Thursday, November 15

Not-So-Fancy Plaque Cutters

     I love how my favorite cookie artists round out their cookie platters with a few of those fancy frame cookies all decked out with pretty borders and fonts!  The problem...I don't own any fancy plaque cutters.  Not a one.   Since half the posts on my blog start with I don't own a ________ cutter, I'm not going to let that stop me!   (As a side note this is a very bizarre phenomenon because I own hundreds and hundreds of cookie cutters....)

How-to cut fancy frames from everyday cookie cutters

    In order to add fancy frame beauty to my cookie platters I've come up with two general ways to approach cutting a fancy plaque from other cookie cutters I have on hand.

1. Rotate the Cutter and Cut Again- The basic idea of this approach is simply that you cut the shape from the cookie dough and then rotate the cutter to create an interesting shape in the overlap and cut again. 

cutting a fancy plaque from a balloon cookie cutter

    I made these hot air balloon cookies for my Mom's birthday recently and I used the balloon cutter to also cut a couple of plaques.  Even if I did own all the beautiful copper plaque cutters in the world I would still cut plaque cookies this way because I like how it repeats design elements I've already used in the rest of the platter!

cutting a fancy plaque from a skull cookie cutter

    I love the simplicity of the this plaque made from rotating a skull cutter.   It's basically just an oval but with a little flair. 

a fancy plaque cookie cut with a skull cookie cutter

     I used the skull cutter for this plaque too but i also cut the sides with a small point of something for more interest. Rotating and cutting like this tends to give a plaque on the small side (but not quite a mini plaque) and they are perfect for just one word!

cutting a fancy plaque from an owl cookie cutter

Some tips to keep in mind for cutting plaques this way;
  • the cutter must be symetrical side to side so that the cut is the same when you rotate the cutter.
  • look for cutters that are large with few details
  • the resulting plaque will be on the small side because the final piece is well inside the original cutter.
2. Trim a basic shape - This idea to this approach is to cut a basic shape like a circle or square and then trim it out with part of another cutter.

fancy plaque cookies cut with a bear cookie cutter

      These plaque cookies are from a recent set I made of Coca-Cola polar bear cookies.  Again, I chose a shape from the other cookies I was making and used the ears of the bear to trim the plaque cookie.
     The purple "cutter" here isn't actually a cookie cutter at all.  It's a random lid from I don't know what but it has a perimeter edge so that makes it a cookie cutter in my world.  I wasn't lying when I said there was nothing fancy about these cutters!

fancy plaque cookies cut with a gingerbread girl cookie cutter

     I used the purple lid here again and cut on all four sides with a gingerbread girl cutter to give the plaque a large scalloped edge. 

fancy plaque cookie cut with a butterfly cookie cutter

     I trimmed a hexagon just a tiny bit with a butterfly cutter for this one.  This plaque is pretty big and you could write a poem on it if you wanted.

A few tips for cutting a plaque from a basic shape;
  • You have a lot more control over the size of the final cookie with this method.  The final plaque will be much closer to the original cutter because you are only cutting a little here and there.   It's easy to cut large plaques or minis and everything in between.
  • Only one edge of the trimming cutter is important so don't worry about what the rest of it is doing.
  • Look for cutters that have detailed edges that aren't too deep like bumpy pumpkins, car wheels, animal heads and feet. 
  • The cutting edge of the trimming cutter has to be symmetrical but  the entire cutter does not. For example, the wheels of a train cutter are symmetrical to each other even though the train cutter is not symmetrical overall.  
Thanksgiving plaque cookies

     When I make plaque cookies I'm usually only adding a couple to an entire set so I don't worry about reproducing the same shape again and again.  Of course, it can be tricky to line up all those cuts back in the same place every time.  If you create a shape you really like or if you are in a bind and can't get a fancy plaque delivered in time to make dozens of cookies then I suggest making a template out of plastic by tracing and rotating the cutter in the same way you would if you were cutting.  Cut out your template with scissors and you can place it on the dough and use it as a guide for your cutter so all the plaque cookies will be the same.

     If you make plaque cookies this way I'd love to see them!  You can leave a link here in the comments section or post them to my Facebook wall.

