Every Christmas, for over ten years, decorating the tree at home has been impossible for me. The reason is called Nero, my beautiful, fluffy, and fat, but curious and naughty cat!
If you have cats living with you, you know perfectly well that they and Christmas trees can’t coexist. Cats are super lovely, but there’s nothing you can do if you want to decorate your home. They climb, chew, destroy . . . you know, a catastrophe is guaranteed!
But Christmas without the typical holiday decorations seems so sad. That’s why I resort to hiding my Christmas tree in my studio, where I usually work, and wind up creating its ornaments by cookie-ing. (Luckily, Nero hates sugar!)
In this tutorial, you're going to learn how to decorate a super-dimensional Christmas ornament cookie - a sweet wreath only using royal icing transfers, a technique I've learned to love. Delicate, yes, but not so difficult as it seems. Want to try? [EDITOR'S NOTE: Sure thing!]
- Parchment paper, onto which to pipe transfers
- A wreath illustration (I got the image I used from freepik, a free graphic resources finder, here.)
- Pastry bags and round piping tips (I used PME #1 and #0 tips.)
- White medium-stiff royal icing, for piping transfers
- Scribe tool, for teasing icing into tight spots
- Small round paint brush, for handpainting transfers
- Vodka, alcohol rejuvenator spirit, or alcohol-based extract, for extending colors into paint (See color notes, below.)
- 1 cookie ring (I used a 10-cm/4-inch diameter round with a 7-cm/2 3/4-inch hole cut in the center, and a small hole cut in the top. But any size ring will work.)
- Fine hemp twine
- Gold nonpareils (I used these nonpareils from Funcakes.)
- Red ribbon
- AmeriColor: Maroon and Warm Brown gels (for berries); Forest Green (for leaves and pine branches)
- Rainbow Dust powder colors: Pale Terracotta and Poppy Red (for berries); Citrus Green and Ivy Green (for leaves, pine branches, and holly)
- Sugarflair: Extra White powder (for Christmas roses)
Some useful tips before we start . . .
About piping tips: Small tips are preferred. They will help you pipe the tiny, detailed areas of the design with heightened accuracy. I usually pipe these kinds of transfers with round #0 or #1 PME tips. (You could even use a smaller #00 tip.)
About transfers: In order to make the royal icing transfers, you can choose parchment paper pieces or acetate sheets as your piping surface. (I used the latter in this previous Christmas tutorial.) This time, I used parchment paper since the transfers were very delicate, and I needed the extra flexibility of the paper in order to safely remove the transfers. (Sometimes acetate sheets can be so stiff that it's hard to remove transfers without breaking them.)
Ok, let's get started!
Step 1: Begin by choosing and printing a wreath illustration. [EDITOR'S NOTE: Be sure to use free clip art that gives you a license to use/copy the art, or seek permission from the original artist to copy his/her work if the art is copyrighted.]
Cover an area of the illustration with a small piece of parchment paper, and trace the covered leaves, branches, and/or berries with the white medium-stiff royal icing. Pipe small portions of the wreath at a time to ensure easier removal from the paper, and to also give you more flexibility when arranging the pieces in the end. For example: pipe one flower and two branches first; then two berries and their leaves; then single branches and single berries, and so on. Use your scribe tool to "tease" or push the icing into particularly tight spots, like the tips of petals or leaves.
Step 2: Let the transfers dry completely, either at room temperature (a minimum of 8 hours) or in a food dehydrator (about 30 minutes).
Step 3: Once the transfers are dry, but still on the paper, handpaint every piece with the colors mentioned above, mixed into "paint" as always with a few drops of vodka (or alcohol rejuvenator spirit or alcohol-based extract). Let the paint dry completely. Use the original wreath illustration as a color guide to add highlights, shadows, and other details. [EDITOR'S NOTE: For more tips on painting highlights and shadows, check out Aixa's earlier painting tutorial here.]
Step 4: While the paint is drying, insert the hemp twine into the small hole in the cookie ring. Then, very carefully, peel the handpainted transfers off the parchment paper, and stick them to the cookie with a bit of medium-stiff white royal icing.
In order to give more dimension to your wreath, overlap the transfers in various ways. Continue adhering all of the transfers until the wreath is complete; then let the icing "glue" fully dry.
Step 5: Finally, add some gold nonpareils in small clusters by gluing them in place with the same white icing, and tie a red bow on the twine. And . . . ta da! Our cat-proof Christmas wreath is done!
I hope you have enjoyed my last tutorial of the year.
To all of you, I send my blessings and love, and wishes for a very happy Christmas and New Year!
Cookie and photo credits: Aixa Zunino
Aixa Zunino is the soul of Dolce Sentire, a virtual corner of sweetness and creativity dedicated to cookie decorating. On her site, this garden engineer, self-taught decorator, and lover of flowers and animals lets her imagination fly, sharing everything she has learned since discovering the world of cookies in early 2012. She combines this activity with courses around Spain (her current home) where she teaches all the secrets to getting dreamy cookies. Meet her on Facebook or her website, and email her your cookie decorating questions or concerns at email@example.com.
Photo credit: Aixa Zunino
Note: Get Inspired with Dolce Sentire is a monthly Cookie Connection blog feature written by Aixa Zunino, where, through in-depth tutorials, she proves that if you can dream it, you can cookie it! This article expresses the views of the author, and not necessarily those of this site, its owners, its administrators, or its employees. To read all of Aixa's past Get Inspired tutorials, click here. And to see all of Cookie Connection's tutorials, click here.