The technique of marbling using dots of gel color on the surface of Royal icing is a nice and straightforward method to generate colorful effects. Recently I saw Marlyn achieve a similar effect by swirling three batches of Royal icing with different colors. She did that on a baking sheet, to get a shallow surface, quite a bit easier to work with the cookies. It all ends up very smooth, with perfect coverage. I picked Halloween-friendly colors and coupled the marbling with spooky fondant decorations or silhouette painting. I ended up feeling pretty spooked. How about you?
This is how Marlyn does the marbling… It is very easy to coat the surface of the cookie when the icing is poured this way, and since the icing needs to be a bit thicker it also covers quite well.
From that point, you can add decorations while the icing is still wet, or wait and glue them later with Royal icing.
I tell you one thing, I will be sad when Halloween is over… So. Much. Fun.
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…
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.
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?…
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.
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…