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.
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:
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 It is somewhat outdated now; the latest-greatest thing in image projection for cakes and cookies is the Pico projector.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:
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.
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!