TWO MODERN LIONS

Two simple cookie designs, that give the King of the Jungle a fun and modern spin.

DESIGN #1


Don’t you love it when a cookie cutter helps you with the decoration? This adorable cutter is available at etsy (click here). Once you bake the cookie, the design is laid out for you. I used two colors of Royal icing, light gold in flooding consistency to cover the whole extension. Let that set, and used piping consistency for the details, in light brown. Next day I used a fine tip food pen to add the eyes, whiskers and mouth. Super simple, and I think the end result is pretty cute…

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DESIGN #2


I borrowed this design from the IG page of Kathy Barbro (artprojectsforkids). I used my mini-projector to draw the image on fully set iced cookie (white background). Then, I used a food pen for the face, and luster powder mixed with vodka for the sections around the lion’s head.


Once the painting was fully set, I went back over the lines with a slightly thicker tip food pen, for a more polished look.


I really love this design, and it is super easy to do. I imagine that most people can draw it free-hand, but as you may have noticed, I need all the help I can get. You can do the outside in two colors only, or even keep the whole thing black-and-white. But of course, I am slightly addicted to colors…

ONE YEAR AGO: Cat in a Teacup

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.

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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)

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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).

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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

SUMMER GIRLS

Sometimes I decide to throw caution to the wind and try something way out of my comfort zone. Remember the gnomes I made recently? This set of cookies were also designed by Shirlyn, and they pushed me to the limit of my abilities. For sure. Character cookies are not easy, and the only way I could attempt those was following the very detailed instructions in her tutorial. If you compare my cookies to hers, you will realize I have a long ways to go, but every marathon starts with the first mile. So here I am to share my first attempt at these cute cookies, perfect to celebrate all things Summer.

I am thrilled with my girls, because I never imagined being able to even attempt this type of cookie a year or so ago. It was not that easy, I have to admit. My Royal icing was a little too thick, the colors a tad too strong. But I’ve learned quite a few things, and at some point intend to repeat them, trying to keep in mind the level of finesse that Shirlyn achieves.

A mini-projector is a huge help to transfer the image onto the cookie, but there are ways to do it without it, using paper, as demonstrated by my tent-baker friend Tanya (click here)

Below, a few of the steps in this cookie decorating marathon that involved 10 colors of icing…

You might notice (bottom right picture) that my icing consistency was not perfect. I think the lesson to learn is that even if it seems pretty painful to stop and adjust it, in the end it will be worth it. Shirlyn suggested opening the bag, spraying a little water, and massaging it to distribute. That makes it possible to thin it without having to go through the trouble of un-bagging, and wasting a lot of icing in the process. I intend to try it next time.

By the end of the first day, the cookies will be all fully piped with the design, and next day you will have a great painting adventure waiting for you!

I kept thinking that selling cookies like these would be pretty much impossible because they are very labor-intensive and unless you are a famous cookie-artist with a million followers in Instagram, no one would be willing to pay for the amount of work that goes into each one. But since I make them and give them away, this is not an issue. I am just happy thinking that maybe a little girl got the cookies and that they made her smile…

If you are interested in online tutorials by Shirlyn, jump to her Instagram page and stay tuned for her upcoming lessons. And you can still sign up for any lesson she has available right now, including the Flamingo-Gnome and the Summer Girls. I love her style of teaching, and also appreciate that she tells you how to get better, what to focus on next time.

ONE YEAR AGO: Jurassic Park Pizza Cookie Box

MARLYN’S UNDER THE SEA 3D COMPOSITION

I am totally smitten by this set designed by Marlyn, using several different techniques in cookie decorating. A very detailed tutorial is available for her supporters through Patreon (click here). I cut the background cookie and the fish tail by hand (templates provided by Marlyn) so that they would fit perfectly together, but you can definitely search your cookie cutters and come up with slightly different variations. On a side note, I usually have no idea who gets my cookies, but this set was an exception (read on).

I opted for my default chocolate cookie recipe (you can find it on my food blog clicking here), and used mini cookie cutters from this set from Sugarbelle. The rock at the bottom was made with a flower cutter cut in half. Marlyn used a cloud-shaped cutter.

Here are all the pieces baked and iced, waiting for assembling… Some pieces I made extra just in case something bad happened, and also for practice.

So many techniques: the rock texture made with parchment paper, the fish tail with a small petal tip, and a lot of painting with the air-brush. For the first time I thought I managed to direct the air-brush gun with more precision. For instance the little fish’s mouth, tail and fin were air-brushed in orange without messing up the rest of the body. Yes, there was some hyperventilation associated with the process…

This was really fun to put together, and the icing on the cake is that these cookies were donated for a homeless family of four that has been struggling quite a bit. It made me happy to learn that maybe this little 3D scene could give them a reason to smile.

