GINGERBREAD PEOPLE

Probably the most popular shape for the season, these days you can find super cute cutters with all sorts of twists on the classic. But these? These are the classic, simple shape, made special by the little details as Royal icing transfers. Who else but Marlyn could come up with all that, right? To see her recent live on this design click here. To have access to her template sheets to pipe the decorations in the correct size for the cookie, you’ll need to join her Patreon site.


Aren’t those adorable? Marlyn made chocolate cookies with gingerbread color icing, but I opted for gingerbread cookies, and used my default recipe that is available on my food blog (click here). The cookies are very very big, part of Wilton 101 cookies. The price in amazon is ridiculous. I found it at Michael’s for less, but I am offering you the link so you can see what to look for.

It all starts by piping the transfers. I made icing in black, red and green, but the little hearts for the mouth I made in white and then painted with pink gel dye.

The final touch is to add a little blush to the cheeks with a soft brush….


The cookies are really big, but you could adapt the same style of decoration to smaller cookies, as long as you decrease the size of the details proportionally. Or you can just draw them with a pen or even use wet-on-wet. It will still look pretty cute.


I also made a little variation on the theme, this time for a very small cookie… but the overall idea is the same.



ONE YEAR AGO: Christmas Time Macarons

HAPPY HALLOWEEN WITH SWEET 16!

With this post, I share a collection of 16 cookie designs made in the past month, with a very brief description of the techniques used. It might be too late to inspire you for this Halloween, but the horror must go on next year, so keep that in mind!


Cookie cutter flip! The wreath cutter turned upside down to make friendly little monsters. Flooded with purple and orange. Eyes made as Royal icing transfers, details with black and white Royal icing, piping consistency.


Some monsters love ice cream, but it must be of a special kind… Ice cream cone cutter, flooded in orange, spider web in dark purple added after the base was set. Ice cream is thick Royal icing marbled green and white.


Bats flooded in black. Large candy corn flooded in orange. Once base is set, details in the bat made with orange Royal icing, piping consistency or a stencil for the little spider drawings, air-brushed in black.

Witches’ hats… simple wet-on-wet design, and a little store-bought skull sprinkle for a final touch…

Another cookie cutter flip, this one a tulip turned upside down. Wet-on-wet for all the design, facial features using a pen, and the flower is painted fondant.

Cauldrons, similar design to what I did last Halloween, but this time I added a few extra fondant decoration, and the Royal icing eyeballs. I am totally in love with the broom, even if it was not a very easy mold to work with, very delicate. But freezing the fondant in the mold helps.


The candy corn cookie cutter in a simple design, flooded with orange and green, then air-brushed in black with stencils.

Sometimes with just two colors of icing, you can do a lot. Green and black, eyes are store-bought sprinkles, finger is painted fondant. Talk about creepy…

Pumpkin with a hat… love this cutter! Basic flooding in stages for the pumpkin component, leaving empty space for the facial features Details in black Royal icing, piping consistency.

Another design I loved! Skeletons. Very simple, most of the cookie is left naked. All details piped in white Royal icing, including the yes. Final features with a food pen, and some pink luster powder. A spray of PME pearl luster ties everything together nicely.

Also re-visited from last year, spider web and casket are classics that you cannot skip at Halloween!

Candy Corn strikes again! I have a little video to show the drawing, over full set Royal icing.


Sally closes the post with Sally. This was the most time-consuming cookie of this set, as it was all done by hand, with the aid of a mini-projector. I might have to make one of this each year, because…. how could I not?

ONE YEAR AGO: Halloween Pizza Box Scene

ARE WE SCARED YET?

Just in time for Halloween, Marlyn shared a tutorial to make Frankenstein’s little creature. Let’s call him Frankie and see how he came to life. Not in our lab, mind you. In the comfort of our own kitchen.


Once again, I was not sure I could go through this little marathon of cookie decorating, but it seemed like too much fun to pass. Through her Patreon site, Marlyn provides the stencil (svg file) to facilitate piping on the cookie, and all templates for the Royal icing transfers (nose + eyebrows and chin). Still it was a bit intimidating. I started with three large cookies but one of them had a very sad death when Sally lost her temper. Enough said. He was going to be too ugly even for Viktor Frankenstein’s standards. Obviously, I cannot go through every single detail, as this is a paid tutorial from Marlyn, but the composite picture gives you an idea of what is involved: making the transfers, piping each section (including the eyes), and assembling everything. The screws are molded fondant painted with silver dust.


One of the things I need to be more attentive to, is making enough icing so that I don’t run out of the color and have to make more midway in the design. Especially when making large cookies, I tend to underestimate amounts. As a result, my poor monsters have two different shades of green, plus the green used for the transfers. Not a huge problem, but definitely something to correct in future projects.


What I enjoyed the most about this was piping the eyes! Odd, because I was so scared of it, but that part did not give me any troubles. The icing on other areas had some boo-boos, but the good thing about Halloween is that the cookies don’t have to be perfect. So there you go…

ONE YEAR AGO: And now for Pumpkin Completely Different

TUNDE DUGANTSI’S FALL COOKIES

If you follow cookie artists, I’m sure you are a fan of Tunde’s work. Her cookies are elegant, often leaning towards the romantic and whimsical. Recently she shared a tutorial to make designs that celebrate Fall. I could not wait to give them a try… To join her Facebook page and gain access to her tutorials, visit her site with a click here.


To make the cookies, you follow two different video tutorials. In the first one, Tunde provides all templates and guidance to make the Royal icing transfers: flowers, pumpkins, acorns, and leaves. In the same video you’ll learn how to make little ghosts, and candy corn. Those can be made days in advance. For the basic cookies, you’ll need flooding consistency and thicker consistency pink. In the hexagon and basket, air-brushing with copper provides a totally different look. Texture in the house and hexagons are made with a needle or toothpick, all super clearly explained in her second video tutorial. Some steps are shown below.


