[EDITOR'S NOTE: Today we have a special guest contributor - and it's none other than our dear Manu! She's put together a wonderful tutorial that serves as a great example to anyone who is considering making a contribution to our blog. Many thanks for taking the leap to post and doing it so gracefully, Manu!]
The inspiration to make cookies can strike anywhere, at any moment.
At the beginning of January, I went skiing with my family and friends. Both of our families have kids who are now young adults and fast skiers, and so it was quite hard to keep up with the group this year. While I was resting on the chairlift that was carrying me up the mountain, I spotted a chalet and started daydreaming about taking off my ski boots, settling into one of those cute wooden Tyrolean chairs, and sipping hot chocolate. That chair soon became a more comfy rocking chair, and then morphed into a two-seated rocker, perfect for sharing with a loved one or just stretching out. (I wonder if something like this really exists?!)
Anyway, it was soon time to get off the chairlift and ski down the slope, but I now had an idea for my Valentine's Day cookies - a 3-D love seat rocker! And that's what I thought I'd share with you today.
What you'll need for this project:
- Cookie dough of choice
- Wilton 6-piece heart cookie cutter set (Throughout the tutorial, I'll refer to these cutters with numbers, ranging from 1 to 6, where 1 is the smallest cutter in the set. For this project, I used cutters #1, #5, and #6, which range between about 1 1/2 inches, or 4 centimeters, and 4 1/2 inches, or 11 1/2 centimeters.)
- Sharp knife, for trimming dough
- Mini (3/4-in/2-cm or smaller) heart cookie cutter
- White, red, and grey royal icing, flooding consistency
- White, red, and grey royal icing, outlining consistency for details
- Tipless pastry bags or pastry bags fitted with PME #1 round tips, or equivalents
- Piece of acetate, onto which to pipe transfers
- Scribe tool or toothpick
- White royal icing, thick consistency (Julia calls it "glue" in her royal icing video.)
Let's prepare the cookies:
In the attachments below, you'll find templates to help guide the cutting of each cookie part. There are five cookies to this project: 1 seat, 2 backrests, and 2 rockers without which a rocking chair couldn't be a rocker, right?!
Step 1 - The seat
Roll out the dough, and cut it with the largest heart cutter #6; then use the knife to cut two parallel lines about 5 centimeters (2 inches) apart. Bake as directed in your recipe.
Step 2 - The backrests
Each backrest is made by combining an upside down teardrop and an upside down mini heart, with some modifications along the way. Note: You'll want to do the cutting and piecing together of each backrest directly on parchment paper or a silicone baking mat, so you can easily lift the mat or paper directly onto the cookie sheet for baking. Otherwise, your careful piecework will be difficult to move without falling apart.
a./b. Roll out the dough, and cut it with heart cutter #5; then cut it again with the same cutter to make two upside down teardrops, as pictured below. Again, my templates (attached) will help you get the right shapes.
c. Now, cut out two hearts with heart cutter #1, and combine them with the two teardrops as shown.
d. Trim the top lobes off the hearts with the knife; then, using the mini heart cookie cutter, cut out a little heart in the middle of each backrest. Cut small notches into the sides and the lower part of each backrest with the same mini heart cutter.
Remove the excess dough, and bake as directed in your recipe. The teardrop and heart cookie pieces will fuse together while baking (without having to stick them together with egg wash or water) to create one continuous backrest cookie. [EDITOR'S NOTE: This process of combining cookie shapes to create a new shape is called "frankencookie-ing" by some in the cookie world! And the backrest would be considered a "frankencookie".]
Step 3 - The rockers
Roll out the dough, and cut out two hearts with heart cutter #6. Again, you'll want to do all cutting on parchment paper or a silicone baking mat to make it easier to transfer the pieces to baking sheets later.
Lay the rocker template (attached) on the left side of one heart, and cut along the edge of the template with a sharp knife. Repeat on the second heart, but place the template on the other side of the heart to create a mirror image of the first rocker. Cut out a mini heart on each rocker, and then remove the excess dough before baking as directed.
Now, once the cookies are cool, it's time to decorate!
Outline the two backrests with grey royal icing, and flood them with white royal icing. Let the icing dry, and then pipe little red dots around the little hearts in each backrest.
Outline the rockers with white icing as shown below; then flood the upper border with gray icing; the area around the heart with white icing, and the runners with red icing. Let the flood icing crust or dry completely. Pipe small red dots around the cutout heart. Also pipe tiny white hearts and dots along the red runners, and white dots along the gray upper edge of the rocker. I prefer pressure-piping rather than the wet-on-wet technique (piping wet icing immediately on wet icing) for these details, because I can be more precise. But wet-on-wet or handpainting is also an option.
Note: I flooded and decorated on both sides of each rocker cookie, because this way the love seat will look more finished from all angles. Just be sure to allow the icing on the first side of the cookie to dry completely before flipping it over and decorating the back side.
I made a royal icing transfer to cover the seat (rather than piping directly on it) for two reasons: first, the transfer better resembles a cushion, and, second, it was easier for me to decorate the seat this way!
a. Trace the seat template (attached) on paper. Graph paper is great, since we are going to pipe perpendicular lines, and the graph paper can serve as a piping guide. Cover the paper with a piece of acetate or heavy plastic.
b. Using white outlining icing, pipe just inside the traced lines on each side. Please note that we are not covering the whole seat with this transfer, as we need to leave room on the back to place the backrests later.
c. Flood the outlined area with grey royal icing.
d. While the grey icing is still wet, immediately pipe perpendicular white stripes on top to create a grid. Again, use the graph paper to help you keep your lines straight. Also, I pipe the lines from just outside the outline on one side to just outside the outline on the other side. This way, I avoid big icing blobs at the beginning of each line, and the results look more precise.
e. Again, while the grey icing is still wet, pipe dots in every other square in the grid you piped in Step d. Remove any excess icing from the edges of the transfer with a scribe tool or a toothpick.
f. Once the flood icing has crusted or dried more completely, pipe red hearts in the remaining open grids, and tiny little red dots where the lines intersect.
Last but not least, assemble the love seat!
Turn the seat upside down and, using the thick white icing again, glue the rockers to the sides of the seat. Prop the rockers in an upright position with any large objects you can find (I used coffee mugs!), and let the whole piece dry a few hours.
Now, turn the seat upright so it's sitting on the two rockers, and glue the two backrests onto the space you left empty along the seat back. Again, place something next to the backrests to hold them in place while the icing dries, and dry a few hours.
Ta da! Our love seat is ready!
If you'd rather making a classic one-seat rocking chair, just use the single seat template (attached), and follow the same steps to build it. However, in Step 2 when you make the backrest, I suggest you use heart cutter #6 (for the teardrop) and heart cutter #2 (for the upside down heart). This way, the backrest will be a little bit bigger and in better proportion to the other elements.