Decorating Cookies – Bugs, Flowers, and Baseball

Decorating Cookies

..with royal icing.

Hmmm.

There are few things in life that one is 100% sure about when it comes to oneself, and as you grow and learn, they start to add up.  For one, I know I’ll never be a blonde because I love being a brunette, and the only time I will ever dye my hair is when the gray starts to creep in, but only brunette.  Two, I will never eat veal because of how they treat those poor, baby calves.  Okay, I could fill a novel with ‘I will nevers‘, so I’ll stop at three.  #3 – I know I will never be or make a cent as a cookie decorator because I suck at it.

Decorated Sugar Cookies

The September 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mandy of “What the Fruitcake?!” Mandy challenged everyone to make Decorated Sugar Cookies based on recipes from Peggy Porschen and The Joy of Baking.

Decorated Sugar Cookies

I cannot say enough about Mandy. We became fast friends via Daring Bakers, and we can just talk for hours on end about anything and everything.  She is truly a special gal, and when her turn to host the Daring Bakers challenge came up, I couldn’t have been more excited for her, plus, I knew she’d give us a goody, and she did.  It’s just too bad I’m such a royal icing slob with shaky hands, not to mention my blog stage fright.

Decorated Sugar CookiesExample of ‘flooding’ the cookie.  Outlining with a thick to medium consistency icing, filling (or flooding in cookie decorator speak) with a looser consistency icing, then using a skewer to drag it into the corners and even it out.  This gives you a nice, crisp and neat border.  Not on mine, of course, because I can’t do neat borders.

As always, I left the challenge to the last minute, and as I type this entry, I still have gel paste all over my hands and crusty remnants of royal icing decorating my t-shirt.  You don’t even want to see the table where I worked on these cookies.  It looks a hurricane of technicolor shit ran over it about 8 times.  I’m so, so dreading cleaning up this disaster.  I envy people who can work neat when it comes to cake and cookie decorating and more than two colors of frosting or royal icing.

Decorated Sugar Cookies

Also, as always, I had loads of great ideas running through my head when Mandy asked us to pick a theme that ‘said’ September to us.  I knew instantly where I was going.  September is the stretch before the baseball post season starts, and YES, it’s looking like my World Series defending champion NY Yankees will be in again (although they’re not looking like they’ll go past the first round at this time). Boo.

Decorated Sugar CookiesNo idea why I didn’t leave well enough alone with just the yellow stripe and one red dot.  The caterpillar looks like it has a festering, pus-filled infection of some sort.

I had round cookie cutters for the baseballs, but that’s it, so I went ahead and ordered a baseball bat cookie cutter, a t-shirt cookie cutter that I could morph into a Yankee pinstripe jersey, and bid on a great baseball cap cookie cutter on ebay.  I lost the baseball cap at the very last second, (who are these ebay’ers who are able to sneak in a bid with 1 second left??  Let me at ’em! – I was the only bid prior!).  I couldn’t find another one like it locally and didn’t like the other caps I saw online, so I begrudgingly decided to just cut out a cookie circle, color it with navy royal icing, pipe the Yankee logo on it, and boom, pretend you’re looking at the baseball cap super close up – your chin resting on the bill.  Thank you.

I made four bats, but two broke, and one was eaten, so I only had one left for photos.  I also made four Yankee ‘authentic’ jerseys, two of which sucked, I mean really sucked, so much so that I don’t even want you to see them.  The two that made the cut suck too (I had no idea how hard it is to squeeze out perfectly thin pinstripes and a teeny, tiny interlocking NY).  A friend thought it was a jail uniform and I completely concur that it could be Black Bart’s daily wear.

In any event, my ball cookies turned out the best, so I will proudly showcase them and slip the other stuff in flattering positions that hide how hideously crappy they are.  Ooops, it didn’t work, crap on full display.  Even the interlocking NY on the baseball cap looks like crap, and I initially thought I nailed it.

Again, I will never, ever be a cookie decorator.

Yankee baseball decorated Sugar CookiesWhy did I outline the baseball bat with black royal icing?  Where in baseball are there bats with black trim? God I really really suck at this cookie decorating thing.

On to part two.  I perused through Flickr to see what other cookie decorators do, and as far as I’m concerned, they’re all freakin’ professionals.  Why aren’t there flaws in their designs and dents in their royal icing?  The perfection and awe factor is just mind- blowing!  So talented!

