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Live Chat with Francesca Belfiore of Dolcimaterieprime

Welcome, Francesca! It's so nice to have you here today. I really look forward to getting to know you better before we meet at Cookie'sCool in a few months!
Hi Julia, Thank you, it is a great honor and I'm excited to be here!
Before we get started, just a few housekeeping notes for newbies to our chats: questions are answered in the order received, but they will not post to the public/viewable area of the chat until Francesca reads and answers them. We'll work through questions that were logged in advance first; then start working on questions asked live during the chat. That said, please be patient and do not re-post the same question. It may take some time to answer your question, depending on where it sits in the queue. But I will personally make sure every question gets answered before we're through!
Please also ask just one question at a time - it's easier for the featured guest to keep track of questions and for others to follow the dialogue this way. Thanks again!
Ok, ready to start with the questions in the queue?
Ok, so I have some questions. First, your cookie style makes use of a lot of organic shapes, like in those cookies pictured above/left. What draws you to these particular shapes and what things or people have most shaped your cookie style?
Julia M. Usher Well, normally I am simply inspired by everything around me, very often from fabrics, like this one, because I love them. The correct answer is "I turn what I love into a cookie". Sometimes it's simply a picture . . . In the beginning I fell in love with the work of Sweetopia, Donatella Semalo and Rosey Sugar. Then I created my own style, according to my architectural studies.
You seem to regularly work with both royal icing and rolled fondant. Is that right? Do you have a preferred decorating medium for cookies? If so, why?
Julia M. Usher Yes, I like to work with different techniques and let my mind be free to choose the way it prefers to create a cookie or solve a problem - like yesterday, when I thought that the best way to cover my mushroom cookies was with colored coconut fixed on the cookies using a stroke of honey! Unusual, but very suitable...
Oh, and for those of you who don't know about her mushroom cookies. She posted this delightful 3-D set to the site yesterday: http://cookieconnection.juliau...ookies-of-the-forest
Our advance questions in the queue have been answered. Do we have any questions for Francesca from anyone else? The floor is yours!
Julia M. Usher Thank you
I'll ask another while others are writing their questions!
You're a full-time architect, right? How do you fit in cookie decorating?
She's typing live now - so please be patient. In the meantime, send us some questions!
lol  I'm too nervous ...
Well, I was a full time architect... When my daughters arrived I left my work to attend to then. One day, four years ago, I want to create something nice for their birthday and discovered an entire world...
Please don't be nervous, Donna!
So you decorate full-time now? Do you only decorate cookies?
Or are you also into cakes, cupcakes, etc?
Now I decorate when I can, I've no commerce in sweet. I do cookies, cakes and cupcakes
For unknown reasons my flood is leaving divots.  I cannot explain why this is happening.  Is it that I am not using correct mixing?
Donaharrisburg Sorry can you explain me better your question please?
She is wondering why she gets craters or little pits in her royal icing.
More from Donna . . .
I can do great flooding etc. on acetate but not good a designs onto a cookie.  By the way, my cookies are flat, not domed.  Oh! Lest I forget... shout out to you  Ms. Usher, great sugar cookie recipe.
Donaharrisburg Oh well, may be there is too much water in it.
Thanks, Donna. It handles really well, which is what I like about it.
Yeah, I find that looser icing tends to crater more; I've also found that quick-drying in a dehydrator can set the outer shell and minimize cratering A LOT!
You let your mind go free and do not follow pictures?
Good question - how do you do this, if you do? This is hard for a lot of us.
thecakequeen I store my cookies in a hermetic box and I close it in a plastic bag. Someone tells that cookies stay fresh up to a month, but I never let someone eat them after a week...
Oops - Dolci - you answered the Cake Queen's question before I posted it. Please wait for me to post questions to the central area.
Here was her question for all to see.
How do you store your cookies about completing? How long of time do they stay fresh?
donaharrisburg When Royal Icing doesn't mantains a design you have to use less water
You missed Donna's earlier question though. She asked - "you let your mind go free? you do not follow pictures?" Do you?
Sorry... I go free and I follow pictures, it depends. I never follow mental schemes...
What do you mean by "mental schemes"?
I can pipe but get lost in design.
I have some pics that everyone can laugh at. lol
I follow Ms. Usher.
LOL, Dona! (Oops, so sorry, I misspelled your name earlier)
When I want to decorate something really let my mind free and I never use the same method of working
Got it, thanks!
Here's another question related to something you said earlier.
Good morning ladies, What does you mean "no commerce in sweet"?  You just do it for fun?
np  smiling
Did you see luvRcookies' question above?
luvRcookies No, well, it's not only for fun. In the beginning was only to share with other people like me (I did'nt attend to courses and learn everything on the web). After the opening of my blog, people started to ask me to teach, so this is what I do.
How often do you teach cookie decorating classes? Are they all hands-on classes?
well no one here pays for my cookies    they like free  I like tham as testers  lol
Dona - I've see several questions from you. I wait to post them until the first is answered, so no need to repeat questions - I'll eventually get to them. I post in the order received as well.
