla shared in our family whatsapp group. I knew I had to “cookie-it”. So I used the mini-projector to draw the basic design, and then applied the same technique used for bunny rabbits in previous posts. Sugarprism was used to paint the body. The only additional detail was piping non-adjacent sections of the bamboo, allowing to set and then pipe the remaining parts. This way the stalks are more realistic. I used a food pen to make the leaves.

BEARS WITH HEART BALLOONS

The cookie cutter set used for these cookies can be found here. I love Semisweet Designs! Not only they sell unique cutters, but they share blog posts with ideas to decorate them.

Below I show some of the steps to bring these little bears to life… The ears, arms and legs get a small amount of icing that is allowed to set before fully flooding them. This prevents cratering, which might happen in such small areas.

The eyes were 4mm black pearls from PME, added right after flooding. Finally, after the cookie was fully set, I painted the balloon with luster powder, added the eye details and smile, and a little ribbon to tie the balloon.

KIM-JOY’S LITTLE BEAR SANDWICH COOKIES

Kim-Joy always makes the cutest productions celebrating animals, and this is a good example. You can find her recipe here. Bake a full round for the base, and a top with a slightly off-center hole. All you need then is a bit of ganache to sandwich the cookie, sprinkles, and Royal icing details. For the ears, I baked tiny little rounds of cookie dough, and inserted in between the two cookies, the ganache worked well to keep them in place.

TEDDY BEAR MACARONS

For these macs, color most of your batter brown, and separate a very small amount without any color, adding it to a piping bag with a very small round piping tip. Then pipe rounds with little ears, and add a touch of light batter for the nose area. Bake, fill, and then use a food safe pen to add the eyes, mouth and nose. The filling for those was a ganache noisette (recipe available in my food blog here).

Because this is a very simple design, a French meringue recipe (like this one) will work well. For complex drawings with multiple colors, most people prefer Italian meringue because it is a lot more stable and gives a larger window of time to work.

I hope you enjoyed this small selection of bear cookies.
Stay tuned for more sweetness in cookie format soon…

MONTREAL CONFECTIONS & PYOC

If you are a cookie baker, I am sure you are familiar with the acronym PYOC: Paint Your Own Cookies. But what you may or may not know, is that the person who originally invented those was Marlyn, from Montreal Confections. Nowadays, many bakers sell kits to make them, others sell boxes with this kind of cookies, but she takes no credit and makes zero profit from it. Incredibly unfair, if you ask me. Over the years, she’s been sharing many tutorials that show her technique. For one of her Easter versions, click here.

The most basic way to do a PYOC, is to flood with white Royal Icing, and pipe a design with black right away, using wet-on-wet. This way the black lines will lay flat with the icing and make it easier to paint, either with M&M as the source of color, or with food pens. I’ve made a few sets in the past year and offered them as gifts with food safe pens alongside (this is a good option). Usually I send one or two cookies already painted, and several others as a white canvas. If you have kids around, a little afternoon of painting cookies can be a ton of fun…

If you watch the video I linked in the beginning, Marlyn shows how to incorporate M&M’s in a cookie design, so that the person can simply use a brush and water to get some paint from the surface of the candy and use that to paint.

A similar way to do PYOC is adding the black outline (with piping consistency) once the flooding is set. This way the lines will be a bit tridimensional. It will give the cookie a stained glass feel. A little trickier to paint, but I like the way they turn out.

Finally, you can also flood the cookie, let it fully set and draw the design with a food safe pen… As I am no Monet, I resort to a mini-projector to make the designs…

The possibilities are endless, you can draw animals, flowers, or even stick with abstract motifs. All you need is a source of color, and release your inner Van Gogh…

Whatever you do, if you make a set of PYOC and share your masterpieces online, don’t forget to give credit where credit is due…

Marlyn’s Facebook Page

Marlyn’s Instagram

Marlyn’s Youtube

Marlyn’s Patreon siteaint

OF BEARS AND BUNNIES IN LOVE

I firmly believe that celebrating love should be a year-long event. Today I share a few cookies using Royal icing with a thicker consistency to achieve a subtle tri-dimensional effect. I’ve tried it in the past but had trouble with it. My icing was never thick enough to hold a shape. I am slowly finding my way through this method. In the end of the post I share links for the two tutorials I followed to make these cookies.

