Made by Manu: A Warm Hug for a (Cookie) Mug

 

Even though I am now living in Thailand where it is currently 85°F (29°C), I haven't forgotten the cold of winter, which many of you are now experiencing. So, I thought, what better way to get cozy than with felt warmers on hot cocoa (cookie) mugs?! I used colored icing sugar (aka confectioner's or powdered sugar) for the felt effect. But right before coating the dried royal icing surface with the sugar, I used a paint brush to apply random dabs of flooding-consistency royal icing. I wanted some underlying texture because felt isn't as smooth as velvet or suede. And, just in case that texture wasn't enough to convey "felt", I added other little details typically used in felt crafts, like the icing blanket stitch along the warmer's edge.

I designed and hand-cut the mug cookies, but any mug cookie cutter can be used. I then designed the felt warmer, but it only took a click online to later find out that very similar designs had already been used in the “felt world” and the “knit world” . . . at any rate, I hope you enjoy this edible cookie rendition!

What you’ll need for this project:
  • Icing sugar, aka confectioner's or powdered sugar (A couple of tablespoons is more than enough to cover two mugs of the size shown here.)
  • Red and black gel food coloring (I used Colorgel by Modecor, but any gel coloring should do. Avoid liquid colorings.)
  • Food-grade plastic bags
  • 2 (3 1/2 x 2 1/2-in/9 x 6.5-cm) mug-shaped cookies (one a mirror image of the other), flooded with white royal icing and completely dry (You’ll find my mug cookie template and all measurements in "Attachments" under "Files" at the end of this post. But, again, you could use any mug cutter. A dark cookie dough is preferred for reasons you'll see in Step 2.)
  • Royal icing and pastry tips:
    • Red and grey piping-consistency with PME #1 tip or equivalent
    • Red and grey flooding-consistency with Wilton #2 tip or equivalent (Keep this icing on the thick side. A thicker icing will lend more texture to the warmer in Step 2c and also help prevent craters in the transfers made in Step 3.)
    • White very thick consistency in parchment cones (@Julia M. Usher calls it “glue” in her video, and I like to call it “Julia’s glue”.)
  • Large round paint brush(es)
  • Parchment paper
  • Tea strainer or fine-mesh sieve
  • Heart templates (Also under "Attachments", in the same file noted earlier.)
  • Scribe tool

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Step 1: Tint icing sugar

Both red and grey icing sugar are needed for this project. If you can't find tinted icing sugar [EDITOR'S NOTE: I've never seen it! ], you can easily tint it yourself:

a. Put a tablespoon of icing sugar and a drop of red gel food coloring in a food-grade plastic bag. Get another bag, and repeat this process, this time using a drop of black gel food coloring.

b. Massage the bags until the icing sugar has absorbed all of the food coloring. Add more coloring if necessary - however, not too much, or your icing sugar will become kind of pasty. Also, be patient, because the icing color will "develop" and get a bit darker as it sits. To allow the color to fully develop, you can tint the icing sugar the day before you intend to use it, just as you might do with royal icing. (Note: It will take longer to get a deep red; the black coloring will make grey sugar almost immediately.)

c. The tinted icing sugar is ready.

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Step 2: Decorate mug warmer 

a. Set one of the iced (and completely dry) mug-shaped cookies on your work surface. (I left a section naked at the top in order to give perspective and dimension to the mug, and to resemble the hot cocoa inside.) Using red piping-consistency royal icing and a PME #1 tip (or equivalent), outline a band across the midsection of the mug. Give the upper and lower edges a curve to suggest the contour of a mug.

b. Flood the band with red flooding-consistency royal icing using the equivalent of a Wilton #2 tip. Let the icing dry completely.

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c. Dip a large round paint brush in the red flooding-consistency royal icing, and apply the icing randomly to the red band with up-and-down motions of the brush.

d. The outcome is already nice, and we could stop here, but I prefer the more felty/woolly look imparted by the added coating of icing sugar. Now, mask the upper part of the mug with a piece of parchment paper (see arrow below), and quickly move on to the next step before the icing dries! (Note: I didn’t want the icing sugar, applied in the next step, to get stuck in the un-iced part of the cookie, which is why I masked it. In retrospect, it would have been better to mask all of the white areas before applying the red royal icing. Otherwise, there is risk of smearing the red on the white, as I did in the lower part of the mug!)

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e. Use a tea strainer (or fine-mesh sieve) to sift the tinted red sugar onto the wet icing.

f. Let the sugar sit for a couple of minutes, and then shake off the excess. Let the icing dry.

