HOCUS POCUS, A COOKIE ADVENTURE!


Talk about pushing the limits with the decorating, this was definitely challenging but SO MUCH FUN! Needless to say, it is one of Marlyn’s designs, and full of details that make it special. I simplified things a bit. As originally planned, this is a 3D cookie, supposed to form a box to hold Halloween candy inside. I went with just the top of the box as a stand-alone cookie. I absolutely loved bringing this design to life… The link to this particular tutorial from Montreal Confections is available here.


The base for my cookie is a chocolate-chipotle, which is usually what I go for because everybody loves the flavor so much. Since the cookie is dark to start with, I though it would be a good base for it. As I am a member of Marlyn’s Patreon site, I have access to all that is needed to make the design. Most of it relies on Royal icing transfers, which are the cookie decorator’s best friend. You can make many and use the best ones. Three transfers are needed: the stretched out snake, the coiled snake, and the eye. The most challenging – to me – was the coiled snake, that needs to be piped in the correct order. I messed up my first set, had to re-do them. Things that have precise spacial orientation are very hard for me. Long story, enough said.


You can make the transfers way in advance, they stay good forever. Then the decoration of the base cookie is not that complicated and Marlyn gives a full step-by-step guidance.


I had extra transfers and used the eye (my favorite) as a single accent in a cookie…


This is a real tour-de-force of a cookie, but once again it gives you the chance to learn a ton of things. I loved it!

ONE YEAR AGO: Henna-Inspired Vegan Macarons

A TOUCAN ADVENTURE

This cookie composition was designed by Amber. A short video demonstrating how to make it is available on her youtube channel (click here). For a much more detailed tutorial and access to the templates, you need to be a supporter in her Patreon site (click here).

I cannot lie to you, these are a bit of a labor of love. I actually made it a lot easier by piping the Royal icing transfers in white, allowing to fully dry, and then painting. Amber has incredible skill and did the whole thing piping different colors in each section of the beak. I loved the whole process, and assembling the final cookie to reveal the full bird sitting on a branch. How does she come up with this stuff? I have no idea, but I am so glad she does!

First things first, making all the transfers – either following Amber’s method, or if you prefer to paint, do them all in white first. She has the templates sized perfectly not only to cut the cookie by hand, but to draw the image of the toucan so you can pipe the basic shape and add the transfers. Using paint you can do the beaks with different color combinations. I used Sugarprism and food pen for all components.

Once those are painted and dry, you can work on the cookies…

I made two with a very smooth background, and one with a bit of texture, working the surface with a thick brush. Because it would be important to get the surface of the bird smooth, I just cut its shape with parchment paper and laid on top of the icing while wet. That area stayed flat, and once the icing was sightly crusted I worked the regions outside the bird with the brush. Next morning I removed the parchment paper with the shape of the toucan, and proceeded with the Royal icing step.

Some of my piping could have been a little more precise, but overall I am very happy with these cookies. Once you spread the preparation in a couple of days, it is not overwhelming. If you watch Amber’s tutorial you’ll see she gilds the lily further by doing brush embroidery over the black wing. I confess I was afraid of ruining the cookie, so I skipped it.

This would be a nice center piece to include in a set of tropical smaller cookies,
or simply to offer as a gift to a special friend.

Huge thank you to Amber for sharing very detailed tutorials in her Patreon site!

ONE YEAR AGO: Marlyn’s Pizza Box Beach Cookies

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

OF BEARS AND BUNNIES

Three designs straight from Marlyn (check the Facebook live here) the last one I modified a little bit, but the basic idea was hers. As I mentioned in my recent post with the Tiger Platter, writing with Royal icing was not easy for me. The only way to get better is by not running away from it, instead trying it again and again. So, the two first designs involved quite a bit of writing. Clearly, I still need a lot more practice… I hope you like them.

DESIGN #1
I LOVE YOU BEARY MUCH

A simple plaque cookie, iced with light brown, and air-brushed with a stencil provided by Marlyn in her Patreon site. The cookie is decorated with little bear faces made by Royal icing transfers, and the air-brushed writing is then used to guide piping in a contrasting color of your choice. The same overall process is used in the next design.

DESIGN #2
SOME BUNNY LOVES YOU

As you can tell, I wimped out in this one, and could not bring myself to pipe the writing, so I went with plan B, leaving the air-brushed showing, and just added a little outline with a food safe black pen, fine tip.

DESIGN #3
THE FRANKENBUNNY

I love the concept of frankencookies, in which two different cutters get together to produce a new shape. These were a lot of fun to make, simpler than the other two, but with some little details to make it special. Marlyn’s version was quite a bit more involved, the bunny is holding small flags forming the word HOP. Super cute. I simplified mine by adding sprinkles.

Now let me show you some of the steps involved in making these three designs… Royal icing transfers, and airbrushing… As you can see in the lower left picture, you can conceivably leave the air-brushing alone without doing anything else. It would still work. But gilding the lily is fun!

