Sunday, August 14, 2011

Owlisious O is for Owl cookies

So I haven't let go of my square cookie lovin' at the moment and I created these super easy to make Parliament of owl cookies.

I called them O is for Owl cookies because they are basically made from a O shape cutter, deep huh. It took me a while to come up with a name for them....I wanted to call them something Hootish, but everything kept sounding a little bit seedy so I gave up on that angle.

Before we get into the tutorial I'll give you some helpful hints, kinda a do as I say not as I do. I was rushing these and using left over stuff, popping out to the shop and looking after 3 kids so they were not quite as well finished as they could be.

Ok do wait for the brown branch piping to dry before you start sticking on other stuff...don't just keep on going which may result in smudgy knuckle marks in your branch.

Do make sure you cut out the correct number of owls and corresponding wings and beaks. Don't get distracted and go to the shop part way through resulting in a weird pink owl with no nose ending up in the mix.

Do mix up some nice fresh royal icing, don't use that stuff that has been sitting in the piping bag for 2 days since you made some cameo cookies and has separated. People will notice. Well ok most people won't notice actually. They will just see some cute owl cookies for 3 seconds before they munch the evidence away.

Instructions for O is for Owl cookies

Batch of square cookies 5cm (2") CLICK HERE for the chocolate cookie recipe I used
White fondant
Small amount of colored fondant (I used Red, Blue, pink, orange, yellow and purple)

Small plastic rolling pin
brush and water
Square cookie cutter Approx 5cm (2")
Set of small oval cutters (I used my 3 set from the Ateco shapes tin I have around 2, 3 and 4cm)
Small flower plunger
Small triangle or tear drop cutter.
Royal Icing, white, brown and green. Small amount of black for eyes (optional you could use an edible pen or just use up some of the brown)
Piping bags and #1 and #65 tips

To start roughly work out what types of owl cookies you are making, I made cookies which had 2 small owls, 1 medium owl, or the top of one large owl with a small in the background. You will need to cut out your shapes accordingly. For this tutorial I will give rough numbers for 18 cookies with 6 of each mentioned/pictured design.

Knead the white fondant and roll out to a couple of mm thick using the small rolling pin. Cut out squares using the square cookie cutter and adhere to the cookies using a small amount of water brushed onto the cookie and then using the rolling pin to gently press the fondant into place.

Roll out pink fondant and press out a bunch of flowers (around 18) using the mini flower ejector. Repeat with the purple (24), orange (6) and yellow (18)fondant.

Place the brown royal icing into a piping bag with a #1 tip and pipe on some wiggly branches. I drew some squares on paper first and decided where I wanted the branches and owls to go, then I practiced piping the brown over the paper before I started on the cookies. You will need 6 cookies with a branch near the bottom for the medium owls, 6 cookies with a branch at the bottom and a smaller branch in the top right corner for the small owls, and 6 cookies with a small wiggly branch just over half way up on the left side for the cookies with the large owl (eyes only) and small owl in background.

Roll out the red fondant. Cut out oval shapes and then place the bottom of the oval cutter onto the top of the oval fondant shape and press out a small semi circle shape. See the picture example. The remaining shape should resemble a simple owl. Cut out 3 medium red owls, 9 small red owls and 3 large red owls. Use a sharp knife to cut off the bottoms of the large red owls, use your original drawings to determine where to cut.  Repeat for the blue fondant cutting out the same number of owls in blue.

You will also need to cut out the thin wing shapes, use the oval cutters to do this as well. I used the offcuts from the tops of the owl.

Take the excess fondant and cut out a thin wing from each side, so you will end up with 2 wings for each semi circle. The large owls will not need wings so you will end up with 6 medium red wings, 6 medium blue wings, 18 small red wings and 18 small blue wings.

Roll out the remaining orange fondant and using a small tear drop cutter or triangle and a sharp knife cut out a beak for each owl.

Pop your white royal icing into a piping bag with a #1 tip. Using your original drawing or my cookie pictures as a guide, stick the owl cut outs onto the cookies with a little royal icing. Add on the owl wings and beak and then pipe some eyes onto each owl. Adhere the small fondant flowers decoratively around the branches and then pipe a small dot of white royal icing into the center of each flower.

If you find that bits of the royal icing squish out use a small stiff clean brush (you have only used for food purposes in the past or new) to brush away the excess

Fill a piping bag with green royal icing and a #65 small leaf tip. Pipe some leaves around the branches by holding the piping tip on the branch applying pressure and then pulling away.carefully. (practice on some paper first if you like).

Once the eyes have dried pipe on a tiny amount of black royal icing into the center of each eye, or you can use brown royal icing, or an edible pen which ever works best for you.

Also Don't forget the Handmade Wedding Giveaway

If you haven't already entered the Handmade Wedding Book Giveaway pop on over here to check out my review and enter.

and finally here is the link to preorder my book Sweets on a Stick from Amazon, its due out in December. Did I mention I took some pops I made using the chocolate cake pop recipe to kindi the other day for Sweet's birthday and the next day the teacher told me in amazement it is the first time every kid has eaten up the whole treat. I'm taking that as a winning endorsement.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Handmade Wedding - Book Giveaway and Review

I received an early copy of Handmade Wedding over Forty Gorgeous Projects to help you style your wedding your way published by Penguin Books Australia in my mailbox the other day.

