Valentine's Day is just around the corner and what better opportunity to talk about love? In this case, love for a cookie decorating technique: the crackle effect!
When I first saw this technique on Instagram, it was love at first sight! Yes, of course, there were a lot of crackle effects, but this one was completely different: charming and really sophisticated!
Ever since learning about this unique effect (thanks to the generosity of @pryanichki_ot_manechki, a cookie friend from Kazakhstan), I haven't been able to resist the temptation to use it on my cookies, over and over again . . .
Given the number of requests I've recently received for a crackle tutorial, I know that this finish has fascinated you as much as it has me! For this reason, I've prepared this tutorial, where I’ll explain how to create a lovely Valentine's cookie boat and an easy way to achieve a stunning crackle effect, which I have dubbed “crackle chalk paint”.
Supplies you’ll need for this project:
- Flooded right triangle cookie, with white or pale pink icing (I cut mine by hand and pierced it with a bamboo skewer before baking. See further shaping instructions below.)
- Bamboo skewer (or two), for shaping and mast
- Semicircular cookie (I cut the bottom of it in order to create a base for the boat.)
- Acetate sheet(s)
- Pale grey royal icing, medium consistency
- Wafer paper (white and dotted, or any other design of your choice)
- Small flat brush for dusting (I’ve used the flat one from this Wilton set.)
- Piping gel or corn syrup
- Fine hemp twine
- Vodka, alcohol rejuvenator spirit (such as this brand), or alcohol-based extract
- Cornstarch, for the crackle chalk paint (I’ve used Maizena brand.)
- Tiny royal icing roses and leaves (You can learn how to make them with Julia’s useful video.)
- White royal icing, medium consistency, for "glue"
- For metallic finish on the anchor: Wilton Silver Color Mist (or any similar edible silver spray)
- For the cookie mainsail decorations (roses, leaves, and stitching): AmeriColor Burgundy, AmeriColor Electric Pink, Rainbow Dust Green edible marker, and Rainbow Dust Chocolate edible marker.
- To age the mainsail cookie, boat hull cookie, and wafer paper pennants: Rainbow Dust Milk Chocolate dusting powder
- For the crackle mixture: AmeriColor White gel
Crackle chalk paint technique:
- The crackle paint recipe is 1 part cornstarch plus 2 parts AmeriColor white gel color. The goal is a toothpaste consistency (thick, but runny enough to paint). IMPORTANT: Use AmeriColor brand! I have tried this same recipe with Wilton, Sugarflair, and even Kroma Kolors, and it only works with AmeriColor. I don't know what's unique about AmeriColor that makes it work, but I aim to find out!
- This crackle method doesn't require any previous coating or preparation of your raw cookies. Just your baked cookies, a brush, and the crackle paint.
- For the most impressive effect, use chocolate cookies and apply a thick coating of crackle paint to them. (The thicker the paint layer, the better the paint will crackle.)
- Dry the paint as follows to see the crackle emerge: either about half an hour at room temperature or about 10 minutes in a food dehydrator set at 30 ºC (86 ºF).
- About its flavor: Well, obviously, royal icing tastes better! But the truth is that this mixture has no flavour or unpleasant aftertaste.
About the final assembly: Below you will find all of the instructions for the cookie boat assembly, but it’s important to know that I made the hole (where the mast goes) in the raw cookie. Just insert a bamboo skewer where you want to place the mast, and bake as usual. After baking, gently wiggle the skewer to remove it.
At the very end of the boat cookie (right side), I made another two holes the same way, for inserting the twine with pennants.
Okay, I'm ready, and you? This will be fun to do!
1. Prepare the anchor transfers: Print off your anchor template (I used a lovely anchor with a heart that I bought on Shutterstock), tape it to a flat surface, and cover it with an acetate sheet. Then, with the pale grey royal icing (medium consistency), trace the anchors (one per boat). Let them dry completely, and then coat lightly with silver spray to achieve a metallic finish. Let them dry again.
- Signboard: Print off your quote template (I used PicMonkey to design it), tape it to a flat surface, and cover it with a little piece of white wafer paper. Then trace the quote with the Rainbow Dust Chocolate edible marker (or any other brown food marker) and age the edges with the Rainbow Dust Milk Chocolate dusting powder (or suitable substitute).
- Dotted pennants and pennant banner: Cut the dotted (or other decorated) wafer paper into little rhombuses, fold them in half, and stick them on the fine hemp twine using piping gel or corn syrup. Let them dry. Age their edges with the Milk Chocolate dusting powder.
- Heart pennant: Cut a piece of white wafer paper into a little rhombus, fold it in half, draw a heart in the middle, and age the edges as done on the other pennants. Set aside for later use.
3. Decorate boat (mainsail and hull cookies): Start by decorating the mainsail cookie (the flooded right triangle) by painting tiny roses on it. (Have you seen these roses from Rosie Cake-Diva? They are so cute! ) Then draw on leaves with the green edible marker.
Age the cookie edges using the Milk Chocolate dusting powder, and then draw stitching on the edge of the cookie with the Chocolate edible marker and the ruler.
Finally, paint the cookie edges with white gel coloring and a few drops of vodka (or alcohol rejuvenator spirit or alcohol-based extract).
Now, decorate the boat hull cookie by applying a thick coat of crackle paint on the semicircular baked cookie. Cover the entire cookie surface (edges too) and let it dry following the recommended drying times above. (As the coat dries, you will see the “magic” of this technique! )
Once the crackle layer is completely dry, you can continue decorating the hull by sticking on the wafer paper signboard, the anchor, and a royal icing rose and leaf. Finally, age the cookie edges using the Milk Chocolate dusting powder.
4. Assemble boat hull and mainsail: Stick the bamboo skewer to the back of the mainsail cookie with the white royal icing (medium consistency), and let the icing dry completely (about 1 to 2 hours in a dehydrator).
Now, cover the end of the skewer with a small amount of the white royal icing and insert it into the hole of the boat hull cookie. Let it dry completely (again, about 1 to 2 hours in a dehydrator).
After the drying time, insert the twine with little flags into the holes at the very end of the hull cookie, make a knot, and tie the other end of the twine to the back side of the mast.
Finally, stick the folded heart pennant on the very end of the mast using a little bit of the remaining white royal icing.
Let the icing dry completely and voilà! Our crackled boat is ready to set sail on an adventure of love!
I hope you enjoyed this tutorial as much as I did. I would love to see what you crackle too. Please share the love!
P.S. I’m really happy to announce that my Facebook fan page has reached over 10,000 cookie friends! I am celebrating this milestone with another fun crackle tutorial on my site, and you’re invited, of course! It’s in Spanish only, but I would be happy to answer any questions you have about it. I'll wait for you!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo credit: Aixa Zunino
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