I knew there was no way I was even coming to close to that kind of artistry with my cookies, but I really wanted to do ladybugs..and flowers..and more bugs.  I saw a gal who did just that and decided to do a take on her gorgeous, flawlessly royal iced ‘Spring’ cookies.  I know; not a September theme here in the Northeast US, but I don’t care.  Just pretend I live down under, k?  Hey mates, put another caterpillar on the barbie!  More crappy decor is on its way!

Baseball Decorated Sugar Cookies

To decorate the flower and bug cookies, I purchased squeeze bottles for the royal icing colors.  It just seemed so much easier and less messy than pastry bags and tips..plus, these bottles are equipped with couplers and tips aka jackpot!  Well..I was wrong.  Maybe a teeny bit easier, but the mess is no different once you’ve got the bottles loaded and ready to go, especially since I had to use pastry bags to fill the small necked bottles!  Mess doubled, but I was pumped; how hard can using a squeeze bottle be?  I always use them to decorate plates with sauces, and it always turns out beautiful.

Well, when you’re trying to pipe intricate stuff onto small cookies, and your hand is shaking, not to mention bottle clog when you’re in the middle of an attempt at a perfectly straight border or line, it doesn’t matter what you use.  I should have just finger-painted the damn cookies.  Most would think I did by the look of my cookies….and hands.

Decorated Sugar Cookies

Here’s some notes from my cookie decorating (baking the cookies was the waaaay easy part):

  • Adding the food color to the royal icing can be deceiving.  The bright red with a bit of orange for the ladybugs looked too light as I was mixing it in, so I kept adding more until it was perfect.  It looked great freshly piped, but dried into an almost dull maroon. Apparently, gel paste colors take a bit of sitting to fully morph into the color you want, so adding more will screw you every.single.time.  No maroon ladybugs in nature.
  • My flowers obviously also do not exist in nature, but it would be cool if they did.  I did try to give the yellow flowers (sunflowers, possibly?) some shading with orange powdered food color, but it looks more like someone spilled Tang on them.
  • My caterpillars looked great, but I had to keep adding and adding, ending up with bloody, pus filled, festering wounds instead of the pretty dots I was going for.
  • Trying to pipe the Yankee logo freehand is near impossible; you need some kind of stencil, unless you’re good at piping or a pro.  Note to self: Next time find and use a stencil.

All in all, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVED this challenge because it was like being back in HS art class; minus the teacher breathing over my shoulder and telling me to go easy on the color. However, I probably won’t be decorating cookies again because I suck at it.

To get the recipe for the yummy sugar cookies and royal icings, click HERE.  To see the gorgeously decorated and unique themed cookies my fellow Daring Bakers came up with, click HERE.

UPDATE: Since The Daring Kitchen is no longer with us, HERE is a great recipe for perfect, cut-out sugar cookies to decorate.  She also has fantastic royal icing recipes, and well, she’s pretty much the most amazing cookie decorator I’ve ever seen.  Enjoy!


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47 Responses to Decorating Cookies – Bugs, Flowers, and Baseball

  1. Shelley C says:

    I love the picture of all of the rainbow of squeeze bottles all lined up – what patience you have to have done so many colors and designs. Your cookies look great, and I would never guess at the mess you claim ensued upon their production. As always, I love reading your post and seeing your beautiful results.

  2. Laura says:

    You are so silly, you did a fantastic job! I am glad you loved the challenge.

  3. Sue says:

    All of your cookies look so cute! Your baseball themed grouping is my favorite, but your flowers are a close second:) Wonderful job!

    Your random “I know i will never eat a monkey” cracked me up! LOL!

    Have a great weekend, Lisa!

  4. Renata says:

    You’re being so hard on yourself… you did an awesome job! Your cookies are adorable!

  5. shaz says:

    What are you talking about Lisa? They all look great! Love the caterpillars 🙂 Btw, when hubby went to NY he got me an authentic Yankees cap which I wear proudly even though I know absoultely nothng about baseball – I just like the hat 🙂

  6. Rosa says:

    What cute little cookies! I really love the bugs and flowers.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  7. Simone says:

    I think you’ve done a brilliant job here!! Love ALL the cookies! I can see no shaking hands in the end result… When I look at your cookies I am convinced they are made by a professional too, so don’t underestimate your cookie decorating abilities… I decided not to go along this month since it would be too hard on my diet.. Since I just started I don’t want to jeopardize the results straight away!

