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Bird’s Nests with Royal Icing

With St. Patrick’s Day over, now comes the Spring and Easter themed posts. With the unseasonably warm temperatures we are experiencing here now one would think that we skipped from Winter directly into Summer. The birds chirping have woken me for the past few mornings, right along with the warm sunshine. I’m enjoying it while it lasts. Today seemed like the perfect day to herald new seasons with some easy but (I think) cute decorating ideas with royal icing.

Won’t be long before kids are running around fields and lawns in their Sunday best, Easter baskets in hand as they hunt down the hidden eggs. Today I’m going to show you another place to store your eggs. First off, a few birds nests made with leftover royal icing. Cute and edible containers to stash some of your favourite Easter treats of the oval shape.

All you will need to make a nest like this is a small canning jar or bowl. Some Saran Wrap, a little Crisco and royal icing (mine was leftover from cookie decorating), food colouring and a piping bag with a #233 tip, often referred to as the grass tip.

I also used a larger bowl and made a larger nest (fits more eggs right!)

Personally, I prefer the nests made from the small canning jars. Ready to make some little nests of your own? Here we go.

First of all, cover your small jar or bowl tightly with Saran Wrap. Rub a light coating of Crisco all around the plastic wrap.

Now you are going to cover the *bottom* of the nest with royal icing tinted to the shade you want. I piped the icing using the #233 tip and just smoothed it out with a spatula. You want your icing fairly thick when working with the #233 so there really was no need to pipe a border and then flood the base.

Next step is to pipe your way around the jar with the #233 tip. With the exception of the larger nest where I piped in the same direction, I made both long and short piping lines and just went in a random pattern until the jar was covered about 3/4′s of the way down.

Let the icing dry for a full 24 hours. Then turn the nest over, carefully lifting the jar from the hardened royal icing nest. Fill with coloured *straw* and your favourite Easter eggs :)

Next post I will show you how to make another nest, this time with sugar cookie dough and royal icing.

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Carrot Cupcakes

So, it was my daughter’s 35th birthday on the 26th of September. Thirty-Five!!! Gosh but her Mom is getting old! Last weekend we celebrated a joint birthday and early Thanksgiving dinner as Amanda and her family would not be here on Thanksgiving weekend. I made her this cake. Yes, I know I should stick to decorating cookies but it was fun to do and Amanda got a kick out of it.

The cake was a carrot cake made from a recipe given to me by Kathleen, a co-worker of mine from my years as an Executive Assistant. I frosted it with our new favourite icing, Pumpkin Pie Spice Buttercream. Perfect partner for the flavours in this carrot cake.

Anyhoo, the leftover cake was taken home by Amanda. Later in the week she told me that Ella wanted to take a piece of cake to school in her lunch. As I had put pecans in the cake, Ella couldn’t take a slice for her lunch dessert. So, as I’m going out to visit the grand-girls this week, I thought I’d make another carrot cake but this time reserve half the batter to be nut free and make them into cupcakes for easy portability as part of Ella’s school lunch.

I’ve made carrot cake before here on the blog but it wasn’t from Kathleen’s recipe that she gave to me so many years ago. I thought I’d share it with you today. It’s a family favourite and the Pumpkin Pie Spice Buttercream frosting has since replaced the regular Cream Cheese Frosting for this cake/cupcakes.

This recipe will make three 8-inch round cakes or 13 X-large cupcakes (more cupcakes if you use a smaller cupcake pan)

Kathleen’s Carrot Cake Recipe

2 cups of unbleached flour

2 teaspoons of baking powder

1 teaspoon of baking soda

3/4 teaspoon of salt

2 teaspoons of cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg

3/4 cup of white sugar

3/4 cup of packed brown sugar

3 eggs

1 1/2 cups of vegetable oil

2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract

2 cups of grated carrots

1 cup of crushed pineapple

1/2 cup of chopped pecans (optional)

Directions

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in a medium bowl and whisk together well. Set aside.

In your mixing bowl beat together sugars, eggs, oil and vanilla until smooth. Gradually add flour and spice mixture until well combined. With mixer set on low, add carrots, pineapple and pecans.

