My nephew's 10th birthday is coming up, and now that I have no oven, it was the perfect time to start playing around with some ideas for treats he can take to school.
I have made cupcakes for at least 6 times in a row, so I thought cookies might be a nice change. And I love decorating cookies, so this is a treat for me as well. I looked for a nice design to go on a cookie, and found this one, that is pictured on my favorite mug:
I have done this design before for thank you cookies and thought they might make a fun birthday treat as well. I just cut out a part of the box the mug cake in, and traced over it so I had a nice 'template' for making sugar plaques. If you are good at free hand drawing, you wouldn't have to use a template. As I am terrible at it, I need it :o).
So I made a batch of royal icing (1/2 lb of powdered sugar mixed with one large egg white until stiff and no longer glossy) and colored a part of it black to make the outlines with. I slid the template under pieces of silicone mats that are perfect for this type of work. Parchment also works though. I piped over the lines of my template using a pastry bag fitted with a number two (Wilton) tip, and let it dry for an hour or so. Then I thinned down some royal icing with a few drops of water, tinted it pink, and started filling in the nose section:
Key to making this work, is to let sections dry COMPLETELY before starting flooding in other sections with different colors. If you don't, colors will bleed into each other, and it doesn't look as pretty. So I let the noses dry overnight, then filled in the eyes section with thinned, untinted royal icing. As the nose was dry, I added a little dot of white on the nose as well.
At this point I could also proceed with flooding the neck section, as it only borders the already dry nose area. For this I tinted thinned down icing with a color called egg shell yellow, and I tinted a little bit dark brown. I completely filled the section with the yellow, than let some drops of brown fall rondomly into it, swirling them a little bit into the yellow. Because you want the spots to blend in, you do this while the yellow icing is still fluid. I simply used a tiny spoon to spoon some icing in the neck section, than used a very fine paint brush to disperse it evenly and also into all the corners. Make sure there are no holes, as it will reduce the strength of your plaque. So here we stand now:
I let this dry overnight as well. I saved my yellow and brown icing for the next day, making sure it was sealed airtight. All it needs the next day is a nice stir, and maybe an extra drop of water. Now comes the tricky part: the head section. It is tricky because the spaces that need to be flooded are small and are harder to fill in neatly. Smaller spaces are also prone to developing holes because of airbubbles. For this I use a thin paint brush. I make sure my icing is thin enough to spread, and not too thin to make a watery, overflooding mess. I let it 'string' off my paintbrush and fill in the gaps that way. It is kind of elastic if it's not too thin and works beautifully that way. Of course, you could also use a pastry bag fitted with a number 1 or 2 tip for this, but I prefer the brush. I use a toothpick to drag the icing into small nooks and crannies:
Fill in the ears with the brown icing, and let your brush with brown icing 'kiss' the ears of the giraffe to make spots or dots:
As the eye sections were already dry, I could also pipe on the eyes at this point. I used the same icing I made the outlines with, piped on black dots for eyes, and flattened them slightly with a paint brush:
For a little extra glimmer I brushed the white dash on the nose with a little luster dust:
So now you just have to let it dry completely (again overnight is best) and very carefully remove your plaque from the silicone mat. What I do is take it to the end of the table, and let the plaque extend a little over the table while I slowly pull the mat from underneath. Always make sure most of the plaque is still on the table (turn it and pull on other ends). If you want to use it standing up, to top a cake or cupcake, for example, you turn the plaque around, lay a toothpick on it, and flood the whole back with thinned white icing, making sure the toothpick is flooded in. This will strengthen your plaque considerably. If you want to put it on a cookie, like I did, just pipe a little unthinned royal icing on the back, and gently position the plaque on the cookie.
Of course, you could also do the whole proces of filling with colors directly on the cookie, but because of the drying time, I don't like to do it on cookies that need to be eaten. I have done it with cookies I used as Christmas ornaments, and then it looks like this: