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 FRIDA KAHLO

Born July 6th, 1907

A great Mexican painter with a life-story plagued by serious health problems and chronic pain, she was famous for her self-portraits, all very colorful, showcasing her beautiful, profound eyes and dark hair. This post joins a few “Frida-cookies” I’ve made using two different methods: traditional Royal icing flooding and piping, or drawing with a mini-projector.

To cut the shapes I used this set from Sugarbelle. Those are very small – not quite 2 inches – perfect for those who just like a little taste of sweets, or as decoration details in cookie platters.

By joining two flowers with Frida’s head, the resulting cookie is about 3.5 x 2.2 inches, still small as far as cookies are concerned.

A very detailed tutorial can be found at Sugarbelle blog with a click here. I cannot lie to you, they were a lot more work than they seemed. Mainly because there are several colors. In addition to the flooding consistency you’ll need red, yellow and black in piping consistency (for the hair and roses), and green in stiff consistency (for the leaves). You will be dealing with a lot of piping bags and tips. But it was worth it! I really like the way they turned out.

Moving on, I used some of the countless images of Frida available in the internet to work with my mini-projector, after flooding the cookies with a pink or white Royal icing base and allowing it to set overnight.

I think the stick format is pretty nice to showcase Frida, and I like to imagine she would love some red roses too… Painting was done with food pens and luster powder + everclear.

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!

FUN WITH ROYAL ICING LEFTOVERS

No matter how carefully we calculate the amount of Royal icing to make of each color needed, there will always be some amount left in the bag. Some people have the patience to turn them into sprinkles. I have zero interest in doing that. However, Marlyn found out a perfect use for leftovers: spread a thin layer on parchment paper, let that dry overnight, and break into pieces. In this post, I share two examples of cookies using crumbled dried royal icing as part of the decoration. Full credit to Marlyn for coming up with such cool ideas. I close the post with a little hexagon-departure that I hope will inspire you for the 4th of July.

TERRAZZO COOKIES
(Instagram video available here)

BICOLOR HEXAGON COOKIES

Starting with the Terrazzo cookies, you will need a little parchment paper cut in the shape of your cookie. Distribute the pieces on top in any arrangement you like, any color combination. Gently cover with white Royal icing, place the cookie on top, and flip the whole thing over. Let it dry overnight (very important). Peel the paper off and then all you need to do is make the edges neat with a boo-boo stick or a microplane, and finalize a decoration on the edges. A little Diamond dust is always a nice final touch too. Make sure to watch Marlyn’s video to get a better understanding about how it all works.

It can be a little tricky to get the pieces to stay in the place you want them to be, and also to make sure the icing does not sip too much under the pieces. I did not get cookies as beautiful as Marlyn’s (check her IG video here), but I am still pretty happy with them. After making the edges straight, you can add icing and sanding sugar to get the final look.

The bicolor is quite a bit simpler to make and I also love the effect, very modern. The coral color got a bit of air-brush while still wet, a technique I’ve been using often. Again, this step is optional, but it does add a lot to the design.

Once both sides set, pipe the center with white Royal icing and lay the pieces on top. One more little detail about the icing fragments: before crumbling into pieces, I followed Marlyn’s tip and air-brushed the dried layer with a little gold. The step is optional, of course, but it adds a nice shimmer.

This basic pattern works with many different types of decorations, I’ve used the crumbles, nonpareils, and sanding sugar for variety.

As I promised in the beginning of this post, here is my little departure on this design, adapting it for the upcoming holiday of 4th of July.

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)

CHERRY BLOSSOM BUTTERFLIES

I promised you more butterflies, and here I am to deliver them. Haniela skillfully joined one beautiful springtime theme (the cherry blossom) with one gorgeous creature of our planet to come up with these unique cookies. Her tutorial can be found on youtube, or a more detailed version on her Patreon page. I made just a minor modification by using fondant molded blossoms instead of Royal icing transfers.

The sugar cookies were made with my default recipe, flavored with Sakura extract and a little vanilla. The mold I used for the flowers was from this store at etsy.com, but it is currently unavailable. Amazon has several types that might work, like this one.

The molded flowers were painted with luster powder in two tones of pink and the center got a touch of Egyptian gold. After the cookies are flooded and decorated using black and white Royal icing, they are allowed to crust before the final decorations are added: brown tree branches and green small leaves. Finally, glue the flowers, and you are done. Haniela added additional decoration to the wings of her butterflies, but I simplified mine a bit, knowing my limitations.

The molded blossoms will also work well on a simple white butterfly. I painted the body in Egyptian gold for additional contrast. And bling. Because bling makes a baker sing… (sorry, could not resist).

If you want the whole truth, this white butterfly was born because I ran out of black icing. There. Confession is good, I feel a lot better.

SUGAR COOKIES: THE GROOVY SERIES

I dedicate this post to Dr. Aritri Majumdar.

From black and white, I do a 180. This time is all about color. The mini-projector is the easiest way to deal with all the designs, so if you are seriously into cookie decorating, I must tell you this little gadget will shake your world, in a very positive way… Please, sit back and let me show you some of the cookies that happened in our kitchen in the past few weeks.

Mandalas are wonderful to play with…

And you don’t have to limit yourself to simple circular shapes, the same basic style can be applied to many different designs…

Mandala or not, just embrace the colors, and have fun!

All cookies were made either with my default Neat Edges recipe, or the recently blogged Spicy Chocolate Cookie. For decoration, links to the food safe pens and luster powders can all be found in the end of this post.

SUGAR COOKIES: BLACK AND WHITE SERIES

One of the things I love the most is to bake a bunch of cookies without anything specific in mind. I cut them in different shapes, flood them with white Royal icing, and wait 24 hours for the icing to fully set. At that point, the fun begins. Whenever I feel like it (but with my cappuccino first thing in the morning is a favorite time), I decorate a few of them. You know I love colorful stuff, but there’s something to be said about a simple, black and white design. I share a few today, all made in the past few weeks.

All you need is a fine tip food safe black pen. My favorite for this type of work is this one. If you don’t have a projector, any design can be transferred using tissue paper, like Tanya, Tent-Baker-Extraordinaire, shows in her sweet video here. For more complicated designs, you won’t need to transfer every single line, you can do the overall frame and then fill in by hand with the fine pen.

Wild cats are a nice subject for the black and white approach…

But other animals will do great too…

If you are a horse person, a dog person, a cat person, there’s always the right cookie for you!

I also like to do a minimal painting sometimes, on a mostly black and white design…

The internet is an endless source of cool images, I save them and slowly work my way through. I close this post with perhaps my favorite image of this group, although the wolf put up a huge fight…