ROYAL ICING ETCHING

This is a very nice technique to play with, and deceptively simple. All you need is to flood a cookie with icing, preferably a dark color. Let it fully set overnight. Then, use a mini-projector or any other method you like to get an image on the surface. Keep in mind that the final drawing will be made by hurting the surface of the icing with the tip of the scribe tool. That will be a very thin line, so any food pen you use to mark the drawing will show because it is wider. That’s why in this case a food projector or free-hand drawing will be your best options. Once you scratch the design, you can brush the surface with a super light dust of pearl luster powder (dry, with a soft brush), to make the image brighter. This step if optional, but it does improve the final cookie. I first used this method last year, but only added some straight lines to a decorated cookie. My friend Dorothy pointed me to some Instagram posts in which they used etching to draw simple flowers. I loved the idea and made my own versions.

You can leave the design simple, as a white on dark drawing, or go one step further and use additional color like I did in this one, in part because the background was a bit light and the drawing too faded.

I find that for this type of design a border around the cookie adds a touch of elegance that complements well the look.

The possibilities are once again, pretty much endless… And you can mix decoration styles and colors to a platter of cookies, to add contrast but keep the elegant aura going. Along those lines, I believe that brush embroidery and a simple etching design go very well together. What do you think?

I am definitely going to explore this method further in the near future, and I hope you’ll give it a try!

BURNING BUSH, A CUSTOM-MADE COOKIE

Last month a colleague celebrated 10 years of work in our department. There was a surprise party for him, and I contributed with a small batch of sugar cookies. The burning bush, his subject or research, is a very cool plant: its leaves turn a very bright red-fuchsia in the Fall. He studies complex fatty acids synthesized by the plant. I designed two types of decorations, for rectangular and oval sugar cookies flavored with blood orange. They got a full coating with white Royal icing, and next day the painting began!

For the number 10, I used a mini-projector, as it would be very hard for me to get a nice drawing without it. To draw the leaves around it, I started with a projected image but after a couple of cookies I improvised the design freely. Leaves were painted with food-safe pen.

We have a series of burning bushes planted alongside our house and it is amazing to see them in their full Fall beauty.

The trees were painted with luster powder + everclear, using Super Pink, Passion Red, Mexican Rose, and Baby Black (all from OhSweetArt). Background sky made with luster powder I brought from Brazil a couple of years ago, a gift from my dear niece Raquel.

I love making cookies designed for an occasion or with someone in mind. To me, it makes a batch feel very special. I do get a bit stressed out, but it might just be my favorite type of baking these days.

PUPPY LOVE

In my mind, cookie decorating has similarities with riding a bike. I am at the stage of riding with training wheels, insecure to let them go and find my balance. I rely on tutorials, on things I see and try to mimic. This post is one rare example in which I tried to let the training wheels go to make something out of my own imagination. The cookies were designed as a Birthday gift for someone who adores his puppy. I did my best to “cookie it.”

Once again, the recipe was my default: Grown-Up Spicy Chocolate Cookies, baked in two shapes, round and oval. Due to my complete inability to draw, I rely on images found in the internet to project on the cookies. A very fine black tip food pen, and then the fun part begins, painting them .

I used luster powder in several tones of beige, brown and copper, mixed with Everclear. Once the paint dries, the food pen comes back to refresh the outlines, as some parts are inevitably covered with paint. The birthday cake was a bonus cookie in the set…

This was my first time making 12 custom-designed cookies. It was a bit stressful, but I am happy with the way they turned out.

To wrap up this post, a few of the practice cookies I was playing with before settling on the final ones.

I also like the plain, black and white outlined cookies, but it’s too hard to resist the appeal of colors. Painting is just so relaxing, I love it.

Hopefully I will be letting go of the training wheels a little more often. Then I might share my productions with you. Assuming they don’t have to be consumed as evidence of decorating crimes…

SUGARPRISM, A NEW KID ON MY BLOCK

It is interesting how you may stumble on something amazing just by accident. I honestly don’t remember what exactly took me to Michelle’s Facebook group page (Painting with Sugarprism), but once I got there and saw everything she does and teaches on that page, I could not wait to try her product, called Sugarprism. It is a powder that you mix with water and use as you would acrylic paint. But it is fully edible and… wait for it… wait for it… delicious! It is vanilla-flavored and it will never ever negatively interfere with any of your cookies, cakes, pies, chocolates. You can read about Michelle Tincombe with a click here. She is an award-winning cake baker (HBO-MAX Baketopia episode 7) and painter-extraordinaire. Her In this post I will show you some of the cookies I’ve made in the past few weeks, using Sugarprism in different ways. I am still learning, and some of my concoctions I consider “work in progress.”

Sugarprism comes in pouches with 40g each and all you need is a TINY amount diluted with water to the consistency you like. It all depends on what exactly is your goal. For instance, to make this flower over fully set Royal icing, I used a reasonably thick consistency of the colors, so that each brush stroke stayed where I wanted it to stay…

A person with good painting skills would be able to add the black details with black Sugarprism and a super fine brush. I don’t see that happening in this lifespan of mine, so I did that with a fine tip food pen. Painting is so relaxing! I know I do it like a 5yo, but I promise you, I thoroughly enjoy it…

A similar approach was used in the flowers below…

I used a slightly more diluted version to paint the blue background in these chocolate stick cookies, also previously flooded with white Royal icing… And a concentrated solution for the center of the little flowers.

I then mixed the pink and the blue and used the mixture in different proportions to make the background for the doggies, drawn with a projector (you know I cannot draw to save my neck).

