Three-dimensional (3-D) cookie projects are my favorite, but they need to be broken in pieces in order to eat the cookies, and very often I hear "they are too nice to be broken" on top of the usual "they are too nice to be eaten". That's why I thought I'd make a simple, yet still dimensional summer cookie platter for you. Here, mini cookies make up a beach hut, but they are laid flat, with depth and interest created by adding other cookie layers (such as a life preserver, a "Summer" sign, and flying seagulls) around and on top of the hut. The cookies sit loose, one next to the other, just calling out to be shared with a friend over tea or coffee while chatting and looking at the sea!
- Cookie dough of your choice
- Small (4 cm/1 1/2 in) round cookie cutter
- Standard size pastry tip
- Assorted templates (see document, attached below), for hand-cutting custom shapes
- Sugar craft knife or little sharp knife
- White, red, and sky blue royal icing, piping consistency; Note: The red and sky blue are just for the two lines in Step 4, Point c.
- White, red, and sky blue royal icing, flooding consistency
- White, red, and sky blue royal icing, medium-stiff consistency
- Tipless pastry bags, or pastry bags fitted with Wilton #1, #2, and #3 round tips or equivalents
- Gold (or yellow ) food marker; Note: The one I used has two tips (a thin one on one end and a thick one on the other), and it is more warm gold-yellow than metallic gold.
- Scribe tool or toothpick
- Red gel food coloring
- Tiny paint brush
Step 1: Cut and bake cookies
The nine (9) cookies in this project are mainly hand-cut. Just print the pdf document in the attachments below for my templates and their associated measurements. Here's a summary of the shapes you'll need to cut:
- Hand-cut cookies: hut (1 pentagon cookie, cut in half), 3 seagulls, the roof (2 slender rectangular cookies), and the "Summer" sign (1 large, long rectangular cookie)
- Cookie using standard cutters: 1 life preserver (a ring cut with the small round cookie cutter noted above and the wide end of a pastry tip for the hole in the center)
If you don't like hand-cutting cookies, there's good news! You should be able to adapt basic rectangular cookies to create the two parts of the hut, the roof, and the sign. But it really will only take a few minutes to cut the templates and then the cookies for this project.
To hand-cut: Roll out your chilled dough on a piece of parchment paper. I rolled my dough to a 0.4-cm thickness, which is a little thicker than 1/8 inch. But thickness isn't so critical for this project, as the pieces do not need to fit together in 3-D. Place the cut templates on top of the dough, and carefully cut around their edges with a sharp sugar craft knife (or equivalent). Remove the templates, but leave all the dough in place. To keep from messing up your nicely cut cookie shapes, firm up the dough by chilling it again; then remove the excess dough around the cut edges. The cookies can be lifted, on the parchment paper, and placed directly on your baking sheet(s) without risk of the cookies losing their shapes.
Once you have cut all of the pieces (again, a total of nine) as directed above, simply bake according to your recipe, and cool the cookies completely.
Step 2: Ice and decorate roof, seagulls, and life preserver
a. Outline this group of six cookies with white piping-consistency royal icing, using a pastry bag fitted with a #1 tip (or equivalent). Remember to also outline eight different sections on the life preserver, which we'll later flood with red and white icing.
b. Flood the seagull cookies and every other section of the life preserver with white flooding-consistency royal icing, using a pastry bag fitted with a #3 tip (or equivalent). Let the icing dry.
c. Once again using a pastry bag fitted with a #3 tip, flood the two roof cookies with red flooding-consistency royal icing. Also fill the four remaining sections on the life preserver. Let the icing dry.
d. Using a #2 tip (or equivalent) and white piping-consistency royal icing, pipe a line down the center of each roof cookie. Let the icing dry.
e. Also pipe white lines on the life preserver, along the seams between the red and the white sections. Again, let the icing dry.
f. Lastly, use the food marker to draw little stripes along the white lines so that they resemble ropes. Before you do this, be sure the icing is completely dry, ideally all the way through, or you will put dents in the lines.
Step 3: Ice and decorate "Summer" sign
a. Using a #1 tip and white piping-consistency royal icing, outline the long, large rectangular cookie. Fill it with sky blue flooding-consistency royal icing using a #3 tip. Let the icing dry.
b. Again, be sure the icing is completely dry, and then draw the word "Summer", from top to bottom, with the food marker. This step is optional, but the drawing can be a useful piping guide in the next step. If you'd prefer to pipe freehand without this guide, that's fine too. The letters don't need to be perfect, as we want them to eventually look like rope.
c. Using a Wilton #2 tip, pipe over the letters drawn in the previous step with white piping-consistency royal icing. Again, let the icing dry completely, ideally all the way through.
d. Draw little stripes along the letters with the food marker, just as you did on the roof and life preserver, so that each letter looks like a piece of furled rope.
Step 4: Ice and decorate beach hut
a. Outline and flood the two cookies (pentagon and large rectangle) that make up the hut, using white piping-consistency and flooding-consistency icings, as you did for the seagulls. Let the icing crust.
b. Using a Wilton #2 tip and white piping-consistency royal icing, pipe a line through the center of the bottom part of the hut (large rectangle). Now, using a #3 tip, pipe two more lines surrounding the white line, one with red piping-consistency icing and another, to the other side of the white line, with sky blue piping-consistency icing. Pipe a small loop in the center of each line for added interest.
c. Remove the excess icing at the edges of the cookie with a scribe tool (or toothpick), and let the icing dry all the way through.
d. Once again, draw little stripes along the white line with a food marker to give it a rope effect.
e. Using the food marker, draw a little boat on the upper part of the hut (pentagon). I started by lightly sketching freehand with the thin end of the food marker. When I was satisfied with my sketch, I traced over the fine lines with the thicker end. As everything was going to get covered with royal icing, I wasn't so worried about making mistakes. You shouldn't be either!
f. Flood the boat hull with white medium-stiff consistency royal icing. The consistency of the icing should be stiff enough to hold a shape, but thin enough to work it with the scribe tool without leaving peaks. I prepared it by thinning the piping-consistency royal icing. Use a #1 tip for most of the flooding.
g. Then, with the help of a scribe tool or a toothpick, neaten up the edges and work the icing into the tight corners at the bow and stern.
i. Repeat Steps f to h (above) for the sails. Use a light blue medium-stiff consistency royal icing for the smaller one, and the same white icing used on the hull for the big sail. Once the icing has dried for a few hours, you can start to add details.
j. Draw some horizontal lines on the big sail, and color the hull with the food marker.
k. Add some red stripes to the big sail with red gel food coloring and a tiny paint brush.
Optional: Royal icing sailboat transfers. If you don't feel comfortable drawing and flooding directly on the cookie, follow Steps e to i (above) on a piece of acetate or parchment paper. Once the sails and hull are dry, decorate them as previously described, remove them from the acetate (or parchment paper), and glue them on the cookie with thick royal icing. This will leave you with just two things to do directly on the cookie: drawing the mast and waves with a food marker, and painting a little red flag.
Step 5: Assemble cookie platter
And now that we have decorated all the cookies . . .
. . . let's assemble them and display them on a tray or dish. They are now ready to be eaten! [EDITOR'S NOTE: Well, I don't know about that! Even though they're not 3-D, I have to say they're still too nice to be eaten! ]
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 – one that she continues to develop by actively participating in the challenges hosted by fellow Cookie Connection contributor Bakerloo Station. You can follow Manu on Facebook and Instagram, or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.