AMY’S TROPICAL TREASURES

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This is the 8th online lesson I took from Amy… time flies when we are having so much fun, right? This lesson was medium to advanced, and as is often the case with Amy’s designs, lots of different techniques were involved, often several in a single cookie. There were three videos before the online event to make sure we had all the preparation done correctly. Without further ado, here is the full set of my tropical babies!


There were seven cookies made as the main set, and we also had the option of making a few more in the shape of half-hexagon.


Below you can see all the prep work for class made the evening before…


Some pieces are painted fondant, some are Royal icing transfers (like the hibiscus, made in two stages, flower and stamen).

Of all the techniques involved, the one I need to get better at is stenciling with thick royal icing. I have issues keeping the stencil in place (even using the frame to hold it), and making a smooth layer. We did three different cookies, one with a solid color to stencil, and the other two with two-tones (purple and green). I had some issues with each of these three, but in the end they got other decorations on top and I did my best to hide the “boo-boos.”


Let me highlight some of the cookies and list the techniques used for them…


Flood with purple. Two-tone stencil with thick Royal icing. Flower is painted fondant. Leaves are fondant and Royal icing transfer.



Flood with purple with texture (embossed paper). Brush embroidery flower. Leaves are wafer paper and fondant.


Flood with green and diamond dust for shimmer. Royal icing stencil. Hibiscus flower is Royal icing transfer. Leaf is painted fondant.


Flood with solid purple. Royal icing transfer for hibiscus flower and leaf. Maybe my favorite cookie of the set.

I loved this class and the use of very few colors to make all cookies, so that they flow together beautifully. Purple, green and ivory, in different shades and textures. Perfect for a wedding or as a Birthday gift for a special friend. Thank you so much, Amy, you ARE a master teacher!

ONE YEAR AGO: Jeweled Butterflies

WATERCOLOR FUN

One of the easiest ways to add a lot of color to a cookie is painting the background in watercolor. Often bakers dilute the gel dye with vodka, but I find that water is more user-friendly. The liquid takes longer to dry, which means it is much easier to get the different tones to mingle together, without areas in which the color gets overly intense. The drawback is having to wait a little longer for the painted area to dry, but I think it’s worth it. Today I share three types of cookies that rely on a tie-dye look as starting point.

DESIGN #1
ELEPHANTS

It all starts with a fully set base of white Royal icing… Then the colors are diluted with water and placed in different little spots of a paint palette. A brush with a very small amount of water is used to lightly wet the surface of the cookie, and patches of different colors are painted over the entire surface.

Once that is fully set, piping consistency Royal icing is added for extra decoration, in any pattern you like. Don’t forget to plan a little spot for the eye!

DESIGN #2
BUTTERFLIES

The exact same method is used, I love this cookie cutter (available here at etsy.com) that shows the butterflies from a side view…. Make sure to make some in opposite orientation so they can be grouped together in a more interesting array.

DESIGN #3
THE GOLFER

For this final design, after the base was fully dry, I used a stencil to air-brush the silhouette. Finally, a little bead border was added and painted with bronze luster powder.

A colorful base of watercolor can make many different cookie shapes and design shine, so consider that for your upcoming cookie adventures…

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

MAY INSPIRATION POST: CHARACTER COOKIE

For the month of May, Marlyn proposed a slightly more challenging task: make a character cookie preferably using stencils that we would design ourselves. She gave Winnie the Pooh as an example. During the past few months, Marlyn has shared very detailed tutorials coupling Procreate (a drawing software for iPad) and stencil cutters, which is pretty much all you need to make your own cookie stencils. I will not go in too much technical detail, but even if you cannot draw (like yours truly), Procreate allows you to start from any image you find in the internet. You draw the outline and other details as independent layers that will then be made into a stencil using any machine you have (I have a Cricut, Marlyn uses a Silhouette). I tried super hard, but just could not make it work. At this point, I am not sure if the issue is my pen (to save money I bought a knock-off brand, and not the original Apple), my iPad (old model), or a combination of the two. Still, I could not stand the idea of skipping the Inspo challenge. Soooo, I cheated my way out and got a stencil available online.

The problem with stencils bought online is that they do not always work as expected. I downloaded three that were a waste of material, and the one I settled on was also not ideal. What Marlyn hoped we would do is make a stencil in which the outline gets air-brushed and then maybe two or three additional stencils could be used to do the whole thing by air-brushing. But the stencil I found gives a full image, without a defining outline, and no way to color different areas independently. As you can see below… I air-brushed with a sheen golden color that would not end up too dark.

I had to start from that, and then use food pens to add color and details.

To add a bit more detail to the design, I made little bees with fondant…

Soooo, I give myself a C to this homework. I love the cookies, so that’s not the issue. I just feel that I could not rise to the challenge of designing a stencil myself. But, I lose a battle, not the war. Once I recover from the self-inflicted soap opera, I will try again, maybe with a simpler image. Stay tuned!

