THE MANDALA HAND

Of the many cookie adventures I’ve embarked in the past year, I suppose this was the most challenging. Maybe. It is a heavy competition with the Chinese New Year of the Tiger set, also designed by Marlyn. It involved cutting four different stencils, layering the different colors by air-brushing, and once all is said and done, piping fine lines all over the design. I made the cookie twice, and share two different ways to do it. The second version a little easier because you will be using a food safe pen to make the outline.

This is a very large cookie, about 7 inches tall. It needs to be large or you will have too much trouble working the details. Marlyn shared the stencils needed for the air-brushing. I had some trouble adjusting their sizes to match nicely, but managed to make the design work. It is so busy that some small variations did not compromise too much. Below you see the steps, each stencil is used in a particular order so that the colors will not only work on their own, but also combine with the previous color added, to give a different one. Super clever.

The first stencil is the yellow color, and also requires a mask (eye-shaped) so that the eye stays white. The air-brush would blow that mask away, so a little magnet is added to keep it in place – however, when I decided to tweak that layer of color, I forgot to put the magnet back, and the mask flew away, so some yellow went into the white region. Live and learn. Cookie and learn, actually. The top right photo has two colors layered already (yellow and pink). The bottom right has the blue stencil added, and finally the bottom left shows all the colors applied (yellow, pink, blue, and green). Pink and yellow at parts combine to give orange, and blue and pink combine to give purple. Once all that is done and dry, the fine line piping can begin…

It is really a labor of love, but so much fun to see this cookie take shape!

I made a second one the following day because I felt I needed to practice. And decided to try filling the outlines with a food pen instead of piping Royal icing. It gives it a different look, and it is considerably easier to do, so keep that in mind. In this case, I flooded the background with gray icing. And added a spray of PME luster over the whole cookie once it was dry.

Every once in a while, I try to challenge myself by making a cookie that scares me to death… this was one. Huge thank you to Marlyn, who manages to demonstrate every single step so well that common mortals feel like they just might be able to cookie-it!

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.

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!

Around 50 countries celebrate Mother’s Day on the second Sunday of May… If you are curious about this issue, in the end of this post I include a world map with all the details. Floral cookies are often the theme. Today I share with you a small collection made in the past few weeks. Some following tutorials online, some of my own making.

Perhaps my favorite, this version was inspired from the one and only Amber….

Round cookies are flooded in the color of your choice. Amber then uses a needle to scratch the basic design and pipes beads and details. She made a central flower with Royal icing, I went with fondant decorations sprayed with PME luster. It is a very good opportunity to practice bead piping, as you will be doing it over and over. Gather your Zen…

From yours truly…

This was my first time coupling decorated chocolate discs with Royal iced cookies. I love making these decorations because they are super effective but quite simple. For a detailed explanation, you can visit an old blog post of mine with a click here. You can take an easier route and use candy melts, as it is such a small component of the cookie, but it is up to you how much work you’d like to invest in it. I flooded the cookie with dusty rose icing, waited just 5 minutes and set the disc on top. Once it was all set, I piped a border in brown. The universe of chocolate transfer sheets is huge, like all universes are… I have a hard time picking patterns, but these butterflies won my heart at first sight.

From Haniela, a star-to-flower cookie flip…

I loved this cookie so much! It is a little more involved, but Haniela’s tutorial goes through every step in deep detail (video available here, starting at 10 min). Piping Royal icing in sections, air-brushing, and fine lines are all part of this wonderful cookie.

From yours truly…

A cookie flip of my own… Ice cream cone cookie cutter upside down, made into a little basket with a flower and leaves.

From Haniela, Daffodils


Full tutorial available here… I actually made these cookies around Easter 2021, and never blogged about them, so better late than never. For the center, piped details, Haniela mixes two colors, yellow and orange, for a beautiful effect.



From Amber, two floral motifs…

Brush embroidery is one effective way to bring elegance to a cookie, and Amber is a total pro at this. I used her Royal icing recipe that calls for a higher amount of meringue powder for both of these floral cookies. It has a little more elasticity and it takes slightly longer to crust, so when you need to pipe several colors it is easier to work with. Like the example below, many different colors need to be incorporated and worked with a needle, so if the icing crusts too quickly, you’ll have problems.

