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! 🙂

Soccer ball cookies

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These soccer ball cookies surprised me by being just about my most popular cookies, so I thought I’d write a post on them. They seem so simple–just two colors, easy pattern–but they can be a bit of a headache, so hopefully these tips will make life easier if you make your own soccer ball cookies.

The first time I made soccer ball cookies, I purchased a special soccer ball cutter, the kind that imprints the shapes onto the cookies. I thought if the pattern was already there, it would make icing them easier. For me at least, that was not the case. The lines wound up being mini canyons that made my icing go wonky as I piped. Plus, any time you use a cutter that indents, there are more cut-out “tragedies” than you get with a regular cutter. After a couple of tries with that cutter, I decided it wasn’t worth the headache.

I switched to a circle cutter. Instant happiness! Since circle cutters come in a large variety of sizes, I could make any size soccer cookie I wanted. But what about the pattern? I’m sure there are cookie folks out there that could free-hand the soccer ball pattern and it would look fabulous, but I’m not one of them. Using a food color pen, I drew the pattern onto the cookies. (I prefer to use light colors like orange or pink so they don’t show up as much if I accidentally miss covering one of the lines with icing.) My daughter was helping with this part, so she traced the pattern for me. That’s a great low-stress (for me) way for the “helpers” to help. 🙂

For tracing the pattern, I have a kopykake, which I LOVE. It is essentially a projector for cakes and cookies, though it’s not the latest-greatest; that would be the Pico (handheld projector). Not owning one, I can’t compare the two, but I have been happy enough with my kopykake that I haven’t switched. Anyhoo, if you don’t have a kopykake, there are other pattern transfer techniques (which I will cover in another post).

Once the pattern was on, it was time to pipe. But being somewhat OCD, I wanted to know the BEST way to pipe the cookies: pipe the outline and color first, and then fill in the white; fill the white spaces then pipe the color; or flood the cookie white and pipe the colored parts on top? Well, of course I had to try all three to find out. Here is a picture with all three types:

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For the cookie on the bottom left, I first filled in the white (alternately, leaving some time for the first white hexagons to dry before I added ones adjacent; that way there is dimension), and then piped the blue. That turned out to have some of the same problems that I encountered using the imprint soccer ball cookie cutter. It left little “canyons” that tended to make my lines go wonky; if you look closely, you can see that some of the piped lines are not smooth.

Next, I tried flooding a cookie white, waiting for it to dry, then piping the blue parts. That is the top cookie. That method made for very crisp lines, but lacked the dimension that I was after.

Finally, I tried piping the blue lines and hexagons, letting them dry a little, then filling in the white (bottom right cookie). Success! It left me my tidy dark lines, while giving the dimension I had been after. That method was my winner! I did need to fiddle the the white into the corners to make the lines crisp, which I did with my boo boo stick, but it was worth the extra time. (You could use a tooth pick, but you will go through them as they start to get soggy. I’m in love with the boo boo stick because I only need to buy a couple, and they are reusable pretty much indefinitely.)

Hopefully these tips help you with your own soccer ball cookies!