One of my tricks in creating new, cartoony designs is to exaggerate one or more qualities of the character. Big nose, little eyes, tiny body, big head- all of these characteristics can make your design cute and whimsy. Plus, it takes away some of the pressure to make proportions just right.
You might just recognize the cutter I used to make this little chick! It's the round potted cactus from Sweet Sugarbelle! It makes the perfect fat chick in a little nest. Maybe they live down by the river? Sorry- I saw a Chris Farley clip the other day 😂.
What you'll need:
* Baked cookie shapes
* 20-second icing in yellow and brown, and tiny amounts of black, orange, and accent color of your choice
* Parchment paper
* offset spatula or knife.
Let's start with the nest!
There are lots of ways to make bird nests (like this one from LilaLoa), but I wanted to try something a little different. I love texture contrast between the chick's head and the bumpy nest. My method is definitely a little more fragile, but it's fun to try!
1. Make some icing lines on parchment paper. This is a popular start to make your own sprinkles, as detailed in this blog post from the Bearfoot Baker. BUT, for my nest application, criss-cross some of your lines! Allow them to dry. You could let them dry on their own for a few hours, use a dehydrator, or even a slightly warmed oven. I like to use my fan. If you go the fan route, remember to use magnets to hold down the parchment. It's irritating to have your parchment paper with freshly piped transfers scatter to the wind. Trust me on this one.
2. After the transfers are dry, use a spatula or knife to break your icing lines. They actually look like twigs for a bird's nest! Set these aside for now.
Let's make the chick!
1. Use yellow icing to make the chick's body. Let it crust.
2. Use brown icing to make the nest. Immediately place the icing "twigs" on the wet brown icing. It's ok if some of the twigs break in the process! Also, feel free to let them hang over the edge of the cookie.
3. Time for the next details! Pipe the wings, hair pouf, eyes, and beak. I used white nonpariels for the eye highlights.
4. I decided to add some other accents to make girl and boy chicks. For the girl, I just added some eyelashes, bow, and flower accents. For the boy, I just added a bow. I think I'd do a bowtie next time. And some glasses! So cute!
I hope that you're inspired to add some of these cute chicks
to your spring cookie collections!
FODDER SHOCK. What an unusual word!
Doesn't it sound like an expletive in another language? Just imagine the following scenarios:
1. Mumbling "oh fodder shock" as you're walking through magic doors at Target because you realized that the lengthy grocery list is still on the fridge at home.
2. In a moment of pain, you exclaim "OUCH! FODDER SHOCK!" after you stubbed your toe on the dining room chair leg.
3. You exclaim "FODDERRRR SHOCKKKK" as a full carton of eggs slips out of your hands and crashes to the floor.
A fodder shock is a real, actual, thing! Commonly, they're a cluster of dried corn stalks that are used as autumn decor. Traditionally, farmers made them to store the corn stalks to use as animal feed in the winter. I have always lived in rural area full of farm fields, but never heard of this word until a client recently asked for them. Truthfully, I felt quite stupid until I asked my husband (who is a lot smarter than me) and even he didn't know what they were. So we both learned a new vocabulary word! Has anyone else learned a new word today? (please say yes, please say yes...)
I've made REAL corn stalk clusters (aka fodder shocks) to frame my front door. And guess what? I think they're more fun to make in cookie form!
And tastier too...
I used Sweet Sugarbelle's pencil cutter from her shape-shifter set for the base cookie. Don't have the shape-shifter set? You could use a rectangle or your favorite plaque shape, while you are waiting for your own shape-shifter set to be delivered by the UPS carrier. Because you NEED to have it. On a side note, click here to read the Cookie Widower's (my hubby!) thoughts on parcel carriers.
You'll need the following to create these fall favorites:
*tan/taupe royal icing in thicker piping consistency (I used ivory and a touch of green and chocolate brown to make this taupe color)
*darker brown royal icing in piping consistency (optional)
*orange piping consistency (optional)
*round tip (like a PME 1.5 or Wilton 2), and a leaf tip (I love my PME ST50)
Here we go!
1. OPTIONAL! Add a royal icing base color to your cookie. I used my off-set spatula to smear on a layer of darker brown because I wanted a little "rustic-ness" to the base. You could do a regular icing flood if you wanted a smooth look. These would be awesome on LilaLoa's Chocolate Roll-Out recipe (which is absolutely awesome, by the way). No base icing coat would be needed then!
2. Use a small round tip and the tan/taupe piping consistency royal icing to make the corn tassels (that's the fan-like things at the top). Next, pipe some long corn stalks. Don't worry about them being straight, or how many there are. Just make a bunch of them.
3. Switch to a petal tip on that same tan/taupe icing. Pipe some random leaves on the stalks. Be sure to add leaves at the middle and base of the stalks, too. It's ok to overlap leaves, and don't worry if they break or don't look perfect.
4. Now comes the magic! Add a few more stalks with the round tip. Pipe them right over the leaves. It was this step that made me think to myself "that's a fine looking fodder shock!".
5. Use either the tan/taupe or the darker brown to pipe a few horizontal lines to represent the string that tied your fodder shock together.
