Dear Yankee Girl - How Do You Construct A Cookie?

This past month, I received the sweetest email from Belle of Belleissimo Cookies in Australia. She asked me how I "construct" a cookie. To explain her question a bit more, this is an excerpt from her email:

 

“One of the things that stumps me is knowing how to put a cookie together. I often have a design in mind [or] see a picture or something that I want to cookie, but then struggle with how to put it together.  Knowing where to start can be the hardest part.”

 

This is a GREAT topic and one that I feel is probably pertinent to a lot of you. I could ramble on and on about this topic, but that’d probably be boring. So, I’ll just show you how I do it, pointing out my reasons as I go. Maybe dole out some words of advice along the way. You guys like short and sweet with some pictures thrown in, right?

Belle had an example of an image for me, one from her daughter’s shirt. This was an idea that she had tossed into the “too hard basket.” 

Spring Bird

Let’s pull it out of that basket and cookie that pretty spring bird, shall we?

SB Tutorial

Gather up:

  • A Frankenstein/skull cookie cutter. Or you can hand cut the cookie if you’re partial to that kinda thing . . .
  • Knife for trimming your skull cookie
  • White royal icing of flooding consistency
  • Royal icing of piping consistency, in the colors of dark pink, light pink, yellow, white, dark purple, and light purple
  • Setup to do a royal icing transfer
  • Toothpick
  • Purple food writer
  • Space heater or dehydrator (optional, but without, you may get craters . . . your call!)

Start by cutting out your cookie. I used a large Frankenstein/skull cookie cutter and trimmed off the "bumps" on the side. I flooded the cookie white and allowed it to dry overnight. REASON: I flooded the cookie white in order to make the image stand out more on my chocolate cookie.

SB Tutorial CC

Okay! Your cookie is dry, and you’re ready to decorate. Remember that in between each step, you need to let your icing dry somewhat.

Start with the body and center of the umbrella. REASON: Time efficiency and avoiding bleeding between your icing colors. Start with all the large areas (that are not touching) and get them drying. Since your icing is thick, use your toothpick to push the icing into place. Gently tap the cookie to smooth out any imperfections.

 

This is when you’d want to use that space heater. REASON: Dry that top layer of icing quickly to help eliminate any potential craters. Do not run to the dentist like I did. The center of the umbrella will start to crater!!


I used a royal icing transfer to make the left wing. Go ahead and make it now so that it’s dry when you’re ready for it. REASON: The wing is at high risk for cratering due to placement and the fact that it’s wet-on-wet. A transfer will give you a worry-free, crater-free wing!

SP Tutorial Icing 1

Then move onto the sides of the umbrella – which I did wet-on-wet. I added the boots and the right wing as well. REASON: Doing the cookies in steps helps you to get definition between areas, as well as avoid bleeding of colors.

SB Tutorial Icing 2

Next, you’ll want to add the purple boot details. If your bird is dry enough, go ahead and draw in the face and beak.

SB Tutorial Icing 3

For the next step, if your royal icing transfer (wing) is dry, you can go ahead and put it on your cookie. I also added the umbrella details and legs.

SB Tutorial Icing 4

Finally, finish the boot details! And you’re done!

SB Tutorial Icing 5

I did promise you some words of advice. Since you are so sweet and you read through the entire tutorial, here they are:

  • Craters. This is one of those cookie designs where craters can easily happen. While they are not the end of the world, who wants to endure a trip to the dentist, ever? Make sure that your icing is at piping consistency and use the space heater.
  • When designing a set of cookies from a single image, pull pieces from the image to make the set. Like the polka dots on the boots, the wet-on-wet flowers, etc. Make sure to vary the shapes of the cookies within the set.


Set

And there you have it. That’s how I would break down the spring bird image and cookie it. In Belle’s email, she did have all those steps thought out – just wasn’t sure if they would work. I guess it just comes down to trying and seeing what happens. Worst-case scenario, you’ll learn something and have dessert covered!

Thank you so much to Belle for her question! You can find her fantastic cookies on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/BelleissimoCookies

Got a question? Email me! You could even get a little Facebook love out of it!