ONE YEAR AGO: Mr. Seahorse and his friends

SHIRLYN’S FLAMINGO GNOME FUN

A couple of weeks ago I took a very deep breath and joined an online cookie decorating class that seemed way WAY out of my skill level. Let me just show you the kind of cookies this amazing artist does, by sharing her Instagram page. Still, I decided that if I don’t push my limits, I might be missing something. I won’t lie to you, this was hard on many levels, but once I saw these cookies staring at me, I could not stop smiling…

The class involved two videos, each one 3 hours long. Yes, big investment of time but you get to see Shirlyn making every single step (except of course baking the cookies), in a super detailed way. On day one you’ll make all the Royal icing transfers, and the basic icing of the cookies. Day two is devoted to painting and assembling everything. So many different techniques! She is big on shading, which is a method of painting using diluted gel colors and an almost dry brush to spread it. Sugarprism will also work, but this time I stuck with the gels. By joining the class you get a ton of materials, including all recipes for dough and icing, plus all the templates for Royal icing transfers. Also access to basic videos demonstrating specific techniques of general interest for cookie decorating. You can of course use your own recipes if you prefer, which is what I did. Below, some of the steps involved in making the cookies. I watched the videos and made the cookies a couple of days later, it would be too hard for me to try to decorate in real time with Shirlyn.

On the end of the first day, I had the four cookies iced, and the Royal icing transfers made and painted (I made them early in the morning and could paint them in the evening). Once that was all done, the following day was devoted to adding all bells and whistles. It is truly amazing how shading will bring life to any design…

The coconut cookie was actually one of the trickiest for me. It is a simple design but the details are not easy to do. A lot of room for improvement in that one… But for a first time, I am happy with it. I intend to re-visit all these cookies in the future.

If you would like to learn of future online classes by Shirlyn, visit her website and subscribe to her feed. I will definitely be joining her again, she is super sweet and incredibly talented. And has the patience of a saint to answer questions…

ONE YEAR AGO: For the Love of Flamingos

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

COOKIES FOR A FIRST BIRTHDAY

I’ve mentioned before that one of the things I love the most is making a set of cookies for a special someone. The daughter of one of our former graduate students just turned 1 year old, and I sent them a little package to celebrate the occasion. I hope you’ll find some ideas to inspire you in this small collection.

The number one is a tiny little cookie, not what I had originally in mind. I had ordered a larger cookie cutter and amazon messed up. My package was “lost”, they refunded the money. Oddly enough, a few days after the birthday (when the cookies had already been made and delivered), the package got transferred from UPS to USPS (?????) and arrived at the front door. Maybe I should order right now a number 2 for next year?

I chose a basic pink theme, using different techniques to decorate. From mini-projector to piped and painted Royal icing, brush embroidery, and Royal icing transfers.

Butterflies seemed also appropriate for a little girl…

So here is the full collection, a little Baker’s Dozen….

ONE YEAR AGO: Vamos a la Playa

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

COLORFUL HEARTS

Every once in a while someone sends me pictures of decorated cookies they love and tell me I should make them. Some are totally out of my skill level, so I just reply with a very gentle “are you out of your mind?”, and move on…. But not too long ago my friend Louise sent me a video of a great cookie artist at work and I decided to give that one a try. I actually changed the whole method around. Originally those were made with many (and I really mean many) colors and consistencies of Royal icing. Each cookie requiring several different colors for piping and flooding, then even more colors for the final details. I simplified it quite a bit by using Sugarprism painting over the basic white design.

As I mentioned, these were made with super labor intensive Royal icing work. I took shortcuts, not only to minimize the need to make so many different colors, but because I love the process of painting, and Sugarprism makes it so nice. Plus it tastes like vanilla, so no fear of adding odd flavors to the cookie. I started with fully set white cookies, and used two consistencies of icing to add the outlines and then flood. Make sure that your icing has some “muscle” in it, you need the flowers not to be flat.

Once that is fully set, the fun part is waiting for you… grab your colors (if you don’t have Sugarprism, food safe pens, diluted gel colors, or luster powders will work also).

I waited for the base colors to dry a bit, not more than 15 minutes were needed, and added the details on top, also with Sugarprism and a very fine brush.

I had some extra cookies and decided to play with a simpler design. I made random flowers using golden luster powder diluted with vodka, when that was dry, I added the outlines and details with black Sugarprism and a very fine brush.

So there you have, six heart-shaped cookies, in two different floral styles, one will require some time and effort, but the golden ones are the easiest cookies you can dream of. Apart from grabbing a box at the grocery store, that is…

ONE YEAR AGO: Burning Bush, A Custom-Made Cookie