A Cookie Year in Review

I can hardly believe we are only a few weeks away from Christmas…much less the NEW YEAR!  But that is how time works – it has a way of sneaking up on you and then flying by.  Most months, I am focusing on the next holiday cookie, sort of like retail, always one step ahead of the customers’ expectations.  So I thought I’d take a moment, exhale, and appreciate all of the cookies I’ve made for my customers, friends, family, and visitors to my website and FACEBOOK page in 2014.

Well, it happened in January of 2014 that I officially started my cookie company www.CookieCelebration.com.  I created a website, printed up marketing materials and business cards, and set off to make Royal Icing Cookies that actually tasted good.  I’ve been baking for over 20 years as a love/hobby and of course used my family and friends as the recipients of my great, good, and not so good baked treats.  It wasn’t until I started making Royal Icing Cookies that something clicked in me that I just had to do this full time!  I loved it.   And so, once the baseline was in place by the end of January, February was my official kickoff of the website and my first grand scale of cookies.  Oh, trust me, in hindsight I wasn’t thinking at all.  SEVEN HUNDRED COOKIES in two weeks later, I thought, can I sustain this? As quickly as I thought about it, I pushed the thought aside because Spring, St. Patrick’s Day and Easter were right in front of me and people were asking to see what was going to be for sale.

The rest of the year has pretty much been the same story.  Always trying to be a month ahead of my customers’ requests and cooking nonstop.  But the year has not been without its ups and downs.  The holidays I thought would mimic the insane schedule of Valentine’s day did not come to pass, and the holidays I thought would be slow caught me by surprise with non-stop orders.  It was a year of great learning, great inspiration, huge frustrations, A LOT of hard work, never-ending hours, challenging packaging and design solutions, financial concerns, and sleep deprivation!!  But, it was worth it.  I am able to do what I love which keeps the passion alive and motivates me to find solutions to some of the business challenges that just come with the territory.  For those of you fellow Cookie Lovers, I hope to use this blog in 2015 as a forum to provide you with information that you may not normally have access to, share resources with you that have helped me tremendously, keep you inspired, and provide you with tutorials and tips & tricks that make the cookie decorating process easier.

I’ve had my favorite cookie moments throughout the year that I’d like to share with you.  There are quite a lot of designs I’ve done, but I think every baker has their favorite cookie designs and those they really never want to make again!

Decorated White on White Heart
FEBRUARY: Decorated White on White Heart
FEBRUARY:  Classic Linzer Tarts and Decorated Hearts
FEBRUARY: Classic Linzer Tarts and Decorated Hearts

I have to admit, after doing so many hearts in February, I swore I never wanted to see another one again.  That lasted for about a month until my love relationship with hearts grabbed hold of my heart again.

WEDDINGS
WEDDINGS
WEDDINGS
WEDDINGS

When it comes to favorites, I cannot leave out Wedding Cookies.  Whether it be a Wedding Favor or Bridal Shower Favors, these are hands down my favorite cookies to make.

NINJA INVASION
NINJA INVASION

These Ninja cookies were fun to make for little Hawk’s and Liam’s Birthday party.  They were a big hit and I just love all of the cookies together in one big group.  Makes a statement, I think.

MARCH: Sunflower Bouquet
MARCH: Sunflower Bouquet

Sunflowers…they just said total sunshine and spring to me.

Folk Cats
Folk Cats

Just something fun I played around with.  I liked them, although they weren’t for everyone! 🙂

Baby Collection
Baby Collection
Christening Outfits
Christening Outfits
First Communion
First Communion

BABIES & CHILDREN!  A close second to my love of Wedding Cookies but baby/children cookies are irresistible to me.  In fact, it is hard to narrow the selections down!  We’ll see what evolves in 2015.

Halloween Collection 2014
Halloween Collection 2014

Truth be told, I am not a big fan of Halloween.  I KNOW!  Shoot me, sorry, I don’t know what it is but I am willing to go along with the hoopla about it and celebrate it with cookies.  I do love this collection.  Each and every one of these cookies were so much fun to make.  Can’t wait for Halloween 2015; I have some great new ideas!!