Julia Not very often. In my town there are few occasion (now I'll start to go out of it to teach). Yes they are hands-on class
I have pics in my mind but find it hard to put on a cookie.
That said, do you have tips for translating ideas in your head onto cookies? Do you use a certain transfer technique, for instance?
Dona what I think is that everyone has to start with simple and quick designs...
Any other transfer tips? Or do you pipe freehand always?
Julia Often I create the designs on oven paper putting the original design under and then tranfer them on cookies
Do you then place the drawing on top of the cookie and then draw over to transfer the image? Like one might do a rubbing?
Julia, yes, sometimes. But often is a simple design like a coral, for example, very easy to do on paper and then tranfer
Oh, you mean like a complete royal icing transfer . . . I think.
what royal icing recipe do you use?
Donaharrisburg sometimes I use pastorized fresh albumen (20 ml for 100 grams of Icing sugar), sometimes I use Pure or fortified albumen and follow the related recipes
Some questions about your teaching . . .
where do you teach?  Do you do videos?
I believe she mentioned she teaches in her hometown. But where is that??
Dona, Julia I teach in events, in Kitchen schools and at home in Genoa, the town that is waiting for you. At the moment I don't do video, but I'm writing a book.
I'm going to ask about that book in a second, but first . . .
thank you for your response.  i would like to know more about how you teach.
Yes, can you tell us more about the structure of your classes? how many people? Hands-on or demo-style? Do you focus on certain projects or techniques?
luvrcookies What people want to know from me is how to do my chocolate paste (rarely I teach about royal icing, so many people is better then me in doing it!) and how I ispire myself. I try to teach how find ispiration for have particular creations.
Gosh, can you share a couple of links to your chocolate creations? I don't know if I am familiar with them, unless that's what you use on many of your cookies (like the 3-D beach cabana??)??
Julia From 5 up to twelve. I don't like demo, I like to work with people, having fun together. I have some classes on murrina style, or marbling fondant, mineral shapes... let me show you from my blog
Great, thanks!
How long does it take you to decorate a cookie? I know it depends on all the detail.
Yes, maybe you can tell us how long the cookies in the previous link took? So we have a more specific example.
Well Up to a day, may be. The cookies of Portofino I posted some days ago took half a day each. But I'm not a perfectionist. I love to see perfection in others' work, but I only chas beauty, it's not perfect...
What do you use for flavoring and coloring?
luvRcookies I use only dust colour and sometimes gel colour.
Those Portofino cookies are so pretty. I'll post the link so others can see while you work on luv4cookies' question.
What about your flavorings?
Julia, thank you . I don't use flavors, cause the chocolate paste is so good alone and royal icing too...
Another question from Dona related to your reference to "oven paper" earlier . . .
Is that parchment paper?
Dona I mean the paper you use to cover a baking tin
Is it waxed or unwaxed paper? I'm assuming unwaxed if it goes in the oven?
We've got about 6 more minutes in the chat. Any questions from anyone else?
Julia unwaxed
Well then, I have one last question! Please tell us more about THAT BOOK! So exciting!
I just added a little time to make sure this last question gets answered.
Ciao Bella!  I am Abruzzi decendant...
Everyone this is mmy chocolate marbled paste, for example
Ooh, thanks for sharing the picture.
I saw it!  Love it!  I did something similar  lol  I need to find English... on your site
Julia about the book... the title will be Deign for a year and it will give a suggestion for every month of the year, cakes, cookies and cupcakes
Oh, I can't wait to see it. Are you done writing it? When will it be published and where can we get it?
Good minds think alike . . .
When will it be published?
dona my site has google translate
thank you for a lovely time  grazie
Thanks for asking so many great questions, Dona. And for keeping the chat going!
Hi there! Have two sick kiddos so just joining the chat!
We're about to wrap up, Winn. Francesca is just answering one last question about her upcoming book. (Hope the kids start to feel better.)
thank you Ms. Usher
you don't want to be in my head  Ms. Usher  lol
I hope I'll finished in autumn, it will be translated in English, cause my blog has more readers from the States then from Italy and I thing it will be available on Amazon
Not sure why being in your head would be so dangerous, Dona! But I'll take your advice!
Great - be sure to post it's publication in the forums on Cookie Connection to help get out the word!
Since we're over the allotted time, I'm going to conclude the chat now by thanking Francesca profusely for spending so much time with is this morning and sharing her expertise . . .
Thank Dona for your lovely questions, thank you Julia for this special time!
Thank you about the book!
I have many more questions to ask you (especially about Cookie'sCool and Genoa), but will ask those in your upcoming Cookier Closeup. Those questions will be coming soon, I promise!
I looked back through the chat! Wonderful creations and questions! Thank you!!
Ciao, bellas! And thanks again, Francesca!
This chat has ended.
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