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Sweet Sharing with Cookie Crumbs (aka mintlemonade)

A very warm welcome to Noriko (aka mintlemonade) who is chatting with us today from Japan. Imagine, I am in Greece; Noriko is in Japan; you all are where you are. How is this for a truly international chat? It is so exciting and amazing that we are able to share our love of cookies and learn from each other here. Julia has made all of this possible through this marvelous site. How can we ever thank her?
Before we jump into Q&A, 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 Noriko 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!
Hi, Noriko! I wanted to extend a personal thank you for doing this chat. We are thrilled to have you here. I may not be able to attend the entire chat, so I thought I'd leave some questions for you in advance for Tina to post whenever others aren't asking questions. Have a great chat!
Hi Tina! Thank you Tina for inviting me to Sweet Sharing Live Chat. It is my pleasure to be a guest here. It is really great I have this opportunity to share my experiences with everyone on Cookie Connection. I would also like to say thank you to Evelin, who encouraged me to do this chat. And I’d like to say big thank you to Julia for organizing this great cookie website, which is a great fun and always motivates me a lot.
Wer are delighted you are here.
Oj lets jump right in.
I have been admiring your muted, natural, earth-like background colors for so long now (and have tried achieving them for some of my sets, I admit, without ever quite succeeding...). Would you share how you make them?
@Laegwen, I think you mean greyish or brownish colours or beige backgrounds (flooded bases), right? Here in Japan, there are only about 15 colours of CK or Wilton available as approved food colouring, so I use only very basic colours. For most of those background colours, I mix some/all with black, brown, yellow and purple. I learned yellow and purple make khaki on Sugarbelle’s colour mixing chart ( and adding brown and black to it make nice shades. When I make grey, I like to add black and a little bit of brown too, so that it’ll be softer grey. I hope this answers your question.
There are several que questions on color.
Hi, Noriko! I admire your style and elegance in cookie decorating so much. What I like the most in your gorgeous creations is . . . the colors! The soft and unexpected palette you often use is your watermark. The risk in using dark and cold shades is to give a touch of sadness or a "not tasteful" look at the cookies. You always do amazing, elegant, and dreamy cookies instead. I'd love to know how you achieve these results. I mean, do you add brown or black to primary colors, or do you use a specific shade already created? And, I'd like to know also where do you get inspiration to create your lovely gingerbread houses? They are unique! Can't wait to see your next creations! ❤️
Here is a photo of that lovely gingerbread house Evelin is speaking of.
gingerbread house
@Evelin, I’m so honoured you said so! Yes, I add black or/and brown to almost any colour to make them softer or subdued. I also try to use unconventional colour palettes. I don’t come up with a lot of new idea and I tend to use similar patterns (like birds and flowers, filigree, wreath, etc.), so the colour scheme is very important for me to make them look different and fresh. As for my gingerbread house I made last year, I looked at tons of photos of real cottages, fairy cottages, just doors and hinges, and roofs on the internet. I found incredibly beautiful cottages all over the world!
Have you experimented with different brands of food coloring, and, if so, which is your favorite brand and type (gel, paste, powder, liqua-gel) and why?
@Julia, we have only CK and Wilton as approved food colouring, and I’m happy with them. There are also a few Japanese brands that have powered and liquid colouring, but they have only a few basic colours . . . I wish I could use AmeriColor. They have so many attractive colours! Except for Wilton and CK, I use bamboo charcoal powder for black icing. It makes icing completely black and has no taste.
Typically how many different colors are you mixing together to get the shades you achieve?
@Julia, I think I mix 2 to 4 colours. I like to add black and/or brown to any colour to soften the shades. To make colours I want or to make my own colour palettes, this colour mixing tool is fun and helpful.
I tried that site and it is actually very helpful.
That's good Tina!
When mixing colors together, I sometimes experience more mottling (or separation and spotting) of colors as the icing dries (as compared to using a single color straight from the container). Do you ever experience this problem, and, if so, what steps do you take to guard against it?
At what point in the process of mixing your icing do you add the coloring? For instance, before you thin with water or after? Do you find that when you add the coloring has any impact on how stably the colors set (i.e., without spotting/separation/mottling)?
Julia, Liesbet mentioned in her Toolbox article on Color published this week on CC that natural colors tend to be more acid sensitive so the addition of cream of tartar or lemon juice can add lightening or spotting. So maybe it is the RI recipe along with the certain brands causing the spotting and not the actual mixing of colors?
@Julia, I always add colouring to stiff icing, before I thin with water. It’s because putting a lot of food colouring could change the consistency and also because I think stiff icing stays better, without separation of colour and water. I’ve never thought about how stably the colours set though.
@Julia, I’ve never experienced mottling or spotting because of mixing colours together.
Your cookie sets always have such beautiful and harmonious color palettes. What are your tips for creating the perfect color palette?
@Christine, I have a lot of pins of great colour palettes on my Pinterest board, so I often pick one from there, and also I pick colours from anything I like, such as cakes, home décor, clothes, flower arrangements, sewn crafts, and so on. When I make my own colour scheme, recently I use this colour mixing tool ( so that I can physically visualize exactly what colours I want. Therefore, I often mix colours looking at a colour palette on my computer screen. I also like to colour in my cookie designs before I start, then I’ll find out how much accent colours I should use to avoid making them too busy. (Still I think my cookies sometimes get busy though.)
What is your Pinterest name so we can check out these boards. When I used either of your names I got a bunch of recipes but couldn’t find YOU!
A follow-up to my last question: Do you let your icing rest (or "cure") for any period of time after you mix the coloring and before you apply it to the the cookie, i.e., to let the colors better dissolve and intensify? Or do you mix the colors and ice right away? Do you find that resting time has any impact on how stably the colors set (i.e., without spotting/separation/mottling)?
My Pinterest account is Noriko Forster.
@Julia, I usually let the dark colour icing rest for a while because they get darker with a lapse of time. I’ve noticed the strong colours like red become stronger (darker) even in a few hours. I’ve never noticed spotting or mottling, so I’m not sure about its impact on the stability of colours.
Sorry Tina, it's just Noriko.
Ladies any questions?
I wanted to add a note if I am correct. Many colors are not considered safe by the Ministry of Health in Japan and do not pass same FDA approval standards as in the USA. I actually appreciate these high standards and from your cookies I don’t see it has limited your work any.
Thank you Tina!
If you could have any food colors you can’t get there which ones would you choose?
I'd like to use Americolors. The variety of their colours is amazing!
If you add too much colouring, what are the consequences? I noticed one of my royal blue icings was softer after drying than my lighter colours. Could this be because I added too much colour?
Welcome Lulubakes glad you joined us
Thanks so much!
Hi Lulubakes! When I make red icing, I find it is porous... or looks grainy. I guess it might be because of too much food colours. But I have no idea how to prevent it.
Is there any particular color you would love to have but can't get there? You never know Santa may be listening.
Yes I experience the same sometimes!
Lulubakes, I don't use very strong colour for flooding, so it's okay. But when I use strong colour icing for piping flowers with tips, the flowers seem fragile...
I get all sorts of holes when using only red. I don't know why either.
I follow your beautiful, intricate work and your amazing colour schemes, which I am interested to learn about, but I would also like to ask how you manage to obtain such perfect edges on your cookies? Thank you.
Yes I see what you mean! I do hate flooding in strong colours but sometimes I can't help it
@Angela, I draw outlines with outline consistency icing and then flood. I know a lot of people outline and flood with just one same consistency icing, but for me using two different consistencies works better. (I could use pretty runny icing for flooding if it’s a large area and of course it’s easier to get a flat base.) It’s important to draw outlines clean and sharp to get the best results, but I’m not super clever or anything, so I’ll let you in on my secret . . . I fix outlines that aren’t right with a scribe tool or a damp paint brush. I can never do without them!
I don't see that line in your work that 2 consistencies make.
What number tips do you outline and flood with?
Tina, I think you could see outlines, but I usually flood carefully to cover the outline with flooding icing.
You cover them beautifully.
Hi, Noriko, hi ladies! Thank you for sharing you techniques and tools. is great, I just added 1 virtual drop of yellow and 1 of blue and "your green" pop out! I wish it will be so easy also while tinting royal icing. I was wondering if you are self thought in this cookie art or if you studied art or if you just have a natural talent for shapes and colors.
Welcome Manu!!!!
Hi Manu! I'm so glad you said so, but I've never studied art except language art. I'm not a natural born artist. Maybe I'm good at finding pretty things and collecting ideas.
While Noriko is answering ladies please keep the questions coming.
The use of birds and flowers I so often see in your work – is there a special meaning behind this?
Tina, since last year I've been into birds and flowers... I don't know why. I like small things to decorate cookies, so birds and flowers are versatile.
Is your choice of colors a personal choice or is this similar to the color pallets commonly used in Japan in decorating ,housewares and tapestries?
I love flowers too!
Tina, I think a lot of people here in Japan prefer pale colours rather than strong colours, especially about food. I hesitate to use a lot of food colour for my cookies, so I usually use strong colours just for accents.
So it is cultural?
Tina, I think it is, if you look at traditional Japanese sweets, their colours are usually pale and hazy.
I want to post some photos to see some of Noriko's work and see how she creates these beauties.
I think this is one of my favorite sets that you have done. The main off-white color is one I see often in your work. Can you share with us how you achieve this color?
@Tina, it has yellow, purple, brown and black. I love to use these four colours. I add more yellow and purple to get khaki, and I add more yellow to get mustard-like colour.
When you say add, you use a dropper, the tip of a toothpick?
It amazes me you get these colors from the colors you are combining.
Tina, I use toothpicks. I add only a tiny bit for the beige colour.
I thought it had to be a tiny amount.
I'd love to talk a bit about your beautiful flowers. I will post of few examples of your flowers so we can better admire them and see if any our participants may have some questions for you about them. Your flowers are unique. Are they your own designs? Any tips for piping them?
Your topcoat is flawless.
@Tina, for the messy looking flowers, I use a 101S rose tip. (The opening is 4 mm) When I was just playing I just found the flower is comparatively easy to pipe and I like the natural look. First pipe a tiny ribbon rose (swirl) and then pipe ruffles around the swirl. The icing for this kind of flowers needs to be pretty stiff, but for the closed ones, it has to be “smooth” (between stiff peak and soft peak).
Beautiul and seemingly simple.
Stunning and flawless!
I agree Lulubakes.
Thank you Tina and Lulubakes!
Can you tell us the tip you used to pipe these and is there any secret to getting that lovely closed look on the rose?
Oh I love you for this post.
@Tina, the icing for the closed roses needs to be smooth, or the edges of the petals will choppy. It’s still not easy for me to get the right consistency for that though. First pipe a tiny ribbon rose (swirl), then pipe 3 petals over the ribbon rose. It will look pretty ugly at this stage, so I make a round shape with a damp paintbrush. This small closed rose can be used as buds. To make the flower bigger, pipe 5 petals over the bud and then make a proper shape with a damp paintbrush.
How long do you mix your icing before piping?
Girls jump in with some questions!
Tina, I don't know how long... until I find it smooth... maybe a few minutes? It depend how old the icing is.
I'm in such awe I can't think of questions!!
I can't think of a question, but your work is beautiful!
Do you use regular meringue powder for the icing?
Lulubakes, I use dry egg powder.
I mean egg white powder.
How long do you keep your icing? I always throw mine away after working with it.
Oh ok yes same here
I keep leftover icing a few days in the fridge.
When I pipe flowers I often get ragged edges. Why do you think this is?
Just popping in to say hi and thank you to Noriko and Tina. I wish I could stay, but I have a yard full of broken limbs to clean up!
So sorry about your storm trouble Julia.
Hi Julia!
Tina, I think your icing might be too stiff. But some people use very stiff icing by purpose so that the petals get choppy or frilly and look natural or rustic.
No I am looking for that smooth look.
I was curios about the other flowers that are ball shaped, is that fondant?
I meant those in the pic... Sorry, my connection is awful today!
Gorgeous colors!!!!
