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.”
Let’s pull it out of that basket and cookie that pretty spring bird, shall we?
- 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
- 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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
Finally, finish the boot details! And you’re done!
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.
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 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.