For the above cookie, you can follow Amber’s tutorial, available here. Other options are shown in the tutorial also, all quite amazing.

From yours truly…

Very simple design, cookies were flooded with wedgewood blue, once fully set I painted simple flowers using Sugarprism. A similar pattern was recently featured on macarons (see here).

Another adventure using Sugarprism, painting flowers over white iced cookies. I used pink, red, black and green colors. These are very small cookies, two-bites…

Stick cookies, a format I adore… Very simple also, using Royal icing transfers set over iced cookies. Simple lines with green Royal icing, piping consistency, and you are done!

I hope you enjoyed this small selection of florals to celebrate Mother’s Day… Speaking of it, as I promised in the beginning, here is the day around the world

picture from this site.

ONE YEAR AGO: Stained Glass Sugar Cookies

SUGARPRISM PAINTING TIME!

If you don’t know what Sugarprism is all about, visit this post from July last year. Michelle offers online classes for free almost on a monthly basis, and I always try to join because I learn so much from her. I share today cookies made in two of her recent tutorials, all with a Spring-Easter feel, perfect for the season. The Peekaboo Chick was the most challenging, I still cannot believe I made it, as I cannot draw to save my life.

For the Sugarprism website, click here. For Michelle’s facebook page, click here.

The composite picture below shows the main stages. Michelle explains exactly what to do, where to start each line, how to angle it, how to hold the brush, and the design slowly comes to life…

It blows my mind how an artist can see the drawing in all its many parts. I have major problems with spacial orientation of things. For instance, I cannot read a map, I am unable to “transfer” the map to my surroundings. All those things they place in stores or streets with the – “You are here” – label… they are of no help to me. This handicap translates into issues if I have to draw things by looking at an image. The fact that I can do it with Michelle’s instructions still amazes me. Huge thank you to her!

Moving on, a trio from her tutorial “Bunnies Gone Wild”… Three departures on the bunny motif to make a zebra, a cheetah, and a giraffe pattern. Compared to the peekaboo cookie, those were quite a bit easier. You almost get into a zen-mood painting each pattern. I loved them all!

All cookies started from a white background, the zebra was ready to paint, and the other two got a little background color using very diluted Sugarprism acrylic color. Once that sits for a while, the painting of patterns on top can begin…

These cookies take a little time to paint, but mastering the patterns is a nice skill to have. As Michelle pointed out during the class, you can use the patterns in so many different cookies – imagine swimming suit cookies for the summer, dresses, hats, handbags… I will definitely be playing with them… and of course, let’s not forget…macarons!

Michelle, thank you so much for the tutorials!
Already revving my engines for the next…

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

FOR THE LOVE OF HEARTS

As I promised, in this post I share cookie decorating styles inspired by tutorials online, or ideas I see in places like Pinterest and Instagram.

DESIGN #1
THE FLOWERY HEART

Amber (@sweetambs) showed how to make this flowery cookie during a live Facebook (click here to watch it), and I jumped on it right away. It is a basic wet-on-wet icing. After flooding with a background color (I used white), you pick one or two different colors for flowers and you choice of color for leaves. Those end up as spots without precise edges. The icing is allowed to fully set, and then a fine black pen brings the full design to life.

The bead border I made with white, and later painted it with luster gold + vodka. The steps to make this cookie are shown in the composite photo below.


DESIGN #2
THE COLORFUL HEART

This design was inspired by Marlyn’s recent Facebook live (available here), in which she made amazing “tassle-heart” cookies. I simplified the design quite a bit, and used two of my favorite colors: dusty rose and wedgewood. Then it is just a matter of playing with fine lines and dots, in any way you feel like. Making the hole in the center gives these cookies a totally different look which I like a lot. The process is simple, you flood with two colors, eye-balling the shape. That has to set for a few hours. Then piping consistency icing in wedgewood is used to make the details. The cookies look nice without the extra piping, if you prefer. They have a classic look that way. Or you can add a few dots using wet-on-wet.

