Thursday, October 10, 2013

So you wanna decorate cookies?

Boy, do we have the book for you! Judging from the reaction we get when we post photos of our cookies, there are lots of you out there who are just dying to jump into the cookie decorating pool. When we first got interested in cookie decorating, we spent a lot of frustrating hours searching the internet for how-to's and information. There are a lot of great cookiers around, and lots of info shared, but it's pretty hit and miss. Now, we're excited to share with you that we have found the perfect book for anyone who'd like to get started.

Julie Anne Hession has written 100 Best Decorated Cookies, and it is loaded with all the info you need. The good folks at Robert Rose sent us our very own copy to review. It was a bitter/sweet experience reading it, because we really could have used this book a couple of years ago when we were starting out.

This book starts at the beginning (as any good book should!) and tells you all about the equipment you'll need, and the basic techniques. There's a dynamite selection of cookie recipes that goes beyond the basic sugar cookie......  Peanut Butter Sugar Cookies..... Pumpkin Spice Sugar Cookies.....even Vegan Sugar name just a few. And lots of info on getting the icing just right. That's probably one of the most important factors in successful cookie decorating, and Julie's got that covered. Did we mention there are photographs? Lots of 'em. She shows you step-by-step how to achieve her designs. She says she's a 'type A' personality, and since we are, too, we appreciate that she even shares tips like 'create a timeline', so you know what you're doing and when. That was one thing we found difficult at the beginning.....figuring out the order of the icing, and how to end up with finished cookies on the day you need them. :)

There are a couple of techniques that Julie uses that caught our attention. One is that she uses fondant in addition to Royal Icing on some of her cookies. You can see an example in the straps on the flip-flops in the cover photo above. Genius!! We never thought of that before, but we're dying to try it out. The second is marbling. She uses marbling to simulate knitted fabric, and you all know how that would thrill us! Cookies + knitting = teaming up 2 of our most favourite things in this world. Julie uses marbling and its cousin feathering, to make some really beautiful cookies. Here's an actual spread from the book, where she shows how to marble the wings of the butterfly:

Excerpted from 100 Best Decorated Cookies by Julie Anne Hession © 2013 Robert Rose Inc.   Reprinted with publisher permission.
Isn't that gorgeous!! Notice that on the left is a list of what you need to make this cookie, like which colours of gel paste, etc. are required. Then there's a list of the techniques she's using and the page in the book where you'll find them described. There's a 'Getting Started' section that tells you how to divide the icing and what colours to mix up. Then, over on the right there are a few tips and suggestions. Add to all that, the step-by-step photos and it's all there.....everything anyone would need to know.

But more importantly, like all good teachers, Julie hasn't just given us the info to make this one cookie design (or even the 100 cookie designs that make up this book!), she's given us tools (in this case, it's marbling) to use in our own designs. We've said it before.... the mark of a good teacher or book is that they inspire the student/reader to use their info as a jumping off point. We can hardly wait to incorporate marbling in our next cookie decorating session.

Apart from being an excellent primer on cookie decorating, this book is full of inspiration.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Some things never get old

Pretty? Our hand quilting isn't perfect, but with the brilliant October sun shining on it, we think it's quite alright. We see more quilting in our future.....and maybe even some cookies!!