RUFFLED HEARTS

To watch Marlyn’s tutorial on youtube, click here

This design is perfect to practice different skills using Royal icing, and that was Marlyn’s goal when she came up with it. I suggest that you use a large cookie because it will make the whole process a lot easier, more space, more freedom to move the icing tip around. I used the largest heart-shape cutter from the 101 Wilton Set. Come to think of it, you don’t even need to add all the bells and whistles. The design looks pretty nice even in the initial stages. I loved making them!

At first glance, you might think that this would be a two-day cookie adventure, but it is not. There is no need to wait for each layer to dry for more than 30 minutes, or even less if you own a dehydrator. So a few of these can be made in a little over one hour, start to finish.

I strongly advise that you watch Marlyn’s tutorial because she shows the whole process in detail. The diagonal lines are very effective, but if you prefer to avoid piping them, you can add white dots to the center (wet-on-wet), and that will look cute also, simplifying the piping. Adding the two final edges of ruffles hides any imperfection in the joining of the fine lines with the edge, so the cookie will look very polished. I added a little diamond dust in the end because I cannot skip the opportunity for bling. You know how I roll… 😉

ONE YEAR AGO: Diwali-Inspired Gingerbread Cookies

BLACK LACE HEART

This design was imagined by Amber from @sweetambs a while ago and I changed just a few details when I made mine. The lace component is made with Sugar Veil and a special silicone mat (click here for details). I was very scared to use it because my previous experiences with sugarveil were very stressful and most did not have a happy ending at all. But Amber gave a few important pointers, like allowing the product to sit on the mat overnight instead of baking it in a low oven to dry. That’s what I did.

The other important thing is to roll the mat away from the veil, not pull the veil out of the mat, because it will tear, it is very delicate. You need to work slowly and gently guide the veil down the surface, as you pull the mat away from it. Pictures below show the process.


Once the lace is ready, pieces large enough to cover the cookie are cut, and placed over the fully set icing, using either a light brush with water or corn syrup (diluted with a bit of water for easier spreading with a brush). The edges won’t be very smooth, but after that step a little bead border will hide the imperfections. Rose details are fondant painted with luster powder and sprayed with PME pearl luster after drying.


After the lace is set, the fondant roses are glued to the cookie with a small amount of Royal icing. The bead border is important so that the edges of the lace do not show. I still need a lot of practice because my lace turned out super brittle, but compared to my previous attempts, this was much much better…

ONE YEAR AGO: Egg White Painted Cookies

FOR THE LOVE OF FALL


Inspiration for these cookies came from a design I saw in the internet a while ago, captured a quick screenshot, but forgot to save the source. It coupled hearts with fall leaves, and I think it is a nice cookie tribute to one beautiful season in our beautiful planet.


Bringing this design to life is not difficult at all. You will need just white Royal icing in flooding consistency, but not too loose because you want to be able to get some volume in the different sections, and also you don’t want to risk them joining together. I sketched the leaves on the naked cookie, piped the leaf component first, allowed it to set for 10 minutes or so, then came back and did the rest.


Once that is fully set, at least 4 hours, you are ready to paint the details. You can use food gel diluted with vodka, or go for Sugarprism, which is my favorite option. Let your inner Monet fly!


Sugarprism dries quickly, wait about 20 minutes and you will be ready to add the details. I used Royal icing dyed with Americolor Gold, in piping consistency, and a piping tip #1. Later I painted the details with luster gold powder diluted with vodka, but that part is optional, the design will be ok without this step.


They are a little time-consuming but not too bad, and if you enjoy painting they give you a chance to get some Zen-time…

ONE YEAR AGO: Gobble Gobble!

TUNDE DUGANTSI’S FALL COOKIES

If you follow cookie artists, I’m sure you are a fan of Tunde’s work. Her cookies are elegant, often leaning towards the romantic and whimsical. Recently she shared a tutorial to make designs that celebrate Fall. I could not wait to give them a try… To join her Facebook page and gain access to her tutorials, visit her site with a click here.


To make the cookies, you follow two different video tutorials. In the first one, Tunde provides all templates and guidance to make the Royal icing transfers: flowers, pumpkins, acorns, and leaves. In the same video you’ll learn how to make little ghosts, and candy corn. Those can be made days in advance. For the basic cookies, you’ll need flooding consistency and thicker consistency pink. In the hexagon and basket, air-brushing with copper provides a totally different look. Texture in the house and hexagons are made with a needle or toothpick, all super clearly explained in her second video tutorial. Some steps are shown below.


The heart cookies are stamped with a handwritten text, which I thought was a very nice touch…


I really enjoyed making these cookies… Once the transfers are made you are more than half the way there. For the house, after adding the details with piping consistency Royal icing, I did the painting with Sugarprism.


I hope you enjoyed this set of cookies. I think they demonstrate that a single tone of icing (in this case a pastel pink) can be used to get totally different looks by playing with texture and colors, both with an air-brush or simple painting techniques.

Tunde, thank you for yet another great tutorial!
Looking forward to the next adventure…

ONE YEAR AGO: And Now for Pumpkin Completely Different

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

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

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

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.

FOR THE LOVE OF UKRAINE

I don’t know what it is like to wake up to the sound of bombs. To be forced to say goodbye to a husband, a father, a brother, and flee with a suitcase and kids. Or to stay and face the unthinkable. From far away I admire the courage of the Ukrainian people, and the leadership of Mr. Zelenskyy. May they be strong enough to win this senseless war. May we all help in any way we possibly can.