Below you see the basic steps to make the hugging bears… Flood the base with pink, let it fully set. Draw the basic outline and fill sections that do not touch with icing, allowing each section to set before moving to the next one.

Once all the piping is done and fully set, I used luster dust and vodka to add some shading and Sugarprism Tuxedo Black with a very thin brush to add the outline and details. A little bronze luster powder for the nose. For the eyes I used a black food pen, and a tiny touch of white royal icing.

A little black beaded border to close the design…

It is not easy for me to paint fine lines with a brush, but it’s another example of stuff that if you avoid, you’ll never improve. So for the bears I faced the challenge.

And now, it’s time to change gears and focus on the bunnies…

The process is more or less the same, except that the background was royal icing painted with a brush to get some texture.

I used a Sugarbelle food pen that is perfect to draw a design without showing too much like a black pen would. It is sold in a set of three, and they are called “template markers.” Available here. One of my pens arrived dry, and that seems to be a common problem with them, so keep that in mind.

For the black lines I went with a food pen, because the lines needed to be precise and sharp.

Now, let’s talk about the tutorials. Those are a little unusual. For instance, I don’t know who is the person doing the actual decorating. The owner of the etsy shop is called Yulia, and the shop is based in California, however the video is probably narrated in a foreign language. They cut that sound and play music in the background instead. A text in English explaining the basics pops up as she works. Compared to real tutorials online in which you can listen to the explanation as everything is happening, it is a bit awkward. But the cookies are all very beautiful and the explanations make them doable. You get a series of files to download, with template, materials, and a video which is usually more than 1 hour long. This is the link to the etsy shop, where you can browse through all the many lessons available.

STAY TUNED FOR MY NEXT COOKIE ADVENTURE

FOLLOWING MY HEART

Yes, it is that time of the year, all we can think about in the cookie department is romance, hearts, reds and pinks. I have quite a few cookie ideas to share – as I followed several tutorials in the recent past – but today I launch this party with my own designs.

DESIGN #1
THE PUZZLED HEART

This cookie cutter was a gift from Tanya, my tent-baking friend. She used her 3D printer to bring it to life. Last year she made a stunning composition using it, and I decided to give it a try now. Several decorating methods were used: brush embroidery for the small heart off-center, texture with a fondant ball, wet-on-wet and air-brushing with stencil.

It is very important to use a recipe without any leavening agent when making a cookie puzzle in which the pieces should join together nicely after baking. I baked them slightly apart from each other, and used my default chocolate cookie recipe which has no baking powder. Once that is done, the decorating fun can begin. All the wet-on-wet and the brush embroidery can be finalized once the cookies are cold. The air-brushing requires many hours for setting the base, even better if you do it the following day. The texture is added about 30 minutes after flooding, but you must be gentle and carefully test it. You don’t want to break the skin, just form a nice rounded indentation. However, don’t worry if it cracks at certain spots, in the end it won’t be a problem.

DESIGN #2
MODERN HEARTS

I like this type of design because it is so exotic and unique. I used this set of cutter + stencil. Very high quality cutter, it comes with two stencils, I’ve only tried one of them so far. Cookies are flooded in different colors, then the pattern is air-brushed. All that’s left to do is pipe the design with a Wilton 3 tip, to get thick lines.

In a similar spirit, but with a free-hand approach, my duo of “Game of Thrones” inspired hearts…

I did not know exactly where I was going with them, but in the end, I loved the combination of gray and fuchsia. I flooded the cookies in white, piped a simple design, and then used luster powder + vodka to paint the different sections.

DESIGN #3
BRUSH EMBROIDERY

In this set I used chocolate cookies because I find that the brush embroidery looks particularly interesting with a dark background. Very easy to decorate, once you do the embroidery, just flood the center in any color of your choice, and add dots while still wet. I like to pipe dots of different sizes because then a random pattern looks nice. When the dots are all the same size, the spacing needs to be more carefully planned, as the ones below.

Same style in red and white, and a little departure using fine lines to make a lace ribbon in the center. After that the upper and lower regions are flooded with red. It is a bit more work, so making a dozen of those would be time consuming and tedious maybe. But I made only a couple, to practice the fine lines. I try to incorporate a design with fine lines in some of my weekly bakes.

Another style, super simple. Gray at the edges, white to flood the center, and when that sets a red food pen is used to make the red stitches. Easier than piping, but you can definitely pipe Royal icing if you prefer.


