HEART OF HONEY PIZZA BOX COOKIE

My final (for the time being) pizza box production, this time the inspiration came from Marlyn, with some minor modifications (IG video available here). Her original box is very clever, it was made as a gender reveal thing. Each little bee in her box was a cookie filled with a particular color. As you bite into it the gender is revealed. My little bees are simple molded fondant, and I incorporated some flower cookies and other small details around the center. A pizza box perfect for a little girl who is sweet as honey…

All cookies were chocolate, and the base was cut in a heart shape and then four pieces around it, to mimic a tree bark. The texture comes from laying a piece of wrinkled parchment paper on top of the Royal icing as soon as it is piped. That sits for many hours (overnight is best), then you can peel the paper and get the design to stay. I brushed some gold luster powder to add more contrast. You can see Marlyn demonstrating that technique here.

To get the subtle pattern on the heart, Marllyn air-brushes the image with a stencil, then uses those lines to guide the piping with Royal icing. Once that sets (30 minutes is enough as the icing is thick), a very thin royal icing of the same color is gently brushed on the surface. I finished with a little gold air-brush on the edges.

For the little flowers I made the centers as Royal icing transfers, covering them with silver non-pareils. After all the cookies are decorated and fully set, the final scene can be assembled inside the box… The little butterfly is also molded fondant.

My favorite component is the center heart, I find it very sweet and charming…

So that concludes my trilogy of pizza box cookie scenes. I am sure I will be making new ones in the near future, because I love the concept and it is so nice to adapt it for a particular occasion or person.

Pizza boxes, 7-inch square available at amazon.com

FOR THE LOVE OF THE SEA

Mermaid tails and shells, to bring the spirit of summer vacations into the cookie world. This time, I join Marlyn and Amber in her tutorials, and then contribute with my own little cookie, a bit more austere, for those who are not too wild about Royal icing.

Marlyn’s sea shells are deceptively simple, but will have you mix two consistencies of icing, so that you can make the decorative swirl thick enough to preserve the shape. Her tutorial is available in her Patreon site.

A little Diamond Dust never hurts…

For the mermaid tail, you can see Amber’s tutorial here. The two colors are gently marbled together, then after the icing is fully set, some shimmer powder is brushed on the surface and the details added with a stencil. You could free-hand it also, I am not that brave.

Finally, for a more austere cookie, I used a springerle type mold to bake the exact same dough. Once it cooled completely, I painted the shells with luster powder + vodka. Super simple.

FOR THE LOVE OF AUDREY

Audrey Hepburn. Class, beauty, sophistication and sweetness in equal parts. I firmly believe we should cookie what we love, and since I’ve always been fascinated by her, it was just a matter of time. I would not dare trying to draw from a picture, not even with the help of a mini-projector. But this stencil captured her essence well enough. The whole process is simple, but some small details can have a huge impact on the final product. Read on…

I think her image begs for an oval cookie shape, so that’s what I used. I can visualize a Tiffany blue for the background, but this time I went with gold, using Americolor Gold gel dye in the icing.

The trickiest part of the cookie is air-brushing the stencil. Lighter colors are more forgiving, but black requires a lot of attention or you will have blurred edges.

One important detail to avoid blurred edges is a totally flat icing. If your icing dries with even very subtle waves, it will be pretty much impossible to lay the stencil flat and some parts of it will allow the dye to leak underneath. I made some in black and white, and like that look too.

Another way to get sharper edges is using a screen like this one placing it right on top of the stencil, and air-brushing over it. I have a love-hate relationship with the screen, because it is very hard to judge how much of the dye is reaching the icing, how much is retained in the screen. Particularly with dark colors, it is a tough call. You also have to clean the screen every couple of cookies, and that is a hassle too. So some of my cookies were made with the screen, some without. It turned out that all the ones made with the screen had sharper edges, but were too light and I had to go over the black areas with a pen.

To keep the festive atmosphere in play, I painted the beaded edges gold with Edibleart Decorative Cake Paint. It is the fastest and easiest way to do it. Luster powder + vodka is quite time consuming, as the suspension dries so quickly and it is hard to keep the level of gold constant as you work.

I have to say that this is one of my favorite cookies!
But then again… I am a self-professed Audrey-Cheerleader

FOR THE LOVE OF PORTUGAL

It took me a long time to finally go to the place where my maternal grandparents were born. That trip materialized when Phil and I celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary. We were living in Paris and flew to Lisbon to meet our dear friends from the US, Marijo and Vlad. A magical trip. If you’ve been to Lisbon you’ve certainly marveled at the tiles that seem to decorate every little corner of that town. Almost always dark blue and white. I share two ways to “cookie” them, and close the post by bringing the “Lucky Portuguese Rooster” to the party.

