[EDITOR'S NOTE: My apologies for the delay in posting this Spotlight, which is completely my fault. Christine was right on time, but my work and other holiday obligations got in the way yesterday. As they say, better late than never, right?! ~JMU]
Happy December! The holidays are finally upon us, and pretty soon we will never want to see piping bags filled with red and green icing for as long as we live . . . or at least another 11 months! And so, it has been a pleasure, not to mention a wonderful holiday palette cleanser (pun intended), to be able to view all of the gorgeous entries for this latest Practice Bakes Perfect challenge, with their beautiful shapes, textures, and minimal icing embellishments.
Before we get to our spotlighted artists, let's talk about the WINNER of the prize for Challenge #19! Remember, one lucky winner will receive an incredibly generous $100 gift certificate to Cookie Connection member @Susan Moniz's mold shop, Artesão Molds! Here is just a sampling of the incredible molds you can find at Artesão Molds (including lots of other new holiday molds not pictured here!):
Without further ado, the winner of Practice Bakes Perfect Challenge #19, chosen randomly from among all of the entrants, is @Sil Quiroga *Ricas Cookies*! Sil's entry was as delicious looking as it was adorable:
Kitty and a Jar of Teddy Cookies! by Sil Quiroga *Homemade Cookies by Sil*
Congratulations, Sil! I can't wait to see some more molded cookies from you gracing the pages of Cookie Connection in the near future!
On to the rest of our spotlighted artists . . . in no particular order:
Golden Chocolate Christmas House by Alison Friedli
I was extremely impressed by the sheer number and variety of molds and materials that Alison used to create her beautiful Christmas house. Using items such as a fork for the texture on the house's molding and a stencil to make the impression for the base cookie was clever, and the judicious use of color and shimmer really pulled the whole project together. While most gingerbread houses are notable for the copious amounts of icing and candy used for decoration, this Christmas house really stands out as an example of "less is more."
Native by Kim Damon
Kim Damon, who had multiple entries in Practice Bakes Perfect Challenge #19, blew my mind with this entry when she used large shell pasta shapes as molds to create the contours of this person's face. The finished project is amazing and beautiful, but you must see Kim's process photos and description of how this entry was created to fully appreciate its brilliance.
Hanging Owl by Noaa
I love the overall design of this festive holiday wreath by Noaa. She used a lot of different small individual molds and different materials for embellishments, such as wafer paper lace and flowers, to create a really large, cohesive final work of art. The pops of colored dough really bring this piece to life, and I love the thoroughly delightful center owl, which lends an air of whimsy.
A Bench in the Woods by Manu
Besides the overall lovely composition of this entry by Manu, I was floored by the fact that the large, center cookie was created with a mold that Manu made herself from a copper sheet. The finished copper mold is every bit as beautiful as the finished cookie made with it:
Gears Through the Years by Kim Damon
Admittedly, I am a bit of a sucker for anything steampunk, but this is a wonderfully conceived and executed entry (the second spotlightlighted one for Kim Damon - yay, Kim!) in its own right. Kim geared up (bad pun intended) for this project by using common kitchen and household items, including nuts, bolts, and even a Diet Pepsi can. These gear cookies physically fit together so well that I am convinced they would actually turn!
Box with Christmas Balls by carouselselsel
This entry made it into the challenge on Monday with less than an hour to spare, but I am so glad it did! It is so fun and seasonally appropriate! I love how the Christmas ornaments are tucked between layers of wafer paper and how the simple crate is embossed and painted with the silver Christmas ornament designs. I had to take a close look to make sure those ornaments, with their metallic red paint, were actually cookies, but sure enough, they are!
Fun Variety of Molded Cookies by Chris (FlourSugarButter)
I fell in love with these cookies at first sight! I love the Irish/Celtic theme. I was also very impressed with how incredibly defined and "crisp" the textures are on these cookies. I am not sure how Chris was able to achieve such wonderful textures - whether it was the quality of the molds, or that the dough was frozen after molding, or the use of springerle dough, but whatever was done, it worked splendidly! I also want to note how Chris's use of springerle dough inspired Manu to use springerle dough for her entry as well. I just LOVE intra-challenge and inter-challenge inspirations!
Joy Cookies by mintlemonade (cookie crumbs)
Like so many of mintlemonade's creations, the elegant simplicity of this one is striking. I love how the background cookie was created with chocolate dough made with cocoa powder. The wood grain texture that mintlemonade achieves here is also fantastic.
Pumpkin Bouquet by Fernwood Cookie
In this beautifully composed entry, Fernwood Cookie cleverly used part of a mini bundt pan to create the texture for her pumpkin "vase." I was also duly impressed by the very harmonious, rich colors she was able to achieve with her dough for the flowers and ferns. I would have loved to have had this entry on my table at Thanksgiving!
Vasija Rústica! by CHELY Morales
I do not know if Julia was the inspiration here, but the techniques used in this entry by CHELY remind me of so many of @Julia M. Usher's 3-D projects. The molded pieces of the vase and lid fit together so well. I really like the bird-adorned handle on the lid, and also CHELY's use of gold paint to highlight the textures on the base of the vase and lid.
And with that, Practice Bakes Perfect Challenge #19 comes to a close! I thoroughly enjoyed watching all of these entries roll in for the past month, and I learned so much about molded cookies (something I knew next to nothing about before this challenge). I have been so inspired by all of you that I may make some springerle dough and try my hand at some molded holiday creations! I hope that everyone reading this does the same! Finally, I want to just say how very heartwarming it is to see so many of you finding inspiration in the works posted by your fellow challenge entrants. Art is little more than the free exchange of creative ideas, and my hope is always to challenge, but also to inspire you to take your cookie art to the next level. I am humbled and thrilled every time I see that happen.
I ho-ho-hope you all will join us for our next challenge, which will post on or about December 11, 2016. Meanwhile, keep cranking out those red and green cookies!
Christine Donnelly began her professional baking career at 16, when she was hired on the spot at her local bakery to work the counter and decorate cakes. After detours to college and law school, she worked as a trial lawyer in Chicago for many years, ultimately leaving that career to become a stay-at-home mother to her two children. In her “retirement,” she continued to bake at home, at last finding her preferred artistic medium in decorated cookies. In February 2013, Bakerloo Station was born with a presence on both Facebook and Instagram. Christine makes cookies to balance her left brain, to inspire and share creative ideas, and to feed those needs that only art can satisfy.
Photo credit: Christine Donnelly
Note: Practice Bakes Perfect is a bimonthly Cookie Connection blog feature written by Christine Donnelly that poses inspiration or challenges to get you to stretch as a cookie artist - for practice, for prizes, and for fun! Its content expresses the views of the author and not necessarily those of this site, its owners, its administrators, or its employees. Catch up on all of Christine's past Cookie Connection posts here.