I love cookie cutters. Each of them are a little blank canvas just waiting to create a fun treat. I love looking at them hanging on racks and I love to browse at them online, especially when they include decorating ideas. I have a lot of cookie cutters too. In fact, many of the ones I have I haven’t even ever used, they were just so cute that I had to get them. (Shhh..don’t tell my husband.) But even with my love and addiction to cookie cutters, there are still times when I want to make a special cookie and I don’t have the cutter. As much as I love them, the family budget doesn’t always allow me to buy a new cookie cutter. I don’t let the lack of one stop me from doing my projects though. Just this weekend I ran into this dilemma so I thought I’d share with you how to create a beautiful cookie without a cutter.
One of my daughter’s best friends was dancing in the Nutcracker Ballet this weekend and I wanted to bring her something special. I know that flowers are the traditional gift to give to a dancer but that just isn’t my style. I decided to make her a Nutcracker cookie bouquet instead. The only problem; I don’t have any Nutcracker or ballet cookie cutters.
I made a list of all the cookies I wanted in the bouquet. I did have a Christmas tree cutter and a square cutter that I could use for presents but for the rest I was out of luck. That’s when I turned to the computer; not for ordering cutters (I didn’t have enough time) but for finding images of what I wanted my cookies to look like. You don’t want real complicated pictures when you are making cookies so it helps to search for coloring pages since they tend to be easier to copy. I typed in what I was looking for on Google (example: nutcracker coloring page) and then searched through the Images section. Once I found a picture that I wanted to work with I printed it out and then used the copier on my printer to enlarge/reduce it to the size I wanted. I also made one additional copy of it and set that aside; you’ll see why later.
I then took a marker and outlined around the image, giving it a border. You don’t want any thin or sharp spots on your cookie, because they tend to cook faster than the rest of the cookie and burn, so I made sure my border had nice curves and didn’t allow any small portions to stick out on their own.
I cut the image out along the border line and used some packaging tape to cover it. The packaging tape keeps the cookie dough grease from soaking into the paper.
I then flipped it over and put another strip of tape on the back to completely cover the pattern. I used scissors to trim along the border line and remove the excess tape.
After making my cookie dough (click here for a link to my favorite recipe), rolling it out and chilling it, I laid my pattern on the dough and used a clean X-acto knife to cut out my cookie. This obviously isn’t a method you want to use if you have to cut out 100 cookies all of the same shape but it works great for a few special ones like I needed.
I baked the cookies, let them cool and then they were ready for decorating. The ballet slipper was a pretty simple image so I was able to freehand that one. The Nutcracker, Mouse King and ballerina were more detailed than my artistic ability, though, so I had to use another technique to transfer the image onto the cookies.
First I checked the size of my image against the baked cookie. Cookies will enlarge some when they are baked so, if you find that your cookie is now a bit too large for your original image you can enlarge your image a few percentages on a copier to get it the right size for your cookie. If the size is still okay then you can use the additional pattern you printed out in the beginning.
I cut out the pattern then took a nontoxic No. 2 pencil and rubbed the side of it all over the back of the pattern, completely covering it.
Next, I centered the pattern on top of the cookie and then took my pencil and traced over all the outlines that I wanted for my cookie image.
Here is what happens:
The pencil markings leave you a pattern that you can now use as your outlines for decorating. It may sound weird to have some pencil markings on your cookie but I promise that it is not harmful, it leaves no taste and you don’t see any of it after you decorate your cookie. I use this same technique for certain aspects of cake decorating and gingerbread house making.
After I took my icing to it, here is what I got:
And here are the rest of the cookies I made for the bouquet. I used this method for all of them except the tree and presents, for which I already had cutters.
Don’t you just love the way the disco dust sparkles on this ballet slipper?
Now here is the whole thing assembled together in a bouquet. I had found a small cookie container, the kind used for cookie exchanges, at Walmart and then covered it with Fanci-Foil.
To protect it and make it look professional (I like to pretend that I am a professional baker) I wrapped it up in clear cellophane and tied some ribbon on it. Doesn’t it look like something I purchased for a lot of money?
The ballet was fantastic! My daughter’s friend did a wonderful job and I got to see the big smile on her face when I presented her with the cookie bouquet after the show. That’s what baking is all about for me!
Happy Baking as you count down the days until Christmas.
Until next time, God bless and Sweet Dreams.