Daffodils are my absolute favorite flower, hands down. They are commonly found in my favorite color (YELLOW!) and they are the sure sign that spring is well on its way.
What better way to celebrate these spring beauties than with icing?!
I have created a little video on how to make these pretty daffodils with royal icing. Remember that I'm not a videographer by any stretch of the imagination,
so don't laugh too hard at my film :)
But you'll get the idea on how to make these blooms to celebrate spring!
Although I mention them in the video, here's a list of materials for reference:
* Thick yellow icing in a piping bag
* Wilton petal tips 103 and 101
* flower nail
* parchment paper squares
* scribe tool or boo boo stick or toothpick
DISCLAIMER: I am not a trained photographer by any stretch of the imagination.
I don't know about aperture and ISO and raw images and such.
I just like to take pretty pictures of my cookies.
I just wanted to share one little trick for anyone else like me.
Decorated cookies can take a LONG time to create. I think that it's really important to have a great photograph that showcases your hard work! Since I also sell my cookies, I want a great picture that will be appealing to my clients.
I always try to photograph in natural light, if possible.
Here's my photographing set-up in my studio. I arrange a small table near the glass storm door, allowing lots of natural light to shine in. I lay my cookies and props on photo backdrops, like ones found at SwankyPrints. It was a little after noon and overcast when I took this pic, thus creating the shadows.
I use a white, foam backboard (think science fair project backboard) when I photograph my cookies. It has seen better days, but it still works!
As I photograph, I place the backboard opposite of the light source. For example, the light was coming in from the right in the picture above. I placed the backboard on the left side of the cookies. The light from the door on the right reflects off of the board and illuminates the left side of the cookie-scape.
I know it's a simple concept, but it makes a big difference!
Let me show you some examples.
1. NO backboard used.
Notice how much shadow there is on the left side of the cookies?
Sometimes, I REALLY like the shadowy effect. It can show off the texture of the cookie.
2. Backboard used to the left of the cookies, at a 90* angle to the table.
There is a lot less shadow here, but the definition in the tail was lost a little to the brightness. The picture is much brighter, overall.
3. Backboard used to the left of the cookies, but angled away.
This resulted in a little bit of shadow, but not too much.
Here's another look at the three pictures, side by side, for easier comparison.
Three more things to note:
1. Follow your photographing heart. Do what you think looks good! Some might think that all three of the pictures above are garbage. I'm okay with that! I like them, and that's what matters to me. Tomato, Tomahto.
2. Still consider using photo editing software. I use the editing features in iPhoto and Picmonkey most often. Some small tweaking with software can make a great photo even better!
3. PLEASE, WATERMARK YOUR PHOTOS. Not only does the photo belong to YOU, but the subject of the photo is YOURS, TOO. I won't get into discussing those individuals that steal photos- boy that burns my biscuits! But when you watermark your beautiful photos, people can find you!! I have been able to reach out to many cookiers to ask about technique, design, or even just to say a kind word, all because the picture was watermarked.
Now get out those cameras and take some great pictures!
Or you can just bake some of these cute bunnies, carrots, and eggs, with the cutters from That's A Nice Cookie Cutter!
A rose by any other name would be . . . an acorn? In this case, YES! Thanks to Sugarbelle, you can create a cookie rose with many shapes- other than a rose cutter!
I actually own a rose cookie cutter, but it was a little too small for my liking . As I was digging through my many many many bins of cutters, this acorn cutter caught my eye! Upside down, it's the perfect shape for a closed rosebud!
What you'll need:
* acorn shaped cookies
* flood and thicker royal icing consistencies, in your favorite rose color
* thick, green royal icing for the sepals (the little leaves at the base of a bud)
* petal dust for light shading (optional)
What to do:
1. Cut and bake your favorite acorn shape and size.
2. Turn the cookie upside down. Flood the base of the rosebud. Let dry.
3. Use thicker royal icing, in the same color as the rose, to pipe the lines of the petals. Use my picture above as a guide. Or just do a little swirl at the top!
4. Use a petal decorating tip (my favorites are the PME leaf tips- 50, 51, 52) and the thick green icing to create the outer sepals
5. After a few minutes, pipe the center sepal. You're done!
If you wanted to, brush on a little petal dust to give some shading to the rosebud.
It's up to you!
These easy rosebuds are pretty on their own. . .
. . . or great as accent cookies with some other Valentine's Day sweets!
Happy Valentine's Day!
Ah, mistletoe. One of the more intriguing plants of the holiday season. The shiny green leaves, the little pearl-white berries. It's so pretty! Sought out by couples to share a smooch underneath, while others avoided it like the plague. Some take it's parasitic nature to heart, and prey merciless upon me, even if I'm five feet away. . . ahem, Cookie Widower (my hubby). :)
I was inspired by Sugarbelle's hydrangeas and wanted to use her
technique to create a cookie mistletoe. It's sweet and simple!
Start with a scalloped circle cookie dough shape and use a really small, round cutter to make a hole. A floured icing tip could work for this too. I made a large hole because I knew I would thread a wide ribbon through it later. If you're planning on using a thinner ribbon for the bow and hanger, use a drinking straw or skewer to create a smaller hole in the cookie dough.
After the cookie is baked and cooled, flood the cookie with a light green color. Let this base dry well.
Time to make the background! I made a simple stencil using a plastic food container lid. I drew the shape with a marker and cut with a craft knife.
I used Amerimist Avocado to airbrush the stencil in a random pattern.
Other green shades would work too!
Use a 20-second green royal icing to randomly pipe puffy green leaves. Add a few royal icing white berries and allow to dry.
.After your mistletoe ball is thoroughly dried, it's time to add the ribbon
bow and hanger. I used 7/8" wide ribbon, because I wanted a BIG bow. Thread a long piece of ribbon through the hole in the decorated cookie
(I used about 20" of ribbon). Lay the ribbon flat and straight.
Cut a second piece of ribbon (I used about 12"). Center it under the first ribbon. Tie it in a bow around the stretched out ribbons. Slide the knotted bow down to the top of the cookie.
Finally, tie a knot at the end of the stretched-out ribbons.
I just love this little mistletoe ball! They would be great to hang on a tree!
Or maybe decorate BOTH sides of the cookie and hang in a doorway,
just in time to steal a kiss from a loved one!
Better yet, pair them with the cute Winter Foxes that I shared
in a guest post on Sugarbelle's blog! While you're there, check out the
mistletoe and other stunning rustic-Christmas designs she made with
her Brown Sugar Roll-Out Cookies!
Wanting to make some cute and quick pilgrims, but not sure of what to do?
If you have a diamond ring cutter, then you're set! My ring cutter is a good size- nearly 4" tall. But the design would still work if you have a smaller ring cutter instead!
If you're interested, you can find the sketches to these pilgrims here in the template section. You can use them in a projector (like a Pico or KopyKake) or print and cut as a template. They're not fancy- just a pic of my actual sketches. But they're still useful! Enjoy!
In my opinion, many cookie cutters wear a disguise. It's like they celebrate Halloween every day! I love trying to figure out their alter-egos.
Recently, I was digging through my bin of Halloween cutters in search of a witch cutter. I knew I had at least one head/hat cutter, but I wanted the full witchy body. I stumbled on this cutter:
An ordinary bat cutter, one of which I have NEVER used (I have many cutters that fall into this category. . . ). However, this cutter was turned on its side in the bin. I mentally could "see" things in the cutter:
Here's the result:
By the way, here's another design that I "saw".
I have absolutely no idea when I'll need a man with a little hat and big nose, but I know what cutter I'll use!
I love re-purposing cutters, especially using a single cutter for making multiple designs for one occasion. A skull cutter has so many possibilities! I have a small collection of skull cutters, and I am always on the lookout for a new skull style.
Many skull cutters have the built-in cheekbones, but not all. In fact, the cutter on the upper right is one of my favorite cutters to make ladybugs!
I used this skull cutter to make a collection of Halloween characters- ironically, a skull was not one of them!
I decided to create a Frankenstein, pumpkin, mummy, and Dracula.
Check out the video on how to create Dracula!