Pour into prepared cake pans or cupcake pans.

Bake cakes at 350° for 40 minutes until cake tester comes out clean. For X-large cupcakes bake for approximately 28 minutes at 350° until cake tester comes out clean. Let cool in baking pans before removing to cooling racks.

Carrot Cupcake with Pecans…Unplugged (I had already frosted all the cupcakes that were nut-free when I decided to take a picture of the interior of these cupcakes)

Frost cakes/cupcakes with Pumpkin Pie Spice Buttercream. Do try it, I think you’ll love it!

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U.S. Independence Day Cookie

First of all, being a Canadian I have to say that I was surprised and delightfully so that Callye of The Sweet Adventures of Sugar Belle invited me to participate in her July 4th celebration blog party. I am overwhelmed by all the creativity shown by all of the other participants in this (certain that you will be too) and very flattered to have been a part of it.

July 1st is my country’s birthday and being Canadian, we revel in the opportunity to embrace and showcase our national pride. Having said that, it has also been a tradition with my husband Ron and I to enjoy the United States’ July 4th celebration put on by the Boston Pops. We have watched it every year since we were married and as long as it is televised, we will continue to do so. This year marks the 39th year of the Boston Pops Independence Day concert and fireworks spectacular! Once again, Ron and I will be among the seven million television viewers tuning in to enjoy the music, the crowds and all the wonderful pomp and pagentry of this occasion.

Having decided to accept Callye’s invitation to participate in her July 4th blog party I began wondering what I could make. We had to incorporate the use of a star cookie cutter and I thought on it for a few days before I decided that I had to make a cookie that would evoke what Americans hold near and dear to their hearts. Basically, their flag, their Declaration of Independence and everything both represent to American citizens. I started doing research into the history of the flags of the United States. Specifically, the flag that flew at the time the United States declared their Independence from Britain. Such was the inspiration for my cookie for this blog party. I took from the flag of 1776 which had thirteen stars and stripes representing the then 13 colonies that made us the U.S. at the time the Declaration of Independence was created enacted. I also was inspired by the second paragraph of that Declaration and eventually came up with the following cookie.

It is a big one. Measuring 16″ around and every inch of it is edible homemade sugar cookie!

Go on and visit all of the wonderful cookiers and their creations that are a part of Callye’s party. If you wish, come back later and see how I made this cookie. Whatever you do, know that for all of my American readers, I wish you a wonderful and safe celebration of your country’s 236th birthday!

  1. Strawberry Shortcake on a Stick, The Decorated Cookie
  2. Patriotic Lace Cookies , My Little Bakery
  3. Independence Day Parade Cookies, Jill FCS
  4. Old Fashioned 4th of July, Vicki’s Sweet Treats
  5. Light up the Fourth Cookies, The Partiologist
  6. Declaration of Independence Cookie, Vanilla Bean Baker
  7. Badge of Liberty Cookies, Lila Loa
  8. Red, White & Blue Star Cookie Towers, Bake at 350
  9. 4th of July Firecracker Cookies, Klickitat Street
  10. Star Cut-out Cookies, Glorious Treats
  11. Cookie Pledge – Lizy B Bakes
  12. Star-Shaped Krispie Treats, Cookies and Cups
  13. Easy Star Cupcake Toppers, Confessions of a Cookbook Queen
  14. Rustic 4th of July Galletes, Haniela’s
  15. Patriotic Cookie Wreath, Sweetopia
  16. Patriotic River Rafter, Ali-Bee’s Bake Shop
  17. Funny Fox Cookies, The Bearfoot Baker
  18. Quilted Cookie Stars, Cookie Crazie
  19. Gimme Your John Hancock Stars, Life’s a Batch
  20. Patriotic Cookie Stir Sticks, The Cookie Artisan
  21. Patriotic Floral Stars, SweetSugarBelle

THE MAKING OF THIS COOKIE

A 16″ CIRCLE WAS DRAWN ON A SHEET OF PARCHMENT PAPER TO USE AS A ROLLING GUIDE AND THEN REVERSED TO ROLL OUT THE COOKIE DOUGH

