Star Trek cookies

My youngest son is having a space camp party for his 10th birthday, so he wanted Star Trek cookies to take to his class. Fortunately for me, he was happy with cute rather than realistic. 🙂

I started with my cookie cutter, tracing around it on a piece of paper so that I could design my cookies. If you look closely, you’ll see that there are lots of erase marks! I changed my mind a couple times about how I wanted my characters to look. With Spock, I drew multiple eyebrows and mouths. He has those iconic eyebrows, but when his eyes are dots, it’s really hard not to make him look mad! So I tried giving him a smile. I didn’t even take a pic, it was that creepy. He looked diabolical. I erased the smile and decided I was fine with mad.

The whole crew:

Don’t they look just like their picture?? (Well, no, not actually, but that’s ok, the idea was conveyed, which was what I was after.)

I didn’t love the head size on my cutter, so my drawings are actually the body of one cutter, and the head of a bigger cutter. When you’re going for cute characters, big heads win.

You might be able to tell from the clean cuts that this dough is chilled. I HIGHLY recommend chilling your dough if you are going to frankencookie your shapes! I didn’t initially, and it caused much weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth. (Well, maybe not the weeping and wailing part, but there may have been some teeth gnashing for a while there…)

Once your cookies are baked and cooled, decorate in sections to create definition. (I traced lines on my cookies using a black food pen and my faithful Kopykake. You can use other transfer methods if you don’t have a Kopykake (or Pico), like I talk about in my Image Transfer Techniques post.)

Once the pants and face dried, I added the shirt and the hair (exception with the order for Spock, see below.) As soon as the face dried completely, which took a couple hours in front of a fan, I added icing dots for eyes, and mouths (and Spock’s eyebrows) with food coloring pen.

Here are a few differences, depending on how you want your cookies to look:

For Spock, I knew that doing his face or hair first would make a small difference, but I wasn’t sure which way I would want it, so I did some of both. The Spock on the left I did face first, then hair; the Spock on the right I did the hair, then the face. You can see that the right-hand Spock has slightly pointier hair. I preferred the look of doing the hair first for that reason, but this is personal preference.

Sometimes doing character cookies with only eyes gives a very cute look. I tried that with my Kirk cookies. For this set, I preferred the additional personality that a mouth gave. Again, personal preference.

For Chekov, I experimented with painting silver luster dust (mixed with extract) onto the Star Trek symbol. I loved it. I always love sparkly stuff. However, since I was finishing these at 2am, I sadly (wisely?) decided I needed to reign myself in, so only one cookie got the sparkle.

The kids in my son’s class were super excited about the cookies! They recognized the cookies instantly; the colors and the Star Trek symbol are the magic for recognizeability.

Cat cookies–the hard way and the easy way

I wanted to make some cat cookies, and I wanted them to be perfect, so I set about it very methodically. Here are my steps, allowing about 5 minutes in between each one for drying:

Ok, well, I guess no drying after this one. 🙂 Notice the cat in the upper right-hand corner? I started doing the face, and then thought “Oh wait, it’s silly to take all that extra time when I’m just going to be flooding over it!” So I didn’t do any other faces. However, it is ironic that I thought that; keep going and you’ll see why…

I wanted some color on the tail, so I flooded the end grey, filled in the rest of the tail with white, and then used my boo boo stick to blend them a little.

Notice the dimension I’m getting by waiting for each section to dry? I did them one section at a time, top down, rather than every other section, because I wanted to have the appearance that the paws were in the foreground, with everything else receding. Whatever you pipe last tends to have the appearance of being in front, what you pipe second-to-last looks second-to-front, and so on.

See? It’s working. Those little paws look like they’re in front, and everything else has lovely dimension receding on back.

At this point, I let the cats dry overnight. The next day, I experimented with what I wanted to pipe vs what I wanted to use food coloring pen for. If you look carefully at all the different cats, you’ll see one has a piped face (which I didn’t love), the rest have drawn faces; some have piped whiskers, some have drawn; one has drawn paws, the rest are piped… you get the idea. Pick your favorite look.