 

Photo and cookie credits: Kari Arroyo

 

 

Kari ArroyoKari Arroyo started decorating cookies in 2011 after deciding to take a break from nursing, and learned the ways of royal icing by reading tutorials and LOTS of trial and error. When she’s not decorating cookies, you can find her chasing after two busy boys! Check her out on Facebook or her site, and email her your cookie questions at yankeegirlyummies@gmail.com.

 

Photo credit: Kari Arroyo

 

 

 

Note: Dear Yankee Girl is a regular Cookie Connection blog feature, written by Kari Arroyo, which allows you to get all your critical cookie technique questions answered, Dear Abby-style! Its content expresses the views of the author and not necessarily those of this site, its owners, its administrators, or its employees. To catch up on all of Kari's past posts, click here.

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Oh my, thank you so much! Thank you for the tutorial, Thank you for making the process make sense, and Thank you for your kind words. I had a light bulb moment about the tops of the boots, I was trying to work out how to pipe the legs over the top, but the way you did it makes so much more sense! Thanks again this has been very helpful on so many levels, and I am sure it will be to others too xo
Ps. I love the other cookies you created!

 

I learn so much from these great tutorials! Detailed step-by-step instructions with an image to go along with each step. What a sweet design! You did a fabulous job, recreating this design! I love it! I think this would be a great feature here at Cookie Connection, on a regular basis. For one wonderfully, talented cookie artist have others send in cookie design ideas and have Julia choose her favorite, and have an appointed cookie artist, apply it to a cookie, creating a tutorial to go along with it. It would even be fun to ask Cookie Connection members to help suggest a title for this feature. I know I would look forward to it! And feel there are many more new cookie decorators out there, that would agree with me! Do you agree?

Originally Posted by Robin H:

Beautiful cookie set!  One thing that confuses me is the trouble with craters. Is it because you use meringue powder? I've always used egg whites and powdered sugar and don't have that problem.

I think cratering happens with all formulations of royal icing, as I have worked with many types, and it happens with each - BUT only typically with certain shapes. Those shapes tend to be small and angular (like triangles), but always small. My theory is it has to do with the changing surface tension on the icing as it dries, and that when the shapes are especially small, the icing sets relatively faster on top than on the inside, increasing the surface tension on top. This, in turn, causes the icing to sink back on itself before the underlying icing is fully dry. The best defenses against cratering, I think, are working with a relatively thick icing (the thicker the icing, the faster it sets) AND/OR quick-setting it as Kari describes with a fan or dehydrator.

Originally Posted by Dorana (Dana):

I learn so much from these great tutorials! Detailed step-by-step instructions with an image to go along with each step. What a sweet design! You did a fabulous job, recreating this design! I love it! I think this would be a great feature here at Cookie Connection, on a regular basis. For one wonderfully, talented cookie artist have others send in cookie design ideas and have Julia chose her favorite, and have an appointed cookie artist, apply it to a cookie, creating a tutorial to go along with it. It would even be fun to ask Cookie Connection members to help suggest a title for this feature. I know I would look forward to it! And feel there are many more new cookie decorators out there, that would agree with me! Do you agree?

I think this is an interesting idea. If you have a site suggestion, please post it in the forum for site suggestions along with a poll, so we can more formally take the pulse of it there. I think the question is likely to be overlooked here. That forum can be found here: http://cookieconnection.juliau...estions-and-feedback

 

But as an FYI, we will be introducing a variation of this idea as a regular feature, later this month. Though it will more of a challenge to all cookie decorators on the site to create something given a pre-selected "inspiration board" with no tutorials attached. We already have two regular tutorial features - this one and "What's New, Honeycat?" - so in all likelihood, I won't be introducing any more new tutorial content this year until we give these features a chance to get established.

Originally Posted by Julia M. Usher:
Originally Posted by Dorana (Dana):

I learn so much from these great tutorials! Detailed step-by-step instructions with an image to go along with each step. What a sweet design! You did a fabulous job, recreating this design! I love it! I think this would be a great feature here at Cookie Connection, on a regular basis. For one wonderfully, talented cookie artist have others send in cookie design ideas and have Julia chose her favorite, and have an appointed cookie artist, apply it to a cookie, creating a tutorial to go along with it. It would even be fun to ask Cookie Connection members to help suggest a title for this feature. I know I would look forward to it! And feel there are many more new cookie decorators out there, that would agree with me! Do you agree?