The heart cookies are stamped with a handwritten text, which I thought was a very nice touch…


I really enjoyed making these cookies… Once the transfers are made you are more than half the way there. For the house, after adding the details with piping consistency Royal icing, I did the painting with Sugarprism.


I hope you enjoyed this set of cookies. I think they demonstrate that a single tone of icing (in this case a pastel pink) can be used to get totally different looks by playing with texture and colors, both with an air-brush or simple painting techniques.

Tunde, thank you for yet another great tutorial!
Looking forward to the next adventure…

ONE YEAR AGO: And Now for Pumpkin Completely Different

TWO SPOOKY COOKIE PROJECTS

With Halloween quickly approaching, spooky cookies are hard to resist. Today, two more projects inspired by Marlyn from Montreal Confections. The first using the candy corn cookie cutter, a favorite of mine, and the second one, a little more involved, to bring a haunted house to life.

Let’s start with the simpler one, the Spooky Candy Corn…

Marlyn brushed the facial features with thick Royal icing using a stencil, for a very polished and uniform look in all cookies (watch her video clicking here). I simplified quite a bit, by drawing the features with a food safe pen. Next, I painted them black with Sugarprism. The classic combination of three bands of colors were then piped, and once that crusted, the additional features – teeth, eyes, eyebrows were added with thicker icing or food pen. I searched for cartoon images of facial expressions to help me out, but if you have artistic inclinations, play with what your imagination offers you.


I love their goofy look, and of course had to put my little platter to use!

Moving on to the Haunted House…


This is a simple project once you have the Royal Icing Transfers made in advance. Watch the whole process by visiting Marlyn’s Facebook page with a click here.

I cut the cookie by hand using the template she provided, but you can easily adapt the features to any house-shaped cookie cutter you own. Some of the steps involved are shown in the composite picture below.

Making the Royal icing transfers is really a lot of fun and together they add a lot to the cookie. You can of course pipe them all over the set cookie, except for the ghost. It works better as a transfer to get the right lifted look, as Marlyn explains in her video.

Halloween is one of the best seasons for cookie decorating,
so stay tuned for a lot more in the near future!

ONE YEAR AGO: A Fairy Cottage Cookie Composition

HOCUS POCUS, A COOKIE ADVENTURE!


Talk about pushing the limits with the decorating, this was definitely challenging but SO MUCH FUN! Needless to say, it is one of Marlyn’s designs, and full of details that make it special. I simplified things a bit. As originally planned, this is a 3D cookie, supposed to form a box to hold Halloween candy inside. I went with just the top of the box as a stand-alone cookie. I absolutely loved bringing this design to life… The link to this particular tutorial from Montreal Confections is available here.


The base for my cookie is a chocolate-chipotle, which is usually what I go for because everybody loves the flavor so much. Since the cookie is dark to start with, I though it would be a good base for it. As I am a member of Marlyn’s Patreon site, I have access to all that is needed to make the design. Most of it relies on Royal icing transfers, which are the cookie decorator’s best friend. You can make many and use the best ones. Three transfers are needed: the stretched out snake, the coiled snake, and the eye. The most challenging – to me – was the coiled snake, that needs to be piped in the correct order. I messed up my first set, had to re-do them. Things that have precise spacial orientation are very hard for me. Long story, enough said.


You can make the transfers way in advance, they stay good forever. Then the decoration of the base cookie is not that complicated and Marlyn gives a full step-by-step guidance.


I had extra transfers and used the eye (my favorite) as a single accent in a cookie…


This is a real tour-de-force of a cookie, but once again it gives you the chance to learn a ton of things. I loved it!

ONE YEAR AGO: Henna-Inspired Vegan Macarons

A TOUCAN ADVENTURE

This cookie composition was designed by Amber. A short video demonstrating how to make it is available on her youtube channel (click here). For a much more detailed tutorial and access to the templates, you need to be a supporter in her Patreon site (click here).

I cannot lie to you, these are a bit of a labor of love. I actually made it a lot easier by piping the Royal icing transfers in white, allowing to fully dry, and then painting. Amber has incredible skill and did the whole thing piping different colors in each section of the beak. I loved the whole process, and assembling the final cookie to reveal the full bird sitting on a branch. How does she come up with this stuff? I have no idea, but I am so glad she does!

First things first, making all the transfers – either following Amber’s method, or if you prefer to paint, do them all in white first. She has the templates sized perfectly not only to cut the cookie by hand, but to draw the image of the toucan so you can pipe the basic shape and add the transfers. Using paint you can do the beaks with different color combinations. I used Sugarprism and food pen for all components.

Once those are painted and dry, you can work on the cookies…

I made two with a very smooth background, and one with a bit of texture, working the surface with a thick brush. Because it would be important to get the surface of the bird smooth, I just cut its shape with parchment paper and laid on top of the icing while wet. That area stayed flat, and once the icing was sightly crusted I worked the regions outside the bird with the brush. Next morning I removed the parchment paper with the shape of the toucan, and proceeded with the Royal icing step.

Some of my piping could have been a little more precise, but overall I am very happy with these cookies. Once you spread the preparation in a couple of days, it is not overwhelming. If you watch Amber’s tutorial you’ll see she gilds the lily further by doing brush embroidery over the black wing. I confess I was afraid of ruining the cookie, so I skipped it.

This would be a nice center piece to include in a set of tropical smaller cookies,
or simply to offer as a gift to a special friend.

Huge thank you to Amber for sharing very detailed tutorials in her Patreon site!

ONE YEAR AGO: Marlyn’s Pizza Box Beach Cookies

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