All those careful steps, and I have cute happy kitties! The joke was on me, though. Can you see it yet? Remember all my effort to get that dimension? Can you tell it’s there once I have piped outlines (which I knew I wanted to do from the start)? Noooo! As a matter of fact, the dimension made piping around everything kind of a headache, because the piped lines would fall squiggly into the grooves. So, here’s what I learned: if you plan to pipe outlines anyway, for heaven’s sake make your life easier (and quicker!) and flood the entire thing so it’s flat and easy to pipe around! 🙂

So you have the hard way in pictures; here’s the easy way: draw your outline, flood the whole silly thing, then when it’s dry, pipe away! (As a side note, I like my piping icing to be about toothpaste consistency.)

Happy kitty-cookie-ing! 🙂

Stained glass butterfly cookies

Back in the summer of 2015, I was excitedly planning for my second CookieCon, which was held in Salt Lake City in November of 2015. I had a vision in my head, inspired by some cookies I had seen at my first CookieCon. I wanted to make a stained glass cookie, and I wanted it to be a peacock. I didn’t know how to do it, but I figured I could just search it up with Google.

Well, many hours later I had discovered that it wasn’t that easy. Either there just wasn’t that much out there, or I didn’t know where to look. Finally I ran across a hint–someone mentioned, in some comments beneath a stained glass cookie that I found online, that they had used corn syrup. I didn’t know anything beyond that, but with that information, I set to work experimenting.

I wasn’t sure about the application of color with corn syrup, so I did what seemed easiest to me and mixed food color drops right in to a little puddle of corn syrup. I discovered that a little color goes a long way when mixed with corn syrup, but mixing it right in worked great. My next question was dilution. Did I need to mix water in? Well, I tried, and it seemed pretty runny. So then I tried another corn syrup/color puddle with less water, and that worked better. After some experimenting, I came up with the way that worked best for me–I dipped my paint brush in a little water, then in to the un-diluted corn syrup, and it was just right.

Stained glass cookies are so lovely, and are surprisingly easy to do, so I wanted to do a tutorial to encourage you to give it a try! Plan for extra time–they are time-consuming–but they aren’t difficult.

Begin with your iced and completely dried cookie. Next, trace around your cutter to give you a template, and then start experimenting with patterns.

Once you have a pattern you like, use your piping consistency icing to make your “lead” lines. I started with grey icing, since I knew I wanted silver lines.

I used my Kopykake to be able to be exact and work quickly, but you can just use your pattern as a visual guide and pipe freehand.

Once your lines are completely dried (I waited overnight), here’s what you’ll need:

Light corn syrup, food-only paint brushes, a palate, food coloring, a small bowl of water, and some paper towels.

I dedicated a paintbrush to each color because I didn’t want my red and blue getting mixed. Pick up corn syrup/food color mix with a damp paintbrush, and paint carefully into sections. Because of the dividing lines, I did not find it necessary to let sections dry before working on adjoining sections. It is difficult to see in this picture, but I did do corn syrup in the white sections. Initially I tried mixing white food color into corn syrup (you can see it in the well to the left of the bottom blue), but the white food color dulled the gloss of the corn syrup. (No other colors that I have used have done this, just white.) So I used uncolored corn syrup for the white sections.

Once all the sections are colored/filled, painting the lead lines really finishes the cookie. I mixed edible silver luster dust with vanilla extract, and used a clean paintbrush to paint the grey lines. The extract will evaporate and the silver will get clumpy; when that happens, add a little more extract to your silver and keep painting.

The finished product!

The possibilities are endless with this technique!

 

 

Cute Halloween Critters–Hedgehogs

I signed up to make cookies for my son’s 5th grade Halloween party, and envisioned cookies with cute little woodland animals trick-or-treating. I thought of lots of different animals, but in the end, I went with a hedgehog, a fox, and a bunny.

I knew I wanted to do a hedgehog, they’re so dang cute! But I was having trouble figuring out what costume to put my little hedgehog in. I drew a sketch of a ghost hedgehog. My vision of it was so cute! The drawing looked more like a Star Wars mouse droid with eyes. Scratch that idea. So, I headed to an idea bank–my 12-year-old daughter. I asked her how the hedgehog should dress for Halloween. “A witch, mom! Flying in front of the moon!” Poof, problem solved! 🙂

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To make this little guy, I first airbrushed the background. Using blank plastic sheets that I purchased online, I traced a circle cookie cutter, then cut out the circle shape. I sprayed the whole cookie yellow, and then–once the yellow had dried a little–I held my plastic circle in the middle, and airbrushed around with–purple. Yep, purple! It makes a fantastic soft black on top of the yellow, and then people eating the cookies don’t get black tongues. (Or, at least they are less black. 🙂 )

