PLAYING WITH LEAVES

Inspired by a recent Facebook live from Haniela, this is a fun, unique way to decorate a simple leaf-shaped cookie. A mixture of textures, colors, and sprinkles come together to play with the basic design. Some cookies used the perforated mat as a component of the design, similar to what I shared in the latest online class by Amy (click here). Haniela used piped Royal icing flowers, I went with fondant decorations.

The cookie in the center is from the Mother’s Day Florals shared a couple of weeks ago (see post here).

For some of the cookies, the leaf was divided in two, the background painted with gold (or lightly brushed with a thin layer of green royal icing), and after flooding the other half, cookie crumbs dyed with green were added for textural contrast. Haniela’s tutorial goes over every detail of all these designs. Video available here.

Texture can also be added by laying a piece of crumpled parchment paper on wet Royal icing, and allowing that to set overnight. Once the paper is gently peeled off, the texture stays on the surface. Pretty cool technique. You see those in the picture below.

They can form a nice trio by coupling with a happy sun cookie, made with a spider-web cutter
(design by Marlyn, from Montreal Confections).

And the set below would be perfect for a Mother’s Day gift…

I love the use of the perforated mat to help decorate a cookie, and have some ideas for future projects using this approach. Stay tuned!

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.

DREAM CATCHER FLORAL

One of my favorite cookies of the past couple of months, I saw this design on a post in Facebook, and made my own. I simplified by using fondant flowers instead of piping them. It is not exactly a dream catcher motif, but I suppose it’s close enough….

You’ll need to get those fine lines going, the finer you can get them, the better the outcome. I went as fine as I could, but intend to repeat this type of design in the future and aim higher. Or, maybe I should say aim finer? 😉

It all starts with a frame-shape cookie cutter flooded in red. Then just eye-ball the design, going down the cookie in rows, as shown in the composite below.

For one of them, I tried to do a more complex pattern, that could have worked better with finer lines. Still, for a first attempt, I like the way they turned out. Once you have the lines piped, get some fondant flower and add them with a tiny bit of Royal icing. The leaves were piped with thick consistency icing and a very small leaf tip from Ateco (ST50).

Since I had the fine lines going, I did one more design over white background. I think they go well together.

I visualize similar designs with a background in Americolor Wedgewood, or Dusty Rose, or even a simple gold, flowers with different shapes and colors. Perfect for Mother’s Day, or just to offer to a special friend.

ONE YEAR AGO: Fun with the Mini-Projector

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.

HAPPY ST. PATRICK’S DAY!

May your blessings outnumber the shamrocks that grow.
And may trouble avoid you wherever you go.”

This year I was not able to indulge in baking St. Patrick’s cookies, in part because we were away on a trip. But I could not resist making a small batch, inspired by a recent video posted by Amber (link here). Irish Coffee, anyone? Perhaps Irish Cupcakes suit you better? I changed slightly the decoration but kept most elements the same. The tiny shamrocks are prepared as Royal icing transfers the day before using medium consistency and a piping tip #2. I brushed some with luster powder (Green Touch, by The Sugar Art).

The Irish Coffee design is actually a “franken-cookie”: a coffee cup joined with the top of the small cupcake, also included in this group. Keep in mind that it makes a pretty large cookie, but I find the design very clever. Credit of course must go to Amber. I used a stencil to decorate the coffee cup, and just piped lines on the little cupcake.

For a little more inspiration, I share cookies made last year, when I did not have a cookie-dedicated blog, so they all went into the Bewitching Kitchen spot.

A jar with shamrocks, also inspired by Amber…

A few shamrocks and clover leaves decorated in different ways…

“May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind be always at your back.”

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.

CARDINALS IN A TREE: A PIZZA BOX SET

Marlyn first shared this tutorial last August in her Patreon site (you can also watch a simplified version here). At the time I felt a bit intimidated by all the details, and kept postponing the making of it. I said to myself “maybe I can do it before the end of this coming winter.” With a little more than 1 month to spare, I finally went for it… And now of course, I think I should have done it sooner!

Let me walk you through the steps… It all starts with baking the base cookies cutting them according to the template that Marlyn designed. Additionally, two cardinal cookies that will fit together, and the decorative corner pieces.

Added details are the cute acorn pieces, made by coating brown M&Ms with Royal icing, using a small petal tip. And if you look closer, you’ll see she uses a technique to add white splatter on the blue base, mimicking snow falling.

The corner pieces are decorated with piping consistency green and brown…

And of course, the most important component is the cardinal couple…

The whole design is very clever… The branches are piped following the separation between the base components, and once that is fully set, Marlyn gilds the lily further: piping green leaves and adding a little snow on top of the branches, white icing + sanding sugar.

Of course, the cardinal cookies stand alone without any problem… I love them so much!

OF GNOMES AND UNICORNS

To open the month of February, I bring two mythical creatures I am quite fond of. The gnomes were adaptations from a recent tutorial during a Facebook live with Hani (click here to watch, it starts at 21 minutes). The unicorn was my own design, using a stencil made with Cricut. I have a rocky relationship with my Cricut, he’s been mean to me a few times, and deeply hurt my feelings. But then, the unicorn happened, and we are in good terms again. Until next storm. Which may or may not be already brewing…

DESIGN #1
HANI’S GNOMES

These were designed by Haniela, she used a cute little envelope as decoration, made with royal icing transfers. I had some fondant hearts hanging around, and decided to put them to use. The noses are made with Royal icing transfers, or you can pipe after the base is set, which is what I did for the feet and hands.

His name is Felix…
He is the guardian of measuring spoons…

DESIGN #2
SALLY’S UNICORN

This is a large cookie, because I wanted to have enough space to pipe the design. After flooding in white and allowing the base to fully set, I used my stencil to air-brush in a sheen, light gold color, just to guide the piping.

Next, the lines were piped in gray using a Wilton 3 icing tip so that they would end up thick and form a solid margin to flood in colors later. The eyebrows were painted black with a food safe pen.

So here they are, my mythical little creatures ready to celebrate a season of love!

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!

SMITTEN KITTEN MITTENS

Winter is here to stay for a while. Time to get warm, sit by the fireplace, perhaps with a kitten cuddling nearby. Kitten-Mittens were born following a tutorial from Marlyn, blue mittens were my departure from her basic design from another of her instructional videos.

This is actually the second time I’ve made these cookies, the first time (about 8 months ago) I did not have a stencil cutter, so my design was compromised, the facial features too big. Now that I am the happy owner of a Cricut, I could use Marlyn’s stencils to air-brush the eyes, nose, and whiskers.

As you can see, air-brushing does two things for the design: guides the piping, and creates a nice little “shadow” underneath. With Marlyn, it’s all about details!

Closing this post, a couple of mittens made during my recent Snowflake adventure

That is all for now, stay warm, and bake some cookies!