THIRTEEN COOKIE STARS WERE CUT

THIRTEEN PAPER STARS WERE PLACED AROUND THE 16″ ROUND OF COOKIE DOUGH

AS EACH PAPER STAR WAS REMOVED THE STAR CUTTER WAS USED TO CUT SPACES TO FIT THE COOKIE DOUGH STARS. ROLLED PIECES OF PARCHMENT PAPER WERE USED TO KEEP SOME STAR TIPS FROM JOINING TOGETHER DURING THE BAKING PROCESS

 

USING A YELLOW EDIBLE MARKER, LINES WERE DRAWN FOR THE THIRTEEN STRIPES. A PIECE OF PAPER FOR THE *DECLARATION* SECTION WAS CUT AND PLACED IN THE CENTER OF THE COOKIE AND OUTLINED WITH THE EDIBLE MARKER. THE STARS WERE OUTLINED WITH NAVY BLUE ROYAL ICING.

THE *DECLARATION* PAPER WAS PIPED AND FLOODED WITH TAN ROYAL ICING AND THE LINES FOR THE STRIPES WERE PIPED WITH RED ROYAL ICING

THE STARS WERE THEN FLOODED WITH NAVY BLUE ICING

THE STRIPES WERE FLOODED WITH RED ICING AND THE COOKIE LEFT TO DRY OVERNIGHT

TEXT FROM THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE IS WRITTEN ON THE *DOCUMENT* USING A BLACK EDIBLE MARKER.

THE WHITE STRIPES WHERE THEN FLOODED AND LEFT TO DRY COMPLETELY

CLEAR CORN SYRUP WAS BRUSHED AROUND THE EDGES OF THE STARS AND ALONG THE RED STRIPES. RED SANDING SUGAR WAS SPRINKLED ON THE RED STRIPES AND BLUE SANDING SUGAR ON THE STARS

THE COOKIE IS NOW READY TO JOIN IN ON THE JULY 4TH CELEBRATIONS!!

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When I received an invitation from Haniela to participate in her Christmas Card Cookie project I was excited! She hosted a lovely Spring blog project which I was a part of and I really enjoyed it. I also really enjoy Hani’s blog and if you haven’t visited their yet, please do so. She is wondrously talented. Today she is hosting a wonderful Christmas Card cookie project with 21 fellow cookiers! Do check them all out by following their links at the end of this post. You will be awed and totally inspired. If this array of impressive cookies don’t get you in the mood for Christmas baking I don’t know what will!

Our task for this project was to create a cookie *card* based on a Christmas card we had seen and liked. Well, I decided to search the internet for Christmas cards as when this project was assigned, cards for this year’s holiday were not yet in my local stores.

In my search I found this lovely card created by the wonderfully talented Catherine who lives in England. Catherine is the owner of the adorable blog and shop, Bumpkin Bears. I contacted her, told her about Hani’s project and asked permission to use her card to create mine. She graciously granted it and so, here is my Christmas Cookie Card inspired by Catherine’s sweet card.

The cookie card is 4″ high (not incl. the bell) and 5 1/2″ wide (incl. the bell). It is made with my regular Vanilla Bean Sugar Cookie recipe and following is a tutorial on how I completed it.

Once the dough was cut by hand in the above shape, the cookie was baked and cooled. Royal icing in both piping and flooding consistency was prepared in the following colours; white, red, dark blue, light blue, gold and green. A draft of the design was drawn and as you can see, was changed slightly on the finished cookie (Christmas song choice).

Next step was to pipe the outline for the bell (red and white), the snow (white) and the skyline (dark blue).

Once dry, I flooded the snow and the bell and waited for them to dry a little before flooding the sky background.

At this point the cookie was left to dry for a few hours. Then it was time to pipe the outline for the ducks. I piped a couple of evergreen trees (green icing) and piped and flooded the Christmas Star (gold icing). White piping was used to add the little white dots for the snowfall. Black icing was used for the legs and red for the duck’s boots.