Since I wanted the buckle on the hat to have some edible glitter, I made some royal icing transfers next. hedgehog_ritransfers

I put my hedgehog drawing under some wax paper, then– using the buckle in my drawing as a guide–piped the little rectangle. Then I slid my wax paper over, and piped another. I kept going until I had about 5 or 6, at which point I sprinkled some edible glitter on. Then I moved my wax paper to where there wasn’t a pile of glitter, and piped another row. I made a lot more than I needed in case of breakage/goofy-shaped buckles (which I have a few of in this row). Then I set my buckles aside to dry while I went on to my hedgehog.

First I piped the light brown of his face/body, only filling in his foreground feet (I also piped his little nose at this point). I did about a dozen cookies, giving time for the first ones to dry when I came back to them to fill in his prickles. The dark brown was a slightly thicker icing so that I could use my boo-boo stick to pull little “pokes” upward.

Next, since the body had had time to dry slightly, I went back and filled in his background feet. The body being dried a little allowed the background feet to be separate, giving him dimension.

The black of the hat came next. After I had piped that, I did the broom handle. Then, I jumped back up to do the ribbon on the hat. While it was still wet, I used some cookie-only tweezers to carefully pick up the royal icing transfer, and place it on to the hat.

Close to finished! The broom straw came next. I used thick yellow royal icing, so the lines did not run in to each other, but looked like separate pieces of straw. Then I piped the brown across for the lash holding the straw together.

The finishing touches were his little eyes and mouth. I gave the eyes a tiny dot of white after the black had dried a little. I let the cookie dry completely overnight, then, using a black food coloring pen, drew on his mouth.

The hedgehogs were finished! On to the next trick-or-treater!

Pumpkins

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When autumn rolls around, I get so excited to make pumpkin cookies! Sometimes I like scary, sometimes cute. This year was a cute year.

To make the yellow pumpkins, you will be using a wet-on-wet technique, which just means you pipe a second layer of icing while the first layer is still wet. I started by using a food color pen to draw guide lines (figure 1). For me, it is much easier to work quickly doing wet-on-wet if I have a guide.

Next, I used my flood icing (mine was about 10 count) to outline then fill the center section. I used my boo boo stick to shape the icing and pop any bubbles, then using my white, while the yellow was still wet, I dropped in my dots. I then did the same thing for each of the sides (figure 2). If you had runnier flood icing, and worked very quickly, you could do all three sections yellow before dropping in your dots, but it takes the stress out of it for me to do one section at a time. That way I can take my time to make sure my dots are just so. 🙂

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Allow the dots sections to dry for a few minutes (I put mine in front of a tabletop fan to help things along), then fill in your yellow sections (figure 3).

If you’re uncomfortable tempting fate, you could allow your cookie to dry completely at this point before piping your stem and vines. I was impatient, so I only let mine dry for about 10 minutes in front of the fan before I piped the stem and vines (figure 4). If you are like me, just make sure to not touch your icing tip to the cookie when you do the vines, but allow the icing to drop down from just above the cookie as you pipe. I used a thicker consistency icing, about 20 count, to do my piping. I wanted definition with my stem, so I piped every other line, gave those a minute to set up, then piped in the spaces.

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For the orange pumpkins, I did the sections just like the yellow, minus the polka dots. I let my pumpkins dry for about 20 minutes, then used my airbrush to give definition by spraying orange along the section lines and around the edges. Once the pumpkins were dry, and this time I allowed them to dry completely, I used a white food pen to make stitch marks. Since you can’t buy a white food pen, I used Anita’s fantastic technique for making white food pens. Finally, I piped in the stems and vines.

Happy pumpkin season! 🙂

Marbled leaf cookies

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Marbled cookies are all the rage lately, at least according to my instagram feed. The first time they popped up, I fell absolutely in love. I’ve known that I wanted to try this technique for months, but I kept not getting around to it. Then when autumn-themed cookies started showing up, I knew I had to do marbled leaves! This was the first time I have dipped cookies; for a fantastic tutorial on dipping cookies, check out SweetShopNatalie’s tutorial.

