TUNDE’S NEEDLEPOINT COOKIES, TWO WAYS

Needlepoint cookies are probably one of the most challenging to make, however, Tunde (from Tunde’s Creations) shared a reasonably easy method to approach this technique. The secret is to use sugar veil lace mats as the starting point. Her hour-long tutorial taught how to make a few heart-shaped designs with the lace method, and finally she proposed the real challenge: make a large cookie in which the grid is fully piped by hand, then add a floral motif. Today I show you the little heart cookies, come back tomorrow for the floral.

I know that it seems like the most complex design ever, but by making the lace heart using a silicone mold, you kind of “cheat” your way out of trouble and the whole process is just fun: follow the design and fill the little holes with royal icing. In her tutorial, Tunde shared many variations for the pattern, but you can also search online or come up with your own. If you want to embellish the area around the heart, make sure to choose a cookie that is large enough. I could only do that in one of them, the others I had no working space around it.

It all starts with the basic lace. I will not lie to you, it took me three attempts, and quite a bit of frustration to make it work. I used frostflex sheets from Icing Images, but the drying time is crucial, as well as the amount of water you use to moisten the sheet. What worked for me: VERY little water, dehydrator for 1 hour, freezer for 10 minutes, room temperature for 5 minutes. Then they peeled off the mold. Make sure to set the mold down on parchment paper and peel the mold away from the lace, slowly. My first two attempts ended in the mess I show below. The problem was drying overnight, and using too much water. I also did not have enough material pressed into the mold. All in all, a nice recipe for disaster.

Once you master the lace issue, you are pretty much done. I air-brushed some color over the baked and cooled cookie, and while the dye was still wet, carefully placed the lace on top. If the edges don’t fully stick, don’t worry, that’s where the piping on the edges will help you. As you can see, some of the dye sipped into the lace. I was worried but in the end that was not at all visible.

Once you get to this stage, it is all a ton of fun! Use a soft piping consistency, and the finest tip you have, I went with a 00.

With the design fully finished, you can get piping consistency royal icing with a PME 2 tip and pipe a border around the heart, and if you have space, around the cookie surface.

I took a little departure from Tunde’s color scheme, and made a little cookie to celebrate Ukraine. Ukrainians don’t leave my mind, and my admiration for Zelenskyy is endless.

If you like to join Tunde’s group to profit from her monthly online tutorials, visit her facebook page with a click here.

SUGARVEIL BLUES

Have you heard of sugar lace? It is a great option to add a touch of elegance to cookies and cakes. You can make the basic mixture but most people prefer to buy the powder. One of the best brands is called Sugarveil. I bought a small bag to play with but could not make it work. In fact it was an epic disaster with messy consequences. Discussing my ordeal online led to a wonderful person – whose name should be kept confidential – send me many little round pieces she made herself so I could have fun with them. And so I did. Needless to say, I already ordered another bag, because I need sugar lace in my life. On a regular basis.

To make the decoration, you’ll need special silicone mats to spread the mixture on, then allow it to set either at room temperature or in a very low oven. My dear angel-friend sent me several, with different designs. I show some examples in this picture.

Aren’t they gorgeous? So to incorporate them in cookies I had two ideas in mind. First, make a cookie with a center of chocolate ganache. To achieve that, I measured the size of the sugar lace and built a cookie around it. Started with the outer circle, using a patterned rolling pin, then the center portion with a second, thin layer of smooth dough. I baked them together so they formed a solid cookie with a little shallow space in the center.

Next, I painted the edges with luster gold to allow the pattern to be more evident, filled the center with chocolate ganache, and when it was almost set I gently placed the sugarveil on top.

My favorite is the one in the center, because the decoration hit exactly the edges of the ganache. You don’t get a second chance to place the design, so that is something you need to keep in mind. Think steady hand and determination!

My second “experiment” involved modeling chocolate, something I’ve been using more and more. I dyed some pink, rolled it thin and cut a little smaller than the cookie, but bigger than the sugar veil (using this set of cookie cutters). I actually tried two different sizes, one with less molded chocolate, so that the cookie surface was more exposed.

Modeling chocolate can be made from scratch or bought ready to use. It keeps forever, handles like fondant, but the taste is infinitely better. Very easy to manipulate, the heat of the hands do all the softening you’ll need to make it pliable. To glue to the cookie I used melted chocolate. The sugar veil requires minimal moisture to glue, so I brushed a tiny amount of water on the chocolate base and placed the lace on top.

The possibilites to use sugar lace are pretty much endless. Go to pinterest or instagram and prepare to be amazed. I truly want to make it work, so once I get my new order, I’ll get busy. Cross your fingers for me!

To my secret friend, I cannot thank you enough, your gift made me melt inside!