Then, time to flood the ducks with white flood icing.

Now, the cookie was left to dry overnight. The next day, the following was done…

1. Duck scarves were added with red and light blue piping icing then flooded

2. The star was brushed with clear corn syrup then yellow sanding sugar was poured over it. Any excess is shaken off into a clean coffee filter.

3. The bell was brushed with clear corn syrup and red sanding sugar and white sanding sugar applied in the same manner as was done with the star.

4. The trees were brushed with clear corn syrup and green sanding sugar applied.

5. The duck boots were outlined with a black edible food colouring marker.

6. A black edible food colouring marker was used to write *O Holy Night* between the ducks.

And last but not least, white piping icing and a #1 tip was used to write *Merry Christmas* on the bell.

Thank you Catherine for allowing me to use your delightful Christmas Ducks and thank you Haniela for asking me join so many talented cookiers in this wonderful party!

1.Stephanie, Ellie’ s Bites Decorated Cookies

2. Anne, Flour Box Bakery

3. Georganne, LilaLoa

4. Lorraine, Lorraine’s Cookies

5. Kim, The Partiologist

6. Pam, Cookie Crazie

7.Cathy, Cathy’s Cookies

8. Mariëlle, De Koekenbakkers

9. Nadia, My Little Bakery

10. Liz, Arty Mc Goo

11. Callye, Sweet Sugarbelle

12. Marlyn, Montreal Confections

13. Lisa, The Bearfoot Baker

14. Meaghan, The Decorated Cookie

15. Paula, Vanilla Bean Baker

16. Miriam & Estíbaliz, Message in a Cookie

17. Ali, Ali Bee’s Bakeshop

18. Myriam, Chapix Cookies

19. Jennifer, Not Your Momma’s Cookie

20. Jill, Funky Cookie Studio

21. Maryann, Cookie Artisan

22. Hani, Haniela’s

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Monster Cookies

monster cookies recipe

Before I get into telling you about these monster cookies, I wanted to tell you about some of the cool things my friends are doing. I’m at a very exciting time in my life and career right now where the people around me are starting to make headway with their dreams.

Matthew J. Kirby, who wrote the beautiful book Icefall, which I’ll talk about on here soon, had his launch party at The King’s English last night for his next two books. The kids and I all went to Salt Lake together and sat in on his reading of The Lost Kingdom and Cave of Wonders, the fifth installment in the Infinity Ring Series. Matt’s a great writer, and it’s wonderful to see that his career has taken off in so short a time.

This coming Tuesday, Julie, whom I’ve mentioned here before and has a killer recipe for banana bread, will also be having a launch party at The King’s English. Once again, she has crafted a beautiful story set in Regency England that will give you wistful longings for England and gentlemen in breeches (did I just steal a line from Austenland?). Her book is called Blackmoore, and is just as lovely as her first book Edenbrooke.

Okay, on to the cookies.

You may remember the monster cookies I made four years ago for Bake Sale Week. They were a huge hit in our family, but I wanted to improve on them this year—tweak the texture, improve the flavor, add a little more color, etc.

I think these are better than the last ones. And so I’ve called them Monster Cookies 2.0.

I also wanted to give a quick shout out for the cool lunch bag you see in this picture. I had bought a pretty nice lunch box for my little boy this year, but when Lassig Bags sent him this new lunch bag to try out, he ditched his other one and hasn’t looked back. The mini cooler has a place to strap in an ice pack, which keeps his juice boxes cool, and it has plenty of room up top to store things like Monster Cookies.

monster cookies 2.0

1 cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 cups quick oats
2 sticks butter
3 cups brown sugar
2 tablespoons molasses
1 1/2 cups all-natural chunky peanut butter (I prefer the kind without any added sugar)
3 eggs
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1 cup shredded coconut
1 cup plain M&Ms

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (180 degrees celsius). In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and oats. Set aside.

2. In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugar, and molasses together. Add in peanut butter and mix until smooth, about 2-3 minutes. Add in eggs, one at a time, incorporating well after each addition.