DESIGN #4
ZENTANGLES

Cannot stop making those at every change I get… They closed my latest post with the Gnomes, and now they show up again. The one above is my favorite Zentangle pattern because it is easy and fast to do, but it gives the impression of being labor-intensive.

Not quite zentangles, but in the same style of repetitive pattern…


DESIGN #5
LOVE MESSAGE

These were imagined by my beloved husband, and transformed into cookies by yours truly. It turns out that I have a little daily routine with Buck, our 14 year old Jack Russell: I hold him and keep telling him over and over… “I love you to pieces”. Phil thought it would be cool to make a little series celebrating different pets. I used a mini-projector for all except the kitten, which was – very bravely – drawn free-hand, from a cartoon I found online.

DESIGN #6
THE BAROQUE HEART

For this set of cookies, I used Cricut to cut a stencil exactly in the shape of the cookie. Then all that’s needed is flooding the base, allowing to to fully set, then air-brush the design. I used fuchsia from Sugarflair as the base, and air-brushed purple, which I also used later to make a beaded border. With PME tip #2.

The trickiest part is air-brushing. To minimize the possibility of smudging, I use a screen placed on top of the stencil, but that makes it hard to judge how well the dye is reaching the cookie. It is not very easy to get all cookies with exactly the same intensity of color, but maybe that’s part of their charm… never two exactly alike!

This closes the series of hearts I’ve made since the year started.
In the next blog post, I will share versions made following tutorials online.

Sneak Preview

LET IT SNOW, LET IT SNOW, LET IT SNOW!

We have not had any snow yet, but to quote a certain series… Winter is coming, better be ready for it. And for snowmen, nothing brings more happiness than plenty of snowflakes falling from the skies above.

A gingerbread cookie, with a simple decoration, flood the base in red, the globe in light blue, and let it set. Then pipe the body with thicker icing, add black pearls for the buttons, and let that set for an hour or so (thicker consistency dries a bit faster, and if you are gentle enough you can continue with the additional details). The snowballs should be added in stages so they don’t join together. Finally, the arms, scarf, smile and blush on the cheeks close the design.

Moving on, a little series I really enjoyed, inspired by Kathy, from Art Projects for Kids.

I love their different expressions and movements… Starting with flooded rectangles fully set, I drew the different snowmen with a food pen, then used Sugarprism watercolor to add the background. While that was still wet, I showered some white non-pareils.

Another very simple design for a snowman, uses a cookie cutter from Sugarbelle, in which each shape comes with appropriate stencils to help you decorate.

Two colors needed, white and blue. Starting with the band on the hat, so that you can add sanding sugar to that part, the rest is quite straightforward.

The stencil really helps quite a bit. I have a hard time judging how to space details in a cookie, so for me a set like this one from Sugarbelle makes life a lot easier.

From the same set, this little angel also materialized in our kitchen….

Closing this post, how could I not include Snowmen Macarons? These were filled with Pistachio-Lemon Buttercream, a slightly more decorated version from the ones I made last year.

After baking, all details were added with Royal icing in bright colors, plus the mouth and eyes with a food pen.

I often like to pipe some mini-macs just for fun, these were air-brushed with a stencil.

I loved making these! Some were a bit chubby, some had funny expressions, but they turned out as a happy family. And they have a message for you, now that a new year is about to start…

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!

ZENTANGLE STRIKES AGAIN

If you don’t know the meaning of zentangles and how I like to adapt them for cookies, read my previous post on the subject. Today I share a few more, and include my first adventure with Instagram reels showing how I make my very favorite kind because is is so simple and the end result always pleases me. The cookie can be left simple or further decorated with fondant, modeling chocolate, or Royal icing transfers. Below, fondant stars painted silver. Purple and silver, the colors of our university, in the zentangle way.

I like the intensity of the purple but this type of design works well in any color…

A second addition of the same pattern inside each little square changes it completely but it is still quite straightforward to do…

A variation on the same type of curved line…

And now for a few adventures on patterns and colors, some turned out the way I wanted, some I consider “work in progress”.

The one below is my representation of a brain with insomnia: busy with many thoughts, not necessarily connected…

Here’s looking at you, kid!

Whenever I make sugar cookies, I always make sure to flood a few with any color I have leftover. Then, all I have to do is choose a pattern out of the thousands available out there, or make a composite design. I love the zentangle path…