I think this is an interesting idea. If you have a site suggestion, please post it in the forum for site suggestions along with a poll, so we can more formally take the pulse of it there. I think the question is likely to be overlooked here. That forum can be found here: http://cookieconnection.juliau...estions-and-feedback

 

But as an FYI, we will be introducing a variation of this idea as a regular feature, later this month. Though it will more of a challenge to all cookie decorators on the site to create something given a pre-selected "inspiration board" with no tutorials attached. We already have two regular tutorial features - this one and "What's New, Honeycat?" - so in all likelihood, I won't be introducing any more new tutorial content this year until we give these features a chance to get established.

Hi Julia! Can you explain what you mean by, if I have a site suggestion? I'm sorry but I'm missing your point. Thanks so much for your time!

Originally Posted by Dorana (Dana):
Originally Posted by Julia M. Usher:
Originally Posted by Dorana (Dana):

I learn so much from these great tutorials! Detailed step-by-step instructions with an image to go along with each step. What a sweet design! You did a fabulous job, recreating this design! I love it! I think this would be a great feature here at Cookie Connection, on a regular basis. For one wonderfully, talented cookie artist have others send in cookie design ideas and have Julia chose her favorite, and have an appointed cookie artist, apply it to a cookie, creating a tutorial to go along with it. It would even be fun to ask Cookie Connection members to help suggest a title for this feature. I know I would look forward to it! And feel there are many more new cookie decorators out there, that would agree with me! Do you agree?

I think this is an interesting idea. If you have a site suggestion, please post it in the forum for site suggestions along with a poll, so we can more formally take the pulse of it there. I think the question is likely to be overlooked here. That forum can be found here: http://cookieconnection.juliau...estions-and-feedback

 

But as an FYI, we will be introducing a variation of this idea as a regular feature, later this month. Though it will more of a challenge to all cookie decorators on the site to create something given a pre-selected "inspiration board" with no tutorials attached. We already have two regular tutorial features - this one and "What's New, Honeycat?" - so in all likelihood, I won't be introducing any more new tutorial content this year until we give these features a chance to get established.

Hi Julia! Can you explain what you mean by, if I have a site suggestion? I'm sorry but I'm missing your point. Thanks so much for your time!

Yes, can you post this suggestion about what you would like to see on this site in the forum for site suggestions - and ask people to respond to it there, rather than under this post. I provided the link to that area above.

 

Also, I betcha if people were to ask Dear Yankee Girl, "How Would You Cookie This?" more often, this column might become very similar to what you propose - meaning that if people have a keen interest in "how to cookie" tutorials, then it would be great to see that interest expressed through questions to Kari.

Originally Posted by Julia M. Usher:
Originally Posted by Robin H:

Beautiful cookie set!  One thing that confuses me is the trouble with craters. Is it because you use meringue powder? I've always used egg whites and powdered sugar and don't have that problem.

I think cratering happens with all formulations of royal icing, as I have worked with many types, and it happens with each - BUT only typically with certain shapes. Those shapes tend to be small and angular (like triangles), but always small. My theory is it has to do with the changing surface tension on the icing as it dries, and that when the shapes are especially small, the icing sets relatively faster on top than on the inside, increasing the surface tension on top. This, in turn, causes the icing to sink back on itself before the underlying icing is fully dry. The best defenses against cratering, I think, are working with a relatively thick icing (the thicker the icing, the faster it sets) AND/OR quick-setting it as Kari describes with a fan or dehydrator.

Maybe I haven't run into this problem as I don't tend to make my designs as puffy.

I do need an idea for my next post...
 
