How to make…stained glass cookies (sort of)

October 15, 2010 § 12 Comments

I’m afraid that this isn’t going to be a very good tutorial, because my methods were mostly an experiment in what Does Not Work (hint: getting your icing wrong Does Not Work).  But the end result was still pretty!  So perhaps if I tell you all about what I did wrong you’ll be able to do something even prettier.

First I made sugar cookies. From a package, because I am a cheater.  Then I made icing from these directions at i am baker and managed to get them wrong. My icing was much too thin, and I used an icing tip that was too big, and the long and the short of it is that my cookies had a rather thicker layer of icing that they were supposed to, and this layer of icing never hardened.

My plan for the cookies was to copy the enchanted rose as it appears in the wonderful stained glass prologue of Beauty and the Beast

Specifically, I wanted my cookies to look like this:

I had a few ideas about how to copy the image onto my cookies…and they all failed. Because my icing was soft and more like a glaze than icing and the outer crust cracked like a frozen lake if I touched it.  What to do?

In the end I did what I do best: I improvised.  I eyeballed.  I looked at the picture, and back at my cookie, and back at the picture, and back at my cookie, and I free-handed roses onto my cookies in black icing (with the small tip that I should have been using all along, and which much, much thicker icing this time).

I did my best, but I still ended up with some of the ugliest roses in the history of everything–see the lower right hand corner of this picture for evidence–

My lines were shaky and lumpy, my piping sloppy, and my cookies, frankly, looked abysmal.  I managed to fix a few mistakes by gently picking out bits of black icing after it had dried, but the real saving grace for these cookies?

The decorating gel.  You can buy it in your local craft or baking goods store in a multitude of colors.  It’s clear. It’s vibrant. After it sits it doesn’t harden like royal icing but it does firm up enough to handle touching or stacking (although if you’re stacking your cookies in a tin for a gift, or if you made them in advance for an event and they’ll be stacked for a while, I’d separate them with pieces of wax or parchment paper to keep crumbs from sticking to the decorating gel).  And suddenly that imperfect piping isn’t even noticeable–the bright colors of the decorating gel made even the ugliest of my ugly roses look good.

Application was simple–I just squeezed a bit of decorating gel into each section of the cookies (not too much! it will spread pretty thin, and you can always add more if you need to–if you put on too much it will flood into other sections) and gently spread it to the edges and into the corners with a toothpick.

A little time consuming, but easy, and the results were so worth it!

If you look closely, you’ll see that I used two shades of decorating gel–both pink and red–to give the rose depth.  There wasn’t a science to this, although I tried to focus the pink on the center of the rose and use it on the curled edges of the petals, while I used more red at the bottom of the rose. But it breaks up the color and gives some of the variation that you see in the window.

You can also see the black mark left by a line of icing that I picked off to improve the look of the rose–that smudge was a lot less noticeable in person, I promise!

I also broke up the bright blue background with bits of purple, and some of the cookies had a border of pink and purple, in an effort to match my original concept.

Was this project time-consuming and tedious?

Well, yes. But so pretty!

Would you do it again?

Absolutely, although I would really try to get my icing right next time.

Were they too pretty to eat?

Um, no. In my world, no cookie is too pretty to eat. That’s why I take pictures.

They were delicious!


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