Birthday cookies for my beautiful nieces

It’s hard for me to believe that my twin nieces, Brynnan and Teagan, are already celebrating their 15th birthday.

It makes me feel so old. To think that they are already 15 is hard to fathom.

Of course I think both girls are beautiful and I just had to make them some birthday cookies . That was a given.

A few of the girls' birthday cookies

I made a deal with the girls, but they didn’t know it: I’d make them a few birthday cookies but I’ve been itching to try a new technique and this was a perfect opportunity so they would have to deal with the results.

They were to be my guinea pigs.

Sorry girls – they taste better than they look, and I know this because I ate two of them on you already.

Despite a number of flaws that are hard to overlook I’m fairly content with their birthday cookies.

The birthday girls!

One of the blogs I’ve followed for years is Sweetopia.net, and I’ve been intrigued by her decorating technique. Marian uses a 10-second rule for royal icing for everything; piping, flooding and detail work.

No need for piping bags full of stiff icing and others full of flood icing: Just one bag for each color. How convenient!

So, for these birthday cookies I decided to give it a whirl. Her cookies are spectacular using one icing consistency. Mine are, well, a bit of the good, the bad, and the ugly! But for a first try, I expected that.

Birthday cookies

Decorating with one consistency is something I will have to practice for sure. It wasn’t easy but I started to get the hang of it as I went along.

There are a few little craters on some of the birthday cookies and on one of them I ruined the edge but overall this technique is really nice to work with. My issues were due to a lack of experience and not anything to do with the icing itself.

A few birthday cookies

I learned a few things about working with this icing pretty early on:

  • It’s easiest to outline and then flood one cookie at a time.
  • Let one color dry before attempting any flooding with a second color. Using this consistency requires a bit of handling with each cookie and I learned to allow for drying time the hard way. More on that later.
  • Use a smaller tip than you think is necessary because the iciing has been thinned: It’s a bit harder to do any type of detail work with this than it is with a stiffer icing because the icing “runs” out of the bag quicker. A smaller tip seemed to give me a bit more control.

I won’t explain how to thin the icing because Marian does a much better job in her video than I ever could, but below is how I used her 10-second rule to decorate my birthday cookies.

birthday hats

To start, I didn’t use my turntable to decorate because it’s a hard surface and the thicker consistency requires you to manipulate the cookies a bit to get the icing to spread.

I needed a little cushioning so I laid out a double layer of small towels on my work table. This significantly increased my comfort level as I knew I would be picking the cookies up and “gently” dropping them to help the icing spread.

Knowing how dainty I am, and having sugar cookies hovering between two fingers a few inches above my work surface, it made much more sense to cushion their almost certain fall which would send them to an untimely death.

As it turns out, it was a good thing I laid those towels down or I would have ruined every cookie. The hand-writing was on the wall.

So, to make my birthday cookies, I began by outlining all of the cookies in Americolor Super Black, with a #3 tip. I chose black because I wanted the outline to stand out and I really like the way it looks on the snowman cookie that Marian did.

I let the outline dry completely.

Birthday cookies outlined

Birthday hat cookies outlined

After that it was just a matter of flooding the cookies, one section at a time, with the different colors. Simple in theory, but not when you’re Colleen.

The difficulties began almost immediately.

Birthday hat cookies flooded

Because the icing is thicker, it doesn’t flood as easily or quickly. I had to work with one cookie at a time, flood it, and then “gently shake” the cookie as Marian advises. That part I could handle but the icing still needed some coaxing so, being the good student I am, I took her advice and “gently” dropped the cookies. I’m thinking that my gentle dropping may have been full-on body slams because the first two cookies promptly ended up face down on the work table.

I ate them both, took a deep breath, and moved on.

Evidently I shook this pink present cookie to the point of no return because I actually “broke” the partially dry icing.

Birthday present cookie - icing ruined

Yes, I know, I have to work on the gentle drops.

I learned quickly that one color must be completely, and I mean completely, dry before adding a second flood color. On these hats, had I attempted to add another color while the previously flooded color was still drying, it would have caused that color to crack with the shaking, just like on the pink present.

More flooding added to birthday hat cookies

That meant more drying time for these cookies.

Patience.

Flooding double hearts birthday cookie

Girls birthday cookies

So, in the end, although there are a few cracks and craters, I don’t think they’re half bad for a first attempt at this new technique. I really liked using it and just need to get the hang of working with one consistency. I’m making elephant cookies next and am determined to master this.

In the meantime, hopefully the girls will like their birthday cookies!

Happy 15th Birthday Brynnan and Teagan!

The cookies are on their way and I’m sending lots of love with them.

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