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

A ROSE

Stencils can come in very handy for those who cannot draw to save their lives. For this cookie, I coupled air-brushing with royal icing, and after the design set, I used luster powder to paint the details. It is a bit of a labor of love, I won’t lie. But if you enjoy painting, it is a pretty nice way to spend a few minutes of your time…


It all starts with a fully set, white flooded cookie. Then, a stencil such as this one, is used to lay the base for the drawing. I used only part of the stencil, which is quite large, appropriate for cake decoration.


You could conceivably stop right there. Maybe add a beaded border or spray the edges with gold. But, if you want to take the cookie one step further, get some piping consistency Royal icing and fill each section.


It is a three-day process, two-day minimum. You will need to flood the cookie on day 1, air-brush the design on the following day, pipe the icing and then wait at least 6 hours to paint, overnight is best.


Once again, the cookie could be left all white. It is polished, simple and elegant. But to me, the fun really starts with painting. So that’s what I did…


Many different kinds of stencils will work, but I find that larger designs are easier to negotiate. Depending on your skill with piping, you can go for more intricate drawings. If the areas are very close together, make sure to pipe regions that are not adjacent, let them set briefly, then continue. I will be playing more with this technique in the near future for sure…

ONE YEAR AGO: For the Love of Frida Kahlo

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!

STENCIL FUN: A TESLA COOKIE SET

I’ve had my Cricut cutter since Christmas last year, a very thoughtful gift from my beloved husband. The learning curve to play with that baby is steep. So far I’ve mostly used stencils available online – many provided by Marlyn, from Montreal Confections, many from shops at etsy.com. In this post, I share with you my first adventure designing stencils myself. They were all super simple, using images available in the internet, and a straightforward cut. Stencils are great to design cookies for special occasions. This set was made for a potluck party we hosted recently for all Tesla owners in our town.

The simplest one was just the Tesla logo with the characteristic modern font. Once the image is found online, Cricut can size it to the desired cookie area. For that cookie, I flooded the base with red, let it set overnight, and spray painted with black. Since this is such a simple image, it is very important that the lines are sharp. I use a screen between the stencil and the air-brush to make sure no under-spray takes place. That takes a little practice, but now I feel a bit more confident using it. Some screens sold especially for cookies can be expensive. I am quite happy with this one, that is large enough to cover any size stencil, and also more affordable.

For the second type of cookie, I went with a gray background and either black or red air-brushing of the stencil image.

Yet another image – also found with a search for Tesla clipart in google – used a gold background and brown air-brushing. And finally the classic image of Tesla Model X (the one we own) with the Falcon wings open. I made some silver, some black.

Just for variety, I made a set of charging stations using the mini-projector and food pen.

This was a fun set to plan and make. Stencils make it quite straightforward, comparing the time needed to make each of the charging station cookies, the ones with the stencil are ready in the blink of an eye!

You can get by ordering stencils online, but it will limit a lot what you can do. In many cases you can order a stencil in different sizes, but there is little flexibility. For instance, some might offer three sizes, small, medium, or large, and you will have to bake your cookies to fit those sizes. If you own a Cricut (or Silhouette), you can tweak stencils to your needs, and also make your own. I have a lot to learn still, and to be absolutely honest, I feel quite discouraged at times. But I guess that is expected when learning a new skill.

AMY’S PINEAPPLE COOKIES

If you’ve been around this baby blog of mine for a while, you may have noticed that I follow a few selected “cookiers” very closely. Amy, from Seriously Sweet on Davis Street, is always inspiring me and pushing me to try more challenging techniques. At some point I will gather the courage to attempt one of her super elaborate “Tiki” creations. Hopefully soon. But today I share one small component of that series, her cute Pineapple Cookies. They were a ton of fun to make. My favorite part? The leaves, piped with a tipless bag, generating a cool 3-D texture. I was super scared to try it, but Amy’s tutorial is perfect! You can watch it here, the pineapple decorating starts around the 12 minute mark. Cutting the bag to pipe the leaves is shown at 27 minutes, give or take a few seconds. Brilliant!

It all starts with a little drawing on the baked cookie to help you out….

Then the sections of the pineapple are piped, allowing sections that are not touching each other to crust. Just 15 minutes or so, is more than enough, and you can come and complete the remaining sections.

Once the pineapple segments are crusted, Amy suggests using the air-brush to spray the edges with a very light touch of green. Ideally try to get all the outlines of each section, working very gently. These small details make the pineapple come to life. A bit of gold brushed on the leaves is also a nice touch. A cookie without those details would still be pretty nice, but if you can go the extra mile, why not?

I highly recommend that you watch Amy’s tutorials on Facebook, and consider joining her fun Facebook group called “Cookie Snack Attack with Seriously Sweet.” If you love to bake cookies and want to improve your technique while interacting with a bunch of people hooked on all things Royal icing… that group is for you!

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)