What's New, Honeycat? Spiders for Halloween (or Christmas)?

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I had always intended to do a tutorial on my Halloween spiders for you all, but I just didn't fancy repeating the same cookies. So I set to thinking how I could change things a bit, and do something different. Well, for a start, I wanted to have a bit of fun with the colours, and avoid the traditional black, green, and orange (maybe a little orange!). And what I ended up with was positively Christmassy. Well, why not? 

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What you will need:

  • Baked cookies of your choice
  • White thick flood (20-second) royal icing
  • Brightly coloured royal icing in pink, turquoise, and orange (or any other bright colour you fancy) in both 20-second and stiff consistencies
  • Nozzles (aka tips) in 1 and 1.5 size
  • Scribe tool
  • Tweezers
  • DragÉes or sugar pearls in a range of colours and two sizes
  • Coloured boiled sweets (aka hard candy)
  • Baking (aka parchment) paper or greaseproof paper
  • Plastic bag
  • Hammer!
  • A little flavourless oil


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A note on colours: I used Sugarflair gel colouring in Pink, Melon Yellow, and Ice Blue to create the pink, orange, and turquoise icing. I actually deepened the colours for the legs, after piping the webs, as I wanted a brighter, zingier look.

 

A note on the icing: Using 20-second icing for both the flood and web lines will reduce bleeding and keep the lines thin, but will require quicker work, and a little effort with a scribe tool to reduce the peaks forming at the end of the lines.

 

A note on cookies: Of course you can use any shape, but I find straight-sided shapes much easier to outline and flood and so can do it quickly, which is important when there is wet-on-wet work to do. Fussing with the shape of a flooded circle can use up valuable pre-crusting time!

A note on dewdrops: These are very effective but will not last. They go sticky within minutes to hours depending on humidity. I would not attempt to package these cookies for posting (aka mailing) once the droplets are added, and would suggest adding them at the latest opportunity before presenting the cookies. I made mine the day before attaching them to the cookies and kept them on their little sheets in an airtight container that had a base layer of bicarbonate of soda beneath a sheet of baking paper to act as a dessicant (a tip which is also very useful for keeping meringues nice and dry). They were still hard but slightly sticky when I brought them out to attach to the cookies. After about three days, they had slumped a little, and were more sticky, though we have had dry, warm weather lately.

spider Collage

 

1. Using the white flood icing for both outlining and flooding, cover the first cookie.

 

2. With the first 20-second colour and a tip 1, "draw" the radiating straight lines of the web into the white base. Allow the tip to slightly trail through the white flood icing and work quickly to create thin lines. (Alternatively, you can pipe in the normal way, by laying down the lines from above, which will lead to an "embossed" effect, similar to that in my first tutorial here.) Allow the lines to break, here and there.

 

3. "Draw" the concentric lines, again leaving gaps here and there, to create a broken effect. Untidy spiders!

 

4. Select a large and a small sugar pearl, and drop them where you want the spider's body and head to be.

 

Dry the cookie completely for several hours, until the flood layer is hard. Now it's time to prepare the dewdrops.

 

dewdrop Collage

 

1. Pop a coloured hard candy in a folded piece of baking (aka parchment) paper, inside a plastic bag, and whack it with a hammer until it shatters into small pieces. (Be careful not to do this on your work surface, in case you end up with a candy-shaped indent in the wood, like I did . . .) Spread the shattered pieces of candy more evenly over the piece of paper (or transfer to a silicone sheet or baking mat).

 

2. Microwave at ten-second intervals until the pieces have melted and formed little droplets. Some will melt before others and go a little brown, others might be large and not form perfect spheres, but there should be plenty of usable ones.

 

Keep the droplets on their sheets, airtight (see note above), until ready to use.

 

Now it's time for the legs. (This is the bit that makes me twitchy as the spiders start to look real, even the pink and orange ones!)

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Aim to attach all your legs near the intersection of the spider's body and head. (The head I used was very small, so the legs attach gradually and further back).

 

The legs are formed by piping a tiny "blob" of stiff icing with a tip 1.5, followed by quickly drawing the tip away, allowing the line to taper to a point. The next section is attached to this point, and so on.