Originally Posted by Julia M. Usher:
Originally Posted by Dorana (Dana):
Originally Posted by Julia M. Usher:
Originally Posted by Dorana (Dana):

I learn so much from these great tutorials! Detailed step-by-step instructions with an image to go along with each step. What a sweet design! You did a fabulous job, recreating this design! I love it! I think this would be a great feature here at Cookie Connection, on a regular basis. For one wonderfully, talented cookie artist have others send in cookie design ideas and have Julia chose her favorite, and have an appointed cookie artist, apply it to a cookie, creating a tutorial to go along with it. It would even be fun to ask Cookie Connection members to help suggest a title for this feature. I know I would look forward to it! And feel there are many more new cookie decorators out there, that would agree with me! Do you agree?

I think this is an interesting idea. If you have a site suggestion, please post it in the forum for site suggestions along with a poll, so we can more formally take the pulse of it there. I think the question is likely to be overlooked here. That forum can be found here: http://cookieconnection.juliau...estions-and-feedback

 

But as an FYI, we will be introducing a variation of this idea as a regular feature, later this month. Though it will more of a challenge to all cookie decorators on the site to create something given a pre-selected "inspiration board" with no tutorials attached. We already have two regular tutorial features - this one and "What's New, Honeycat?" - so in all likelihood, I won't be introducing any more new tutorial content this year until we give these features a chance to get established.

Hi Julia! Can you explain what you mean by, if I have a site suggestion? I'm sorry but I'm missing your point. Thanks so much for your time!

Yes, can you post this suggestion about what you would like to see on this site in the forum for site suggestions - and ask people to respond to it there, rather than under this post. I provided the link to that area above.

 

Also, I betcha if people were to ask Dear Yankee Girl, "How Would You Cookie This?" more often, this column might become very similar to what you propose - meaning that if people have a keen interest in "how to cookie" tutorials, then it would be great to see that interest expressed through questions to Kari.

 

Originally Posted by Yankee Girl Yummies:
I do need an idea for my next post...
 
Originally Posted by Julia M. Usher:
Originally Posted by Dorana (Dana):
Originally Posted by Julia M. Usher:
Originally Posted by Dorana (Dana):

I learn so much from these great tutorials! Detailed step-by-step instructions with an image to go along with each step. What a sweet design! You did a fabulous job, recreating this design! I love it! I think this would be a great feature here at Cookie Connection, on a regular basis. For one wonderfully, talented cookie artist have others send in cookie design ideas and have Julia chose her favorite, and have an appointed cookie artist, apply it to a cookie, creating a tutorial to go along with it. It would even be fun to ask Cookie Connection members to help suggest a title for this feature. I know I would look forward to it! And feel there are many more new cookie decorators out there, that would agree with me! Do you agree?

I think this is an interesting idea. If you have a site suggestion, please post it in the forum for site suggestions along with a poll, so we can more formally take the pulse of it there. I think the question is likely to be overlooked here. That forum can be found here: http://cookieconnection.juliau...estions-and-feedback

 

But as an FYI, we will be introducing a variation of this idea as a regular feature, later this month. Though it will more of a challenge to all cookie decorators on the site to create something given a pre-selected "inspiration board" with no tutorials attached. We already have two regular tutorial features - this one and "What's New, Honeycat?" - so in all likelihood, I won't be introducing any more new tutorial content this year until we give these features a chance to get established.

Hi Julia! Can you explain what you mean by, if I have a site suggestion? I'm sorry but I'm missing your point. Thanks so much for your time!

Yes, can you post this suggestion about what you would like to see on this site in the forum for site suggestions - and ask people to respond to it there, rather than under this post. I provided the link to that area above.

 

Also, I betcha if people were to ask Dear Yankee Girl, "How Would You Cookie This?" more often, this column might become very similar to what you propose - meaning that if people have a keen interest in "how to cookie" tutorials, then it would be great to see that interest expressed through questions to Kari.

Thanks so much for your reply Julia! I really appreciate it! I apologize for not understanding your previous reply! My suggestion has been posted here...

http://cookieconnection.juliau...on-cookie-connection

 

Thanks for adding that post, Dorana. I just tweaked it by adding a poll to help us calibrate the need for adding a completely new feature vs. just doing more of this type of post within the features we already have.

I really enjoyed reading this article. I can't imagine Belleissimo having a "too hard basket". Her cookies are wonderful.

I love how Yankee Girl Kari pulled all the colors together from that adorable shirt to blend and create a nice set. Great tutorial.

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