I've got another cookie platter! Why?! Just because I like to design them, especially when they can be customized to the season, holiday, or occasion! I also like stenciled effects, and their contrast to bare cookie dough. I am quite a beginner at stenciling though, so this project was a good chance to use the technique and to practice myself!
- 8 rectangular cookies flooded with white royal icing and 6 naked (un-iced) trapezoid/trapezium cookies. (All measurements can be found in "Files" under "Attachments" at the end of this post.)
- SugarVeil® Extra Dark Chocolate Confectionery Icing and SugarVeil® White Confectionery Icing, for lace grid (or other edible lace mix)
- SugarVeil® Needlepoint Mat
- SugarVeil® Confectioner's Spreader
- Tiny paint brush
- Corn syrup, for "glue"
- Royal icing:
- Orange and yellow medium-consistency royal icing, for dots in grid
- Yellow, orange, and green medium/thick-consistency royal icing, for stenciling
- Wilton #1 tip (or equivalent)
- Edible food marker (optional)
- Gather Prettier PlaquesTM Background Stencil by @Julia M. Usher (or fall-themed stencil of your choice)
- Stencil holder (i.e., the original Stencil Genie by @Creative Cookier) or small (2-cm/3/4-inch) magnets
- Small offset spatula or plastic spreader tool
- Scribe tool
- Cookies of your choice, for frame accents (optional)
Step 1: Notes about cutting cookies
- 8 (3.5 x 4.5-cm/1 3/8 x 1/3/4-in) rectangles, flooded with white royal icing
- 6 naked hand-cut cookies that form a (3-cm/1 3/16-in-tall) cookie frame around the central flooded cookies. I mitered the frame corners (i.e., filed them at 45-degree angles) to ensure a clean, tight fit. And since the longer sides are quite long, I cut each one in the middle. Again, you’ll find all measurements and templates in the attachments at the end of this post.
Optional: I like the layout above, but if you find it too complicated, you can cut the frame into 8 rectangles instead (depicted by the pieces of graph paper, below). This variation will also make for easier stenciling in Step 4, as these pieces are all small enough to fit a standard 14-cm (5 1/2-in) stencil holder. Some of the pieces pictured above are too big to fit.
Step 2: Make SugarVeil® lace grid
Prepare the SugarVeil® Confectionery Icing according to the instructions on the package. (Or, use another edible lace mix of your choice.) I mixed together equal portions of SugarVeil® Extra Dark Chocolate and White Confectionery Icing to get a lighter brown grid than you would get if using SugarVeil® Extra Dark Chocolate Icing by itself.
Following the instructions in this SugarVeil® video, spread the prepared lace mix into the SugarVeil® Needlepoint Mat using the SugarVeil® Confectioner's Spreader. Allow the mix to dry until it is no longer tacky and can be easily removed from the mat. Drying time will vary considerably with ambient humidity and drying method (i.e., at room temperature, in a food dehydrator, or in a low oven). Watch the lace closely, as it can quickly over-dry and then crack upon removal from the mat. Again, this video provides excellent instructions for lace removal.
Once the edible lace has been unmolded, place it on parchment paper in a large resealable plastic bag to prevent it from drying out. (SugarVeil® lace can quickly get brittle if quick-dried in the oven or if your room is very cold and dry. Containing SugarVeil® lace is especially important to do if you make it ahead and don't plan to decorate these cookies right way.)
Step 3: Apply lace to iced cookies and pipe details
a. Cut 8 rectangles out of the lace grid. I counted 17 x 12 little grid squares in my cutouts, but make sure that this size will cover the entire surface of each of your iced cookies.
b. Use a tiny paint brush to apply a small amount of corn syrup (for "glue") to the back side of one of the lace cutouts (a Julia M. Usher tip).
c. Turn the lace over, corn syrup-side down, and stick it to one of the iced cookies.