Use the photos above as a guide to position and angle of the legs. I have given the front and back legs three sections and the middle ones just two. (My spider is far from anatomically correct, but then real ones aren't made of sugar either!)

 

Either wait until the legs are dry or, if you're impatient, move on to the next step now, but do be careful not to smudge your careful spiderleggy piping!

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1. Assemble a little flavourless oil in a small receptacle, tweezers, some tissue or kitchen paper, a scribe tool, the hard candy droplets, and your stiff coloured icing.

 

2. Dip the tips of the tweezers into the oil and wipe off on the kitchen paper. I found this helped with manipulating the slightly sticky droplets.

 

3. Pipe a tiny dot of icing where you want your droplet attached on the web.

 

4. Select the droplet and carefully pick it off the paper with the tweezers. Pop it onto the dot of icing, and if necessary use the scribe tool to release it from the tweezers.

 

5. Repeat as desired.

I discovered that paler droplets placed on different colour icing glowed with that colour. So although I only made light and dark pink droplets, I was able to create orange and blue droplets on the cookies.

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And there you have it. Spiders for Christmas. Or Halloween. Or maybe just afternoon tea.

 

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Cookie and photo credits: Lucy Samuels

 

 

Lucy Samuels is the owner of UK-based Honeycat Cookies. Originally with an art-based career in mind, Lucy attended art college for a year after school but switched to nursing where she spent twenty years specializing in cardiology. After becoming a stay-at-home mom to her daughter Jess, Lucy experimented with a range of crafts, alighting upon decorative cookies almost by accident. In late 2011, she was persuaded to start her business Honeycat Cookies following several requests to place orders. She set about learning the craft from books, the internet, and trial and error. Lucy has a YouTube channel as well as a blog, Honeycat Cookies, that document some of her wider adventures in confectionery. 

 

Photo credit: Lucy Samuels


NoteWhat's New, Honeycat? is a bimonthly Cookie Connection blog feature written by Lucy Samuels, which pushes the cookie envelope every other month with innovative cookie design ideas and tutorials. Its content expresses the views of the author and not necessarily those of this site, its owners, its administrators, or its employees. To catch up on all of Lucy's past posts, click here.

 

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Goodness gracious!!! These are spectacular! And the most spooky thing of all is I almost did something very like this for GoBo- inspired by your cookies last year.  Phew! So glad I changed directions haha!  I find that happens so often in the creative realm- it's fun how we all find our takes!  Yours is always inspiring!

Originally Posted by Lauren Dorsee Dillon:

Gorgeous, Lucy! Who knew you could remove the creepy from spiders?! I'm wondering if using colored Isomalt drops instead of candy will make it more long-lasting?

Quite possibly - it's supposed to be more stable isn't it? My green spiders with clear isomalt dewdrops on still slumped after a day though. Although they were made much closer to halloween when I'm guessing the weather was much damper. And you're in the desert, that's got to be good for something here?!!

Originally Posted by Lucy (Honeycat Cookies):
Originally Posted by Lauren Dorsee Dillon:

Gorgeous, Lucy! Who knew you could remove the creepy from spiders?! I'm wondering if using colored Isomalt drops instead of candy will make it more long-lasting?

Quite possibly - it's supposed to be more stable isn't it? My green spiders with clear isomalt dewdrops on still slumped after a day though. Although they were made much closer to halloween when I'm guessing the weather was much damper. And you're in the desert, that's got to be good for something here?!!

One would hope. Rattlesnakes and killer heat. But my cookies hold up beautifully.

Wow o wowwwww!  These are eye-cacthing.  Love the colors.  Your work (I may have typed this more than once) is exceptional  So are you.  Staring at art school to nursing to cardiology.  Standing ovation!

How is it possible that I adore your SPIDER cookies so much? I mean, they are ookey SPIDERS!! I love them Lucy. Also, I see working with the melted hard candies is really pretty much the same as messing with isomalt- it can be a little challenging- that stickiness when applying the drops drives me a little batty!

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