COOKIES AND RUBBER STAMPS

I try hard to avoid repeating myself, but sometimes I cannot help it: I am soooo excited about this! Rubber stamping is one cool method to decorate cookies for the artistically-challenged like myself. Truth is, if someone asks me to draw something or else face the guillotine I will simply tell them to make sure it is well-sharpened. Make it quick. Now, rubber stamping? Anyone can do it! All you need is to flood your cookies in any color you like, but I normally go for white. Let it sit overnight. Do not rush. I repeat: do not rush! The surface needs to be fully set and hard so that you can press the stamp on top and make sure the maneuver is not going to hurt the icing. If you go to a store such as Michael’s or Jo-Ann, visit the section on scrapbooking and pick your weapons. Some stamps work better than others, so it is a bit of a trial and error thing. But… so much fun!

For this set, I used a type of stamp that I had never heard of, but apparently is very popular with the crowd that does serious scrapbooking. They are made of plastic and come glued to a type of acetate sheet. You can find them on amazon or etsy, I have not seen them for sale in stores where I live. For the one I used in these cookies, click here. Usually one sheet comes with several different designs. I find it easier to cut the acetate and isolate the image I want to work with. Then, I spread with a brush a small amount of food gel dye on kitchen paper, either black or another dark color like gun metal from Americolor, a bit more subtle. Press the stamp on it, and practice on a sheet of paper to check that the whole extension of the design was properly covered with dye. It does take a bit of playing with it. If you look at the set of four cookies above, you’ll notice that the design transferred better in some than others. If the design does not transfer completely, you can fill the missing lines with a very fine food pen like Tweets Cookie Connection 03. The cookies look nice in black and white, but I also made a couple painted either with luster powder (top left) or food pens (bottom right). Food pen is a lot easier and faster but I think I prefer the subtle look of luster powder.

Regular rubber stamps also work very nicely and tend to have simpler designs that are more user-friendly.

For this design I started with a flooded white icing and painted a background of striped in warm colors, using food gel dye and alcohol, just like described in a recent blog post.

The amount of dye to add to the paper is something you’ll need to adjust as you go. I don’t like the idea of buying a pad as used in scrapbooking because you need a lot of dye to soak it, and I am not sure how well it keeps for future uses, so I believe you waste too much dye.

This is another stamp, also the traditional type, rubber with a wooden base. I colored the icing as before, but using a tie-dye instead of stripes. And in this design I went with colors: leaves painted with a food pen, and the little vase with gold luster powder. After painting, you might have to go back to the outline and touch it up with a fine tip black pen. Make sure the paint is fully dry, which happens quite quickly anyway.

Another way to deal with the stamp is using a food pen with a thicker point (I like this kind), paint the stamp, then quickly press it on the iced cookie. You need to work a bit faster because the amount of dye is going to be less than by soaking the paper, therefore it might dry quickly as you paint the stamp. The advantage of this method is reducing the probability of smearing, and saving quite a bit of dye. Below you see what it looks like.

Very sharp lines, no smearing at all. Again, you can leave it black and white or go wild with the design….

Some drawings like the butterfly are a bit too “busy” and not easy to transfer. I still think they are worth playing with, because the end result is quite striking. You need a very steady hand and be very assertive when laying the stamp on the cookie. Any hesitation and you’ll have a smudged design. If that happens, just eat the evidence when no one is looking.

In the set above, the butterfly was a plastic-acetate stamp, the other two were the traditional rubber kind. The top left, a composite using two very small stamps.

My most recent “experiment” with stamping was with a design that proved a bit tricky. It involved a silhouette type stamp, and it was almost impossible to get it uniform and without blurry edges. This was the best I could do. I think silhouettes might be better left for a projector.

I close this post with something I got in the mail just as I finished writing this article.. Available here.

