Monday, December 31, 2018

Happy New Year!


Happy New Year to you.  I want to thank everyone who takes the time to read the blog, learn from it, and get inspired by it. Many of you who send me photos and share stories, inspire me in turn to try something new or approach a project differently. I love seeing people get creative with their baking, cooking, decorating and collecting. Keep it up!

Let's all make 2019 a fantastic year for ourselves and for our loved ones. 

Cheers!



Sunday, December 23, 2018

Woodland Sugar Cookies

To change things up a bit for my niece and nephews this Christmas, I settled on making them a set of woodland sugar cookies in the shapes of adorable animals and figures.  Among these shapes was a set of gigantic gingerbread boy and girl cookie cutters, which I found several years ago at a consignment shop. These particular cookie cutters were beautifully made in the United States by the coppersmiths at Copper Giftsin Missouri.  Although mine are vintage, you can find a similar set that is currently being made (click on the link provided)!

Woodland Sugar Cookies

Several of the cookie cutters, such as the adorable hedgehog, the mushroom and deer, came from my good friend Janet back when she was cleaning her cookie cutter pantry.  She loves everything woodland, and is known for imbuing her home every single Christmas with things that one finds in nature. With a nod to my friend and how she decorates for the holiday, I decided do something similar with sugar cookies for my family.

Christmas Cookie Selection

As you can see from the photo above, you can create shades of royal icing in greens, browns and reds, to evoke a woodland color palette.  Once you mix several batches of icing, you can tint accordingly.  For this project I used avocado green, leaf green (to make a mint color), nut brown, Christmas red, ivory and white.


If you look closely at the evergreen Christmas trees, they are the exact same shapes and designs that were used in a previous post of mine.

Christmas Tree Sugar Cookies

Christmas Tree Cookies:  to get the "sectioned" look onto your Christmas trees, outline and flood every other tier of the branches in green royal icing with a #3 piping tip and let the areas dry completely.  After those sections have dried, outline and flood the alternating tiers in the same fashion.  Let the entire base dry completely.  Using the same green royal icing and a #2 piping tip, pipe the lines of "tinsel" in a zigzag pattern as shown.  Outline and flood the trunk of the tree in nut brown.  While this is still wet, immediately flock the garland and tree trunk with clear, fine sanding sugar.  Do not disturb this until it has dried completely.  Gently pick up the entire cookie and flip it to the side.  Carefully shake off any excess sanding sugar, making sure that this is done over a rimmed baking sheet.  To attach the silver drageés, you have two options.  You can either pipe dots of royal icing and stick the drageés onto the dots while the icing is wet, or you can use cake decorating "adhesive".  Both are effective and both give the cookies a different look.

Mushroom Sugar Cookies

Mushroom Cookies:  Outline and flood the caps of the mushroom cookies in either red, green or brown as shown, using a #3 piping tip.  Using white royal icing and a #3 piping tip, outline and flood the stems.  While the icings are wet, pipe white dots on the mushroom caps as shown, and carefully place pearl candies in the center of each dot.  Place a gnome candy on the stem of the mushrooms and let the entire base dry completely.  Using the same icings, pipe a bead of royal icing around the perimeter of the cookies and let dry.


Woodland Deer Sugar Cookies

Woodland Deer:  Outline and flood the deer in nut brown royal icing using a #2 piping tip.  While the icing is wet, add white royal icing accents for the ears, underneath the eye area and around the breast of the deer, using a fine #1 piping tip.  Add a large white pearl candy for the tail; carefully place a red pearl candy for a nose.  Let the bases dry completely.  Using the same nut brown royal icing and a #1 piping tip, pipe a bead of icing around the perimeter of the deer.  Using black royal icing a #1 piping tip, add dots for eyes and dots for the hooves.  Using white royal icing and a #1 piping tip, add spots around the rump of the deer.  Done!

Cookie Platter

As you can see, every single cookie is exactly the same thickness.  You can use dowels or rolling pins which are premeasured to specific thicknesses in order to get uniform cookies.  Personally, I don't mind it if my sugar cookies take on a little color around the bases.  