Ice cream cones are a favorite summertime cookie design. Check out my spin on this cool treat! It's super easy!
While your ice cream cone is drying, smear a thin layer of your ice cream color on a piece of parchment paper. I used an offset spatula for this. Let the smeared icing dry. It shouldn't take too long- less than 30 minutes depending on the humidity level.
Add a few drips and some lines on the ice cream dome and that's it!
Wasn't that easy?
I'd bet that this technique would look cool on single ice cream scoops made with a trimmed round cookie. Or better yet, an ice cream cookie with
some REAL ice cream on the side.
Check out these ice cream cone cookie designs from Sweet Sugarbelle and
The Bearfoot Baker!
In the meantime, here's an ice cream cone toast to you and your summer!
If you are new to cookie decorating, you'll need the obvious pieces of equipment: rolling pin, cookie cutters, baking sheets, decorating bags and tips, etc. Sweet Sugarbelle has put together a very thorough list here with all the basics.
However, there are a few pieces of equipment that I HAVE to have in my kitchen. They aren't made by Wilton or some of the other cake/cookie decorating companies. They are everyday items that have made a big impact in what I do! Let me share them with you!
1. Plastic Knives
You know you got 'em- the leftover silverware from the birthday, graduation, and holiday parties from last year. So put them to use!!
Use a plastic knife to scrape out your icing bottles.
Make interesting textures!
Run a plastic knife through a layer of stiff royal icing to create a wood grain texture. Then use the knife's edge to define the edges of the boards. Mix it up by using different plastic knives- the teeth might be different sizes or spaced differently. Check out the pic of the knives above to see this! 'Betcha never noticed that before!
2. Wal-Mart Premium Wrap
If you're not familiar with using plastic wrap to make an icing pod, check it out here at Karen's Cookies. It's a great technique!
I've tried many different brands of plastic wrap, and I like this one the best based on the price and the amount that I use. I make cookies all the time, so I go through a ton of this stuff.
3. Tea Strainer
I hate tea.
Hot tea, iced tea, flavored teas- can't stand any of it. I know it's weird, and people have said, "Well, you've never had MY tea".
Sorry. I'm not gonna like it.
So what do I do with a tea strainer that was from my bridal shower
I put powdered sugar in it and tap it over a bowl of icing that I need to thicken. The strainer breaks up any chunks of sugar and allows good control over how much sugar I add.
1. Paper Plates
Ordinary paper plates. Like the ones that lovingly hold delicious funnel cakes at your local carnival or fair. They are my absolute, must-have, can't-decorate-without-it tool (that's not a traditional baking tool). I even packed a few in my luggage to take with me to CookieCon because I knew I would be decorating there. True story. Let me share their endless versatility!
My everyday cookie decorating surface
If you have seen any of my tutorial pictures, you'll spy the tell-tale paper plate in the background. The plate is a great disposable Lazy Susan, since it spins smoothy on my worktable.
My sanding sugar helper
The slight lip of the plate keeps sanding sugars from running away from me when I sprinkle them on wet icing. Bending the plate into a pour spout makes clean up easy!
Weighing my ingredients
I always weigh my flour and powdered sugar for my recipes. The paper plate makes this task easy! Then I'll bend the plate into a funnel and pour the ingredients right into my sifter.
Cookie Crumb Collector
To make perfectly sharps edges, I use a microplane to gently shave down excess cookie. Use the plate to catch the cookie shavings for easy to clean up! Then make cookie butter with those shavings like Sweet Hope does!
You can also cut a paper plate for a stencil or rest your cookie on it while airbrushing! The possibilities are endless!
I hope that I have inspired you to use some non-traditional tools in your cookie decorating fun!
Inspired by a bikini cookie made by Sweet Sugarbelle, I used a corset cutter to make this cute hula girl cookie! I used a ruffled edge corset cutter, like this one.
Check out my video on how I made it! This video was my very first iMovie. I won't win any Oscars, but I learned a lot in the process!
I'm Amy. Wife, Mom, former science teacher- and now full time cookie baker on Maryland's Eastern Shore. Pull up a chair and we create! I'll bring the coffee- maybe Mike (The Cookie Widower) will make it for us.