Monday, October 22, 2012

How I Decorate Cookies: Halloween Edition

I have been painting/drawing since I could hold a pencil and brush. I would paint on walls, paper, anything I could reach.  It's kind of my thing. I also happen to have an insane sweet tooth.

 The way to this girl's heart is through cookies, and maybe cheesecake, but that is for another day.

Today we're going to focus on cookies, and how I combined them with my love of painting!

Now go ahead and get comfy and pop some popcorn... this one is going to be a doozy and definitely a slightly more advanced decorating technique.

Before I show you exactly how I decorate cookies, I need to do a little prep work:

To decorate cookies I use what is called the "flooding technique" with royal icing.  If what I just said to you sounded like a foreign language, no worries... there is an excellent tutorial for that! Check out-->this<-- tutorial to find out all about it.  It is super easy, and she explains it very well.  Flooding is a must know basic for decorating cookies.

For the royal icing recipe that I use go here.

Okay, guys, from here on out I'm going to assume that you've got the flooding technique down. :)

Shortly after this picture was taken, the gingerbread man in the lower left-hand corner met his untimely end.  Since I wanted to have two mummies I decided to cut one out of the already baked houses at the top.  You'll notice this in photos later! :)

Here is what I used:

Un-iced sugar cookies in various Halloween shapes (plus a few gingerbread men)
A batch of royal icing- with a damp towel covering the bowl to keep from drying
Piping bags
Wilton tip #2 (for the flooding) and #46 (just for the mummy)
Wilton Gel food coloring (I really like the box of 12 colors)
Wilton Couplers
Toothpicks (one or two per color)
Wet and dry paper towels for keeping things clean
Small candy eyeballs
Fine paintbrush (that has only been used with food coloring)
A paper plate (or anything else to use as a paint palette)
A bunch of bowls and spoons to mix color into the icing

Icing Tips:

- Smaller batches of cookies are much easier to decorate than large ones! I like to break my sugar cookie dough down into 1-2 dozen cookies size batches, and then freeze the rest.

- I mix about 3/4 of a cup batches of colored icing at a time, it doesn't have to be exact.  To mix the color, scoop roughly 3/4 of a cup of white icing into a bowl.  Use a toothpick to to get a small little glob of gel food coloring, adding it bit by bit to the icing.  Stir with a spoon in between, until you have your desired color.  Be sure and wipe the toothpick clean before adding it back to the gel container. You don't want to get icing in the food coloring. 

- I do all the royal icing work at once, one color at a time for all the cookies, washing the tip in between icing colors. If you can afford to get a few extra #2 tips I recommend it.  The constant stopping to clean out the tip is the most annoying for me.

-  I also like to sketch out my ideas ahead of time, so I know exactly what I need to do with the icing and what I need to do with the "paint".  Having a plan is a must or you are bound to get really frustrated.

- Let the icing harden for at least a few hours (over night is best... don't worry they won't dry out) before painting them.

Painting Tips:

-  If you have ever painted you will be using the gel food coloring like watercolors.

- Use a paper plate like a palette and use a toothpick to glob a small amount of food coloring around the plate like this:

 -  The gel food coloring is very concentrated and a very little goes a looong way. In fact, I used too much in the picture.  You can always add more if you need it.

-  On the cookie, always start painting with light colors and then end with dark.   Otherwise, you'll end up with a muddy, dirty mess of color.

-  If you mess up you can easily wipe off the color gently with a bit of wet paper towel.

Phew! Okay... let's finally get to the good stuff!

Jack-O-Lantern Cookies

- For the pumpkin cookies start with piping and flooding the eyes and nose (and mouth if you'd like) with white or yellow royal icing.

- Let set for about 15 minutes before moving onto the next color. You don't want them to run together.

 -  Now you are going to use orange to pipe around the edge and flood in the center.  Be careful to get to the edge of the white parts.

-  You will want to let that sit another 10-15 minutes before you pipe and flood the stem in with brown or green.  (I forgot to pipe in the stem with icing, so I had to paint it in.)

- Now let the icing dry completely for at least a few hours before painting.

- As you can see, I already painted on the stem with brown directly onto the cookie.  You should used royal icing, that is of course unless you like the way this looks :)

- Paint the eyes and nose yellow, unless you had already made them yellow in the first step.

-  Using orange I paint some ridges onto the top of the pumpkin and add some dimension to the eyes and nose.   I also paint in a huge one-toothed grin. 

-  Now with brown, darken the details a bit more and outline the eyes, nose, and mouth to really make them pop.

- Then I finish them up with black to get the contrast I like.

Ghost Cookies

-  Pipe and flood the ghost cookies with white icing, then IMMEDIATELY move onto the next step.  Do not let these set yet, like the pumpkins.

- For the ghost's face I used a "wet on wet" technique.  Before the white flood dries at all, you'll want to pipe in eyes and a mouth with black icing.

- Now you can set them aside to dry.

-  For the ghosts I just added a bit of depth around the edges with some very watered down black.  I also just added a little colorful "boo", starting with the lightest colors and then adding a bit more detail with more concentrated color and black.

- You could paint names, or whatever you would like on the ghost. I also think just some tattered and torn detailing would look nice too!

Witch Cookies

-  The witch cookies are mostly icing work, with just some black detailing to finish.

-  Pip in and flood the hair and a little strip for around the hat.  I used purple for the hair and orange for the stripe.  Set this aside and let dry for about 15 minutes.

-  Now with black pipe and flood in the hat.

-  Now pipe and flood the face in with green. Can you see where I'm going with this?

-  Let dry for at least a few hours before painting.

-  For the witch, I just used black to paint in a few details on her hat and hair.  Add in her nose and mouth and maybe a little wart here and there and you're done!

Mummy Cookies

-  These guys are my total favorite! They are also suuuuper easy! No painting required. 

- First you'll want to thicken up some icing, because you want it to hold its shape and not flood.

-  I just scooped a good amount into a bowl and kept adding powdered sugar until it was a thick paste.

- Put it in a piping bag with the #46 tip

- Using a little dot of icing as glue, attach two little eyes in place.


 -  Just start piping strips of icing randomly across the cookie.

- The tip has a smooth and a textured side. I liked the textured side more, but you could use either or both! :)

- Keep doing this until the cookie is completely covered.

- While the icing is still wet you'll want to gently push the jagged edges down with a toothpick. 

- Now enjoy your adorable little cookies!

Bats, Cats, Haunted Houses, and Moons

-  These cookies are pretty self explanatory.  

- Just pipe and flood with the base color, and let dry completely.

- Then paint in the details you want.

Other Tips:

-  If you aren't a strong painter, you could very easily use food coloring markers to draw in the details after the icing has dried.

-  Paint whatever you want on these things! If you want an actual black cat instead of a skeleton... go for it! I want you to make these cookies your own.

-  Don't spend too much time getting every little detail perfect.  Remember that these are going to end up in your belly.  Have fun with it, and don't stress too much!

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