SUMMER GIRLS

Sometimes I decide to throw caution to the wind and try something way out of my comfort zone. Remember the gnomes I made recently? This set of cookies were also designed by Shirlyn, and they pushed me to the limit of my abilities. For sure. Character cookies are not easy, and the only way I could attempt those was following the very detailed instructions in her tutorial. If you compare my cookies to hers, you will realize I have a long ways to go, but every marathon starts with the first mile. So here I am to share my first attempt at these cute cookies, perfect to celebrate all things Summer.

I am thrilled with my girls, because I never imagined being able to even attempt this type of cookie a year or so ago. It was not that easy, I have to admit. My Royal icing was a little too thick, the colors a tad too strong. But I’ve learned quite a few things, and at some point intend to repeat them, trying to keep in mind the level of finesse that Shirlyn achieves.

A mini-projector is a huge help to transfer the image onto the cookie, but there are ways to do it without it, using paper, as demonstrated by my tent-baker friend Tanya (click here)

Below, a few of the steps in this cookie decorating marathon that involved 10 colors of icing…

You might notice (bottom right picture) that my icing consistency was not perfect. I think the lesson to learn is that even if it seems pretty painful to stop and adjust it, in the end it will be worth it. Shirlyn suggested opening the bag, spraying a little water, and massaging it to distribute. That makes it possible to thin it without having to go through the trouble of un-bagging, and wasting a lot of icing in the process. I intend to try it next time.

By the end of the first day, the cookies will be all fully piped with the design, and next day you will have a great painting adventure waiting for you!

I kept thinking that selling cookies like these would be pretty much impossible because they are very labor-intensive and unless you are a famous cookie-artist with a million followers in Instagram, no one would be willing to pay for the amount of work that goes into each one. But since I make them and give them away, this is not an issue. I am just happy thinking that maybe a little girl got the cookies and that they made her smile…

If you are interested in online tutorials by Shirlyn, jump to her Instagram page and stay tuned for her upcoming lessons. And you can still sign up for any lesson she has available right now, including the Flamingo-Gnome and the Summer Girls. I love her style of teaching, and also appreciate that she tells you how to get better, what to focus on next time.

ONE YEAR AGO: Jurassic Park Pizza Cookie Box

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

4TH OF JULY FUN

Get your bags of red, white and blue Royal icing, because we will get busy here! Almost any cookie shape can be dressed up for this special holiday in the USA. Butterflies, hearts hexagons, surfboards, pretty much anything goes… Today I share a few ideas, and to get some more, visit my main food blog for last year’s post (click here).

HEARTS AND BUTTERFLIES


To make the butterflies, the body is iced first with dark gray Royal icing, thick consistency. Silver sanding sugar is sprinkled on top, then both sides of the butterfly are iced, ether in stages (white and red stripes), or as a solid layer of Royal blue. These were inspired by a recent live Facebook session with Haniela (check it out here).


The hearts are iced in stages also, following any type of wavy shape you like. A fondant ball can add texture for extra fun.



THE PATRIOTIC CAMPER


For a cute and maybe unusual shape, the camper cookie cutter can be dressed in red, white and blue… First a basic design is drawn with a food pen over the naked cookie, then the window area is painted gold. Next, the lines are piped with Royal icing in black, with a #3 tip.

PATRIOTIC SUMMER

When summer camping, don’t forget to take sandals, surfboards, some ice cream to keep you cool…


Sandals, surfboard and ice cream are simple designs, based on red and white stripes plus the classic blue. Each section needs to crust a little before you pipe the one next to it. But other than that, pretty straightforward. The blue straps need thicker consistency icing. Surfboards were wet on wet, and after it all set, I piped a center line with white icing and covered with sanding sugar.

THE AGED WOOD LOOK


Minimal icing goes in this design. I thinned royal icing and applied the different colors with a brush, painting them, so a super thin layer goes on the naked cookie. Once that set for a few hours, I added a touch of luster powder bronze and brown very diluted with vodka. Stars were cut from wafer paper with a paper punch gadget.

I hope you enjoyed this little collection of 4th of July cookies, and whatever you do to celebrate, keep in mind that fireworks are very tough for pups. Do your part to minimize their ordeal…

AMY’S TROPICAL TREASURES

To join Amy’s Facebook group and be on top of future online classes, click here.


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

CRACKLED ICING SUGAR COOKIES

For those who prefer a cookie with more austere decorations – in other words, not a huge amount of Royal icing – this method is perfect. Today I share two versions: one with sugar cookies, another with chocolate cookies. Two ways to embellish them, either using Royal icing piping consistency, or adding small pieces of cookie dough.

Let’s start with the white background of sugar cookies… The one in the center is the “dare to be different” cookie, with regular Royal Icing in yellow and piping consistency white for details.