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Step 3: Prepare royal icing transfers

a. Place the heart templates under a piece of parchment paper. (Again, you’ll find both big and small heart templates in the attachment at the end of this post.) Trace the outline of the big heart and the three little heart buttons with icing. Use grey piping-consistency royal icing and a PME #1 tip (or equivalent) for the big heart and two of the buttons. Use red piping-consistency royal icing and a PME #1 tip for the remaining button. Make sure to pipe two small holes in each of the button transfers.

b. Flood the heart shapes using grey and red flooding-consistency royal icing and Wilton #2 tips (or equivalents). Use a scribe tool to work the icing into the tiny corners. Let the transfers dry completely.

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c. Use the grey piping-consistency royal icing to pipe a stitch on the red heart button (to connect the button holes), and do the same for the two grey buttons with the red piping-consistency royal icing. Again, use PME #1 tips (or equivalents) for this step.

d. Using a clean round paint brush, dab the grey flooding-consistency icing on the big grey heart, and coat it with grey icing sugar, just as we coated the mug warmer band in Steps 2c to 2f.

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Step 4: Add details to mug warmer

a. Use grey piping-consistency royal icing and a PME #1 tip (or equivalent) to pipe a blanket stitch along the upper and lower edges of the warmer. Basically, a blanket stitch looks like a series of right angles: _|_|_|. So just pipe a string of horizontal and vertical dashes.

b. Use a dot of “Julia’s glue” to attach the grey buttons close to the mug handle. (In real life, these buttons would hold the warmer in place.) Glue the red button on top of the big grey heart transfer, and then attach the entire piece to the center of the warmer.

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Repeat Steps 2 to 4 for the second mirror-image cookie mug, but invert all of the colors.

Our two Valentine’s mug cookies are now ready, hugged in warm felt and displayed on a felt place mat. [EDITOR'S NOTE: Wow! I can hardly distinguish the real McCoy from the faux-sugar felt!]

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Add some mini marshmallows to the mugs, and some letter cookies decorated with the same felt technique, and you've got a cute Valentine’s-themed cookie platter!

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

Manu ❤️

Speaking of Felt in the Cookie World

Joss Lewis of @Cookies by joss took another approach to making "felt". He simply used tinted cookie dough, and the effect is quite realistic, as you can see in his set of carrot cookies here.

Rocio Cuenca, known as @Little Wonderland, left the cookie world one year ago to learn sewing. I miss her beautiful cookies, but she keeps being creative with her new medium. Here’s a bunny cookie that she made as a cookier, and here is the new version of that bunny in felt form (hand-sewn).

Manuela Pezzopane, affectionately called Manu by her friends and family, is a fan of everything handmade, and professes to have tried every possible hobby. However, it wasn’t until the end of 2014, when an American friend invited her to a Christmas cookie exchange, that she first discovered decorated cookies. In 2015, after watching Julia M. Usher's videos and signing up on Cookie Connection, Manu finally attempted her own. Since then, cookie decorating has become Manu’s passion. You can follow Manu on Facebook and Instagram, or email her at manubiscottidecorati@gmail.com.

Photo and cookie credits: Manuela Pezzopane

Note: Made by Manu is a Cookie Connection blog feature written by Manuela Pezzopane, where each month she shares the method behind a magical cookie of her own making. 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 Manuela's past Made by Manu tutorials, click here. And to see all of Cookie Connection's tutorials, click here.

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Carol-Anne posted:

Excellent Manu!  How long have you been in Thailand, are you enjoying living there?

 

Thank you, @Carol-Anne! I have been here for almost 7 months now and, yes, I am settled... At the moment the level of pollution is very high, which happens in this season because it doesn’t rain. I wasn’t expecting to wear a mask to go out 😷 But anyway there are beautiful places.

My body and my mind miss some Winter as you can tell from my cookie projects!

Manu, your cookies are beautiful!  I love the felt look so much that I tried it!  Unfortunately, I could not get the "stitch effect" icing to stick to the "felt" area of the cookie.    I tried to both thicken and thin the icing, but it just wouldn't stick.  Do you have any tips for the "stitch effect" icing?  I'm definitely going to try again.  And thank you for the step by step tutorial...it was wonderful!!

KimPip posted:

Manu, your cookies are beautiful!  I love the felt look so much that I tried it!  Unfortunately, I could not get the "stitch effect" icing to stick to the "felt" area of the cookie.    I tried to both thicken and thin the icing, but it just wouldn't stick.  Do you have any tips for the "stitch effect" icing?  I'm definitely going to try again.  And thank you for the step by step tutorial...it was wonderful!!

Hi @KimPip, I am sorry to read your comment only know! 

There are two things you can do, one affects the sugar coating and one the icing used to pipe the stitches. Shake off the excess sugar (as the icing sugar coating is there to give a woolly/felt look to the texture underlying), or use a paint brush to remove the excess just along the borders. Try to thin down the icing you use to pipe the stitches so it will more likely stick to the felt area. 

Let me know! ❤️

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