Ahoy me hearties! I'm very excited to share this 'tutorial' for pirate cookies that I made a couple of days ago. But before we get into the how-tos, a bit of background.
Last week, I made a big batch of turquoise icing for this set of christening cookies below. Working on this set, I realised that I'm a lot more comfortable piping patterns, than I am creating people and faces. I rarely do character cookies, and can't remember if I ever tried making any people-type cookies, prior to these angels.
I had some leftover turquoise and white icing from this project, plus extra cookies, and I wanted to put it all to use. I started thinking of designs, and whenever I think turquoise, the first image that pops to mind is the ocean. The first time I saw this gorgeous colour in nature, was as a young girl at Dubai's Jumeirah Beach. I clearly recall feeling awestruck that water could be this mesmerising shade, and it's a fascination that still endures. From there, it was an easy leap to do something pirate-related, also because the little person in my house is pirate-mad at the moment.
Sugar cookies - round or square.
Edible food pens (or toothpick, to mark out the design).
Royal icing, in turquoise, black, brown, flesh tone, white and pink. Consistency should be between flood and piping.
Piping bags & tips (I used Wilton tips #1 and #2).
Thin paintbrush (that is reserved for decorating purposes).
Food colour in red, orange or gold.
Gold and silver lustre dust (optional).
I began this project by sketching out some ideas. I don't normally do this, but when the design has several parts, it's better to have a guide. I then marked out the design onto the cookies with edible ink pens. If you don't have these, you could still gently mark out the sections with a toothpick or a scribe tool. It would be harder to see, but it'll do the job.
To get your icing colours and bags ready, I recommend watching this terrific video that, pardon the drama, changed my life :) Honestly, it saves me loads of time. So for this project, I just turned some turquoise icing into brown, and then turned some of that into black. I tinted some of the white icing into the flesh toned icing, and a bit of that into the pink.
A note about the icing consistency: normally, you'd have a piping consistency for outlining and details, and a flood consistency that's runnier for filling in. To make life easier, I just stuck to the one consistency somewhere in between the two - the best way I can describe it is as between toothpaste and shampoo. It also works because each part of the design is quite small. So you outline and fill with the same piping bag, and run a toothpick along after you've filled in the areas, to even out the icing.
These cookies require a bit more patience than usual as you can't pipe all the icing in one go. Couple of reasons for this: one, is to avoid dark colours bleeding into the light ones; so I piped the dark areas first and let them dry for 30-40 minutes before adding the lighter colours. The second reason is to create dimension ... or is it definition? Or maybe both :) This is a technique I've picked up from the top cookiers around, and that I've applied here to the pirate hats and the ocean. It's just a matter of piping in sections and letting each section dry before piping the adjoining areas. You'll see what I mean as we go along.
Girl Pirate Photo Tutorial:
2. Pipe in the brim of the hat.
3. Add the t-shirt. (See, now it occurs to me that I could've done this the same time as step 1. Hopefully, I've saved you some time :D)
4. Once the hat has had at least one hour drying time, add the face icing, leaving gaps for the eye and mouth. Leave to dry for 30 min.
5. Add the neck and the white icing. There are a couple of ways of doing the eye: one is to pipe a dot of black icing as soon as you've piped the white icing; the black dot will sink into the white. This is what I did, and thankfully it didn't bleed much. Alternatively, you could wait for the white eye to dry before painting on the black part with food colour or drawing it with an edible ink pen. Optional: If you've piped the black dot on, immediately add a tiny white dot over that.
6. Pipe the hair. I gave one girl curly hair, and the other straight. The only problem with using a thinner consistency of icing is that you can't pipe the hair in one go; if you try to do this, the icing just melds into one blob. So pipe alternate strands, and once they've dried a bit, fill in the gaps.
7. Final details: you can either pipe or paint the eye-patch on. Use the thin paintbrush dipped in black food colour to do eyelashes (optional), and the smiley face on the hat. I used edible food pens in orange and gold for the other facial details: mouth, nose and freckles. Alternatively, use the thin paintbrush and paint these details on. The scarf is also optional: I piped it on with the pink icing and added the white dots immediately.
Pirate Ship Photo Tutorial:
2. Pipe alternate sections of the water. Leave to dry.
3. Fill in the remaining sections. You can see that you've got the effect of waves now. We wouldn't have that definition if it had been piped in one go.
4. Pipe the sails. Once the waves are dry, you could add a touch of white icing randomly to look like whitecaps. I used the paintbrush to drag it along the bottom of the ship to resemble spray.
5. Final details: Pipe the black flag; once it's dry you could paint on the X with a bit of silver dust mixed with a few drops of water. Mix gold dust and a few drops of water, and paint on the portholes and some random lines.
Comparing the cookies to the sketches, I think the ships turned out way better, especially after adding the details with gold. I'm going to need more practice to get the faces to turn out exactly as I picture them. But this project got me out of my decorating comfort zone, so it was a good learning experience. It was also great to take the simplest of cookie shapes and come up with a creative design. It takes patience, but it's really rewarding to make your vision materialise bit by bit. Please note that this tutorial is how I went about making these cookies and is just a guideline; if you've got a better way, go for it (and let me know too!)