Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Simple Sparkly Sealife Cookies. A tutorial with Video!

 I recently wrote a guest post over at Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary with a giveaway of these sealife cookies. I wanted to do something different from the previous ones shown there, but it had to be something 'honeycat' - basically lots of lustre, shine and glitter.

Though these cookies look quite complex at first sight, they're really quite simple to make, and the designs lend themselves to almost any shape. Read on and I'll show you how I made them.

What you will need:

1. A variety of sea life cookie cutters and your favourite sugar cookie recipe. 

2. A muted range of base colours in flood consistency royal icing, around 10 seconds - I used light and dark blues, green and gold (dark yellow).

3. Gold and silver or pearl lustre spray (I don't have an airbrush, I just use the sprays you can pick up in the supermarket).

4. A collection of sparkly dragees or sugar pearls, here I've used only gold, silver, and white, in a variety of sizes.

5. Tweezers and a scribe tool or toothpick.

6. A small amount of dark royal icing in piping consistency (like toothpaste) for added details - I used a very dark purple, which looks almost black. With a tip no. 1.5.

7. A small amount of royal icing in light pink, soft, piping consistency for final dots - soft enough to fall back into dots without leaving stiff peaks. With a tip no. 1.5.

A note on piping bags: I've recently started using the 'Master' disposable piping bags that you can get in several places on eBay or Amazon. They come from Hong Kong or China and are very cheap, often with free shipping, and are ideal to use without couplers or even tips. For the outlining and flooding, I used the same bag, with a small cut serving both stages. So much easier for preparation and cleaning up! For the detail piping I added tips, but without couplers, which is somehow more comfortable, and easier to use much smaller amounts of icing.

Design Tip: At a couple of stages in making these cookies, I wasn't entirely sure how the designs should proceed. I knew the cookies weren't 'finished', and needed something more, but I didn't know what and hadn't any spare to practice on. So I took a clear photograph of them all on a plain background, printed out a near life-size photograph of them, several times over, and practiced piping on top of the pictures! I did this for both the dark patterns, to work out what I wanted to go where, and then for the final stage adding pink dots. 

Bake a collection of your favourite sea life cookies - I'll be describing the decorative process on the starfish. The video above shows most of the cookies being decorated, so refer to that if you need inspiration for the other cookies!

1. Using the same flood consistency icing, outline the starfish cookie.

2. Immediately flood the cookie.

3. Immediately spray the wet cookie with lustre spray (I used pearl/silver spray on the blue base). This will dry into the surface of the wet icing and not rub off as it can do when sprayed on the dry icing.

4. Start to create the main lines of decoration with the large silver dragees, starting in the centre and radiating out to the tips. Add small silver dragees inbetween the large. Now let the cookie dry.

5.  Taking the dark piping icing and a tip no. 1.5 start to add a few details - I chose to simply outline the tips of the starfish, trailing a few dots back up each arm towards the centre.

Repeat for all the cookies in a range of colours, dragees and patterns. It was after this stage that I felt the dark details by themselves looked stark, and I puzzled over what the cookies needed to finish them off. That's when I decided they needed a little pink (which could have been darker, truthfully, to contrast more with the backgrounds). I added pink dots in patterns, trails, streams of 'bubbles' and to create more detailed tentacles on the jelly fish, as you can see in these examples above.