This is a plastic-acetate stamp sheet. It measures 4 1/2 x 6 in. Each kitten is a little different, so you can either stamp a series together or cut them individually and add to your cookie as a central image, which is what I intend to do. I suspect those images will work very well, as they are overall simple. My last attempt with a complicated image was a beautiful hummingbird (you can see it here), but I could not make it work on the surface of the cookie. Too bad, it is a stunning image. Maybe I’ll conquer it at some point.

I hope you’ll consider rubber stamping as a nice alternative for cookie decorating. It does take some experimenting and playing with it, but the possibilities are endless, and once you get the hang of it, you’ll be hooked.

ONE YEAR AGO: Macarons for all Seasons and Reasons

TWO YEARS AGO: Lentils and Radicchio? Yes, please!

THREE YEAR AGO: Tres Leches Cake

FOUR YEARS AGO: The Joys of Grating Squash

FIVE YEARS AGO: Auberge-Pecan Walnut Bread

SIX YEARS AGO: Gluten-free and Vegan Raspberry Bars

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Lasserre, a French Classic

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Sourdough Bread with Walnuts and Dates

NINE YEARS AGO: Braised Brisket with Bourbon-Apricot Glaze

TEN YEARS AGO: The Real Vodka Sauce

ELEVEN YEARS AGO: Pork Tenderloin and Blue Cheese

BUSY BEE SUGAR COOKIES

Not too long ago I made some macarons decorated with little bees (view post here). I really wanted to send some to a friend, but in the past I’ve been burned badly trying to ship macarons. What to do? What to do? Turn them into sugar cookies instead! Much more mail-friendly. I adapted the decoration to give those bees a flower to fly to, and to get busy. Then I got busy myself… The cookie dough recipe is a recent incorporation into the Bewitching Kitchen. It produces very sharp edges and I also like the texture of the cookie after baking.

NEAT EDGES SUGAR COOKIES
(adapted from Baking a Moment)

1 cup (227g) unsalted butter,cubed, cold
1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
zest of 1 lemon or half an orange
2 eggs
3 1/2 cups (420g) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (60g) cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 teaspoon Fiori di Sicilia extract (or vanilla, or lemon extract)

to decorate:
your favorite recipe of Royal Icing (I use Tanya’s)
sprinkles
food-safe pen

Heat the oven to 350 F and line baking sheets with parchment. Sift the flour, cornstarch and salt, and set aside. Mix the sugar with the zest rubbing it well to release the oils. Cream the butter with the flavored sugar, just until smooth and combined.

Mix in the eggs and Fiori di Sicilia (or other flavoring extract) until incorporated. Add the flour mixture on low-speed, in three portions. The mixture will seem very dry and sandy at first, but after a couple of minutes the mixer it will start to pull away from the sides of the bowl.

Remove the dough from the bowl, cut in two pieces and wrap one in plastic. Roll the second piece of dough out between 2 sheets of parchment paper, to a thickness of 1/4 inch. Cut into rounds, press a detail flower using another type of cutter, and freeze for 10 minutes. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the size of the cookie. I like to have a slight golden tone at the edges.

Cool on a rack and decorate as desired. For the bee decoration you’ll need yellow, and white Royal Icing with flooding consistency, and orange Royal Icing in orange (very small amount, just for the bee’s body).

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: At the risk of sounding repetitive, I must say I had a considerable amount of fun making these cookies. Perhaps because I made those according to my own imagination, did not follow any design found in the internetic world. I am usually not fully satisfied with my bakes, but this batch of cookies ended up just the way I wanted. What more can a poor baker wish for?

For Royal Icing, I used my default recipe, which you can find in Tanya’s blog. I started flooding the white flower, let it crust. Added a layer of additional icing to the center, and some sanding sugar. Then I flooded the yellow part. Waited for it to crust and piped the bee body. Then, patience was called for. I placed the cookies away from sight and did not touch them until next day. You really want to have the icing fully set before moving on to the next step. A food pen does the rest, details of bee body, wings, and flight path. Finally, I painted the center of the flower with gold.