If you wanted, you could be done at this point!
Or you could choose to add some other fall accents. I piped a pumpkin at the base of these fodder shocks. A potted fall mum would be awesome, too!
I love the texture that these fodder shocks add to a fall-themed platter!
Have a fodder shock-ing fall!
Royal icing transfers are a great way to use up extra icing, and can be stored indefinitely for future use. I like having these mini ruffled ribbon roses on hand because they can be quickly added to a cookie, speeding up the decorating process. And they're pretty, too!
I used a PME 56R for these tiny blossoms. They can be made with a bigger tip, but keep in mind that a bigger tip makes them not only wider but taller, too.
Here's what you'll need for these pretties:
*STIFF royal icing. The icing should hold peaks without falling. When in doubt, mix in more powered sugar.
*small petal tip: PME 56R for right handed or PME 56L for lefties, Wilton 101s, Wilton 101, Wilton 102. Basically, the smallest petal tip you can get.
I LOVE my PME 56R!
*decorating bag, coupler set
*flower nail and parchment squares
It might be easier to WATCH this process before I break it down step-by-step. Take a look!
1. Attach a small square of parchment paper to your flower nail with a bit of royal icing. Start in the center, with the wider part of the tip touching the nail. To make the icing cone, spin the nail with the fingers on one hand, and apply even pressure on the decorating bag with the other hand. If you haven't made any kind of icing flower before, this whole "spin with one hand, pipe with the other" might be tricky. Think of rubbing your head and patting your belly. It's awkward at first, but practice will help!
2. Touch the wider end of the tip to the nail again. This time you'll spin the nail again and apply even pressure on the decorating bag with the other- but you'll move the bag up and down making a ruffled edge.
3. Using the same up and down motion, create a final row of ruffles.
4. Slide the parchment square off of the flower nail and set aside to dry for several hours. Once dried, store the flowers in an air-tight container until you're ready to use them.
After you master the general process of making these ruffled roses, you can experiment with the angle of the tip to the nail, which changes how tight the ruffles are to the center of the flower.
Another option is to make the flowers two-toned, by placing two colors of icing in the bag. Kinda pretty, aren't they?
Or add a little touch of extra color by brushing petal dusts at the base of the rows of petals.
I hope you'll grow to love these ruffled ribbon roses as much as I do!
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!
When I think of starfish, these beauties come to mind.
Do you know that they are called "Sugar Starfish"?! Honest! And with a name like that, I just knew I had to cookie them! After studying many starfish pictures, I thought that I would try to recreate the texture with royal icing and nonpareils.
Sanding Sugars. Those tiny, sweet crystals that can add a little extra sparkle and depth to cookies. Like many other cookiers, I have a slight addiction to sanding sugars and sprinkles. It doesn't take long to amass a generous collection of these miniature gems.
Sanding sugars. Coarse sugars. Sugar pearls. Nonpareils and Sixlets. In every color imaginable. Not to mention metallic dragées and wide array of shaped sprinkles- from hearts to flowers, pigs to leaves. And before you know it, you have enough sugar toppers to sugar-coat every cookie you make for an entire year. And still have some sugar leftover. That can create a bit of a storage issue.
I store my sugars 'n sprinkles upside-down in Rubbermaid totes. It makes it easier to find what I am looking for.
Sometimes, though, I don't use the sugars straight from the bottle. I'll make specialty sanding sugar mixes for specific purposes. Let me show you some of my favorites.
Birthday Candle Mix
A mix of little yellow, orange, red, and clear
Salt 'n Pepper Mix
A mix of black and clear
Ruby Slipper Mix
A mix of clear, red, and silver (silver is the key!)
Beach Sand Mix
A mix of gold, brown (it's the CK brand- it looks like charcoal gray), yellow, and clear
Some sanding sugar tidbits:
* These little cups are great to store your sanding sugar mixes. They're great for salad dressings, and Jello-shots too! I found them at Wal-Mart next to the paper plates and plastic silverware.
* I buy my sugars from a variety of places. Best deals can be found immediately after the holidays when they go on clearance. Also, check local Amish/farmers markets.
* Look for multi-color bottles of sugar pearls and sixlets. Just pick out the colors as you need them.
* Hold a sugar swap! Get together with some other cookie pals and share sugars. Use the little cups to take home your sweet stash. Not only will you save on storage, but you'll save money too!
Hopefully I have inspired you to put some of those sugars to good use!
I knew it would happen, I just wasn't ready for it. The day that my eldest son pulled away from my attempted motherly embrace in public, followed by the stiff arm and stink eye in my direction. Then, my heart sank even further when he called me "MOM", not "Mommy". I knew that we had turned that fateful pre-teen corner in our relationship. It was a sad day. Mind you, at home he returns my hugs and "Mommy" is still the preferred title for me, but I now understand the boundaries.
So with Valentine's Day coming up, I wanted to make some cookies just for my growing-up eldest. I needed to avoid this nightmarish scene: he pulls out the lovingly decorated pink heart sugar cookie from his lunchbox and the students at his lunch table chime in with "Awwww, your mommy loves you" said in the most childish voice that they could muster. That would not be good.
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.