ONE YEAR AGO: Out of this World Sugar Cookies

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!

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.

A VINTAGE DRESS SET

A couple of weeks ago during a weekly Facebook live, Marlyn hosted a tutorial in which people could decorate in real time with her. Cookies were hand-cut and baked before class. Handbag and shoes were not part of the live demo, she had a little tutorial to show how to do those previously posted in her Patreon site. The skirt and blouse had some pre-decorating done, and were then finalized during the event. This set would be a perfect gift for Mother’s Day, or Teacher’s Appreciation Day, or a simple “I Think You Are Special” offering. You can watch the whole video following this link.

The cookies required stencils to provide guidelines for piping, but you could conceivably draw that free-hand. Some of the steps of the preparation are detailed below

For the shoes, after flooding in white, the stencil is used to add the red details, using an air-brush. You could draw them by hand and fill the red using a food safe pen. Once that is done, the rest is all piping with Royal icing. The shoes were by far the trickiest for me, my first pair was not fit to be seen in public and had to be consumed as evidence of a cookie-crime. I did a little better on the second pair, which is the one included in the group photo.

The handbag has a very clever design. The rough texture is made with sugar dyed with blue food color. I love the tiny details of gold, which are sequin sprinkles such as these. They also go in the blouse, tying the design together nicely.

For the skirt, a petal tip was used to decorate the border, and after that flooding with yellow + air-brushing lines to guide in the final decoration during class.

So these components were all we needed to attack the decoration with Marlyn…

It went by super fast, and again I learned a lot. This basic design can be tweaked to do all kinds of colors and patterns but I loved the look that Marlyn planned for the set. She puts so much attention to small details, they do elevate a cookie to higher levels. And often it’s not that complicated, but just a little something extra to consider. Like the lighter color on the inside of the shirt, the ruffles on the bottom of the shirt and skirt, the little golden sequins.

There we were, hard at work!

Marlyn and Hani, thanks for another great live session on Facebook! I am not sure there will be more of this kind, but I had fun with every single one of them so far…

ONE YEAR AGO: For the Love of a Golfer

THREE YEARS, THREE BAKES FOR ARITRI

I dedicate this post to Mrs. Shyamasree Majumdar

Three years ago today the world lost someone very special. A brilliant young woman, who was getting ready to embrace science as a life-time commitment. She loved color. She loved to sing. She loved life. Some cookies that I make have what I call the “Aura of Aritri.” Like these ones. I think they would have made her smile.

This series, with a mandala-design was made with stencils and air-brushing. I think she would have appreciated both the patterns and the colors. They were flavored with Chai extract from Olive Nation, and a touch of vanilla.

FLORALS

This series was flavored with Fiori di Sicilia, and decorated either with brush embroidery + luster powder painting, or by stamping, a technique I definitely need to practice a bit more.

MACARONS

Aritri loved macarons, and these, flavored with Pistachio-Lemon, were decorated with her in mind. Just food-safe pen over the baked shells, and a light spray of PME pearl luster.

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HAPPY EASTER!

I am already a bit sad that Easter is going to be over… As far as cookie decorating goes, it is hard to beat the diversity and cuteness level that this holiday brings. Sadly, I still have some cookie cutters that were left unused, and must wait for next year to make their appearance. Today I share a few designs, my favorite is Marlyn’s Bunny Head, crowned with flowers. So so cute! But there is more: a bunny carrying a basket of flowers, a few Easter eggs, and a naughty bunny stealing a fancy Easter egg to run away with it.

Marlyn has a super detailed tutorial available in YouTube for the bunny head (click here). If you are a member of her Patreon site, you’ll find the stencil file to make decorating the cookie easier (click here).

I opted for a chocolate cookie, so I air-brushed the design in white over the naked cookie as a starting point. The stencil is used again over the iced cookie to add the final details.

Marlyn piped the floral design on the cookie, I made my life a bit easier by using fondant decorations, and the piped small leaves to tie the design together.

MOVING ON…

For the bunny with a basket, I followed a tutorial available in Cookie-a-thon by Lauren Jacobs, aka The Cheerful Baker (click here for her IG page). Some of the steps are shown below…

I modified a few details in the basket and added a little facial feature. I love this cookie shape!

To go along with it, I used a similar technique for florals to make Easter eggs.

I could not help but make a Zentangle design, so it all starts with dots equally spaced on the iced cookie, and then a little drawing with a food safe pen. PME pearl luster spray gives the cookie a shine I really like.

So here is my little Easter collection…

I close this post with the Naughty Bunny, made after a tutorial from Timbo Sullivan during a Facebook live. It is mostly fondant, so if you don’t like the taste, consider the cookie just as a decoration. Lots of different techniques were explained in his tutorial, and the take home message for me is that I need a lot of practice to make eyes. His work is flawless! But I still like my little Naughty Bunny… Everything is fondant, except the pink details on ears and paws, and the grass the bunny is sitting on.