Thanksgiving Collection 2014
Thanksgiving Collection 2014

Although my Thanksgiving Designs were a bit more detailed than I wanted to shoot for, I really liked the mix of the turkey, pilgrim girl and indian.  Next year, however, I think the designs will be simpler.

Football Collection
Football Collection

Well, we all know how I feel about this collection. I did a tutorial on it, so I must like it!  They are fun cookies to do because they are so different from most things I do.

SANTA
SANTA
GINGERBREAD MAN
GINGERBREAD MAN
CHRISTMAS COOKIES
CHRISTMAS COOKIES

What can I say about Christmas Cookies?  What would a year be without the most famous cookies of the year?  I loved my oversized Santa and oversized Gingerbread man.  There were a few other favorites but I think every Christmas Cookie is special.

New Year's Collection 2015
New Year’s Collection 2015

Technically, not a part of 2015, however, being in the cookie business, I post pre-holiday.  So as I end this year, I introduce to you  how I will enter my second year of Cookie Celebration.

I hope you continue on this journey with me as I grow and learn and pass on to you what I’ve discovered.  I’d love to hear what topics you would like to see discussed in 2015, so please feel free to leave your comments and I promise to review each and every one of them.

Happy Holidays to each of you.  May you celebrate all the special moments in your life with custom cookies.  There is something satisfying about an all natural, homemade, hand-decorated, delicious and beautiful cookie that will help you build memories throughout the year.  So keep rolling dough, explore with new cookie cutters, and practice your new skills.

 

Diane

 

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Football Player Cookie Tutorial

Hi Cookie Lovers,

With the Football Season upon us, I thought it appropriate to make my first tutorial a Football Player Cookie I recently featured on my website for a couple of reasons…

One, it is a relatively easy cookie to make and decorate, and two, it utilizes two cookie cutters in different ways; which is always nice to be able to do and can sometimes inspire you to look at your cookie cutters in different ways!  So, without further ado, let’s get started.  Here is what you will need:

Wedding Cake Cookie Cutter

3″ Round Cookie Cutter

Decorator tips:  #1 and #2

Red Royal Icing – flooding consistency

Royal Blue Royal Icing – flooding consistency

White Royal Icing – outlining and flooding consistency

Additionally, a couple of handy tools I like to use, 1) to mix my icing – these mini spatulas are great!, and 2) the ball fondant tool I use daily to help icing flood into small spaces, drop small noses onto face cookies, and more.  This tool, for me, is indispensable!

Some tools I use on a regular basis.
Some tools I use on a regular basis.

When I make this cookie, I like to roll my dough out (about 1/8″ thick) and then transfer it to my baking pan lined with parchment paper or a Silpat mat “before” I cut out the shape. This allows the cookie to remain intact for baking without ruining the shape.

Use the Wedding Cake Cutter first to cut out your first shape.

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Next, take your 3″ Cutter and place it so the cutter intersects the first layer of the Wedding Cake outline you just cut.

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When you finish, your cookie cutout should look like this…

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Just a little helpful hint at this stage…before I remove the excess dough, I take my finger and gently nudge the lines together to make sure the cookie does not separate while baking.  You don’t want to press to hard, just enough to stabilize the overall design of the cookie. Now remove the excess dough.

IMG_1066
Pre-Baked Cookie
IMG_1067
Baked Cookie

 

The first picture is what my cookie looks like before it bakes. The second picture is what it looks like after baking.  Easy, right!?  You still have a solid cookie and the design is right there for you to follow as you decorate!

At this point, I typically will sketch in anything that my hand might not be steady enough to get straight or even. Of course you want to use an edible food marker for this task.  Sometimes, especially if the cookie is chocolate, I use my etching tool (A simple metal tool with a sharp point.  If you can’t find one, use a sewing needle or a trussing needle; both work fine) to lightly scratch the design into the cookie.

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In this photo, I simply dotted the lines that will become the stripe in the Player’s helmet (red).