I wanted to try two slightly different techniques. First, inspired by Nutmegandhoneybee, I squirted small blobs of different food colorings on to a plate, then used a (cookies only) paintbrush to swirl the colors in to a bowl of thinned (5-7 count) white royal icing. leaves_white_marbled_bowl

I tried using a boo boo stick to swirl the colors around in the icing, but found that that muddied the colors. The colors on the leaves came out better for me when I added a little more color to the icing after every couple of leaves. Also, swirling the icing in the bowl or painting the color in careful patterns wasn’t necessary to get pretty swirls on the cookies; after I dipped the cookies, I twisted my hand slightly to help the excess run off, and that made nice swirls all on its own. (As a side note, don’t try scraping the icing off on the side of the bowl to get rid of the excess, because it will definitely mess up your pretty cookie! Not that I would know from experience or anything. 🙂 )

After I dipped the cookies and they dried slightly, I mixed a little gold luster dust with some orange extract, dipped a paintbrush, and flicked gold on by running my fingers along the end of the brush. Because, you know, everything is better with bling. 🙂 (You could use any flavor extract; I just thought the orange would go best with my icing flavor.)

I also wanted to see what the cookies would look like if I used colored icing instead of food coloring for the swirls.

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For these cookies, I drizzled yellow, orange, and red food coloring in to my green. Just like the previous cookies, I found that it didn’t matter how I drizzled the icing, and that trying to swirl the icing in the bowl of green just muddied the colors. Instead, I added more drizzles of icing after every couple of cookies, and that kept the colors from turning muddy. I found that, since the frosting colors weren’t as bright as the food color straight from the bottle, this technique made for more muted-colored swirls. I still liked the soft look, though. And of course, I had to add bling. 🙂

If you give this a try, make sure to have lots of paper towels nearby, because your fingers will get MESSY! The end result is so much fun, though, the mess doesn’t even matter!

Which look do you like better?

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Image Transfer Techniques

Sometimes you’re happy just inventing designs on your cookies as you go. But other times, you’re making something specific, maybe many of them, and you want them to look the same. Or you are doing character cookies, and it would be really nice if they looked like the characters people expected to see, not free-handed approximations.

Enter image transfer techniques! I just finished these wedding cookie favors, for which I used my favorite technique: image projection. I own a Kopykake, which is a projector for cakes and cookies. You insert your image into two little clips, turn it on, and voila! Your image is projected onto your cake or cookie.

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There were 250 of them, and as they were wedding favors, it kind of mattered that they match. There’s no way my bows would have all looked the same if I had tried to freehand them. (The bride found these cookies on Sweetsugarbelle’s page and fell in love with them.)

First, using a ruler and a food decorator pen, I traced the lines for the white “ribbon” onto the naked cookie (I used the Kopykake to project where the lines went so they would all be in the same place, and the same width, on each cookie). I then iced the blue, let it dry a little, then filled in the white. I was working in large batches, so I would do the blue on about 50 cookies, then go back to do the white, so the first cookies were pretty dry when I got back to them.

I then let the cookies dry overnight, and the next day, I put my cookie under my handy-dandy Kopycake, and this is what I had:

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I filled in one side of the bow, then the other, and after the bow had dried for 10 minutes or so, I could go back and add the little dot in the middle.

For as many cookies as I was doing, the Kopykake was invaluable. It is somewhat outdated now; the latest-greatest thing in image projection for cakes and cookies is the Pico projector. I don’t own one, since I’m so happy with my Kopykake, but I do know that the Picos are liked for their small size (the Kopykake is quite bulky). If you don’t have a projector and you are considering buying one, the Kopykake and the Pico are the two products to research.

But what if you don’t have a projector, and don’t do enough decorating to justify sinking a few hundred dollars in to one? Never fear, there are other techniques! The next technique I want to talk about is the one I used on these guys, who were some of the very first royal icing cookies I ever did:

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Since I was so new to cookie decorating when I did these, I didn’t own any fancy cookie decorating tools. For these cookies, I used the push-pin method.

I started with an image of the bird or piggie I was working on (you can draw or print an image) in the size I wanted it to be for the cookie. Then, using a pin, I poked little holes through the paper onto the cookie where the outline of my character was, kind of like a dot-to-dot picture. Once I filled in the base (green for piggies, red/white or yellow/white for birds), and the base was dried, I carefully placed my paper over the cookie, making sure my paper was aligned with my icing base. Then, I used the pin to again poke tiny holes through the paper, this time into the icing, for where the details should go.