Woodland Mushroom Sugar Cookies

Set on these Fire King jadeite "football" platters, the cookies look so magical. The tiny candy gnomes make these mushrooms extra special and cute.  You can find similar ones from baking supply stores, such as Fancy Flours.

Hedgehog Sugar Cookie

The Hedgehogs:  Outline and flood the body of the hedgehog with nut brown royal icing using a #3 piping tip as shown.  While the icing is still wet, outline and flood the face and feet of the hedgehog in ivory royal icing using a #3 piping tip.  Let these areas dry completely.  Using the same nut brown royal icing and a #2 piping tip, outline the body of the hedgehog with a bead of royal icing.  Using a #1 piping tip and black royal icing, add a dot for an eye and pipe little shoes for these lady hedgehogs.  You can add a drageé or a pearl candy to each shoe if you wish.  Using a red royal icing and a #1 piping tip, add a little mouth.  Using a royal icing in the color of your choice (I used red and green), pipe a scarf on the hedgehog as shown.  You can then add nonpareils, drageés and pearl candies however you see fit.    

Gingerbread Girl Cookie

This giant gingerbread girl is sitting on a 13" pink milk glass platter made by Fenton many years ago.  At almost 10" the cookie seems to take up the entire platter.  I could have made gingerbread cookies with these cutters, but I opted for sugar cookies instead.  My niece and nephews prefer them.

Gingerbread Girl Cookie:  Outline and flood the skirt of the girl in nut brown royal icing using a #4 piping tip.  Using white royal icing and a #3 piping tip, outline and flood the shirt area.  While the icing is still wet, pipe alternating lines in red and green royal icing with #2 piping tips, creating a Christmas Tree shape in the center of the shirt.  Add a nut brown trunk to the tree.  You can then drag the wet royal icing to create a pattern if you wish.  Using ivory royal icing and a #3 piping tip, add the hands and the head to the girl cookie as shown.  Using red royal icing and a #2 piping tip, outline and flood her shoes.  Let the entire base dry completely.  For the hair, outline and flood the area in nut brown royal icing as shown.  You can drag the icing out to create her bangs, mimicking the little Utz potato chip girl.  Pipe black dots for eyes and center a colored drageé on each eye.  Pipe a small red mouth.  Add red accents to the neck of the shirt and along the waistline.  Let dry completely.  Using a Christmas tree stencil, airbrush the design on the center of the skirt using Ateco gold sheen.  Once the image is dry, you can then add multi-colored drageés on the tree using dab-and-hold edible adhesive. Don't forget to add a snowflake hairpin on her.  Isn't she adorable?


Gingerbread Boy Cookie

Gingerbread Boy Cookie:  Outline and flood the shirt of the boy with nut brown royal icing and a #3 piping tip.  Outline and flood the shorts/pants of the boy in white royal icing using a #3 piping tip;  add red dots and drageés to the pants as shown.  outline and flood the shoes of the boy in black royal icing using a #3 piping tip;  add holly leaf candies to each shoe as shown.  Outline and flood the hands and head of the boy using ivory royal icing with a #3 piping tip.  Let the base dry completely.  Outline and flood the hair of the boy in nut brown royal icing using a #2 piping tip as shown.  Add black dots for eyes and center colored drageés on each eye.  Pipe a small red mouth with a #1 piping tip.  Using a snowflake stencil and Ateco gold sheen (for an airgun), airbrush the design as shown.  Using dab-and-hold edible adhesive, add multicolored drageés on each snowflake.  Add green accents on the shirt and waistline as shown.  Let the cookie dry completely.

Gingerbread Girl and Boy Cookie

No little boy or girl is going to be able to eat one of these gigantic sugar cookies, so we may need to share it.  However, my darling niece and youngest nephew are certainly going to want one of their own to open up on Christmas day.  Packaged in the largest cellophane bags possible and tied with a piece of deep crimson silk ribbon, I think that my little ones are going to love having them.

