MARLYN’S INSPIRATION FOR AUGUST

If you follow this little virtual spot of mine, you’ve heard that Marlyn proposes little homework challenges each month. For August, her suggestion was to use Royal icing to generate texture on a cookie. I had just made her 3D underwater scene (my previous post) and loved so much the method to make fish scales using a petal piping tip, that I wanted to practice a bit more. So here are two versions of a pretty colorful fish, using a cookie cutter I love, as its shape is unusual, I’d say funky and modern. Available here.

This is really a very simple cookie to decorate, but might give the impression it is labor-intensive. The steps are shown in the composite picture below…

Do a little sketch to help you separate head from body as you pipe the scales. Add them with Royal icing and a 102 tip, it will crust quickly since it is a thicker consistency. Use flooding consistency of the same color to add the head and tail – or if you prefer to do the purple style of the tail, just continue piping with the petal tip. Add a PME black pearl for the eye. Let that crust and add a little fine line defining the division between head and body. That step is optional but it makes for a more polished cookie. Now let it all set, and have fun painting. I used several colors of luster powder with vodka. A little smile with a food pen, and you are SET! Let them swim freely…

ONE YEAR AGO: Mr. Seahorse and his friends

MARLYN’S UNDER THE SEA 3D COMPOSITION

I am totally smitten by this set designed by Marlyn, using several different techniques in cookie decorating. A very detailed tutorial is available for her supporters through Patreon (click here). I cut the background cookie and the fish tail by hand (templates provided by Marlyn) so that they would fit perfectly together, but you can definitely search your cookie cutters and come up with slightly different variations. On a side note, I usually have no idea who gets my cookies, but this set was an exception (read on).

I opted for my default chocolate cookie recipe (you can find it on my food blog clicking here), and used mini cookie cutters from this set from Sugarbelle. The rock at the bottom was made with a flower cutter cut in half. Marlyn used a cloud-shaped cutter.

Here are all the pieces baked and iced, waiting for assembling… Some pieces I made extra just in case something bad happened, and also for practice.

So many techniques: the rock texture made with parchment paper, the fish tail with a small petal tip, and a lot of painting with the air-brush. For the first time I thought I managed to direct the air-brush gun with more precision. For instance the little fish’s mouth, tail and fin were air-brushed in orange without messing up the rest of the body. Yes, there was some hyperventilation associated with the process…

This was really fun to put together, and the icing on the cake is that these cookies were donated for a homeless family of four that has been struggling quite a bit. It made me happy to learn that maybe this little 3D scene could give them a reason to smile.

ONE YEAR AGO: Mr. Seahorse and his friends

DON’T CALL THE GNOME POLICE!

Is there such a thing? Could I be in serious blogging trouble for publishing two gnome posts in a row? Let’s hope not, because today I want you to meet Pippin, The Gnome. Design and tutorial by Amy from Seriously Sweet on Davis St (click here for her IG page).

This was part of a “simple” online class taught by Amy… I say “simple” because there were only two cookies, and not much preparation required for class. We only had to make a few fondant pieces and paint them, nothing else. In fact, Amy told us we could do them early in the morning as the class was around 4pm. A few colors of Royal icing – not that many – and some in very small amounts. A real “no big deal” event, right? Right? Well, let me tell you, I went into a few cycles of hyperventilation during the adventure. Have you noticed Pippin is showing his feet and hands? It turns out that we were asked to pipe his fingers and toes. Please be kind and don’t go carefully checking how many fingers in each hand. Pippin has a genetic condition, but it is a minor thing and he lives a happy and fulfilled life.

So here is our countertop right before class started, all pieces of fondant painted, cookies baked, and Royal icing colors ready in bags.

It all starts by drawing the overall placement of all the cookie’s features. Then the hat is made with pieces of fondant (I used modeling chocolate instead), rolled into small ribbons and then sculpted with a clay tool. Amy had a pretty clever way to make the very top, but I could not quite do it like she demonstrated…

By far the trickiest part was piping the fingers and toes, all made in stages so they would not all glue together. Pippin is not a frog, so please, no webbed feet. I loved the detail of Pippin’s nose, which is made with a tiny shell painted gold.

The second cookie of the set was a sandcastle, quite a bit simpler. We did the whole thing during class, speeding things up with a dehydrator. That cookie would probably go well in a beginner’s class, whereas I consider the gnome as advanced. Too many things can go wrong.

Painting the hat was left for the following day so that the fondant(or modeling chocolate) was fully set. We used dry dusting with many shades of luster powder, super fun!

The level of detail in this project was something! I don’t know now Amy can think of so many little bells and whistles to add to her productions, but I am glad she does, and also explains so well how we can do the same. The shading done to turn the feet a little dirty was brilliant!