As to the cookie dough recipe, I’ve settled on this one for the past 6 weeks or so. I’ve tweaked it quite a bit, and this version is probably my favorite, although by now you probably know I rarely leave a recipe alone for too long… The amount of cornstarch can vary from 1/2 cup to 1/3 cup (60 to 40g), and the edges will show a slight difference in sharpness depending on how much you use. I suggest you play around with it and decide what is the magical combination that suits your needs and taste. I prefer to add a tiny amount of baking powder, rather than leaving the recipe without.

Before I leave you, a little announcement. Since I’ve been making sugar cookies on a weekly basis, I will publish posts that group my favorite designs under the title “Joy Cookie Club.” There will be no recipe, just a brief description of the techniques used to decorate them. I hope you will enjoy those posts, the first one should be published in the near future.

ONE YEAR AGO: Mincemeat Pies, when the third time is a charm

TWO YEARS AGO: Shibari Bread]

THREE YEARS AGO: Incredibly Simple Times Four – January 2018 

FOUR YEARS AGO: Two Salads and a Blog Award!

FIVE YEARS AGO: When Three is Better than Two

SIX YEARS AGO: Somebody Stop Me!

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Zucchini Pasta with Cilantro-Cashew Pesto

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Bran Muffins, Take Two

NINE YEARS AGO: Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

TEN YEARS AGO: Mogo Mojo

ELEVEN YEARS AGO: Slow-Roasted Chicken Thighs: an Ice-Breaker

COOKIES WITH A SMILE

For almost two years now I’ve been baking for weekly homeless meals, in a church-organized project called Common Table. Before pandemic times they had a sit-down dinner in a big room, so I could bake whatever I felt like it, including regular cakes, pies, tarts. With Covid-19 in the equation, everything changed. They show up and grab a bag with their meal, so any sweets must be individually wrapped and packed together with their main meal. This has obviously restricted my choices of things to bake, and I find myself making more cookies and less of everything else. But, there is always a silver lining. Focusing on cookies made me decide to improve my decorating skills, so that sweets could also bring a smile, especially for families with kids. Every week I include about a dozen iced sugar cookies, so that I can practice different styles of decoration, and at the same time not get too overwhelmed by the process. Visiting Youtube University I try to learn from the great cookie decorators out there. In this post I show you a few of my favorite recent adventures and include the video tutorials I followed to make them. The basic cookie recipes were either gingerbread (this post) or variations of my default recipe for sugar cookies.

PENGUIN GINGERBREAD COOKIE

To make these cutie pies I followed Haniela’s tutorial found in this link. Starting with a simple round cookie I drew a heart shape with a food pen. Then I used four different colors of Royal Icing: black and white with flood consistency, and orange and pink with thick consistency. For Royal icing I recommend the wonderful recipe from my tent-baking friend Tanya. All piping was done without icing tips, just bags cut with sharp scissors.

After flooding with white, I waited for it to crust, flooded with black and waited for it to crust also. A couple of hours later I made the details of nose, feet, and the little bow. For the feet, it is better to pipe the two external parts, wait 10 minutes and pipe the central one, so that they don’t join together. Next, just like in the video, I drew the eyes, and added red luster powder to the cheeks with a soft brush. Finally, I piped an outline of white royal icing, and immediately touched the wet surface of the cookie into a plate with black sanding sugar. I love my little penguin girls.

SANTA’S HEAD

To make these sleepy Santas, I followed the tutorial from Little Cookie Co. Just three colors of Royal Icing are needed: white, peach and red. Her tutorial explains it all very well, and I was just a little nervous to make the mustache, because it had to be piped free hand and I have a hard time making things symmetrical. I guess it turned out ok, maybe Santa had a bit too much eggnog the night before, but these are trying times for all.