Use these Woodland Sugar Cookie designs if you want to create cookies for your Christmas gathering, for a woodland-themed celebration or as a surprise for someone special.  As much attention to detail as each of these cookies have, do make sure to have a bit of fun creating your very own.  Use the designs as a reference, but then add your decorative flourishes and artistic style to each cookie.

From my home to yours, I want to wish each and every one of you a Merry Christmas.  


Cheers,
David
  

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Retro Christmas Cookies

For local clients and customers I decided to go a little retro with their Christmas sugar cookies this season.  Snow globes filled with beautiful evergreen trees covered in icy sugar crystals, jadeite-colored Christmas trees strewn with garlands that look like tinsel, Christmas stockings that are stenciled with snowflakes, and a few Victorian ornaments that are shiny and bright with colorful drageés, are just some examples of what I made.


Let it be known that not only do the cookies look pretty, but they taste the way a good sugar cookie ought to.  It doesn't matter how nicely a cookie is decorated or how elaborate the artwork is, the cookie base and the royal icing has to be delicious.  Being in the business of making custom cookies for special clients and local customers here in Pennsylvania, my ultimate taste testers and critics are the kids.  

Well, I think it's safe to say that this year's retro Christmas cookies are going to go down in the history of this blog as the tastiest treats for kids and adults this holiday season.  

Let's quickly go through them so that you can make some of your own.  Give yourself a couple of days to tackle cookies like this.  The results are absolutely worth the effort.

Christmas Snow Globe Cookies

The Christmas Snow Globes:  ice the base of the snow globe in jadeite-colored royal icing using a #2 piping tip, and while the icing is wet, carefully place multi-colored (or silver) drageés as you see here.  Using white royal icing and a #3 piping tip, outline and flood the entire globe of the cookie; while the icing is still wet, flock the bottom half of the globe (or the entire thing) in clear, fine sanding sugar.  Let this dry completely.  Gently pick up the entire cookie and flip it to the side.  Carefully shake off any excess sanding sugar, making sure that this is done over a rimmed baking sheet.  With a Christmas tree stencil and a cake decorating air gun, airbrush Ateco gold onto the cookie. Half of the tree will be exposed beautifully, while half of it will be covered in icy crystals.  Done!  


Red Cookie Stockings:  for the stocking, outline and flood the boot of the stocking in red royal icing using a #3 piping tip.  Immediately ice and flood the cuff of the stocking in white royal icing using a #3 piping tip.  While the icing is wet, carefully place 2 mm silver drageés as shown.  Let this dry completely. With a cake decorating air gun, airbrush Ateco gold onto the cuff of the stocking and then carefully airbrush gold snowflakes on the boot using a stencil.  Let dry completely.  Voila!

Christmas Cookie Stocking

Green Cookie Stockings:  for the stocking, outline and flood the boot of the stocking in jadeite-colored royal icing using a #3 piping tip.  Immediately ice and flood the cuff of the stocking in white royal icing using a #3 piping tip. While the icing is wet, carefully place 2 mm silver drageés as shown.  Let this dry completely.  With a cake decorating air gun, airbrush Ateco gold onto the cuff of the stocking and then carefully airbrush a green chevron pattern on the boot with a stencil.  Let dry completely.  Done!


Victorian Ornament Sugar Cookie

Victorian Ornament Cookie:  for this simple, yet utterly beautiful cookie, outline and flood the entire cookie using white royal icing and a #3 piping tip. While the icing is wet, carefully drop 3mm gold and wintergreen drageés as you see here.  Let the cookie base dry completely.  Using the same white royal icing and a #2 piping tip, pipe a bead of icing along the perimeter of the ornament.  Using red royal icing and a #2 piping tip, pipe dots around the ornaments as shown, or however you wish.  Let the cookie dry before packaging it.   

