When it comes to baking, there are a lot of techniques I automatically write off because they seem too difficult for a novice to try. Though I really enjoy baking, I'm definitely no expert, but I have been trying to add to my repertoire and skill set over time.
When Ana and I started planning our Strawberry Full Moon Party, we knew we wanted to incorporate an array of sweets, and decided to take on the challenge ourselves with a few specific ideas in mind. It was important that we tie in the themes - strawberries, moons, crystals and anything that had a mystic element to it - so we got to work brainstorming on how we could incorporate those throughout the shoot.
One of the ideas we landed on pretty early on was a version of watercolour painted cookies, and seeing as the whole idea behind the shoot had to do with moons, we decided on a crescent moon shape for the cookies, knowing that this would be a fairly easy shape to create without a fancy cookie cutter (we just used a circular one to create the shape). Our colour palette was pulled from the strawberry theme, and evolved into an array of pinks and peaches with pops of bright red, perfect for the watercolour effect we imagined.
For the cookies themselves we used a store bought sugar cookie mix so we could focus on the decoration and the other recipes we were baking, but you could easily use your favourite sugar cookie recipe for these. This was my first time ever using fondant, but it was easier than I thought and simple to cut out and apply, providing the perfect base for our masterpieces.
INGREDIENTS AND SUPPLIES
Sugar cookie recipe and its ingredients
Circular cookie cutters (we used two different sizes)
Fondant rolling pin
Small paint palette
Pastry brushes or unused craft brushes
Clear vanilla extract
Gel food colouring in your choice of colours (we used pink and peach)
1 // Mix your sugar cookie recipe according to instructions and roll out on a clean surface covered with parchment paper until it’s about 1/4 " thick. Cool the dough on a tray in the fridge for 10-15 minutes. Then cut your shapes out of the dough and place the cut shapes back in the fridge for another 10-15 minutes. Bake according to directions, making sure they aren’t overcooked and are still slightly soft. If you need to trim the shape slightly, use the same cookie cutters to do so when the cookies are still warm. Allow to cool completely.
2 // Roll out the fondant on parchment paper to 1/8” thick using the fondant rolling pin. They usually come with rubber rings as guides to determine the thickness. If you’re using the same roller as you used for the cookies, make sure it’s completely clean and dry first.
3 // Cut the fondant using the same cookie cutters you used for the cookies, again making sure they’re completely cleaned off. Allow the fondant shapes to dry out for at least an hour so they firm up. They can be left overnight if you have the time as well.
4 // Once the fondant shapes are dry, spread a thin layer of white icing in the centre of each sugar cookie, leaving space around the edge. Gently press one of the fondant shapes onto the iced cookie, and softly rub in small circles to “glue” the fondant on. Set finished cookies aside and allow to dry and set.
5 // While you’re waiting, create your watercolours, mixing the clear vanilla extract with a tiny dollop of gel food colouring for as many colours as you want. I usually use either a toothpick or straw to do so. Gel food colouring is very concentrated, so you only need a very small amount, and it does tend to temporarily stain certain surfaces. (Note my bright pink fingers in the photos!)
6 // Get creative and start painting your cookies! You really can’t go wrong, so don’t be afraid to play around, layering and mixing colours, and trying out various patterns and effects. We wanted a very loose, impressionistic effect for ours, but you could also do more a more defined design if you so please.
7 // If you want to take it one step further, you can also embellish the cookies, which we chose to do with crushed rock candy that we used elsewhere on the sweets table as well. Simple crush up the rock candy and gently press into the fondant. Allow the cookies to dry for at least 30 minutes after painted, and enjoy your mini masterpieces!