I close this post with all the cookies I made that afternoon, which had a beach-summer feel…

Amy, thank you one more time for yet another great adventure,
you always push my limits, and I LOVE IT!

ONE YEAR AGO: Hungarian Folk Art Cookies

SHIRLYN’S FLAMINGO GNOME FUN

A couple of weeks ago I took a very deep breath and joined an online cookie decorating class that seemed way WAY out of my skill level. Let me just show you the kind of cookies this amazing artist does, by sharing her Instagram page. Still, I decided that if I don’t push my limits, I might be missing something. I won’t lie to you, this was hard on many levels, but once I saw these cookies staring at me, I could not stop smiling…

The class involved two videos, each one 3 hours long. Yes, big investment of time but you get to see Shirlyn making every single step (except of course baking the cookies), in a super detailed way. On day one you’ll make all the Royal icing transfers, and the basic icing of the cookies. Day two is devoted to painting and assembling everything. So many different techniques! She is big on shading, which is a method of painting using diluted gel colors and an almost dry brush to spread it. Sugarprism will also work, but this time I stuck with the gels. By joining the class you get a ton of materials, including all recipes for dough and icing, plus all the templates for Royal icing transfers. Also access to basic videos demonstrating specific techniques of general interest for cookie decorating. You can of course use your own recipes if you prefer, which is what I did. Below, some of the steps involved in making the cookies. I watched the videos and made the cookies a couple of days later, it would be too hard for me to try to decorate in real time with Shirlyn.

On the end of the first day, I had the four cookies iced, and the Royal icing transfers made and painted (I made them early in the morning and could paint them in the evening). Once that was all done, the following day was devoted to adding all bells and whistles. It is truly amazing how shading will bring life to any design…

The coconut cookie was actually one of the trickiest for me. It is a simple design but the details are not easy to do. A lot of room for improvement in that one… But for a first time, I am happy with it. I intend to re-visit all these cookies in the future.

If you would like to learn of future online classes by Shirlyn, visit her website and subscribe to her feed. I will definitely be joining her again, she is super sweet and incredibly talented. And has the patience of a saint to answer questions…

ONE YEAR AGO: For the Love of Flamingos

PAINTED ROYAL ICING TRANSFERS

When you decorate cookies, it’s pretty common to have leftover Royal icing. It does freeze well, but you can also make royal icing transfers in all sorts of shapes without worrying about color at this point. Let them set for a few hours or overnight, and then use any method of your choice to color them. Michelle, the inventor of Sugarprism, is a pro at this. The birds below were made following her lead.

I got so hooked into the process that right away I started making several different transfers. The advantage of making them all white, is that you can choose the colors later, to match any cookie you are working on. Here are my first two babies… The first one coupled with Royal icing in piping consistency, and the second with painting (luster powder) + food pen.

The main thing to consider when making the transfers is using a slightly thicker consistency and piping in stages so the design won’t be flat. This works when making flowers, butterflies, birds, pretty much any image. As to how to add color? Any method works: food pens, Sugarprism (both the acrylic and the watercolor types), food gel diluted with vodka, luster powder. I normally bring all my tools out to play and go with the flow.

A few more designs using the transfers… The one below is definitely one of my favorites ever! I brought back my days of studying Mandarin and incorporated a modern rose with the ideogram for love. I find that particular ideogram very beautiful. One of its components (the central motif) is the ideogram that represents the heart. The Chinese language has incredibly beautiful details that captivate the mind.

For the butterflies, I used a different method to paint flowers: dry dusting with luster powder using a sponge brush in a very loose pattern. Next, a food pen adds the real drawing, which does not need any precision.

That is a very easy method to add flowers, and it will give the impression that you spent a lot of time in each cookie, but that’s really not the case. Plus, it is very forgiving.

So here is my small collection of cookies using the transfers I made in the past couple of weeks. As you can see, a transfer can stand alone on its own, or you can add details around it. Your cookie, your choice. But whatever you decide to do, having a little treasure chest with transfers ready to be painted is a very efficient way to decorate cookies. I hope you give that a try!

ONE YEAR AGO: Not Always Black and White

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

EMBROIDERY SUNFLOWER COOKIES

I am beyond excited about these cookies! Huge thank you to Haniela for her very detailed tutorial on Patreon – this one available only for her supporters. If you are serious about cookie decorating, consider joining that crowd. Totally worth it. Many techniques were involved, and you need to be able to work with fine lines, the finer the better to get the best effect of embroidery. They are a bit labor intensive, but the whole process is a lot of fun.

Haniela put a lot of thought into the design. The base is made to mimic an embroidery frame, and you do that by etching lines on a fully set flooded cookie. I am not going to share all the details, as this is part of a paid tutorial, so below I show some steps of the process. Her video is very helpful and explains every single step.