SNOWGLOBE SUGAR COOKIE

Another wonderful tutorial by Little Cookie Co. I made quite a few of those during the month of December, some smaller containing just a small snowman, some with a Christmas tree as Royal icing transfer (shown in the composite picture that opened this post). If you watch the tutorial, you’ll see she pipes the tree with icing free-hand (check it out at 4 min and 5 seconds), but I simply could not bring myself to even try. This is a more elaborate cookie to make, many layers, a lot of waiting, a work of patience. But I do think the result is pretty nice!

SWAN SUGAR COOKIE

I followed part of the tutorial shown in this link, but added my own feathers… oops my own design of feathers. I am actually featherless. I modified it because I don’t care for the taste (or texture) of fondant, although I admit it looks absolutely stunning. It seems also quite a bit of work, as each feather must be shaped individually using small silicone molds. I decided to just pipe some white Royal Icing and immediately shower it with white sanding sugar.

The cookie is actually quite simple to make. Flood the body with white, let it crust. Add the orange beak leaving a small space between the beak and body. Right away add a small band of black royal icing, and pull with a scribe tool very lightly towards the beak and towards the body. A small dot of black for the eye, and just the tiniest touch of white off center on the eye. It is a small detail that makes eyes look a lot more realistic.

HOT CHOCOLATE MUG COOKIE

To make these cookies I followed the tutorial from this link (at 4 min 20 sec). For the decoration of the mug itself, I opted for three different styles. Two are shown above: royal icing transfer of a snowflake, or wet-on-wet white icing over the basic blue. After the mug crusted, I added the whipped cream part, let that crust and hours later added the white swirls + mandatory sanding sugar coating.

The third style was air-brushing with white pearl dye and a stencil. The top was sprayed with Diamond dust, a product I featured recently on In My Kitchen.

REINDEER LITTLE STAR

For these cookies I did not follow a tutorial, just saw them somewhere in the internet, saved a screenshot and improvised my version. Flooded the white part, waited about 10 minutes, flooded the upper brown, waited a couple of hours and added the triangle white for ears, black for antlers, and red for nose. Next morning it was time to draw the eyes and add red powder dust for the cheeks. Perhaps this was my favorite cookie of this series, although I do love the Penguin Girls…

I tell you one thing, I already miss holiday baking!

ONE YEAR AGO: Pearled Farro with Asparagus Coins

TWO YEARS AGO: Pistachio Caramel and Apple Mousse Cake

THREE YEARS AGO: Someone turns 70 today!

FOUR YEARS AGO: Carioca Cake, the Final Chapter

FIVE YEARS AGO: Duck Confit for a Special Occasion

SIX YEARS AGO: Ken Forkish’s Warm Spot Sourdough 

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Bran Muffins, Rainbows, and a wonderful surprise!

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Salmon Wellington

NINE YEARS AGO: The Green Chip Alternative

TEN YEARS AGO: Weekend Pita Project

ELEVEN YEARS AGO: Let it snow, let it snow, eggs in snow

SWAN COOKIES

LESSONS FROM TANYA, THE FINAL CHAPTER

Third post of a series of three on Sugar Cookie Decorating

In this post, I won’t share a recipe, as I will be using the exact same one posted yesterday. I made another set of silhouettes because the pups were beyond upset by my use of felines as cookie decoration.

Please do not laugh of my pink dotted border. That is the one technique Tanya demonstrated and I simply could not succeed. She does the beaded border pulling the piping tip and dragging a bit alternating the direction, it looks soooo adorable. I’ve tried in two cookies, and they ended in my belly because I was forced to eat the evidence. So I just went with little dots and even that has plenty of room for improvement.

I made dogs and cats of two sizes, to either stand alone in a cookie or side by side as best friends. At least in the cookie world, such relationship is possible.

The planning stage…

In this batch of cookies, I brought my air-brush into play. So I started from the flooding technique, and allowed that to fully dry for 24 hours. Once the surface is truly solid, you can lay a stencil on top and air-brush any color and/or pattern you fancy.

After that, simply glue the silhouette, if using, or any other piping with Royal icing you feel like adding.