And below you see the steps for the Frankenbunny… A star-shaped cookie cutter is joined with the bunny head from Sugarbelle set of mini-cutters. They are baked together and then decorated.

SEE YOU NEXT TIME!

THE YEAR OF THE TIGER COOKIE PLATTER

The Chinese New Year starts on the second New Moon after the Winter solstice, therefore it is celebrated usually between Jan 21st and Feb 20th. This year, the two-week festivities will start in China on Feb 1st. To make this cookie platter designed by Marlyn (check her step-by-step tutorial here), I meditated for a few hours, took 2022 deep breaths, and hoped for the best. I cannot lie, it was by far the most complex cookie adventure I’ve ever faced. A few little issues here and there – but I don’t think they affected the outcome. I am thrilled to share today, my little platter of cookies to welcome The Year of the Tiger…

Starting from the cookie shapes, this is the cookie cutter set you will need to make this platter. Or you can cut the shapes by hand, and use a round cutter for the center. Make sure to use a cookie recipe that won’t spread, with little to no leavening agent, so they will fit nicely together like this:

The day before, or several days in advance, you can make the tiger heads by Royal icing transfers. Marlyn is much more experienced and she just piped the heads straight on the iced cookie, then air-brushed the details once it all set. But I just could not bring myself to take that route. Too risky. I made more little tiger heads than I would need, so I could mess some up and still have enough to do the platter. The orange color is also air-brushed lightly on the edges once the pattern is dry.

One of the details to pay attention to, is making sure the head is not too big for the cookie. I realize I could have made my a bit smaller. But still fit ok, and had enough space for the final decorations.

The other components all get airbrushed using Marlyn’s stencils, to facilitate piping all designs… My favorite part? The ideograms…

Airbrushing with a stencil is a very nice way to guide piping details, especially if the cookie involves a repeating pattern. It is hard to pipe with Royal icing using a projector because you cannot move the cookie as you do it. Air-brushing solve that problem. Or you can also use a pen to draw the design using the stencil to guide you.

Once all the components are ready, all that is left to do is painting the yellow parts with gold. That step is optional but it does add a lot of drama to the composition. You know, the good kind of drama.

The trickiest part of the cookie set for me was writing Happy New Year… very VERY tough. I need practice. Other than that, I had a reasonably smooth ride. It is the kind of project that cannot be rushed. Pick a weekend, go slowly, and enjoy the ride.

I had a few extra little tiger heads, and incorporated them in another, simple cookie. I iced the cookie with red, let that dry completely, air-brushed the design with a stencil using gold. Then I glued the tiger head in the center, and finished the cookie with a black border.

So there you have it,
The Year of the Tiger Cookie Platter!

LET THE HOLIDAY BAKES BEGIN!

I admit that I’m always finding little boo-boos in my cookie projects, but every once in a while a batch makes me totally happy… This was definitely one. A million thanks go to Haniela, I slightly adapted one of her recent productions shared during a Facebook live. You can check the full tutorial for her version here (starts at 7 min 30 sec).

Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way!

So there you have it, my favorite cookie project in the past few months…

First thing to do is get the Royal icing transfer decorations ready. They can be made days, weeks in advance. Basically you pipe little rounds with yellow icing, let that set and add a band of same color in the middle. The little balls must fully set before the next step, which is drawing with a food pen the little decorations. Hani shows exactly how to do them in the video (link in the initial paragraph of this post). I used gold luster powder mixed with vodka to highlight the central ribbon. The hexagon cookie is iced with white, and after overnight drying the plaid design was air-brushed using a stencil. After that, the branches and red ribbon are piped, and the jingle bells glued. I really love these cookies!

Stay tuned for more Holiday bakes coming your way!

A FAIRY COTTAGE COOKIE COMPOSITION

If you are serious about cookie decorating, I am sure you follow Amber, from @sweetambs. A while ago she posted a very special tutorial (exclusive to Patreon supporters) to make a Fairy Cottage cookie composition. A real masterpiece with quite a few steps. The thing that fascinated me the most was the pebble work on the surface of the house. You pipe each pebble individually as a Royal icing transfer, and then glue them to the cookie right after brushing some thick icing as a base. Each pebble is also painted with luster powder and vodka in black and brown, to make the final product even more realistic. I wanted to turn that into a pizza box concoction, so I reduced the dimensions of the house to fit inside the 7 x 7 inch box, and simplified the details a bit.

The two large cookies for the house were cut by hand, and I did the same for the small mushrooms, as I did not have any cookie cutter that would be compatible with the final dimension of the composition. Just make sure to keep an eye during baking because the small cookies will bake a lot faster.