Repeat Steps 2b and 2c for the remaining 7 iced cookies.
d. Pipe small dots in the grids to “write” each letter of the word “November”, one on each of the 8 cookies. Use orange and yellow medium-consistency royal icing and the equivalent of a Wilton #1 tip. Hints: Draw the letters on graph paper as a visual guide, and, if needed, mark the holes in the actual grid with a food marker, so you don’t get lost while piping. In order to keep the dots from merging into one another, do not immediately pipe adjacent squares one after the other. Instead, fill every other square, and allow a little drying time before filling the squares in between.
Step 4: Stencil un-iced frame cookies
a. Lay the un-iced cookies on your tabletop, and work on one cookie at a time. Place your fall-themed stencil on top of the first cookie, making sure it lays flush against the cookie surface in all areas. (If the stencil isn't flush in any area, icing can easily sneak under that spot, leading to blurry or smudged results.) Be sure to position the stencil on the cookie so that you capture an attractive part of the stencil pattern.
To keep the stencil flat and secure as you work, use a stencil holder for the two short cookies and some magnets for the longer cookies (as they won’t fit in the stencil frame). I used yellow, orange, and green medium/thick-consistency royal icing. You could use other colors, of course, but it's always important to use the right icing consistency for stenciling. The key is to have the icing thick enough that it doesn't seep under the stencil, yet thin enough that it spreads smoothly with a minimum of "tracks" (i.e., blade marks) left behind. Generally, you're looking for a relatively thick icing that clings to your spatula and won't shake off.
Some people simply dip their spatula in a bit of icing and then spread it over the stencil, but I prefer to pipe the icing onto my spatula. As you'll see in a bit, piping gives me the control of blending colors on the spatula before the icing ever hits a cookie!
b. First, pipe some yellow royal icing onto your spatula. If you're using a stencil holder, be sure to use a short offset spatula or spreader tool (like this one from @Creative Cookier) that fits comfortably within the holder's frame. If you're using magnets, it's best to use a plastic spatula or spreader tool. (I used a metal spatula, and it attracted the magnets more than once!)
c. Spread the icing over a portion of the stencil. (I chose to stencil just the first leaf with yellow icing.) If any areas of your stencil remain lifted (despite being weighed down by the stencil holder or magnets), use a scribe tool to press down the stencil as you spread icing around those areas. You'll get the smoothest results if you swipe with the broad underside of the blade against the cookie (rather than the blade edge). Also, try to avoid going over the same area more than once or twice, as this can lead to rough looking results as well.
d. Now, we're going to blend colors on the remainder of the cookie! Pipe a little more yellow icing on the spatula, and then add some orange blobs on top.
e. Spread the icing over the remaining open areas of the stencil, once again following the technique tips in Step 4c. (For the longer cookies, you may need to pipe and spread the icing a third time in order to finish the cookie.)
f. Carefully remove the stencil, taking care not to disrupt the wet icing. Let the icing dry.
g. Repeat Steps 4a to 4f to stencil the remaining naked cookies, mixing up the three royal icing colors as you go.
Step 5: Assemble cookie platter
This step is easy! Once the cookie icing is dry, simply line up the letter cookies to compose the word “November”, and then frame them with the cookies you stenciled in Step 4. The cookie platter is now ready!
I added a couple of cookies (a sleeping fox and a mushroom) as accents, but they are completely optional.
And, yes, I also stenciled my tabletop to create a backdrop for the title image, in case you were wondering!
Since Christmas is quickly approaching, here is another cookie platter for that occasion. I used white SugarVeil® lace this time. There is also one more cookie letter in "Christmas", so the frame is a bit longer, making more room for accent cookies! In addition to the wreath, gift package, Christmas tree, and teeny shooting star, there is an "embroidery hoop" cookie that says “merry”. To see how I made this cookie, check out this tutorial, one of my first projects on Cookie Connection. (Also to note: the lovely scroll pattern on the frame was made with a stencil by @Kat Rutledge-ibicci.)
@Julia M. Usher uses edible lace grids on some of her 3-D projects in her video tutorials. That’s how I found out about SugarVeil® lace and got inspired to use it in my cookie projects. I learned the technique by watching Julia here and here.
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 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.