Mario, Luigi, & A Few Items You Can Grab Along The Way.

My son decided that he wanted to have a Mario themed birthday this year. I had already done Mario cookies, so I was feeling pretty confident about making them again… and the cupcakes. The wheels in my head were turning and I started sketching out the cookies I wanted to do. I asked my son, “Of the one’s off this paper, which cookies do you want me to make?” Not a smart move.  He choose almost all of them. But, they were so cute that I kind of wanted to try them all anyway. Maybe that is why I wound up making too many cookies. I wanted to have enough of each character. If I only made one batch of dough, there would have only been about 6 of each character. I didn’t want to be the cause of some upset kid (or adult…lol) because someone ate all the stars and they didn’t get to have one. Anyway, I learned my lesson…152 iced cookies later.

Bowser Castle CupcakesSo, let’s talk cupcakes. I wanted the cupcakes to look super cool. I looked at a few ideas online, but most of them had characters on top of the cupcake. Which would have been pretty cool, but costly. Instead, another “that’s perfect” moment happened. I decided to do the end flagpole scene when you clear a course on a Super Mario game. It took me a couple of days to cut out, draw, and tape the cupcake wrappers. The flags I printed out and cut. Now, I know the flags are supposed to be triangle shaped, but because of size issues and the way they printed, I had to cut them as a rectangle. I still think they turned out awesome. Originally, the top of the flagpole was going to be a Lemonhead, but because of my son’s love for marshmallows, a new idea was born. We topped cakepop sticks with mini marshmallows and colored the sides with a yellow food marker. Genius, I tell you.

Mario Kart 8 CookiesOk, back to the 152 cookies. I had so many cookies that I had to be strategic on divvying up the icing into different colors. I made sure that I iced the had-to-do cookies first. That left the yoshi eggs and emblem cookies last.  I put disco dust on the stars to make them sparkle. The mushrooms were easy. The blue mini mushrooms turned out to be my favorite. The fire flower and boomerang flower (Mario Kart 8) took a little more work. I went through my cookie cutters and found some possiblities (like the letter “K” or “V”), but they just didn’t look right. So, I had to make my own cutters. I decided to pipe out the leaves and make transfers. I wanted them to have depth. I made a few extra transfers, just incase they broke or didn’t match up right. The question mark boxes – don’t ask me why I freehanded them when I had my KopyKake machine setup and ready to go. Probably because I didn’t want to stop and print out the question mark. Since I had the KopyKake setup, I used it to make the Mario and Luigi emblem cookies. (Plus, my son thought the machine was cool and wanted to turn it on and off for me.) I was at the end of icing the had-to-do cookies and decided to make different color yoshi eggs, since I had a little bit left of every color.

Question Mark Cheese CubeOne last edible decoration…question mark blocks of cheese. It was a very tedious process. I happen to own a question mark imprint stamp. So, I stamped all four sides and top with a question mark and stuck a toothpick in them. (If you decide to do something like this, I recommend wearing food handler gloves. It made it easier to handle and I got to tell everyone, “Don’t worry, I wore gloves.”) Now, would I do it again? Probably not. Even though it looked cool, not everyone noticed and it took forever to do.

At the party, there definitely wasn’t enough room to put out all the cookies. So, I kept 75% of them in my Snapware containers, but had baggies for everyone to take as many as they wanted home. The cookie and cupcake designs were a hit. My son loved the party, as he should, since he made out like a bandit. When the party was over, I looked at all the cookies leftover. What is a girl to do? I took some to my neighbors and I made my husband take bags of cookies to his co-workers. Happy people everywhere. Enjoy.

The Amazing Spider-Man…2

It is that time again. In my daughter’s class, each Friday a different student is responsible for providing a special snack.  When her turn came around again, I asked her what kinds of snacks the other kids had brought. She said fruit roll ups or store bought sugar cookies, usually. She and I both knew that store bought cookies just would not do. I started thinking of what kind of theme I wanted for the cookies I was going to make. It is almost the end of the school year and it is getting hotter outside. My first thought was suns/flowers. As I was sketching out ideas, I had a “that’s it” moment… Spider-Man! The movie had just come to the theaters. The timing was perfect and I have made Spider-Man cookies before.

Spidey Masks SideviewI have a custom cookie cutter that I made for doing faces, but I felt that it was too big. Recently, when I was walking through the Easter section at a store, I found a set of small cutters. One of the cutters was an egg, but when I saw it I knew it would be perfect for making faces. That’s why I bought it, and it turned out to be just the right size for Spidey. I asked my daughter, as I held up each of the cutters, “Would you rather have one of these (big custom cutter) or two cookies of these (small “egg” cutter)?” I reminded her of the Yoshi eggs that I made recently with the same cutter, and the decision was made.  All I needed to do was brush up on the how-to from my favorite cookie blog.