Handmade Wedding

Handmade Wedding is a charming book full of gorgeous colour photography that beautifully portrays the finished projects, along with a host of other inspirational pictures.

The book is a collaboration of a host of well known and well respected bloggers, stylists and talented artists and is divided into sections such as Before the Wedding, Getting Dressed, Ceremony, Table, Party and Details.

There are detailed step by step instructions on how to make all the pretty projects, including templates where required and the Party section includes a few recipes including macarons (by Macaron cookbook author Alison Thompson), truffle pops and cookies. I did notice that the macaron recipe recommended a few trial runs before the wedding, so I would say the book offers pretty sound advice as well.

I fell in love with some of the diy craft projects and the day the book arrived found myself ordering items to make the super cute cupcake toppers from the Party Section. Sooo totally in love with them! Many of the 48 projects in the book would be easily transferable to any fabulous soiree you might be hosting, and are not just wedding specific.

I had hoped to floor you all with my super crafty skills and show you all some pictures of the amazing things I had made from the book (hello cupcake toppers) but sadly my stuff is still in transit somewhere.

Anyhoo to round up I guess it says a lot that I was willing to attempt some projects, cause although I'm ok at dipping cakeballs and baking macarons I'm not the craftiest gal around and after reading the book I was pretty confident that I could attempt quite a few of the projects.

Giveaway - Win A Copy of Handmade Wedding

I have the precopy of Handmade Wedding to offer as a giveaway. Just leave a comment here by 12pm Monday the 15th of August and I will randomly choose a winner. Any comment will do, just say Hi if you like. If you would like me to contact you and let you know that you are the winner make sure you leave your email address in the comment as well, otherwise I will announce on Tuesday here and on the facebook page the name of the winner and you can have until Friday to contact me before I redraw.

Good Luck!

Oh and here is my everyblog announcement about my book, which is by the way totally not related to the book I reviewed above......In case you haven't heard I have a book coming out in December available for preorder. It's a US release and is aimed at cooking with kids specifically sweet treats on a stick and has lots of recipes for cake pops, cookie tutorials, pie pops, candy and more.

Here is the link to buy my book Sweets on A Stick by Linda and Vandermeer at Barnes and Noble :)

WINNER  update

Random Org came up with #6 so the winner is Karla

Thanks everyone who entered

Monday, August 8, 2011

Baroque Black Velvet and Cameo Cookies inpired by Kitten D'Amour

I have recently started back working one day a week at my old job from before I had the kids.

I'm really enjoying the work, and they are a lovely bunch of people, but one of the biggest perks is that it's in the city and I get to go shopping at lunch time........without 3 kids running around screaming.

As well behaved as my kids normally are and as much as I adore them, clothes shopping is just not fun with them along. I have lost count of the number of times they have crawled under the change rooms into someone else's stall so in respect of those other shoppers I have mostly given up.
Black bow with cameo, part of cardigan from Kitten D'Amour

But with my new found one day a week freedom I was able to venture into, actually try on and buy a few pieces from the latest clothing collection at Kitten D'Amour. I totally loved them so much I was inspired to make some delicious cookies.

Disclaimer - these cookies are in no way affiliated with Kitten D'Amour - I just really like their packaging and stuck one of my cookies onto the spot where their cute stuff normally rests. Pop over and see the lovely stuff they actually do sell.

Plus I have those gorgeous Cameo molds sitting around that I have not used for about a year, and this seemed like a really good excuse to use them.

I took these along to a BBQ for everyone to try and they were a hit, although as a word of warning everyone's teeth were temporarily turned blue for a minute or too. I used premade black fondant that someone kindly had given me. Normally I try to use less food colour and make my own with chocolate fondant which uses a bit less black colour. Or you could make them in blue and white which would be a bit Tiffanyish and super pretty as well.
Hair fascinator by Kitten D'Amour

Anyhoo before I start on the how to's just a couple of house keeping things.

In case I haven't mentioned it a squillion times I have a book coming out in December which is available through preorder. So every post I'll be having a link to it....... sorry to bore anyone if you've already seen it (and yes I do feel like a tv commercial).

Also I am having stacks of trouble with my blogger account and I might be moving to a new one soon. But I'll give y'all plenty of notice if that's the case.

Baroque and Black Velvet Cameo Cookies

Chocolate cookie dough (click here for recipe)
Black fondant, pink fondant and tiny amount of white fondant
Royal Icing in black and white
Small amount of gold disco dust (like edible glitter) optional
Square cookie cutter with ruffle edge# (mine were 5cm (2") square)
Cameo mold - (mine are aldaval 9003 and 9007 the finished cameos are about 4cm (1 5/8") X 2.7cm(1 1/8"))
icing bags with #1 tip (small round tip)
Small flower ejector
Small rolling pin
small sharp knife
brush and a little water
Cornflour (cornstarch) for dusting

#My square cookie cutters are a set of d.line ones I picked up from Kitchenware Plus, I have noticed them at Robin's as well.
#I picked up my Cameo molds quite a while ago from the UK. I'm not sure where you can purchase them at the moment but on the back of the pack they have an email address

Make up the cookies using the square cookie cutter with ruffled edges and allow to cool.