3. Slowly add the flour mixture to the peanut butter mixture, and mix until incorporated, but do not over mix. Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold in chocolate chips.

4. Use a large ice cream scoop or your hands to form balls of dough the size of a baseball. Place 6 on a cookie sheet, and press down slightly with your hands. Bake for 15 minutes, or until slightly brown around the edges, and not fully set in the middle.

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Easter Bird Nest Cake

Each Easter I try to come up with a creative dessert for the family and more often than not, I’ll end up baking a cake. This year I decided to rely on our family favourite, carrot cake. Only instead of frosting it with the traditional cream cheese frosting or even better (my husband’s favourite, pumpkin pie spice buttercream) I chose to go with a milk chocolate buttercream. I knew I needed to use a buttercream frosting because in my head, I had a picture of a bird nest cake that just wouldn’t go away and buttercream frosting had the consistency that would enable me to transfer the image from my head onto the carrot cake.

Completed Cake 4

If you’ve never had carrot cake with milk chocolate buttercream frosting, let me tell you it is very good. I frosted the piece that was cut to make the hole for the nest and had a few sample bites. You know, just to make sure it was O.K. to serve to guests.

The recipe for the carrot cake is posted here.

The buttercream recipe is from Magnolia Bakery’s Vanilla Buttercream. I doubled the recipe and added a 10 oz package of (melted in a double boiler and cooled to lukewarm temperature) Ghiradelli Milk Chocolate Chips.

To make this cake:

Three layers of carrot cake, cooled. Apply a layer of buttercream icing between each layer as you stack your layers.

Layers Frosted

When the top layer has been added, cut a line approximately 4″ in diameter around the center of the layer.

Cut for Nest

Using a small off-set spatula, cut all around the circle just deep enough to go through the top layer only. Lift out the cut circle and set aside (for snacking on later).

Nest Scooped

Apply frosting around the remains of the top layer and inside the *nest.* Finish dirty icing the entire cake. Set in the fridge to cool before applying the finished layer of frosting.

Dirty Iced

When cake has cooled, remove from fridge and apply final coat of frosting. Smooth out the frosting around entire cake.

Frosted

Fill a piping bag with the milk chocolate buttercream. Using a #4 tip, begin piping lines in random directions and random lengths. Start piping insides the nest being and then work your way to the outside top of the cake.

Nest Design Application

Once you have completed piping the nest on the top layer, begin piping the sides of the cake. I found it easier to pipe in 3-inch sections from top to bottom working my way all around the cake. Don’t worry, it doesn’t take as long as you think it will.

Design on Sides

Once your *nest* design has been completed, fill the nest with your choice of coloured candy Easter eggs. I used M&M’s. If you are good at fondant sculpture, you can make the bird. As you can see, I bought a little inedible one to decorate the nest.

Completed Cake 6

I removed the bird and the eggs before wrapping and storing the cake in the freezer where it will (hopefully) be safe until Easter weekend!

UPDATE AUGUST 2016: I’ve received a lot of questions about trying this with other types of frosting or coverings. The most effective alternative would be to use fondant.

Also, This article seems to be getting visited by a lot of complete beginners. I recommend you start by learning the basics of cake decorating first, then attempt to perform this bird nest cake.

UPDATE FEBRUARY 2014: This month I’ve received a lot of requests for the recipe for this carrot cake. I do have a link to the recipe in the post but decided to update and publish the recipe on this page. Enjoy!

Kathleen’s Carrot Cake Recipe

2 cups of unbleached flour

2 teaspoons of baking powder

1 teaspoon of baking soda

3/4 teaspoon of salt

2 teaspoons of cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg

3/4 cup of white sugar

3/4 cup of packed brown sugar

3 eggs

1 1/2 cups of vegetable oil

2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract

2 cups of grated carrots

1 cup of crushed pineapple

1/2 cup of chopped pecans (optional)

Directions

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in a medium bowl and whisk together well. Set aside.

In your mixing bowl beat together sugars, eggs, oil and vanilla until smooth. Gradually add flour and spice mixture until well combined. With mixer set on low, add carrots, pineapple and pecans.