Jadeite-colored Christmas Tree Cookie

Jadeite Christmas Tree Sugar Cookie:  to get the "sectioned" look onto your Christmas trees, outline and flood every other tier of the branches in jadeite-colored royal icing with a #3 piping tip and let the areas dry completely.  After those sections have dried, outline and flood the alternating tiers in the same fashion.  Let the entire base dry completely.  Using the jadeite-colored royal icing and a #2 piping tip, pipe the lines of "tinsel" in a zigzag pattern as shown.  While this is still wet, immediately flock the garland with clear, fine sanding sugar.  Do not disturb this until it has dried completely.  Gently pick up the entire cookie and flip it to the side.  Carefully shake off any excess sanding sugar, making sure that this is done over a rimmed baking sheet.  To attach the multi-colored drageés,  you have two options.  You can either pipe dots of royal icing and stick the drageés onto the dots while the icing is wet, or you can use cake decorating "adhesive".  Both are effective and both give the cookies a different look.

This happens to be my favorite cookie of the bunch.




Can you believe that I almost didn't blog about these cookies?  What I love about showing cookies here on the blog and through social media, is that many of my friends are getting the confidence to roll up their sleeves and begin decorating cookies of their own.  Nothing is more flattering and more rewarding than seeing good friends, acquaintances and new readers rolling, cutting, baking and icing cookies at home.   

As for me, I'm onto round two of my Christmas cookie decorating. This next round will be for my entire family on the west coast.  Stay tuned!


Thursday, December 6, 2018

Hanukkah Sugar Cookies

For those who are celebrating Hanukkah, the eight day holiday is a great time to eat traditional sweets of all kinds, but I personally think it's even better if you get to share a few of them with those who are dear to you.  This year, if you have a moment, bake and ice sugar cookies in the classic shapes of Hanukkah that we all know and love.


Two dear friends of mine recently asked me if I would make special Hanukkah cookies for their family and friends.   I immediately set to work on assembling my tasty sugar cookie dough as a base, and several batches of that good royal icing recipe I created many years ago. Hanukkah cookie cutters were then taken out, and I began one of my favorite tasks of all time.  Baking!


During the Festival of Lights, one candle on a menorah is lit for every night of the observance of this holiday.  Eight nights and eight days require a menorah with eight candles, plus an additional candle (in the middle of the candelabra) used for the actual lighting of the candles.  It is on the final night of the festival that every candle on the menorah is lit.  Throughout the eight day observance, families and friends gather together to play the game of dreidel and to partake of traditional sweets and foods.  That delicious Hanukkah gelt is adored by everyone, and yet, there is always room for sugar cookies so that guests can have one or two.


The menorah sugar cookies you see here were such an easy design.  I outlined and flooded round sugar cookies in white royal icing, which was then left to dry.  A menorah with a scrolled footed base was then piped as shown, with a #2 piping tip in sky-blue royal icing.  While the icing was wet, I placed eight 3mm gold drageés on the 'candleholders', and then carefully placed a larger 5mm gold drageé in the center of the candleholder to represent the candles of the menorah.  The perimeter of the round was then given a bead of royal icing in the same blue color.  After the icing dried completely, I took some Rolkem gold cake decorators dust and applied it carefully with a fine brush.

I love these gilded menorahs!


The dreidels were also very simple.  I piped a dreidel design onto a white royal icing base with blue royal icing (#2 piping tip), and then immediately piped the corresponding symbols of nun, gimmel, hey and shin as shown. Once this was dry, I took more of the Rolkem gold and applied it to the symbols of the dreidels.  Voila!

The Stars of David were created on round sugar cookies and on ones in the shape of the star itself.  All were given a base coating of white royal icing which was left to dry, and then I piped the double stripes of the stars as shown using two separate colors (teal and marine blue).  While the icings were wet, I flocked the cookies in a beautiful teal-colored fine sanding sugar so that the Star of David would sparkle.  Done and done!


Don't you just want to have a platter of these cookies for your Hanukkah table?  If you place each cookie in a clear cellophane bag and tie it with a blue ribbon, you can have each guest at your gathering take one from the dessert table.  You can also use cookies like this for each place setting on the dining table.



Consider making a few of these as a hostess gift if you're traveling to a friend's house.  Wherever you decide to celebrate the Festival of Lights, I hope that you are surrounded with friends and family, and are blessed with love, happiness and good health.



To my friends Candice and Rena, Happy Hanukkah!