  8. Zita says:

    Slob??? What slob??? I am 99% sure that you’re going to make some balls and bats cookies eventhough you want to change your blog’s name 😉

  9. Zita says:

    Slob??? What slob??? I am 99% sure that you’re going to make some ball and bat cookies even though you want to change your blog’s name 😉

  10. Jamie says:

    Lisa!!! I miss your blog posts and what is so weird is that THIS post could have been written for me!! Do we share the same brain? I am the worst at decorating and my cookies deco happened by a messy accident. And aren’t half as clever as yours! I love the baseball theme going here (even if I am not a baseball fan!) and I think you did a hoot of a job!! Geez I’d love to bake with you. Royal Icing? No! Royal Mess! LOL! Great cookies, Lisa!

  11. Lori says:

    Here’s your challenge from me, repeat, I Michelle, rock these challenges. Go on now your turn.

    As always such fabulousness. I am particularly drawn to the baseball ones- so cute. Having said that Michelle- I just love them all.

  12. Lori says:

    I mean Lisa- duh- oh the embarassment.

  13. Lisa says:

    1- I’m not opposed to you having other girlfriends.. as long as they are just that – FRIENDS. No wife of mine is gonna cheat on me – regardless of how damn cute, smart, funny and talented Mandy is. 😛

    2- My chin is going numb sitting on the bill of your yankees cap. BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA! that didn’t even make sense but I am still laughing at how you described the “baseball cap” cookies.

    3- There might not be maroon colored ladybugs in the world (that we know of) but did you know there were orange AND yellow ladybugs?? I didn’t either until we had a swarm of them stuck in our windows one year.. mostly red/black with a few yellow/black and orange/black. Go figger.

    4- You did an AMAZING job – you don’t give yourself enough credit. I’ve seen less attractive decorated sugar cookies in some major bakeries around here. I don’t think there is anything in the kitchen that you don’t kick major ass on. 😉

    5- Have we decided where we’re honeymooning at?? XOXOXOXOXOXOXOX

  14. Dan says:

    Great work as usual. Naturally your choice of baseball teams leaves alot to be desired but well done. Your artistic and creativity knows no bounds. Great photos too.

  15. Christina says:

    Beautiful! The lady bugs are too cute!

  16. Suz says:

    Oh tsk, your cookies are brilliantly decorated! I love the stitching detail on the baseballs and your ladybirds and caterpillars are adorable. Great job!

    I loved the challenge for the same reasons. 🙂 It’s nice to sit down with ‘art’ supplies and start making things. I should do it more often.

  17. chef_d says:

    I like the flower cookie that looks like tang spilled on it 🙂 And the “balls” also. As a matter of fact, they are all cute! Great job!

  18. 5 Star Foodie says:

    These are all so creative and pretty!

  19. Erin says:

    Love your cookies!!! You made so many awesome shapes. And I definitely don’t think your yellow flower looks like someone spilled powdered tang on it! I was admiring it until I read that part of your post, but honestly it looks fab! 🙂 Great work on the challenge.

  20. MandyM says:

    Lisa, I say this time and time again, I always look forward to your posts. I just love your humour and the way you tell a story. You should write a book, or at least a humerous short story!

    That said, your cookies are great! I love those little worms and I think your flowers are so cheerful. I also think you did a really good job on the NY logo! You should have a look at the Kopycake projector, you might find a reason that you absolutely have one, lol. There’s a great tutorial on Sweetopia using one. I’m still looking for a valid reason to get one and I only decorate cookies maybe once a year, lol 🙂

    Thanks so much for your enthusiasm about the challenge, it’s great having such an encouraging friend who loves baking & cooking as much as I do!

    (And one day we’re going to have to get together in real life for one of our long chats! 🙂 )

  21. outoftheoven says:

    Your cookies turned out really cute! Great job with the decorations!

  22. marcellina says:

    Your cookies are FANTASTIC!! I soooo love them! Such patience to ice all the different designs! Great work!

  23. Leslie says:

    First of all Lisa, don’t you dare change the name of your blog. It’s great, different and indicates there’s more to you than jaw-dropping desserts.

    Second, you need to join Auction Sniper if you want to be a last second bidder on ebay. It makes automatic bids for you for a tiny fee.

    Third, your cookies are adorable! I can only imagine how hard they are for someone who is decorating challenged because I haven’t made mine yet. Yet. But yours are so cute I’m going to do it, as soon as the temperatures get out of the 90s.

  24. ingrid says:

    It thought you did a good job on these Lisa. You should see my cookies…wait, no you don’t! 🙂 I especially love the baseball cookies! Go Yankees!
    ~ingrid

    Btw, wish we could talk for hours but someone never calls someone else! lol, hope all is well with you Lisa!

  25. Megan says:

    Your cookies look beautiful! I think you did a really awesome job. People would definitely pay for those cookies!