To make the tiles simply flood square cookies and let it set overnight. In this first style I used a mini-projector to copy images I found in the internet.

Then it is just a little labor of love, filling the spaces with a food safe pen.

Those are labor-intensive, but they are my favorite way to bring the tiles into the cookie universe.

Another way to do it, simpler and faster is using stencils like the one below:

Starting with the same type of flooded cookie, all you need is to couple the stencil with air-brushing. In this case, after the dye was dry, I sprayed a coating of Edible Lustre, from PME, to give a shiny look. The picture does not show it too well.

This method is easier and faster, but stencils can be temperamental. A little more enthusiasm and the dye might sip underneath and give a blurred edge.

And now, for the Lucky Portuguese Roosters… they remind me so much of my parents’ home! My Mom had a set in porcelain, they are usually sold in a group of three: large, medium, and small.

To make them, I used a special cookie cutter and made two sizes of hearts as Royal Icing transfers.

In Brazil we call them “Galo de Barcelos“, and they are almost always black, although other versions exist.

I also improvised on the little rooster, making a bit of a Portuguese-tile version of it. Apologies to purists, I promise to stick with tradition from now on…

I hope you enjoyed this small collection of Portugal-inspired cookies. Mexican tiles are also a fun source of inspiration, bringing more color into the equation. I will definitely explore that in the near future.

FOR THE LOVE OF WATERMELONS

I am married to a watermelon-addict. When I saw that Marlyn created a trilogy of watermelon-based sugar cookies, I knew I was going to make them all. And so I did. Not in the same day, mind you… but taking the scenic route, which is the best route, always. Each cookie brought a little new thing to try. I cannot pick a favorite, love them all. Thank you, Marlyn! So here they are, in order of increasing complexity.

WATERMELON POPSICLE

A simple cookie shape, made more interesting when playing the role of a watermelon. New trick learned in this cookie? Using the air-brush to add some pizzazz to the basic color. The air-brush works on the wet icing, no need to wait for it to crust, in fact it is best used this way to get the desired effect.

WATERMELON ICE CREAM CONE

From this cookie the main lesson learned was piping the cone. Super nice technique that can be used in many designs… think baskets for instance!

Next time I might reduce the amount of icing in the piped swirls over the cone, maybe make a single layer of swirls instead of two, or piping a flattish layer then adding sprinkles on top. Who knows, maybe there are watermelon-shaped sprinkles out there?…

WATERMELON SUNDAES

This time I switched things around and went with a Chocolate-Mint Sugar Cookie base. For this design, the techniques incorporated are related with air-brushing: making a shield (I used regular paper) and cutting two stencils (like described in the previous post).

The shield (top left) is used to airbrush the edges of the glass. Then two different stencils come to play, one to make the light pink base, and the other to intensify the pink color.

All these designs were demonstrated in a single video tutorial by Marlyn, from Montreal Confections, in her Patreon page, where you also have access to a printout for the templates. You need to be a supporter to have access to this series. If you are passionate about cookie decorating, I believe that becoming a supporter is a great move. Nothing beats getting detailed instructions from a pro in a format that allows you to ask questions and get feedback.

Cookie cutters are from Ann Clark collection, available on amazon.com.

MANDALA SUGAR COOKIES

To make these cookies, I followed this very detailed youtube video shared by Haniela. The great thing about following “cookiers” around is that you never run out of new things to try. For this particular adventure, I had to cut my own stencil, a process that was not as smooth as I hoped, but not too bad either. If you don’t want to decorate using the combination of air-brush and stencil, it is totally fine to use a food pen to add the central design. The advantage of the air-brush is the delicate variation in tone it gives. Plus, you can also do as Haniela showed in her video and use two different colors if you want to get fancy. Since this was my first time, I stayed with a single orange tone.

To get this template, or any other of Haniela’s many available stencils, visit her ko-fi shop with a click here. The cookies need to dry fully after icing, so that the stencil can sit on top of it and not hurt the Royal icing base. Once you do the air-brushing (or paint the design with a food safe pen), it’s time to face the dreadful fine piped lines. I’ve been forcing myself to do decorations that rely on it, so I get some practice. The design made by the stencil is all you need to guide you.

The cookie in the center was piped with the smallest tip, a PME #1. It ended up more delicate, definitely my favorite, but by far the trickiest one to make. In her Instagram posts, Haniela shows many examples of mandala cookies, all starting with the same basic air-brushed center.

I had some extra cookies that were decorated with a store-bought stencil using the same basic colors.

I will definitely go back to the Mandala motif in the near future, the possibilities of colors and shapes are endless! Recently Hani made some with the fine lines in black and they turned out spectacular. I am dying to give that a try too…

Special gadgets used in this post:

Stencil sheets

Stencil cutting tool (it requires some patience and perseverance)

Glass board (surface to cut the stencil)