She also provides a template for the flower design, to make it even easier to bring this cookie to life.

I should have made the fine lines a little more delicate, but my piping consistency was just a little off. Still, they ended with a slightly more “rustic” appearance. No major harm done.

The same technique will work for many different shapes and colors, so keep that in mind if you want to give it a try.

ONE YEAR AGO: Amy’s Pineapple Cookies

FLORALS

Spring and Summer, time to celebrate color, flowers, being outside and allowing the beauty of the universe to inspire us. I share with you cookies made in the past few weeks, using several different techniques, but all with flowers in mind. I start with my favorite, following as closely as possible a Facebook tutorial from Marlyn. For this one, sequential piping is coupled with air-brushing to bring to cookie-life Plumeria blooms.

Marlyn is a pro with the air-brush, it is not something I do without considerable hyperventilation, but slowly I am getting the gist of it. The yellow part worked well, I found the pink to spray too wildly at times.

Below some of the steps to make these cookies…

I love the simple elegance of this design, typical of Marlyn. If you don’t have an air-brush, you can still do the same by painting with gel color diluted with vodka or water. It will take a little longer, but other than that, no issues.

Moving on, some other florals that happened in our kitchen lately….

SUGARPRISM PAINTING

AIR-BRUSHING + STENCIL

CRACKED BACKGROUND + PAINTED FONDANT

Design inspired by Amber, from @sweetambs
tutorial from Craftsy

ROYAL ICING TRANSFERS

(drawing designed inspired by Amber, from @sweetambs)

I still have many floral compositions waiting in line to materialize as cookies,
so stay tuned for more soon!

ONE YEAR AGO: Gilding the Lily with Silicone Molds

COLORFUL HEARTS

Every once in a while someone sends me pictures of decorated cookies they love and tell me I should make them. Some are totally out of my skill level, so I just reply with a very gentle “are you out of your mind?”, and move on…. But not too long ago my friend Louise sent me a video of a great cookie artist at work and I decided to give that one a try. I actually changed the whole method around. Originally those were made with many (and I really mean many) colors and consistencies of Royal icing. Each cookie requiring several different colors for piping and flooding, then even more colors for the final details. I simplified it quite a bit by using Sugarprism painting over the basic white design.

As I mentioned, these were made with super labor intensive Royal icing work. I took shortcuts, not only to minimize the need to make so many different colors, but because I love the process of painting, and Sugarprism makes it so nice. Plus it tastes like vanilla, so no fear of adding odd flavors to the cookie. I started with fully set white cookies, and used two consistencies of icing to add the outlines and then flood. Make sure that your icing has some “muscle” in it, you need the flowers not to be flat.

Once that is fully set, the fun part is waiting for you… grab your colors (if you don’t have Sugarprism, food safe pens, diluted gel colors, or luster powders will work also).

I waited for the base colors to dry a bit, not more than 15 minutes were needed, and added the details on top, also with Sugarprism and a very fine brush.

I had some extra cookies and decided to play with a simpler design. I made random flowers using golden luster powder diluted with vodka, when that was dry, I added the outlines and details with black Sugarprism and a very fine brush.

So there you have, six heart-shaped cookies, in two different floral styles, one will require some time and effort, but the golden ones are the easiest cookies you can dream of. Apart from grabbing a box at the grocery store, that is…

ONE YEAR AGO: Burning Bush, A Custom-Made Cookie

FOR THE LOVE OF HORSES

Marlyn is back inspiring me, I had this tutorial bookmarked for a while and finally gave it a go a couple of weeks ago. The cookie cutter (available at amazon.com), shaped as the head of a horse, is a little tricky as far as decorating goes, but as usual, Marlyn figures out a way to make it shine. Several different techniques went into the making of these cookies. You can pipe the flowers by hand using Royal icing, or simplify a bit and go with molded, painted fondant pieces. It is up to you.

Let me walk you through the steps to make this colorful design…. First, flood the cookie with light brown Royal icing, and let it set overnight. Then add the details using a stencil and brown air-brushing color (I used Totally Brown from Cookie Countess).

Once that is done, it is just a matter of adding some details with piping consistency Royal icing in green and brown, some confetti shaped gold bits, and the fondant pieces in the end…

Once the fondant pieces are added, the cookies are ready to party!

I love the modern-romantic look of these horses… I simplified a bit the design compared to what Marlyn did, so I advise you to watch her video and consider adding all the bells and whistles. What I love about her design is how unique it is, playful and whimsical at the same time. I bet any horse lover would be very happy getting a platter of these cookies.

ONE YEAR AGO: For the Love of the Sea