Saturday, November 10

Coca-Cola Polar Bear Cookie Tutorial

     I love the series of commercials that Coca-Cola plays at the holiday season every year of polar bears getting ready for Christmas.  They are so cute I had to make them into cookies!   I had decided that I wasn't going to post Christmas cookies before Thanksgiving and these don't count!   I'm sure the polar bears are up there drinking Coke year round.

decorated Christmas Cookies of Coke Polar Bears

To make these cookies you will need:
  • the sitting bear cookie cutter from the Wilton Baby Theme Cookie Cutter Set
  • white royal icing in a stiff piping consistency, a 15-20 count consistency, and a thinner flood consistency. 
  • black and red 15-20 count royal icing.
  • I made royal icing transfers for the Coca-Cola bottle and the red ball but cola flavored gummy candies are just the right size too!
step by step tutorial of decorated Coca-Cola Polar Bear Cookies

  • For steps 1 and 2 outline the head and body of the polar bear with piping icing and flood.
  • When the base has dried for several hours add the ears and muzzle in 20 count royal icing and let the cookies dry overnight.  
  • Use a dot of icing to attach a dried Cola bottle icing transfer or gummi candy to the belly of the bear.  Outline the head, body, arms and feet in a sloppy jagged line with the stiff royal icing to create a "furry" edge. You can use a toothpick to pull some of the lines into little points here and there to add to the texture.
  • Finish the cookies by adding face details in black royal icing and add the pads to the feet in 20 count icing.  
My initial idea was to dust the pads of the feet with pink petal dust once they were dry but I wasn't sure I liked the effect so I didn't add it to all the cookies.  Which do you like better the pink feet or the white?

step by step tutorial of decorated Coca-Cola Polar Bear Face Cookies

 I used the same general process as above to make the bear faces.  I cut the faces using a standing bear cookie cutter from the Wilton 101 Cookie Cutter Set. I then either trimmed the head with a round cookie cutter for some of the bear faces or hand cut the scarf for the others.

Coca-Cola Polar Bear Christmas Cookies

These were such a fun set to make!  We're really starting to get into the swing of the holiday season and I hope you are enjoying it!

platter of decorated Christmas Coca-Cola Polar Bear Cookies

(As a side note;  the Coca-Cola polar bears, the famous green bottle and the wave logo are trademarked by the Coca-Cola bottling company. You should only make these cookies for fun and to share with your friends and family!)

Friday, November 2

Simple Tree Cookies with a Twist on Fall Color

    Lately, I have been playing with the idea of using unexpected color to give simple seasonal designs more visual impact.  I love the look of stylized trees on cards and such and I knew they would make beautiful and easy cookies. 

 Continuing with the idea from my last color post for Halloween I wanted to try playing around with the colors of fall.  I think that as long as you use the expected shapes for a given season then you can use pretty much use any color scheme you like and it will still feel right.  That's my theory anyway.

  There are many ways to pick a color scheme but again I'm going to use the color wheel.  The usual colors for fall are various shades and tints of red, orange and yellow.  On the color wheel these colors are all right next to each other which is known as analogous color in color theory.   Fall color schemes also have a little pop of green color from the other side of the wheel.
     To choose a different color scheme with similar relationships we can simply rotate the color wheel to another set of analogous colors.  In this case I chose purple blue and green for my analogous colors and a little bit of yellowish orange from the other side of the wheel.  I also used a darker blackish brown and threw in a little spot of red violet just because I had it on hand.

     For these color exercises I am trying to keep the overall design and decorating of the cookies as simple as I can.  These tree cookies were cut using a variety of leaf cookie cutters.  There is also a pumpkin or an apple cutter thrown in there.  I used a letter "I" cookie cutter to cut a longer and straighter stem onto the leaves so they would be more like trees but that could be done just as easily with a sharp knife. I base-coated the baked cookies in white flood icing and let them dry overnight. Then I used a thicker  flood icing (about a 20 count) to add the trunk and dots for leaves to the cookies. These are great cookies if you need something quick and easy!

   You could easily use this simple technique to make a tree cutter out of basic shapes too like circles and ovals too but because I'm changing the color scheme up I wanted the shapes to have a very expected fall shape to keep the design in season.

 The cool tones also give the color scheme a hint of the coming winter but I think the little bit of yellow still keeps them in the fall season.  What are your favorite colors for fall?