SMITTEN KITTEN MITTENS

Winter is here to stay for a while. Time to get warm, sit by the fireplace, perhaps with a kitten cuddling nearby. Kitten-Mittens were born following a tutorial from Marlyn, blue mittens were my departure from her basic design from another of her instructional videos.

This is actually the second time I’ve made these cookies, the first time (about 8 months ago) I did not have a stencil cutter, so my design was compromised, the facial features too big. Now that I am the happy owner of a Cricut, I could use Marlyn’s stencils to air-brush the eyes, nose, and whiskers.

As you can see, air-brushing does two things for the design: guides the piping, and creates a nice little “shadow” underneath. With Marlyn, it’s all about details!

Closing this post, a couple of mittens made during my recent Snowflake adventure

That is all for now, stay warm, and bake some cookies!

SANTA CLAUS IS COMING TO TOWN!

A super fun cookie project, following the cookie-steps of Marlyn once again. Her full tutorial and templates are available in her Patreon page with a click here. You can conceivably make the design without cutting stencils for it, but they make life a lot easier. Same thing goes for the Royal icing transfers, you can skip and just pipe on the cookie but they add a lot, so my advice is to enjoy the path and go with the flow. I am so happy with my little chubby Santas, even if one of them indulged a bit much in the eggnog and got wasted.

Yeap, the bottom right one took over the eggnog and would not let go… Truth is, the air-sprayer malfunctioned and let’s say he got more blush than advisable for a respectable Santa. My apologies. He is very merry, though.

Below you see the items you must prepare in advance, if you want to do the decorations as transfers. You will need Marlyn’s templates for that (link here), or if you are a pro at drawing, you can try to make them yourself. The stencil helps air-brushing the basic design on the naked cookie, but you ca definitely draw it by hand.

I made the beard using two different styles, either air-brushing with the stencil, or piping with Royal icing. I like them both, actually.

Marlyn does so many cute details in her cookies, and I learn a lot trying to incorporate them all. I need to get better at handling the air-brush and judging the distance, amount of dye, and how hard to press the little trigger. But only one Santa out of four got hopelessly drunk because of my actions. Not bad, not bad.

I wish all my readers happy holidays and, if you celebrate….

AMY’S CHRISTMAS COOKIES: A FUN VIRTUAL CLASS

If you follow my cookie adventures, you know that I am always trying to learn from the great decorators out there. I recently joined a virtual event hosted by Amy, from Seriously Sweet in Davis St, and it was a lot of fun! The class was supposed to be beginner to intermediate level, and we had to make six designs. The picture above shows two of them, plus two small cookies I made with leftover icing from class. Everything super well explained, all we had to do was bake the 6 different shapes, and have four of them iced the day before, so we could work with stencils, stamps, and colors during class. Since the event was by zoom, we could always ask specific questions and even show our cookies to her and other participants in case of eventual drama.

For the preparation, we flooded the angle tree with green, the center of the ornament with red, the candle and the star with white. We also had the option of making little fondant decorations, if we wanted to follow her exact design, which I obviously chose to do. During class we did brush embroidery for the angel, and painting with watercolor technique for the star and candle. All at a nice pace, with very detailed instructions by Amy, who was decorating hers, in real time. The only cookie that gave me trouble was the tree, I could not make the stamp go smoothly over the whole surface, but still like the effect. I need to practice stamping, it is not that easy for me.

It is hard to pick a favorite, for me it is a tie between the ornament and the wreath…

The painting method for the star was very cool, and as Amy pointed out during class, the technique can be used for many different designs. For a more advanced adventure, she suggested we could write “Fa-la-la” over the tree with the musical sheet in the background, but I did not feel quite up to the challenge. Writing with Royal icing will require a bit more mental prep from me.

So here they are, my six babies from class!

Amy, thank you so much for organizing this class, I always learn a ton of stuff during your events… I look forward to the next one!

If you’d like to join one of Amy’s future classes, visit her IG page and join her Facebook group, you will meet lots of cookie-addicts and will improve your skills while having a lot of fun.

MARLYN’S HUNGARIAN TREE

As I mentioned in my last post, this cookie is a work in progress, because the intricate piping was a a bit beyond my skill level. Marlyn designed a real masterpiece, and I knew it would be a challenge to try and get it right. But if we don’t get out of our comfort zone, we never improve. So here is my first attempt, not sure I’ll have a chance to re-visit it before the holiday season is over, but there is always next year… Marlyn’s detailed tutorial and template for the stencil are part of her Patreon site. You can find it here.