If you are new to air-brushing, I highly recommend this one. It has a cup that is bigger than other brands, and can also be used for cocoa butter for spraying bonbon molds (I intend to try that in the near future).

You will also need air-brush dyes, and my favorite brand is Cookie Countess. The most useful colors are the pearl types, white, gold, silver or my favorite: Rose’ Gold (which I used in the cookies without silhouettes in the group picture above).

Below a little sampling of bakes from old posts and a few not yet blogged about, all decorated with air-brushing, some with stencils, some without. Speaking of stencils, etsy.com is a great source to get them.

It is really a very nice tool to play with, so if you are over the fence about getting one, consider this post a little encouragement…

I hope you enjoyed this little Trilogy of Sugar Cookies. Sugar Cookies and macarons are almost always part of my weekly bakes for Common Table meals, so I am constantly trying to find new ways to decorate them and new flavors to explore. Stay tuned for more in the near future…

LESSONS FROM TANYA: SUGAR COOKIE SILHOUETTES

Second post of a series of three on Sugar Cookie Decorating

For one of her bake-along tutorials, Tanya showed how to make little silhouette details using Royal icing. They can be made way in advance (pretty much last forever) and saved to add to your cookies previously flooded and fully dry. The possibilites are endless, as you can imagine. And the great thing for us who cannot draw to save their lives, is that you can find clipart to download and print for free, adjust them to the size you want and use them to pipe your little decor. She demonstrated with a gorgeous deer’s head, I went first with a cat. She also demonstrated how to make a winter scene with a full moon and trees, so I joined both techniques in a single cookie.

BROWN SUGAR AND SPICES SUGAR COOKIES
(adapted from Bake at 350)

360g all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp allspice
1/8 tsp cardamon
150g granulated sugar
50g brown sugar
226g butter, cut into chunks
1 egg
1/4 tsp salt

Heat oven to 350.

Whisk the flour, baking powder and spices, set aside.

Cream the sugars and butter. Add the egg and salt and mix until well-blended. Gradually add the flour mixture and beat just until combined. Roll on a floured surface to about 1/4″ and cut into shapes. Place on parchment lined baking sheets and freeze for 10 minutes.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, depending on the size of your cutter. Let sit a few minutes on the sheet, then transfer to a cooling rack.

Use Royal icing to decorate, recipe in previous post.

ENJOY!

Comments: There are countless sites that offer free downloadable templates for all sorts of drawings. You can then print them side by side and place a sheet of parchment paper on top of the printout. Using Royal icing with the consistency Tanya demonstrates in her tutorial and a very fine piping tip, carefully outline the drawing. Make more than you need, because they are obviously very fragile. They are best if allowed to dry overnight.

For the stars, in some cookies I used sprinkles… and in others I followed the technique demonstrated by Tanya, pulling small white dots with a needle.

That surface is allowed to dry overnight, and then the silhouette is glued, and the trees piped. In the cookie above, I used some silver air-brushing just for fun.

Here they are, all my babies! Before watching Tanya’s tutorials, I would never dream of making cookies with so many little details.

I will be back tomorrow with the final post about sugar cookies, using the same recipe (Brown Sugar and Spices). and a slightly different way to decorate them.

ONE YEAR AGO: Cherry-Chipotle Chicken Thighs

TWO YEARS AGO: White Chocolate Mini-Mousse with Sugared Cranberries

THREE YEARS AGO: You Say Ebelskiver, I say Falafel

FOUR YEARS AGO: Happy Thanksgiving!

FIVE YEARS AGO: Two Takes on Raspberries

SIX YEARS AGO: Spice Cake with Blackberry Puree & The Global Pastry Review

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Own Your Kitchen with Cappuccino Panna Cotta

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Chicken Parmigiana, the Thriller

NINE YEARS AGO: Wild Mushroom Risotto

TEN YEARS AGO: Tartine Bread:  Basic Country Loaf 

ELEVEN YEARS AGO:  Pugliese Bread