Next, I outline the entire cookie in white.

IMG_1070

When you flood a cookie with icing, you can do some shapes freehand, which some people are very good at, or you can outline like I have (using a #2 Decorator Tip) in this picture and then flood the cookie so the colors are sure not to flow off the sides.  Additionally, I outline A LOT in white, not necessarily because the color or final detail outlining will be white (as you will see in this cookie), but because, well, uhm, I get lazy and don’t want to mix three different colors of outlining icing!! There, I said it!

Okay, let’s flood the cookie!  I started with red on this cookie.

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After flooding this small area, I took a toothpick and ran it through the icing a bit to get out any air bubbles and to help the icing set without sinking in the middle when it dries – a particular problem that often occurs when you flood small areas (but more on that in another post).  Let this color set for about 20 minutes.  I know, but trust me, it’s worth it.  Once it is set you can then add colors around it and they won’t bleed into each other. Plus, it helps you to get a puffy kind of look and will sometimes eliminate the need for adding a lot of unnecessary detail at the decorating stage.

IMG_1074

Next I flooded the face.  My “go to” food colors to make flesh-colored icing are Pink and Ivory.  I use the smallest, and I do mean THE SMALLEST, amount of pink first to get a base color.  This is usually the size of the top of a toothpick lightly dipped into the food coloring gel and mixed into about 3 Tablespoons of royal icing.  Next, I add a small amount, more generous than the pink, to the pink icing and keep adding it until I get the color I like.  Experiment with this process; you’ll get the hang of it and find the color that you like best.

Again, after twenty minutes of drying, I then flood the rest of the cookie with the Royal Blue Royal Icing.

IMG_1075

Nice, huh?  Just goes to show you, it’s all in the details you add at the end that bring it all together, but the cleaner the look you get at this stage, the nicer the cookie will be.

After another 20 minutes, I add a small “blop” of the flesh-toned icing for the players nose.  I do this by using the plastic fondant instrument with a round ball tip that I mentioned at the beginning.  Careful not to touch the icing when you do this. Even though this part of the cookie has dried for about 40 minutes in total, it will still crush in if you touch it, especially with tools. I load up the ball of the fondant tool with icing and simply let it fall onto the cookie.  I slightly coax it into place and shape that I want.  You can also do this by putting the icing into a decorator bag and you will get more leverage and control but I skip that step unless I am doing a lot of these cookies…like 50 or more.  Otherwise, I just “blop”.

IMG_1076

And this is what your cookie will look like.  I then let it dry overnight.  YES, OVERNIGHT!  Why you ask?  Because after making cookies for over 20 years, this is one part of the process I don’t like to rush.  Your cookie will dry to a solid, hard base overnight and it will make the entire decorating process SO MUCH EASIER and less frustrating “IF” you make a mistake. Trust me on this one, don’t ruin all of your hard work up until now. Additionally, in the past, when I have tried to layer white details on top of the darker colored icing (red, blue, etc.) before letting it dry overnight, I find that the colors bleed into the white, or, the lines sort of melt into the icing which takes away the “crispness” of the look you are trying to achieve.

After a full day of drying, I then add the details.  For me, this is the best part because the cookie really comes together.  I started with the eyes and eyebrows which are done in black with a #1 tip. You don’t have to let this dry (Yaaay!) before you do the white because the colors will not touch.

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I then go ahead, using a #2 tip, and add the mouth grill (is that what Football Players call it?).

 

IMG_1091   IMG_1092   IMG_1093

I then add the white lines around the red stripe on the helmet and the jersey stripes, one in white, one in red (both using #2 tip).

IMG_1094

At this point in the decorating process, you want to assess where your cookie might need some more detail.  Some cookies are best with less detail, some with more.  One of the hardest things for me to do is to “keep it simple.”  Luckily, there is a great blog I reference for inspiration and tutorials which has helped A LOT.  Her name is Callye and she is Sweet Sugarbelle.  Visit her at www.sweetsugarbelle.com.  You will not be sorry.  She is fantastic and always strives to keep it simple.  And…you’ll be inspired as well. You can also follow her on FACEBOOK.