The cookie starts by flooding with Royal icing in the color of your choice for the background. That layer needs to fully set, so you can apply the stencil on top (available at Marlyn’s site as a Silhouette or Cricut file), and use that to spray paint the design (using a very soft color that will be barely visible). Once that dries, you can lay the drawing with piping consistency Royal icing, and that is the tricky part. I reduced the size of the cookie, which was not a very clever move. For a drawing as complex as this, bigger is easier.

For the air-brushing I used pearl white, so that even if I was not able to cover each detail, it would not be a problem.

Some of my colors were a little off in the consistency, so the piping was not as sharp as I wanted. But for a first attempt I am pretty happy with them. Of course, there is no need to wait for the next holiday season to practice this technique. It can be used for all kinds of cookies, and Valentine’s will be a perfect excuse for me to try it again… Stay tuned!

A CHRISTMAS TREE PARTY

Moving along the Holiday Baking Path, today I share a series of Christmas Tree Cookies with different styles of decoration. Some are gingerbread with very little icing, some are sugar cookies also very austere in the icing department. Some are simple, some a bit more involved. Some are modern, some more traditional. I hope you will find a cookie with your name written on it…

This is the perfect cookie for those who are anti-Royalists, as far as icing is concerned. I used a large oval cookie cutter and a mini-tree shape. Cut the tree from the center of the oval cookie, lifted it out, painted green with Sugarprism. The great thing about Sugarprism is that the color is unchanged during baking. And it tastes great, a nice vanilla flavor that won’t interfere with your cookies. Placed the painted tree inside, and baked them together. Finally I just glued some confetti sprinkles with a tiny drop of icing. Basically, it is a naked cookie, but looks pretty decorated, right?

Now for a slightly unusual shape, I used this cookie cutter. I think it calls for a more modern design, so I went with three different types, the first with minimal icing + white sanding sugar, and the other two either flooded white and with added swirls, or iced with fine green lines all over. In that one, a bit of copper luster powder was added for a little extra bling, as well as a golden star made as royal icing transfer the day before.

As some may know, I have a hard time resisting the Call of the Zentangle, so I had to incorporate a black and white tree version. Flooded white and details added next day with a black food pen. The white star is molded fondant sprayed with PME luster pearl.

Same shape, same white flooding as a starting point, a super simple design: draw lines with black pen and glue confetti sprinkles all over the lines.

If you are good at drawing, you can do a similar design free-hand, but I used a mini-projector to help me out… The candy corn shape works well for that.

Another option that is pretty simple: ice with white and wait for that to set for about 30 minutes. The do little indentations with the handle of a brush or a fondant tool. Glue the confetti and a golden star. Simple and I think pretty cute, particularly for a small cookie.

For another modern-ish version, after flooding the angled tree with white, I used a stencil to add a delicate leaf pattern. The design was made a bit more evident with a beige food pen, and gold luster powder added to the base and accent star. The whole cookie was then lightly sprayed with PME gold.

For the next design, I was inspired by a recent Facebook live from Marlyn (watch it here, starts at 25 minutes). Her tree was much more complex, but I simplified mine a bit to go with the simple triangle shape of the cookie.

To make the snowflakes I used a puncher thingie (similar to this one) to cut wafer paper, then glued a silver nonpareil in the center.

I intend to go for the tree design that Marlyn shared before this season is over, so stay tuned.

Brush embroidery is also a very easy way to decorate this type of cookie, sanding sugar giving it a nice, snowy look.

But of course I must close the post with my obsession of 2021…

I hope I’ve inspired you to bake some Christmas trees cookies for your family and friends. I saved a design from Marlyn for a post that should be published the day after tomorrow, as I consider it a work in progress. Stay tuned!

MARBLED SPOOKY COOKIES

The technique of marbling using dots of gel color on the surface of Royal icing is a nice and straightforward method to generate colorful effects. Recently I saw Marlyn achieve a similar effect by swirling three batches of Royal icing with different colors. She did that on a baking sheet, to get a shallow surface, quite a bit easier to work with the cookies. It all ends up very smooth, with perfect coverage. I picked Halloween-friendly colors and coupled the marbling with spooky fondant decorations or silhouette painting. I ended up feeling pretty spooked. How about you?

This is how Marlyn does the marbling… It is very easy to coat the surface of the cookie when the icing is poured this way, and since the icing needs to be a bit thicker it also covers quite well.

From that point, you can add decorations while the icing is still wet, or wait and glue them later with Royal icing.

For the witch below, I used a stencil and painted the image with a black food pen. The white cookies were just flooded with white icing and painted, free hand with a food pen. That is a simple design, no need to worry about making it perfectly symmetrical or anything.

I tell you one thing, I will be sad when Halloween is over… So. Much. Fun.

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.