The paint is truly very forgiving and a pleasure to work with!

Another way to use Sugarprism is over a naked cookie. Many people prefer cookies without icing and I think those people deserve some decorations too…

Those are chocolate cookies (recipe here), made with an embossed rolling pin. Flowers were painted with red Sugarprism and outlined with gold luster powder + vodka. The taste of red food dye can be a problem, it is often bitter. No worries if you use Sugarprism.

The same approach works wonders on a regular sugar cookie. Below a Honey Sugar Cookie made with a springerle-type mold. I used a set of Fall colors from Sugarprism for my little bee.

I’ve been playing with geometric designs lately, and will talk more about them soon. These were inspired by one amazing cookier, Tunde Dugantsi, from Tunde’s Creations.

I made them in two versions, plain and with a Royal icing transfer flower in the center.

Sugarprism gives amazing coverage and if you use a concentrated suspension it will be very bright and happy.

But the technique I am most excited about? Stained-glass effect. I diluted Sugarprism with water, making it a thick suspension. That was mixed with corn syrup and used to paint sections of a Royal iced cookie. The sections were piped with white Royal icing (icing tip #3) dyed gold with luster powder + vodka. A bit of a labor of love… A little fondant flower in the center finished the cookie, but it will also work well without it.

Finally, one from my “work in progress-folder.” Michelle shared an amazing cookie she made using the “galaxy” design, and I tried it myself. It is not nearly as cool as hers, but she gave me some advice and I might try it again soon. Check hers out in this post of her facebook page, it is very beautiful.

If you like painting cookies, you need Sugarprism in your life. Michelle Tincombe, the official inventor and double-patent holder of the product, worked for 4 years to get approvals and patents, and finally place Sugarprism in the market. Her page on Facebook and her youtube channel are endless sources of inspiration, although I must say a lot of it is beyond my skill level.

BEE YOURSELF!

FOR THE LOVE OF FRIDA KAHLO

Born July 6th, 1907

A great Mexican painter with a life-story plagued by serious health problems and chronic pain, she was famous for her self-portraits, all very colorful, showcasing her beautiful, profound eyes and dark hair. This post joins a few “Frida-cookies” I’ve made using two different methods: traditional Royal icing flooding and piping, or drawing with a mini-projector.

To cut the shapes I used this set from Sugarbelle. Those are very small – not quite 2 inches – perfect for those who just like a little taste of sweets, or as decoration details in cookie platters.

By joining two flowers with Frida’s head, the resulting cookie is about 3.5 x 2.2 inches, still small as far as cookies are concerned.

A very detailed tutorial can be found at Sugarbelle blog with a click here. I cannot lie to you, they were a lot more work than they seemed. Mainly because there are several colors. In addition to the flooding consistency you’ll need red, yellow and black in piping consistency (for the hair and roses), and green in stiff consistency (for the leaves). You will be dealing with a lot of piping bags and tips. But it was worth it! I really like the way they turned out.

Moving on, I used some of the countless images of Frida available in the internet to work with my mini-projector, after flooding the cookies with a pink or white Royal icing base and allowing it to set overnight.

I think the stick format is pretty nice to showcase Frida, and I like to imagine she would love some red roses too… Painting was done with food pens and luster powder + everclear.

PAINTED BUTTERFLIES

A couple of weeks ago I spotted something on Instagram and fell in love with it instantly. It was in the page of one incredibly talented baker, Mary Mansfield, check her work here. I dropped her a message asking some details about her painting technique, and she was adorable, super helpful. So I took a deep breath and tried it myself. Basically you flood the cookies with white Royal icing, let it set for a day, and then use diluted gel dye to paint them. I tried Everclear and I tried water. Everclear has so much alcohol in it that it dries super fast and gives the icing a matte finish. I had trouble controlling the intensity of the color and their mixing, so I ended up switching to water. But you should figure out what works best for you.

This is your white canvas… I went with small cookies, because the smaller they are, the less likely I would mess them up beyond recognition as butterflies. Or so I thought. Once they are flooded and totally dry, you can gather your weapons of choice and start playing. My favorite of all was this blue baby. Reminds me of some that used to be common in Brazil.

You can use sharp strokes with the brush, or add a little water or alcohol to the surface of the icing and then do a kind of watercolor painting touching the dye on that wet spot and moving it around. Things sometimes get a bit out of control. I told Phil that this painting is similar to driving on icy roads: you slide here, you do a save there, you almost crash, but in the end it’s all good. If not happy with the outcome, follow my advice to quickly eat the evidence. As to the body, add it after the paint is dry, using toothpaste consistency royal icing. Let it dry and if desired, paint it.

So here are my 12 little butterflies, in different tones and styles…

THE RED SERIES

In some cases I painted the bodies because they developed craters, a real nightmare that I’m not that good at avoiding. Additionally, when the paint dried on the wings, I went back on some and added a few details with silver or gold luster powder.

THE BLUE SERIES

And the final four, which in fact were the ones I made first, so I was struggling a bit. Particularly with the one of the top left, there were “issues.” I went through a few “Oh, NO, what have I done?”, but decided to keep it. It also developed a huge crater, the poor baby. One abused butterfly.

You might think this is too time-consuming, but in fact the dye dries so fast that you cannot spend too much time fiddling with it. Decide what you want to do, pick a set of two, three colors at most to work on a single cookie, and hope for the best.

Butterflies are one of my favorite subjects to “cookie.” I have a few more examples to share in the near future, using different techniques. So hopefully I’ll see you back here soon!