Spidey EyesI wanted all the faces to have uniform eyes, so I printed clipart of Spider-Man’s mask. Mainly, because I didn’t feel like getting out the Kopykake machine. Food markers and cut-out Spidey eyes can’t be that hard. Well…it wasn’t hard, just tedious. I will say the next time I trace with food markers, I will either put tape on both sides of the paper, or I will create a stencil. By the time I was finished, the piece of paper was soaked and torn. 70 cookies = a lot of eyeballs.

Every time I color icing, I learn something new. This time it was a lesson in red. I didn’t want to use too much red coloring, so decided to add brown to darken it.  I did darken it, but it looked muted. I was so upset at the results that I figured I was going to have to make another batch of icing. I made more icing and decided to go ahead and make the cookie dough, too. About 45 minutes had gone by and it was time to get back to coloring the icing. I decided to salvage the muted brown-red by turning it into black. I opened up the container of red icing and low and behold, it had turned to a perfect shade of red. I was happy and mad at the same time.  I just spent all that time making another batch of icing. Arrgh… The thing to remember about coloring royal icing is that the final color develops over time. When I make black, I stop adding coloring when it is a dark gray. The next day it will be black. So, with all of this said, I’ve learned to always make the icing the night before.

Spidey Masks TopdownI wanted to make these cookies special for boys and girls, so I made Spider-Girl cookies,too. They were pink with glitter (disco dust) eyes. (I am fully aware that the real Spider-Girl from the comics is not pink and sparkly.  Honestly, she looks more like Venom-Girl, but I am not ready to get into a lengthy discussion about it right now.) With this in mind, I asked my daughter’s teacher to let me know the number of boys and girls was in the class.  There were 20 students total.  Giving each student two cookies, I only needed 40 cookies for my daughter’s class.  From the dough I had made, I was able to cut out 70 cookies, so I was able to make some for my son’s class, too. I don’t know of any teacher that is going to turn away homemade decorated sugar cookies. Do you?

Now, because I made so many, meant that there was going to be a lot of piping. Finding the right tip for the spiderweb lines became a small problem. I am glad that I had a few extras. I started with a Wilton #1, but the lines were too big. Then, I tried my PME 00 and PME 0 tips, but they kept on clogging. Finally, I used a PME 1 and it worked. Yippee!

Spidey_Gwen_CarI wrapped pairs of cookies in treat bags and boxed them up for the kids. The next day, I walked each of my children to their classroom. I informed their teacher that I made the cookies without almond extract, for those in the class with nut allergies. Also, I assured them that the glitter on the pink cookies was edible. When I picked the kids up from school, they said that everyone loved the cookies. The girls especially liked the glitter, as I knew they would. Because, all girls love glitter! Enjoy.

It’s a me…Mario.

For everything in life, it seems like a two weeks notice is the standard heads-up. As soon as you are given the notice, you should act right away. Don’t wait until the “date”. So, you are probably wondering what all that means. I am going to fill you in on the details.

Mario PlateA good friend of mine asked me to make Mario (of Nintendo’s Super Mario fame) cookies for her son’s birthday party. She texted me a good month in advance. I told her that I would research it and let her know. I had never done Mario cookies, so I wanted to make sure that I would be able make some. So, a couple of weeks goes by and she calls me to see how everything is going. I told her that I wouldn’t be able to make Mario himself, but had no problem with stars, mushrooms, etc. She said that would be fine, but…the party date was moved up and in less than a week. Of course, I replied that I would still do them.

Mario GroupI thought of all the icing colors that I would need yellow, red, green, white, and black. I made Stars, Mushrooms, question mark blocks, and Yoshi eggs. The cookie cutters were pretty easy to come by and I only had to custom work for the mushrooms. I used a star cutter for the Invincibility Star.  For the Mushroom, I popped out a circle and cut off an angle.  The “?” Block is just a square, and Yoshi’s Egg was made using an Easter egg cutter I had.  I cut and baked all the cookies the night before. I woke up early and started icing. I started with the mushrooms and Yoshi eggs, since the first color was going to have to dry, before the second was added. Then, I iced the stars and question mark blocks. I made so many cookies that I ran out of yellow icing. It was ok, my kids used the extras to do cookie art. I added the second colors, question marks, and then the eyes.

I was torn on one thing:  The stars. To sparkle or not to sparkle? That was the first question. The answer…sparkle, of course. The second question was disco dust or gold luster dust? I decided that luster dust would be easier and less messy. Even though disco dust would have looked awesome. Maybe next time. I’m sure one of these years my son will want Mario cookies.

Even in a time crunch, everything turned out fine. The party was a hit and so were the cookies. Enjoy.

LEGOS Are Everywhere!