Work out how many of each type of cookie you will need and make the corresponding amount of decorations. So for example if you are making 18 cookies, half pink and half black, you will need 3 pink cameos, 3 pink bows, 3 black/white cameos, 3 black bows and 6 small flowers.

Use the cameo mold to make up some cameo's. Make sure before you start to pop a little oil/shortening into the mold. I rub a little crisco on, but use what ever you would normally use. Press some fondant that you have kneaded a little to make pliable into the impression in the mold, pressing in well and then use a knife to cut off any excess from the top of the mold so that the back of the cameo will be flat. Pop the mold into the freezer for 30 seconds and then pop the cameo shape out onto some parchment paper until you need to use it. Repeat and make as many as required. I made some in all pink and some with white and black.

Make up some bows using the pink and black fondant, I was really lazy with this bit as I was going to make fondant pearl centers to cover the middles but then I just dolloped some royal icing which didn't work out so good. Use a knife to cut strips of fondant and then fold the edges into the middle to make the top bow section, pop little bits of plastic wrap (Glad wrap) into the loops to help them hold their shape. Cut out more strips to make the ends of the bows look like ribbon hanging down. Use a little bit of water to stick the bits together. Make up a white fondant pearl for the middle and stick it into the center of the bow.

Press out a couple of small flowers using the flower ejector. If you like dust them with a small amount of water and some edible glitter or disco dust and pop a little round dot of fondant into the middle.

Roll out the black fondant onto a cornflour dusted workbench until a couple of mm thick (1/8") and using the cookie cutter cut out fondant shapes. I used the square side but you can just use the ruffled one. Take a knife and cut a few mm (1/8") off each side so the fondant will be a little bit smaller that the finished cookie. Brush a little bit of water onto the cookie and adhere the fondant to the cookie using the rolling pin to press in down. If necessary use the knife to even up the edges. I do this by pressing the fondant back into shape by putting the dull edge of the knife against the cookie and pressing it gently in towards the middle. Just a little to make the edge even. If you are having trouble with the cornflour making the black look all white and dusty you can try using a little white shortening to grease the workbench instead.

Repeat with the pink fondant so that you have some cookies with a black background and some with a pink background.

Mix up some royal icing, it's a good idea to do the black the night before if you have a chance. Get the icing to a consistency that you can pipe with. This is kinda the tricky part, too stiff and it will be peaking with pointy dots, too runny and it will not hold it's shape. So when you are mixing it the consistency should be still quite thick, but if you run your spoon through it drops down after about 10 seconds....yeah ok if like me your not quite that perfect I'll share a little trick and all the perfect cookie pipers please close your eyes and look the other way ;)

Pop the black and the white royal icing into the piping bags with #1 tips. Royal icing dries up really quickly so I use a bit of damp paper towel wrapped around the tips to stop it from drying out in between uses and stick it into an airtight container.

Start by sticking the cameos and the bows into the middles of the cookies with a bit of royal icing. I stuck pink cameos and bows onto the black cookie backgrounds and correspondingly black and white cameos and bows onto the pink background cookies. Pipe little dots all the way around the base of the cameo.

Pipe on the 'necklaces' I practiced on a piece of paper first by drawing a shape the size of the cookie and drawing in three lines to represent the 'strands' and drawing a flower on one of them. Then I piped dots along the strands to work out how many dots might be needed on each strand. Once I was happy with that I just piped them onto the cookie freehand. I piped the top six dots, three on each side and then worked my way down, adhering the flower with a little royal icing.

You can allow the cookies to rest a little and set, or like me just keep on going and risk smudging them. Pipe dots around the edge of the cookies. I used white royal icing on the black fondant background cookies and black royal icing on the pink fondant background cookies. Once again practice on a piece of paper first if you like, I used a #1 tip but if you like you could swap up to a #2, you just need to squeeze a little bit longer with the #1. Pipe dots around the whole edge of the cookie, I made mine correspond with the ruffled edges.

OK now if you didn't quite get the icing perfect and its too stiff and it's a bit 'peaky' pop a small amount of water onto your finger and push the edge of the peak down a little to make the edge look rounded. Make sure your fingers are clean (y'all would be doing that anyway I know) or use clean new gloves and remember just a tiny amount of water or you'll make the icing smudge and with the black it might run onto the pink fondant and you will need to wipe bits off with paper towels and it'll get super messy. If in doubt practice on that bit of paper first.

Once the pink fondant cookies with the black royal icing are set, you can go around and pipe a tiny white dot onto the top of each black royal icing or you can just skip that step, they look good either way.