June 18, 2012
I love stamping cookies. It has what I refer to as the easy instant gratification factor in cookie decorating, and seriously, is it even necessary to admit easy instant gratification is an underlying theme of my life? I’m not proud of this. Just honest. Give me a point for that.
So here are a few examples.
Stamping is great for minis. Then all it takes is a little cookie bling and it changes a one color cookie into something a little more unique.
At Christmas I found these three stamps and after stamping the design on the cookie, I traced the lines with black icing for dimension. You can also see that I lightly brushed gold airbrush paint over the icing lines on the purple cookie for pizazz!
The only stamp on these baby onesies are the safety pins. The rest was done free hand or in the case of the frog prince, using my KopyKake.
The woman on the back oval was a huge stamp of a woman from head to toe. I just painted the top portion I wanted to use and then pressed that on the cookie before coloring in with edible markers.
And then, there were these.
My sister asked me to make about a hundred bike cookies for an upcoming ALS bike ride fundraiser in Portland and once they were done I was really happy with the results. It was my first time to take my airbrush machine out of the box and while I made a mess of things in part due to the lack of any type of written directions (not that I would have read them had directions been included), after a few dozen cookies I started getting the hang of things, and really, what’s the best way to practice airbrushing but with sky and grass?
Once the background was done I stamped on the bike in black and then highlighted the bike frame with a piped line of red glaze. With the cookies completed I individually bagged them and sent them off.
Now. This is where the story turns ugly. This may be triggering for some cookie decorators and small children should leave the room now.
Three days later my sister sent me this photo in a text with the message “I don’t want to tell you this but all but 20 of the cookies look like this.”
When I saw the photo with smeared black ink everywhere I can’t remember if I started sobbing before I threw up in a mouth a little or if it was the other way around. The trauma of it all has blocked the details from my memory.
Why did this happen? What have I learned? How can you avoid this cookie nightmare?
I believe my egregious gaft was using the thicker Gel Paste Food Coloring for stamping rather than the thinner Air Brush Food Coloring. While the bike stamps were completely dry when I sealed the cookies in the bags, my best guess is that the moisture from the cookie ended up re-dampening the gel just enough to make it tacky and more prone to smearing as well as bleeding its color through the red glaze detail on top of it.
The following week after I’d had enough time to work through my emotional healing from the trauma of the bikes I did these bumble bee cookies using the Air Brush Food Coloring for my stamped lettering.
Aside from using the Air Brush Food Coloring instead of the Gel Paste Food Coloring, everything else was the same. The cookies were just as fresh as the bikes. Every cookie was heart-sealed individually and packaged for shipping identically. Both orders were delivered in the same amount of time to destinations less than 20 miles apart and yet one set was a train wreck when it arrived and the other arrived in perfect condition. This leads me to think that when the Air Brush Food Coloring dries it dries into the surface of the cookie while some of the thick gel paste ends up sitting on top of the surface and can become damp again when exposed to moisture from the cookie or air temperature.
Whatever the actual reason is, my suggestion is to stay with the Air Brush Food Coloring when stamping, and just to check things out I ran a test and thought as long as I was at it I’d show you my process for stamping cookies.
Begin by putting a generous squish of coloring on your blank ink pad and spreading it out with a brush. Here’s where I got my un-inked felt stamp pads but you can make a DIY ink pad with a stack of paper towels on a paper plate which is definitely cheaper and easier to clean up. I use a felt pad because it seems to coat the stamp more evenly with the paint than I get when using the more porous, rough surface of a paper towel, but admittedly, we buy the cheap generic paper towels consisting of ground tree bark and wood splinters so that might be a factor to consider.
Before moving onto the cookie I like to do a few test prints on paper to be sure I’m getting the full pattern inked sufficiently. Every time I stamp another cookie, I press the stamp onto the ink pad and then make a first impression on paper to remove any excess ink.
I’ve found that the best way to get a clean, complete stamp impression on my cookie is to begin by placing the bottom edge of the stamp pattern onto the cookie and slowly rolling the stamp down until it’s laying flat on the surface. With the full stamp on the cookie I then roll it to the left and over to the right, never completely lifting the stamp from the cookie. Finally, I roll the stamp forward to the top of the stamp design and remove it from the surface of the cookie. All this rolling allows me to get the full image onto the less than perfectly flat cookie.
For my test I stamped cookies using the coloring gel paste, the air brush paint, and an edible marker and then I ran my finger across each two minutes after stamping. Here are the results.
As you can see there’s no smudge or smear marks using the air brush paint and edible marker. There are a number of breaks in the image using the edible marker but when that happens I just use the marker to do a little touch up.
But bummer of bummers, there’s significant smudging with the gel paste stamped image. You may also notice that even though I first blotched the stamp on paper before applying it to the cookie I ended up with an area on her right sleeve and in the loops of her dress that lost the clean definition of the lines and filled in what should have been white space because of the globby thick nature of the gel.
So there you have it. Stamping cookies. And while I’d love to conclude this post by showing you a completed princess cookie, colored in with edible markers and edged with confetti sprinkles, I only took it this far because on the day I put this together I had 3 dozen Angry Birds waiting in the wings to be completed so I’m going to leave you now to finish decorating the cookie in your imagination. Make it pretty!