Lego CookiesLegos have infested my house. Luckily, I have not had the honor of stepping on one and having to go to the hospital…yet. My kids love to take the minifigures and swap out heads, hair and bodies. Also, my son loves to play all the Lego games on the Wii. So, it is no surprise that my son wanted a Lego themed birthday party. I asked him if he wanted cookies, cupcakes or a cake. He said that he wanted all of them. I guess I shouldn’t have given him so many options.

Lego TowerI didn’t feel like making a ton of cookies, so I just made one batch of dough. But, when you are cutting out squares and rectangles, the dough goes a long way. I wanted to make Lego heads too. I searched through my cookie cutters, but couldn’t find anything that would work. So, I just made my own. The one thing that I love about icing Lego cookies is that I only have to use one single color. I must say these were super easy.

Lego Female FaceFirst, my plan was to make black icing and pipe features onto the minifigure faces. Then the plan turned into using a paint brush and brushing royal icing on the yellow heads. Finally, after I got out my KopyKake machine and all was said and done.  I wound up using food markers, which worked like a dream. Especially since my daughter wanted a few of the Lego faces to be girls, which means eyelashes and lips.

Lego CakeHe wanted chocolate cake with buttercream icing. I made a single layer round cake and a dozen cupcakes. I iced a crumb coat and then smoothed out the rest. I used brown M&M’s to make the face. It turned out kind of plain, but cute.

So, there you have it. He got all 3 desserts. We ate leftovers for a few days, which no one seemed to mind. After the party, my house has even more Legos. Enjoy.

Donald Duck Birthday Party!

Donald Duck CookiesMy sister asked her son what kind of birthday party he wanted. To my sister’s surprise, he said he wanted Donald Duck. She tried to mention other themes, but he had his heart set on Donald. You really can’t change the mind of a 2 year old. So, with that being said, I had to get creative with the cookie design. I knew that he was turning 3 and I decided to make number 3 shaped cookies. The hard part was trying to figure how to turn that into Donald Duck. Let me just say that I can not draw. So, translating what is in my head to paper is not the easiest thing for me to do… nor are my drawings the easiest things for my family to figure out. You should have seen the look on my sister’s face when I showed her my idea. She had the “Omg, why did I ask her to make cookies?” look. But, that didn’t stop me.

Donald 3'sLet’s talk about the cookies. I can not stress the importance of prep work. I started a day earlier with making the icing, because I knew that I needed the colors to darken overnight and get rid of some air bubbles. I knew that I was going to make icing transfers for the bow-tie, duck bill and the hat. Icing transfers usually take 24 hours to dry, so that is why I knew I had to get a head start. Now, the transfers are piped out and dry and the cookies are made and cooled, it is time to make Donald come to life.

The party went well. The birthday boy had a great time. Everyone enjoyed the cookies. The grown-ups liked them a little more than the kids, I think.  Later on, my husband told me that I did a great job. He said that he was amazed that I could turn a number 3 into a duck.  I think he is used to just nodding his head and saying yes when I start drawing. Enjoy.

 

More Than Meets the Eye

Autobots StencilI have been having fun lately, purchasing “a few” items to feed my cookie making addiction.

About a month ago, I decided that I was going to make my own stencils. I went to Hobby Lobby and bought some stencil sheets and a stencil burner. I got on the internet and printed a few pictures to cut out stencils. So far, I have made an Autobot insignia, Rebel Alliance, and the Star Wars font stencil. They were not hard to make, just tedious. I would advise to do it by an open window, because burning plastic is not a lovely smell. Now, my plan for making stencils was to spread thick royal icing over them. However, after I was finished making the stencils, because of the rough edges and some fragile, small details, I did not foresee that as an option. Which brings us to the next part….

Over a week ago, I decided that I absolutely had to have an airbrush machine. I did some research, scoped out some prices, and decided that my best option right now was to buy a Duff airbrush machine. Now, the Duff airbrush machine had tons of mixed reviews, but I decided to give it a try. I wasn’t positive that I would use one enough or even like one.  If I started using it frequently and needed to upgrade, then it would be my backup. By the way, currently they are $149 at Michael’s, but I used a 50% off coupon. I figured, for what I needed, that was a steal. Also, if you are planning on purchasing an airbrush machine, I would highly recommend that you check out this very informative article from the bearfoot baker. (I love her blog.)

I couldn’t decide what shape to make the cookie, so I went with a plain 3″ circle. I iced the cookie with white royal icing and let it dry overnight. When using an airbrush machine, I would cover your work area, because the machine mists color. I covered the area with a couple of parchment paper sheets that I used to cook these cookies. Next time, I will definitely wear disposable gloves too.  The machine worked like a charm. My husband even wanted to give it a whirl. Of course, he used the Star Wars stencils.

I made these cookies for a good friend of mine. He loved them, which made me happy. I am glad I made a great purchase. I have a feeling that I will be using my airbrush machine a lot in the future. Enjoy.