Manu, they are tinted cookies. I applied lustre dust so they don't really look like cookies.
Is this with royal icing or fondant?
Tina, they are molded cookies as well as the buttons in the set you mentioned before.
You bake something so small? Amazing
I noticed when you posted these on Facebook that you mentioned they were for your last class in Australia. Was this a miniature flower class? Again, I love each of them. Any secrets you want to share with us?
@Tina, it was my last class in Japan before I go to Australia for holidays. I’m leaving here on Thursday! We piped flowers with 101S rose tip and the wreath cookie is about 6.5 cm, so the flowers are comparatively small. I think the key to pipe flowers is to get the right icing consistency. And I can never pipe flowers flawlessly, so I always have my damp paintbrush with me and make shapes.
They look pretty flwless to me.
Hello Tina and Noriko! Just catching up!
Tina, with regard to your (way) earlier suggestion that acids in my icing are causing spotting and Liesbet's post about natural colors being acid-sensitive, the latter is definitely true. I've seen major color changes (from blue to pink) when adding acid to certain natural colors (i.e., TruColor, India Tree), but those changes happen instantly, not as the icing dries. The mottling I mentioned happens occasionally as mixtures of ARTIFICIAL colors dry, so I don't think the issue is acid-related at all, but more due to instability of some mixed colors (as drying conditions have also been good). Anyway, it will remain an unsolved mystery!
Hi Mike!
Hi Mike. What a nice surprise
Any more questions ladies and gent?
OK I just have to ask. Where did Mintlemonade and Cookie Crumbs come in and why the two names?
After Noriko answers this if there are no other questions we will cut this chat short. There is so much great information here but wish there were more particiapnts.
Tina, first mintlemonade was just my handle here at cookie connection. Cookie Crumbs is my blog title. I didn't think this would be confusing...
I think it can be. Are you gong to keep both?
Yes, my FB page is Mintlemonade's cookies but I can't change this anymore, and people outside Japan know me more as mintlemonade, though I'm known more as Cookie Crumbs in Japan...
A question about the cookie cutters you made for some of your birds. We talked about that in a comment. You said you used aluminum. While the ones for your latest blu birds were made by one of your students with a different material. It is something it can be easily found in shops?
This is the one made by your student, can't find yours
Oh I love this cookie and love your teardops.
Manu, I found both 3 mm aluminum sheet and stainless sheet in a DIY shop here. Stainless is much better but it was too difficult for me to cut and bend...
Do you have the availability of many other baking products in Japan, like they do in America and can you purchase from abroad anything you like?
I found it...
Oh that is so tiny ans sweet!
Manu, that is what I made with aluminum sheet. It is easy to bend but can be wobbly.
Good morning, thank you both and Julia for the chat, I am not good at asking questions but I will enjoy reading through all the questions and answers... I can't put into words how much I love and enjoy your beautiful sugar art. Blowing tiny pink sparkling hearts to you..Teri
Tina, we have lots of baking tools here except food colours or luster dust. I also buy cheap stuff from oversea online.
To me too? Thank you dear Teri! You are absolutely marvelous yourself!
If you ordered food colors would customs take them away?
Hi Teri, I'm super happy you said so! I admire your work. Thank you!
Tina, I tried to buy a set of petal dust and food markers from, but I wasn't able to buy it.
My hands are tied here too can't purchase out of the country.
Well I can not thank you enough for taking the time to be with us on this Sunday night for Noriko and all of you that joined us. If there are no other questions I will close the chat now.
Thank you so much Tina for all what you did for this chat!
I wonder what else you two would have been able to create if you just had more material!
Thanks Manu. You're too sweet. Thanks for being here too!
Manu, I'll need to learn how to make proper cookie cutters with stainless sheet!
Thanks for this guys!
Or we are just going to have to send you some!
Thank you for joining us Lulubakes!
Thank you Noriko, for sharing! Hope there will be another Sweet Sharing with more question (and good connection for me)! Thank you Tina!
Thank you Manu!
Thanks again Noriko! Bye from me !
Thank you Tina! Bye!
This chat has ended.
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