  26. Jenni says:

    Squeeze bottles! Why didn’t I think of that?! I wanted to do lots of colors, but only have 1 size 2 tip (had more, garbage disposal ate them…) hence, I went simple. I love your little bugs, so cute! Great job, Lisa!!

  27. Nadia says:

    love the way you have used bottles, so much neater, v nice colors

  28. Aparna says:

    Lisa, I love reading your posts so much, they always make me smile. 😀
    And you call these cookies the work of a “royal icing slob”?
    YOu’re too hard on yourself!
    Your cookies are colourful and cheerful which is what decorated cookies ought to be.

  29. Thea says:

    Great job on the decorating. I love your ladybugs, and who says they can’t be maroon? Ha! I know what you mean by the mess – indescribable. I had to go out right after I finished decorating, so although I escaped it for awhile, I still had to deal with it eventually. I’m sure I had icing in my hair. It surely makes you appreciate everyone’s efforts.

  30. Denise says:

    Oh my god, are you kidding me? This was your first time decorating cookies and they look amazing and professional. I can’t even imagine how awesome they will be after you do it a few more times! Oh, and speaking of phone calls, haven’t gotten one from you in like forever, not to mention we need to do lunch soon..miss your company and mega watt smile, chicky! Now I know it isnt just me! :-O

  31. Your cookies look great! I love your ladybugs and flowers. I have no patience for decorating cookies, but sugar cookies are my favorite of all time.

  32. FOODESSA says:

    As usual Lisa…your baking is not only impressive…it also amuses me very much ;O)

    Go easy on yourself and pat yourself on a job well done ;o)

    Flavourful wishes,
    Claudia

  33. Maranda says:

    Fantastic job on this challenge! I love all your cookies! I had a blast doing mine too! Congratulations!

  34. Lisa,love the variety that you have created. The baseball, flowers and all… so cute and colorful…

    Just a tip to cope with the technicolor mess, prepare a bowl of water and a cloth nearby. Everytime your hand is exposed to color gel, dip in the bowl, clean it and dry with the cloth. Hope this helps.

    Sawadee from Bangkok,
    Kris

  35. Mariko says:

    Those do look awesome. Thanks so much for the tips on icing the cookies! Mine always look terrible. I am going to try that next time.

  36. Elle says:

    Not so sure that you couldn’t make money with your cookies…they are that cute! I especially love the catapillars. My kitchen is almost always a mess when I’ve finished baking. Fortunately the dog makes a dent if it tastes good and is on the floor and the sponge and mop take care of the rest when I get to it. I’e often said that if I had an onsite dishwasher (human, not mechanical) that I would bake even more than I do. These are great Lisa!!

  37. Mary says:

    Great work! I love your spring cookies, even the diseased caterpillar! Cookie cutters are hard to find in special shapes, but I’ll never make my own again. What a chore. I’m glad I read to the end, cause I was thinking that I needed to get some of those squeeze bottles for decorating. I used parchment bags and it was a huge mess, with the icing coming out in every direction.

  38. Loved your cookies. So bright, so colourful! I’ll use those squeeze bottles next time it seems to be easier to work with them. Graet idea!

  39. Claire says:

    Such cute cookies! I love the flowers but the baseball set is perfect for this time of year.

  40. Katrina says:

    You’re way too hard on yourself. I love them. I like the flowers best, but the baseball stuff comes in second. And if I was to join you in the list of things I’ll never be–same–NOT good at the decorating of cookies and I’ll for certain never be a cake decorator. Man, those people have some talent!
    Great post, Lisa!

  41. pragmaticattic says:

    As usual, you are being too tough on yourself. You are such a perfectionist! Your cookies are adorable and I really love those Yankees cookies! Don’t rename you blog, BTW (Although I can totally relate to wanting to change the name of your blog. I didn’t even pick the name of my blog. My brother picked it totally randomly when he set up the blog for me to prod me to post).

  42. I only wish my cookies turned out as well. Good to know the bottles weren’t any easier. Your caterpillar infection comment made me laugh!

  43. Michelle says:

    Beautiful work as always, Lisa! (BTW – I have similar problems with eBay snipers!)

  44. Valérie says:

    These are so cute! Okay, the caterpillars does look a little like it’s survived an accident, but it looks very happy to be alive! 😉 I was away on holiday, so I wasn’t able to do the challenge… although I might catch up later. Anyways, great job on this, such original shapes and designs!

  45. Sophie says:

    Hello Lisa!

    I don’t like to eat iced cookies but they do look wonderful,..you are so creative, you clever girl!

  46. Pingback: SRC – Peanut Butter Again? Yes! Cookies on Steroids. « Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives

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