Pour into prepared cake pans or cupcake pans.

Bake cakes at 350° for 40 minutes until cake tester comes out clean. For X-large cupcakes bake for approximately 28 minutes at 350° until cake tester comes out clean. Let cool in baking pans before removing to cooling racks.

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My Mom would often tell us, especially when we were impatient little children that all good things come to those who wait. Well, we know someone who has been extremely patient and happily for Meaghan and her family, they were recently blessed with a beautiful little girl whose arrival was long-awaited and much anticipated. Readers of The Decorated Cookie are well aware of Meaghan’s long standing and at times life-threatening medical conditions so being able to bring little Violet into the world was nothing short of a miraculous blessing for her and her family. Their beautiful new (and second) daughter arrived a little earlier than expected this past Friday.

Two wonderful ladies are responsible for this virtual shower being held in Meaghan’s honour today. Michelle at Sugar Swings and Kathia at Pink Little Cake. I’m so happy to have been invited to help celebrate this auspicious occasion for Meaghan. I know I don’t need to encourage you to visit all of the very talented bakers that have come together for this special shower. The theme of the shower was rainbows, a nod to Meaghan’s love of them and though I did not do a rainbow themed cookie, I did chose to do something that I hope she will enjoy. Given that this much loved baby’s arrival was only two weeks away from Santa’s, I thought that a Christmas ornament cookie would be a nice little shower gift.

The design for this cookie came from this lovely ornament and as Meaghan had a baby girl, I decided to do it on a pink mitten. This is a large cookie cutter, measuring 5″ x 4″ and a great size for hanging on the tree or stuffing in the stocking.

Here’s how I made this ornament cookie for Meaghan and little Violet.

The mitten was baked with a hole in the top for use as an ornament. When cooled, pink piping and pink flood icing was applied.

2. When the flood icing was completely dry, I used a black edible marker to trace the image onto the cookie and then used black piping icing to outline the stork and the baby.

3. With the black piping dry, it was time to add some of the flood. I did all of the stork except his vest and the baby’s head first using white and tan flood icing.

4. Next, red flood icing was used to flood the baby carrying sack and the stork’s hat. Green flood icing was used to flood the stork’s vest.

5. The cookie was left to dry overnight. The next day, an edible black food colouring pen was used to go over the black piping lines where touch-ups were needed. A black dot was added for the stork’s eye and the face of the baby was drawn in with a black edible food colouring pen. White sanding sugar was applied to the body sections of the stork and white nonpareils were added to his Christmas hat. Green and red icing was used to make a little sprig of holly and white piping icing was used to print *Baby’s 1st Christmas 2012.*

6. A strand of Christmas themed ribbon was looped and tied through the pre-cut hole and there you have Meaghan’s baby Violet’s First Christmas ornament cookie.

Congratulations Meaghan. I know your family has received the best Christmas gift of all! Merry Christmas and sweet blessing to your family from ours.

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Finished-Turtle-on-Foilboard-150x150O.K. then! We are back from Milton and are now getting ready for company arriving tomorrow. The birthday party for my sister was a complete and utter surprise to her. Hooray!! Her kids, Kory and Kristy did a fabulous job organizing everything and Kristy’s boyfriend Andy was an excellent barbeque chef. His grilled chicken and steak for the fajitas was some of the most flavourful I’ve ever eaten. I was great to see my family and as difficult as it was to keep track of all the conversations occurring at the same time the gathering was a very extra special time.

As promised, I’m now going to show you how I made the royal icing turtle that was used as the table centerpiece at Gina’s birthday and surrounded by these cookies. You never know when the occasion may arise when you’ll wish you had made this for someone (just kidding!)

Making the Turtle Shell

Cover a large but not too deep of a bowl tightly with Saran Wrap and lightly coat with Crisco Shortening. I used a Corelle vegetable serving bowl that was 8 1/4″ around and 3″ deep. Pipe a line of green piping icing all around the base of the bowl (helps to use a turntable when working with the shell) and then pipe lines approximately 1″ in length up from the piped base all around the base. Space as evenly apart as you can. Close off those lines by piping all around the top of them.

