This post is not a tutorial, but rather some backstory of a cookie that was very emotional for me to create. At a future date (and different design), I hope to share the main technique used to create this piece.
It's December, 1985.
I'm nine years old and in the fourth grade.
A visitor informs my family that my brother's great friend -a boy who was like a brother to me and whom I had known all of my life- had been killed in a plane crash on his return home from a peacekeeping mission in the Sinai Desert. He was a member of the US Army, specifically in the 101st Airborne Division, the Screaming Eagles.
All passengers on board, including 248 soldiers and 8 crew, were killed. To this day, it remains one of the deadliest air disasters in American military history.
The definitive cause of the crash is still unknown.
Was it due to weather? An onboard explosion?
Was it terrorism?
Look for yourself- Google "Arrow Air flight 1285". It's still being talked about, over 30 years later.
It was the first loss of someone close in my life. Not only was it a loss, but it was a tragic loss. Reports of the accident were on the news, in the newspaper.
It was tough for me as young girl to wrap her head around the loss.
A book was even written about my big "brother" David, as his life as a young kid was as tragic as his death. His death completely shaped how I handle (or rather struggle with) death to this day.
That's where my faith steps in.
I thank God that I can sometimes channel emotions to create pieces like this.
It helps me to heal.
It helps me to remember.
It helps me to honor.
Have you ever been stuck with something? Being stuck with the dishes after a big family meal. Being stuck with walking the dog when it's pouring rain. Maybe it's a literal stuck, like insisting on grabbing a live cactus at Lowe's even though your parents warned you not to touch it (ahem... youngest Clough child).
One of the worst things is having an idea stuck in your head. And you've planned out how you'll pull off said idea. But you're stuck doing other stuff instead of following through on your idea.
Cue this Cactus Cookie. Picture this: spring 2017, just as the cactus craze was really starting to take off. I pulled out a bunch of cutters, sketched out my "flips" (or ways to repurpose them). I even baked some of them! And then, I got stuck. Stuck doing laundry, stuck doing orders, stuck with the trials and tribulations of life. My sketches and baked cookie ideas got stuck on the shelf. Until now!
I thought this was the perfect tongue-in-cheek design to celebrate Mother's Day or Father's Day (imagine a Dad cactus with a mustache and bowtie!). You know the saying- you can pick your friends, pick your nose, but you can't pick your family?
You're stuck with them.
You recognize the cutter, right? You might have this exact one, or something similar. It's a mitten! Here's a line drawing so you can see where we're going.
Here's what you'll need:
* baked mitten shape cookie
* food-safe marker (optional) to sketch the design on the cookie.
* Royal icing:
-20-second in the pot color of your choice and medium green.
-piping consistency in black, white, and a different shade of green (lighter or darker than the medium green to be used for the cacti lines)
-thick icing in the flower color of your choice.
1. Use the food safe marker to map out the top of the pot, parent and child cactus. Don't go to the edge of the cookie- leave room for the cactus spines. If you're good at eyeballing stuff, skip ahead to step 2.
2. Use the piping consistency green and the pot color to outline the cacti and pot. Let the lines dry. Remember to leave room for the spines around the edge of the cactus.
3. Flood the cacti with the medium green (the 20 second consistency one). Flood the pot. Let these sections dry.
4. Add in the eyes, mouth, cactus lines, and rim of the pot.
5. After the lines are dry, pipe some spines and cactus flowers. Decorate the pot, if you want! If I were making these for Father's Day, I would do a mustache, bowtie, and blue flowers on the parent cacti at this step. You're done!
I hope that you try out these cacti family cuties, to celebrate those loved ones that you're stuck with. Wouldn't they be great for siblings too?
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.