For the crackled effect, brush the surface of the raw cookie with a thin layer of AMERICOLOR WHITE gel color (it must be Americolor, other brands do not behave the same way). I usually freeze the cookies for 10 minutes, then bake at 350F straight from frozen. There is a bit of a trade-off with the leavening agent: the more you add the more evident the crackled effect, but the cookies will not have very sharp edges. My default recipe for sugar cookies (click here) balances this equation well. The chocolate cookie recipe I use (click here) does not have any leavening agent, but it expands enough to profit from this technique.

For the chocolate cookies, the small heart was made using a technique I first learned from Marlyn (Montreal Confections). Roll the dough, cover with plastic wrap and press a small cookie cutter to make the shape. That gives it a very nice rounded top. Add to the cookie after brushing with the white gel color, and bake. These will have zero Royal icing.

These are very simple cookies, but might give the impression you spent a lot of time decorating them… You can also use other colors for the background, as long as you go with the Americolor brand. And no, I do not work for that company…

ONE YEAR AGO: Fun with Royal Icing Leftovers

PIRATES ROLL THIS WAY

To join Amy’s Facebook group and be on top of future online classes, click here.

One more amazing online decorating class taught by Amy from Seriously Sweet on Davis Street. Just as the trial of Mr Depp – the forever Caribbean Pirate – was coming to an end, we attacked the making of this set of six cookies. Serendipity in cookie format. The class was described as Intermediate, but as usual, Amy explains it all so clearly that even beginners could follow. Maybe not in real time, but definitely playing the video later and taking their time.

Here they are, my six babies

Amy taught us many different techniques in this class. To prepare for it, we needed to bake all cookies, flood the compass one with ivory icing, and prepare all the fondant decorations using molds and then paint them with the “dry dust method” in which luster powder is applied straight to the fondant with a brush. Three different colors of dust worked together to give the aged look of coins and compass. Brilliant! Notice that the pirate’s head is a Christmas ornament cookie cutter. Cute cookie cutter flip…

Once all the fondant pieces are painted, the fun begins….

The most elaborate cookie was the treasure chest, maybe… All the small details that Amy planned for it, made it super special in the end. You can see some of the steps below. The cookie cutter used is originally to make an open book, and we did some trimming and shaping with a Microplane before decorating.

By piping the edges and then painting with gold (I used a mixture of gold and copper dust), the whole design comes to life. Then, all you need to do is place the pieces to decorate, flowing out of the treasure chest.

The two trickiest components of this class, in my opinion, were the fondant skull and the black net, made with Flextfrost sheets. I had to make the skull several times, it kept breaking as I removed it from the mold. I had to use a heavy hand with cornstarch, and freeze it overnight to get one piece to come out whole. And the Flexfrost sheet is temperamental. You need to hit the amount of water right, and also the extent of drying before pulling it out of the mat. But, all things considered, there was light in the end of the cookie tunnel.

Another cookie that involved several cool techniques was the treasure map…

The texture is made pressing a gloved finger delicately on the surface after it has crusted for a while. And the details with food pen are aged with vodka.

A cute pirate and his rum bottle were the simplest cookies to make. My pirate has a congenital problem in the ears, but he is a happy pirate. When he manages to control his friendship with the bottle of rum, he is quite good at negotiating the compass….

Amy, cannot thank you enough for yet another great Saturday afternoon in your company and the company of all the other cookiers. Even if only virtually.

ONE YEAR AGO: Sugar Cookies, the Groovy Series

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

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!

PLAYING WITH LEAVES

Inspired by a recent Facebook live from Haniela, this is a fun, unique way to decorate a simple leaf-shaped cookie. A mixture of textures, colors, and sprinkles come together to play with the basic design. Some cookies used the perforated mat as a component of the design, similar to what I shared in the latest online class by Amy (click here). Haniela used piped Royal icing flowers, I went with fondant decorations.

The cookie in the center is from the Mother’s Day Florals shared a couple of weeks ago (see post here).

For some of the cookies, the leaf was divided in two, the background painted with gold (or lightly brushed with a thin layer of green royal icing), and after flooding the other half, cookie crumbs dyed with green were added for textural contrast. Haniela’s tutorial goes over every detail of all these designs. Video available here.

Texture can also be added by laying a piece of crumpled parchment paper on wet Royal icing, and allowing that to set overnight. Once the paper is gently peeled off, the texture stays on the surface. Pretty cool technique. You see those in the picture below.

They can form a nice trio by coupling with a happy sun cookie, made with a spider-web cutter
(design by Marlyn, from Montreal Confections).

And the set below would be perfect for a Mother’s Day gift…

I love the use of the perforated mat to help decorate a cookie, and have some ideas for future projects using this approach. Stay tuned!