Using a picture of a turtle as a guide, begin piping the lines for the shell, beginning at the top of the bowl and working your pattern around and down the bowl. Once your shell has been piped, go over all the lines again, three to four times until you have added some depth.

Once all your piping lines have dried, it is time to begin filling in the spaces with green flood icing (a shade or two darker than your piping icing). I flooded the two top sections of the shell and the rectangles at the base of the shell first and let them dry a little before moving on.

To complete flooding the remainder of the shell, it is necessary to raise the shell and support it against something while you work. I used another bowl. You will only be able to flood two or three sections at a time now and you will have to wait until each group of two or three sections dries before rotating your shell to flood the next sections. If you don’t wait, your flood icing will overflow.

Once all your shell sections have been flooded, set aside to dry completely. It’s time to draw the base of your turtle.

Making the Turtle Base

I used four 8 1/2″ sheets of paper, taped together into one large rectangle. I used a colouring book picture of a turtle as a guide and drew the image onto the papers. At this point you will also want to take and extra piece of paper and trace a copy of the turtle’s head.

*the “turtle back” line should be the same circumference as the bowl you use to create your shell

Place sheets of Saran Wrap large enough to cover your image over your turtle picture and lightly coat with Crisco Shortening. Using green piping icing, outline the image. You do not need to pipe around the *turtle back* circle.

Pipe the entire outline again three more times as you want a bit of depth.

When your outlined turtle has dried, it is time to flood with the darker shade of green flood icing. Flood in small manageable sections quickly (using a toothpick to pop any air bubbles) until the entire shape is filled in.

While this base for your shell and your shell are drying you can work on making the top of the turtle’s head.

Making the Top of the Turtle Head

Remember earlier when I told you to trace a copy of the turtle’s head? Well, now you will see why. Take the copy you made of the head and cut it out. Place a piece of Saran Wrap (lightly coated with Crisco shortening) over the image. Pipe around the outline (I did it a few times) then flood with thick green flood icing. Run the icing tip back and forth along the icing to create a bit of a textured look.

Place the head over a piece of heavy plastic the same size and shape of the head, making sure you crease the plastic in the center so that you have a slight arch.

Place the plastic and the head together with the Saran Wrap on something higher than your table to dry. You don’t need to get fancy here as you can see!

When your head is completely dry, you can add the eyes. I used two small pieces of rolled up Tootsie Roll candy and covered half of each piece with green piping icing.

Putting the Turtle Together

Do not put any of the sections of your turtle together until they have all been given plenty of time to dry completely. Waiting a few days after flooding each piece is best.

To remove the turtle shell from the bowl, gently turn the shell on it’s end. Using your fingers, gently pull the Saran Wrap away from the edges of the bowl until the bowl lifts easily off of the shell. Peel the Saran Wrap away from the shell.

Attaching the Head to the Base

Peel the Saran Wrap away from the head of the turtle. Pipe several lines of thick flood icing on the base of the turtle where the head meets the body.

Place the turtle head on top of the head on the base where you piped your icing. So your turtle’s mouth will be open, support the *mouth* with a small object about 2″ high. I used a plastic bottle as you can see below.

Attaching the Shell

With your shell on it’s end, pipe a line of icing all around the perimeter and flipping the shell over right side up, place in the center of your turtle base. This should be done while the icing for attaching the head is still wet.

Add another row of icing at the *neck* to cover where you attached the shell.

Preparing to Present Your Turtle

While your turtle’s head and shell are drying to one another, you can prepare your presentation board for it. I used corrugated cardboard cut a few inches wider and longer than the turtle itself. Cover the board with tinfoil and trace the image of your turtle on the foil. With light brown icing pipe the outline of the turtle and pipe all around the edges of your board.

When your turtle shell and head have completely dried, flood the outline of the turtle with light brown icing and glently place your dry and hardened turtle onto the wet icing.