The prep steps start with piping the pebbles with gray icing and letting them dry overnight. Paint them while still glued to the paper. Ice the walls and chimney, glue the pebbles. The hard work is done! The window panels were simple white icing painted later in yellow. The door was made with slightly thicker icing, to get some texture with a brush. Amber’s video is very detailed and you will have no issues following it. My favorite part was perhaps the roof, made with brush embroidery. Since the method allows the background to show, it is a nice touch to paint it brown with luster powder before proceeding with the embroidery step. Amber does a lot more to her fairy cottage in terms of details under the windows, and around the house, so make sure to check it out and be amazed. Here is the short version of her video, as posted on IG.

I hope you liked my Little Cottage, I am quite smitten with the pizza box format, which I find perfect to offer as a gift. That reminds me… I need to place another order at amazon for those boxes, because how could I risk running out of them?

TWO BUSY BEES

Amy and Amber

Two awesome “cookiers”, two different takes on bees. Each brought some new technique for yours truly to learn. With Amy, I got into pressure piping and brush embroidery, but on my first attempt, I did not do a very good job. Amber brought very elegant Royal icing transfers, and border piping.

For Amy’s version, the wings were made with a brush embroidery technique. You can see her demonstrating the technique and making three different types of bees in this Facebook live (starting around the 17 min mark).The body uses what is known as pressure piping. The Royal icing is on the thick side, and you keep pushing it out of the piping bag and allowing some shape to take place, moving the bag gently up and down to create a bit of texture. The bodies of my bees were not too bad, my problem was the brush embroidery. The icing was not thick enough. I re-visited the technique a few weeks later, applying it to a different shape of cookie (briefly letting go of those training wheels). In the name of genetic diversity, each wing was a little different…

A little overview of the steps to make this cookie. It is easier if you draw the basic design on the naked cookie and go from there. Add the eyes, mouth and blush to the bee’s face after the iced cookie is fully dry (12 to 24 hours).

Amber shared a very unusual and elegant cookie. Starting with the color, a beautiful shade of blue, not normally associated with bees. That already called my attention. The hive was piped wet-on-wet, and the bee component was a royal transfer painted in gold and bronze. All details available in her own blog (click here), and you can see an Instagram video here. She is a magician with Royal icing, her bee hive is sheer perfection.

The bees are super fragile, so I advise you to make more than you need, as they might break when you remove them from parchment.

Bees were the subject of a blog post not too long ago (following a tutorial from Amy), and I incorporated some of those elements in a new design, joining the blue color with a stencil, and adding bee and hive made from Amy’s templates of my past.

Both border piping and brush embroidery are techniques I struggle with, so these cookies gave me an opportunity to practice. Maybe there is a little light at the end of this tunnel…

SEE YOU IN THE NEXT POST!

SHARK ATTACK!

At some point this month it was Shark Week. I am horrible about keeping track of this type of stuff, and honestly I don’t really care. But when Amber made some super cool shark cookies, I decided that they can be featured anytime. Period. Her cookies are a lot more elaborate, using a tie-dye background. You can follow her tutorial on a Facebook live clicking here. The fun starts at exactly 5 min.

It all starts with the sharks made the day before using Royal icing transfers. You will need 4 colors + white just for that part. The shark template is available in her Patreon page.

I opted for a three color blue background to simplify it a bit. And also made a slightly different version, with ocean and sky.

The trickiest component is definitely the Royal icing transfer. When you see Amber making hers in the video, you realize how good she is at getting the consistency of the icing just right. I struggle a lot with it. In this batch of cookies, the icing for the transfers was a bit too thin, and the icing for the cookies a bit too thick. There you go.

Looks like my sharks had been swimming through rough waters. And they need braces… But, all joking aside, I loved making these cookies, learned a lot, and will definitely bring them back in the future. Now… what to do to get rid of an ear worm from a certain Spielberg’s movie?

THE FLAMINGO PRINCESS

She is flashy. She is self-confident. She is goofy and charming at the same time. Meet the Flamingo Princess, courtesy of Haniela.

This was super fun to make. Yes, I repeat myself, but what can I do? It’s been one fun project after another in this cookie adventure of mine. This one seems a little involved, but the glasses and the leaves must be made in advance (at least the day before so they can fully set), and the fondant molded flower doesn’t need a long time to set but it will also wait for you for days if it makes your life easier. The templates for the cookie as well as the glasses are available at Hani’s ko-fi shop, or you can use a regular strawberry cookie cutter, but then you must make sure the size of the glasses will work. A little adjustment might be needed when you print it out.

The glasses are made with black royal icing plus a little sparkle (I used Tourmaline Pink Prism Powder). Then the center is piped with electric green. Once that sets, all you need is to have your fondant decorations ready and painted, and flooding consistency icing in pink, yellow, black and white.

The beaks were piped free hand, but I have trouble judging size and keeping things similar from one cookie to the next. They can conceivably be made as Royal icing transfers, which would be my choice when I make them again.

I had one extra cookie that was decorated as its expected shape…

Hani, thanks for the constant inspiration,
and for your help and support online!