My cookie decorating diaries – from the beginning

Royal Icing Diaries are my personal cookie decorating diaries.

So where and when did it all begin?

sheet pan bench scraper

Well, a few years ago I came across some mouth-watering photos of decorated cookies on a cookie decorating website. I was floored by them. Without so much as a blink of an eye I thought “I can do that”.

I mean really, how hard can it possibly be?

At that point I had never even heard of royal icing much less know that this was the icing of choice for decorating cookies. I just knew it was icing and the things that people were doing with it were just incredible.

Genius!

Then and there I decided that I wanted to learn everything there was to know about cookie decorating. And so my journey began.

Since then I’ve been hell-bent on collecting cookie decorating books and reading them cover to cover.

My cookie decorating books

I’ve amassed an absurd amount of cookie cutters (which I have to hide from my husband so he doesn’t question my obvious addiction to them) and have every intention of using them.

my unorganized cookie cutters.jpg

I continually scour the internet for “how to’s” on cookie decorating, have watched countless videos on You Tube and other places, and follow just about every cookie decorating website out there. I am continually amazed at the creativity and talent of some of these people and long to be as good as they are.

And I’ve learned so much following the websites and blogs of some incredibly talented ladies such as

Rosie of  Sweetapolita

Bridget of Bake at 350

Marian of Sweetopia

Georganne of Lila Loa

And many others.

All of these people are so generous in their sharing of recipes, techniques, and tips.

I think I idolize them. Is that a bad thing?

However, there are two things I’ve come to realize about learning to decorate cookies from the pros. I want to make it clear that in no way am I bashing them or saying anything negative about them. They are just incredibly talented – It’s me who is the problem:

The first is that they are so good at their craft they unintentionally take for granted that “the rest of us” (as in the slow learners) understand some of the basic concepts. In my case it’s just not true. I need it broken down and to see it every step of the way. I’m a very visual person. It’s one of the many issues I admit to having.

Tree hugging

The other problem I face is the variety of “best practices” when it comes to baking and decorating. Some people flour the board when rolling out dough, and others roll the dough between parchment. Some use a 2-second-rule to test the consistency of flood icing and some use a 10-second-rule. Some chill the dough and some don’t.

Talk about confusing!

It’s daunting but it’s not unexpected. Everyone does things just a little differently and does what works best for them. They have talents and creativity that I long to have.

I need to digest it all and find my own way; what works best for little old me.

Royal Icing Diaries are intended to help me document everything as I learn one baby step at a time.

I’ll let you in on a secret right from the get go – I am no artist. I have about as much artistic ability as I do the ability to fly the Space Shuttle.

Zilch. Zero. Zippo. I cannot draw, sketch or paint with any amount of clarity.

I think of myself as being somewhat creative when I cook, but artistically talented I am definitely not. Drawing a straight line is a challenge and even my stick figures usually don’t remotely look like people. Circles inevitably look like ovals as well.

Sometimes I wonder if it’s because I’m left-handed. Or maybe I just use that as an excuse, which is probably more truthful. In any case, I can NOT draw to save my life.

This can put a real damper on cookie decorating. If you let it.

I choose not to let it.

It’s definitely made me have to go slow and work really hard to outline my cookies without going off the edge. But I don’t let it stop me from continually learning and getting better by practicing.

So the lesson here is this;  when you start decorating cookies don’t worry if you can’t draw as well as a 5-year-old. If I’ve learned to do it to some small degree of accuracy, believe me when I say that anybody can do it.

And if all else fails it helps to look at it realistically. It’s only a damn cookie! I have not been asked to repaint the Sistine Chapel nor am I aiming to frame the cookie in hopes of securing a spot on the wall at the Guggenheim. SOMEBODY I know will think the cookie looks good (or at least lie and say it does) and want to eat it. There’s a certain level of comfort in knowing that.

So these are my cookie decorating diaries, from the beginning. You’ll see the good, the bad, and plenty of the ugly.

This is cookie decorating school for the not-so-artistically-or-creatively-inclined.

So follow along if you choose to and feel free to offer up your own tips and tricks, or ask questions. I can use all the help I can get.

Happy decorating and remember, always have fun.

Colleen

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9 thoughts on “My cookie decorating diaries – from the beginning

  1. Oh my you have nerves of steel to post those – I am cracking up. You go girl! I hope they at least tasted better than they look. Keep at it.

  2. Colleen….your cookies are adorable. Stop worrying about artistic accuracy. Decorated cookies are supposed to be whimsical & fun, while being tasty, you already have the taste wired. As time goes on, you will get better at artwork, but I hope not too good, because they will lose some of the cuteness. As for the photography, it’s already pretty good. Concentrate on various decorations. To keep your cutters organized, try looping them through a chain. You can easily find the one you want, then open the chain, slip it off then reclose the chain. I have no doubt that you will be very successful. With your talent & determination, you will reach your goal. I’m rooting for you kid. Good luck & keep in touch. Luv ya, Jo Calabretta

    • Thank you Jo. Your idea is pretty clever but don’t think it would work for me because I just have so many cookie cutters. I have visions of chains running through my house! Luv ya too!

      • I didn’t mean that the chains should be strung around. Once you put them on chains, you can put them in a draw or a storage bin. It just would make it easier to pick up a bunch (on a chain) and look through them. Keep at it….you’re going to make it big time. Luv ya JO

  3. I really enjoyed reading your blog. You are hysterical!!! You are extremely talented and will keep doing GREAT!!!! Enjoy and have FUN!!

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