Two things to note here: you must have a completely dry base for this to work, and you are poking guides, not the whole picture. If you look carefully at my pig snouts, you’ll see that the nostrils are all in the same location, but not all the same shape. That is because I just poked one hole right in the middle of the nostril, not a circle of dots outlining the shape of the nostril. The result is not-quite-identical, but for this purpose, I was okay with that.

The next method I want to talk about, I don’t have a name for. I will call it the paper cut-out method. Technical sounding, right?

For these cookies, I started with my image, which I created by tracing around my cookie cutter onto a piece of paper, then drawing in where I wanted the lines to go on the fleur de lis. Then, I cut out the center shape (the blue). I placed my blue shape on the cookie, using the shape of the cookie as my guide, and traced around it with a food marker. Then I was able to pipe the blue and white using the marker lines as my guide.

Fleur de lis

I have run across another technique which I have not tried, but which looks great, which I would call the tissue paper method. Cookies with Character has a great post about it, which you can find here.

So there you have it, a variety of techniques for transferring images to your cookies!

Chalkboard cookies

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Chalkboard cookies are so much fun! They can be cute or classy; they’re customizable for any occasion; they have “wow” factor; and the best part: they’re super easy to make!

You can go ahead and ice the cookies with black royal icing, but then you have to wait multiple hours for the cookies to completely dry before writing on them, and they have the “black mouth” problem. (Though maybe that’s great for Halloween!)

My favorite way to get the “chalkboard” on the cookies is with a paintbrush. Dip a paintbrush (that is dedicated to food only, of course) into a thinner consistency black royal icing, and paint your cookie until you have a thin coating that completely covers your cookie. I find that my cookies look best if I keep my brush strokes in one direction (with this cookie, I went horizontally). If you discover that you’ve put too much “paint” onto your cookie, just wipe off your brush with a paper towel, and remove some of the icing.

Now comes my favorite part–in a matter of minutes, your cookie will be dry enough to decorate! No waiting, yay!

If you have a very steady hand, you can paint the white onto your cookie. I mix white food coloring with white food color powder for a brighter white when I paint my chalkboard cookies. Or, you can use this fabulous food pen method by the wonderful Anita of Eat, Think, and Be Merry, which is how I did this cookie. You can decorate the chalk to be whatever you want: pictures, words, monograms, etc. If you’re going to be doing any lettering, unless you are blessed with beautiful handwriting (which I am not), I would recommend printing out (or at least writing out on paper) what you would like to paint/draw onto your cookie, so you have a guide to look at.

I actually did my “wood” border before I did my writing, but you could also do the border afterward. Since I knew I wanted to airbrush a wood-grain effect onto my cookies, I figured it would be easier to do before I had the writing on. First I iced the border in brown, then once that dried (ok, yes, there is some waiting if you do things this way 🙂 ), I covered the chalkboard with a little rectangle of paper. I probably didn’t need to, but I didn’t want to take chances. Then I held my wood grain stencil and sprayed my brown airbrush color, turning my cookie so that I sprayed horizontally along each section of the frame. (If you don’t own an airbrush, this can also be done with food coloring spray.)

And there you are! One chalkboard cookie, ready to be admired, and then eaten! 🙂

Happy 4th of July!

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Somehow, 4th of July cookies just didn’t happen this year, so I am posting some patriotic butterflies I made a couple years ago. The stars are from a jar of red, white, and blue sprinkle stars (those poor red and blue ones, I’ll have to find some way to use them). I used my cookie tweezers (regular tweezers, but dedicated to only-cookie use) to place the stars when the blue was still wet.

The gold butterfly bodies are painted on (again, dedicated paint brushes). I mixed gold luster dust with lemon extract and then painted away! As the lemon extract evaporates, you have to pour tiny amounts back in to your mixture, or your gold gets all gloppy. Also, the icing for the bodies is a yellow color–I’ve found that I get a better gold if I start with something close rather than plain white (which makes for a very pale gold when painted).

Alternatively, you could pipe the bodies first, let them dry, and spray with gold food color spray (such as Wilton gold), then pipe the wings afterward.

Happy 4th of July! 🙂