With this cookie, I decided to outline the entire cookie.

Complete Football Player Cookie
Complete Football Player Cookie

TA-DA!!  Your first cookie using my tutorial!  I hope you like it…let me know in the comments section.  Try your hand at a couple of other designs featured in my Football Season 2014 Collection to make a complete gift set for someone special.  There aren’t a lot of cookie designs out there for men so this one is typically popular and is well received by men who LOVE sports!  Make a platter for your Superbowl Party using your team colors and use it as your table centerpiece.  It will surely impress your guests.

Football, football player, football field, touchdown, Super Bowl 2015, cheer, cheerleader, football helmet, football referee, Super Bowl cookies, football cookies for men, cookies for men, custom cookies, personalized cookies
Football Cookies (visit http://www.CookieCelebration.com)

Thanks for visiting my blog!

Diane

Kickoff to the Christmas Season!

Hi Fellow Cookie Lovers,

Whew, Thanksgiving behind us…but Christmas just ahead of us, not to mention New Year’s Eve!!  Good for cookie lovers everywhere, maybe not so great for those of us who have to Start shopping, decorating, planning meals, etc.  But the good news is that each season brings a new opportunity for a NEW COOKIE design!  I don’t know about you but it actually relaxes me to turn off the television, shut down my phone, whip up some dough and royal icing and get lost in decorating a cookie!  Just love it.

So as we bid farewell to Thanksgiving and hello to the holiday season, I am sharing my Thanksgiving cookies that made it to some wonderful Clients and my line of Christmas cookies.  And this weekend, I am preparing my Monday post for the “football player” cookie (see below) featured in my first post for Football cookies.  It’s a mix of creativity in how to use your cookie cutters in different ways.  It’ll be fun, and I hope you join me and add your comments and share your own cookies.  I figured it would be a small break in EVERYTHING Christmas.  I hope you enjoy it.  Happy Holidays to all.  See you on Monday!!

Turkey, Turkey Cookie, Happy Thanksgiving, Indian Girl, Pilgrim Girl, Pumpkin, Pumpkin Cookie, Acorn, Acorn Cookie, Maple Leaf, Maple Leaf Cookie
Thanksgiving Cookies 2014
Christmas Cookies, Santa Cookie, Elf Cookie, Personalized Cookies, Homemade Cookies, Mrs. Claus Cookie, Snowman Cookie, Royal Icing Cookies
Holiday Cookie Collection 2014
Football, football player, football field, touchdown, Super Bowl 2015, cheer, cheerleader, football helmet, football referee, Super Bowl cookies, football cookies for men, cookies for men, custom cookies, personalized cookies
Football Cookies

Welcome to Cookie Celebration’s Blog

Dear Fellow Cookie Lover,

I’m so excited to be able to share this blog with each of you and look forward to embarking on a journey of inspiration, instruction, learning and honing the craft of Royal Icing Cookies.  There are many topics scheduled over the next several weeks and I hope you enjoy them and find them helpful in your own quest to create personalized cookies that look great and taste great!  This forum will focus on what I am currently working on, some tutorials on how to recreate some of my favorite cookies, how to find your own inspiration, other websites that inspire me (and I am sure will inspire you as well), and much more.  I hope you will join me in growing the site by providing feedback, ideas, and questions about topics you would like to see addressed.  Several other generous Bloggers have helped me create better cookies, create my own designs, learn tips and tricks to speed up the process and/or save you time, and much more.  Let this be one more resource you have at your fingertips…the more the merrier.  We all have to start somewhere.

Football, Football Favors, Football Cookies, Football Player, Cheerleader Cookie, Footballs, Football Helmet
Football Cookies 2014

Look for my FIRST TUTORIAL on how to create some of the Football Season cookies pictured above.  You might just find yourself inspired enough to create a batch for SUPERBOWL 2015!!  See you soon.

All the best,

Diane