It's amazing how the human mind works, and how certain smells can immediately transport you to a time and place of your past. The scent created by lily of the valley flowers is one of those hooks for me. It used to grow in the shade below my parent's bedroom room in the house where I grew up. Whenever I smell (or even see) lily of the valley flowers, I can picture them below that window. I'm transported back in time.
These lily of the valley cookies are simple to make, and they're perfect for spring cookie collections for Easter or Mother's Day.
Here's what you'll need:
* cookie with dried icing flood base. Shape of the cookie and icing base color is up to you!
* 20-secondish green and white royal icing
* toothpick or scribe tool
1. Bake your cookie shape and flood with the icing color of your choice. Let it dry completely. Pipe the green leaves and stem for the lily of the valley. I curved my leaves and stem because I wanted to mimic the shape of the egg. But feel free to pipe the greenery how you wish!
2. After the stem is dry, pipe one white ball of icing at the end of one of the stems. You want the icing to form a smooth, ball shape. If your icing leaves a "tail" or tip when you stop and it doesn't smooth over, stop, thin your icing a little bit more, and then try again.
3. Immediately after piping the icing ball, take your scribe or toothpick and "tease" out the flared petal tips of the lily of the valley blossom. Start at the base of the icing ball, and pull the icing out. Do the remaining petal tips for the flower. Repeat for the rest of the flowers on your stem. That's it! See, I told you it was easy!
I liked pulling/teasing the icing from the base of the ball because it left the spherical shape of the icing intact, creating a ton of dimension.
Look at how puffy those blossoms are!
May you feel inspired to "cookie" something that reminds you of a happy time from your past!
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!
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!
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.