To lift your completed turtle from the Saran Wrap it has been drying on, use a thin but sturdy item that is large enough to carry the weight of most of the turtle. I used one of those thin plastic cutting boards. Place the cutting board at the edge of the table and gently pull your turtle to the edge of the table, sliding the cutting board between the Saran Wrap and the turtle as you ease the cutting board under the whole of the turtle. When the turtle is on the cutting board you can gently lift it off and place onto the brown flood icing.

Now you can finish flooding the foilboard. I did 90% of it in the light brown icing (for sand) and 10% in blue icing with blue sprinkles for water.

Let dry completely. When I brought this to my sister’s birthday, I added brown sugar to the brown section shown above to represent the sand and arranged her turtle cookies all around the big royal icing turtle. I made this turtle back in May and stored it covered in Saran Wrap until it was time to make the trip to Milton. I packaged it inside a cardboard box and it made the trip to the party this past weekend just fine. I did not get a picture of it at the party unfortunately. Was having too much fun catching up with everyone!

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Melt in Your Mouth Shortbread

If you were reading this blog last Christmas you may recall my post on Shortbread cookies.  I absolutely love shortbread and love finding a *new to me* recipe to try each year.  Some of you may also recall a post I did back in September of 2010 about a very special young couple.  Turns out that my shortbread recipe for this year came from Rebecca who shared her mother’s recipe with her readers at her site A Little Bit of Momsense.  Rebecca cuts Christmas tree shapes from her shortbread dough and  together with her two children, they enjoy decorating their cookies.

Me…I just wanted the unadorned all butter taste so I did not decorate, not even with cut cherries and believe me when I tell you that these cookies literally melt in your mouth….seriously, you don’t even have to chew them.  I love this recipe!!!

I followed Rebecca’s recipe and only added one teeny ingredient to it (*).

Melt in Your Mouth Shortbread (from A Little Bit of Momsense)

1 cup of butter (I always use salted butter but it’s a matter of personal choice)

1/2 cup of icing sugar (confectioner’s sugar – updated 11/21/2012 due to comments & emails rec’d)

1 1/2 cups of unbleached flour

1/2 cup of corn starch

1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract (*)

I cut my butter into thin slices directly from the fridge and then beat it with my stand mixer.  Using cold butter prevents having to chill the dough.

Beat the butter until smooth but not creamy.  You don’t want to over beat it.  When smooth, add your icing sugar and cream together.  In a smaller bowl I had combined the flour and the cornstarch and whisked them together before adding to the butter and icing sugar mixture.  As the beaters are combining the flour mixture with the butter mixture, I added the vanilla.  Don’t over mix your dough, just mix on 2nd speed until all combined.

Then I scraped down the bowl and formed a beautiful buttery ball of shortbread cookie dough.

No matter the size of my cookie dough ball, I always cut in quarters and roll out one quarter at a time.  I’ve always done that and even though I know it would be a time saver to roll out a larger portion at a time, force of habit and superstition prevents me from doing so 🙂

I used two fluted cutters, both 1 3/4″ wide and I roll my dough 5/16″ inches thick.  I chilled the cut cookies in the freezer for a few minutes before baking.  As you fill one pan, place in the freezer while you cut another pan full.

By the time the second pan is ready, it’s time to remove the one from freezer and bake!  I baked each tray of cookies for 12 minutes at 300°

I could hardly wait for these to cool before trying them but I did and they were worth the wait.  This is going to be my go-to recipe for rolled shortbread cookies.  I wasn’t sure how many one batch would yield.  With the size of the cutters I used, I got 3 dozen cookies.  Not enough!  I’m baking another batch right after I finish this post.

Ella and her Mom are still baking the Whipped Shortbread recipe. They have been making it for years, just as I did.

Ella Baking Shortbread at Nanna’s 2007

They haven’t tasted this new recipe yet, wait until they do.  I’m sure they’ll be like me and decide that this will be among their go-to recipes every Christmas.  Thank you Rebecca for sharing yours with us.  By the way, Rebecca’s husband received the all clear from his Oncologist and he is now cancer free!

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