DESIGN #3
FILIGREE HEART

I consider this a work in progress, as I did not hit the consistency of the royal icing correctly to do the design. I followed one of Amber’s tutorials, and used her own stencil to guide the piping, but that is one technique that still eludes me. So I intend to get back into this in the near future. The process starts by flooding the cookie and allowing that layer to fully set. Then, the stencil is used to air-brush with a color that will be light enough to get hidden under the piping. I chose gold.

Once I realized how difficult it was to pipe the design, I did a few extra cookies skipping that step, and just allowing the stencil to shine… So consider that if you run into the same issues I did!

DESIGN #4
THE LACE HEART

This was made following a Facebook live from Haniela (available here). I actually used a cookie that had a stencil image underneath, so you can see some golden bits that should not be there, but I wanted to practice this new (to me) method. I will make it again because I love the look.

After piping the design, the opening is painted with a very dilute Royal icing. If you hit the consistency of the piping correctly, this is actually not too difficult. I’d say it looks more complicated than it is, but of course, I still need practice, as my fine lines were just a tad thick.

DESIGN #5
SUGARPRISM PAINTED HEART

This one was made during a Facebook live tutorial by Michelle, and it is my third time joining her FREE classes. I still cannot quite believe I painted that without any projector or transfer of design to the surface of the cookie. She is truly like a magician guiding the hands of those watching. I made one during class and a second one the following day by myself, watching the video again. You can find Michelle on instagram and facebook.

DESIGN #6
MANDALA HEARTS

Not exactly a tutorial, but I’ve seen this type of design on Instagram and Pinterest, and improvised my own. Super simple, you start with a few lines and then use the needle to draw lines in both directions A few little dots close the deal. All wet-in-wet, which is the most forgiving type of sugar cookie decoration.

DESIGN #7
THE MENDED HEART

Another design inspired by many similar ones out in the IG-Pinterest universe. Divide the heart in sections, decorate each any way you want, let that set. Use piping consistency icing to add stitches, and a border. DONE!

I hope you could find some inspiration for your cookies, as Valentine’s Day approaches! I feel that there’s never enough time to cover all the styles that appeal to me, but in a way the heart motif is one that I don’t mind doing regularly throughout the year, so expect to see more…

SPRINGERLE COOKIES

For a little tutorial on painting the cookies, visit my youtube channel here.

Baking Springerle turned into an annual tradition for me. I love the slow pace, the patience involved. The dough takes a bit of time to put together, whisking the eggs to achieve maximum volume, slowly incorporating flour, then rolling, pressing the molds, and letting the cut cookies sit and dry for a couple of days before baking them. In gentle heat, so they never get dark. For my default recipe and to learn a little more about these delicate cookies, click here . And now let me share some of the biscuits I made this past holiday season.

My recipe starts with 3 eggs, and that makes a large enough batch for about 30 cookies, although of course it depends on their size. Once they are baked and cold, it is time to paint them…

My favorite method is mixing luster powder with alcohol, either vodka or everclear. Vodka dries a little slower, so it is more forgiving to use. This year I got to play with a new color, called Mermaid (featured in my recent In My Kitchen post).

The same design will look quite different depending on the color scheme you choose.

One of my favorite shapes is the Flower Staff mold because is is so unusual…

You can see it better here, next to another favorite of mine, a special mold I received as a gift years ago…

In every batch I like to mix some modern shapes with the classics, because they can be fun too…

Here they are, sitting in the sun on a winter day…

Springerle is perfect to bake romantic, flowery motifs… Think Valentine’s!

The Flower Staff in a more subtle coloring…

Finally, a very special mold, the center one below, a gift from Phil. It is not easy to find molds made from real wood, those are pretty much antiques. He managed to find one, and it is so so beautiful, the intricate details… I love it!

Painting Springerle is one of the most relaxing activities…

Traditionally these cookies are flavored with anise oil, which for some is not a very pleasant flavor. If you like the overall look but prefer a different flavor, orange oil is a great alternative.

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…

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.