Sunday, December 22, 2013

Cookie Tealight Stands

I made these saffron cookie tealight stands for Diwali earlier this year, and I'd promised a post on how to make them, so here goes.

The idea for these cookies comes from a book called Decorating Cookies by Joanna Farrow. You can use the rolled cookie recipe of your choice to make these stands. For this project, I've used a gingerbread cookie recipe as I'll be using these stands during Christmas.

One important point that I'll highlight in the beginning, and that isn't mentioned in the book, is to get simple glass tealight holders. You put the tealights in the glass holders and place the holders on the cookie base. This way, the cookie doesn't get direct heat from the tealight and stays fresh longer.

What you need:
Cookie dough (recipe of your choice, I'll link to some suggestions at the end)
Small glass tealight holders (check your dollar stores or Ikea)
Cutters - sharp knives / steel piping tips / straws
Template of your design (optional)
Decorations - cachous / dragees / sprinkles
Royal Icing - stiff consistency (piping consistency for decorating, optional)

You begin by rolling out your cookie dough and cutting out shapes for the front and the base of the stand. For the front, I've simply cut rectangle shapes, but you can use any shape you like. Just make sure it's big enough to cover the glass tealight holder. Cut circles, or squares for the base, and again, ensure it corresponds to the size of the front piece and is big enough for the tealight holder.

Note: If using fancy shapes for the front piece, you have to cut a straight line across the bottom of the cookie so that it'll rest evenly on the base. For the saffron cookies in the first picture, I used a round fluted cutter for the front cookie, and I had to trim the end off so that it would sit straight on the base.

Cut out your design on the front. I've just used a piping tip to cut circles out in the shape of a Christmas tree. A piece of drinking straw will also work well to cut out circles. If you have a more elaborate design, make a paper template. Place the template onto the cookie and cut out the design with a sharp knife.

If you want to use sprinkles, I feel it's easier to put them on before baking. I've used silver dragees / cachous here. Be gentle when you put these on; don't push them through the cookie.

Then bake the cookies as per recipe instructions. I bake mine a tad longer as I like my cookies crisper.

Once the cookies are cooled, you can decorate the front pieces with royal icing if you like, and let it dry for a few hours. I'm not sure how the warmth of the tealights would affect a cookie that's fully covered with royal icing, so both times I've made these tealight stands, I've kept the royal icing to a minimum and it's been perfectly fine.

Assembling the Tealight Stands:

1. Put the stiff consistency royal icing into a piping bag or ziploc bag with the end snipped off. Pipe a couple of thick lines onto the base cookie, about 1 cm away from the edge.

2. Place the front piece onto the thick icing, making sure it's standing straight, and then push down very gently.

Ensure that the front cookie isn't tilting forwards or backwards. If it starts to tilt, take it off and pipe more icing onto the base and place it again.

3. Once the front is securely standing on the base, fill in any gaps between the two cookies with more icing. You can see in the third picture how thin the icing looks on the left once the front cookie is placed on the base. So for more support, pipe one more line of icing on the back of the cookie. The book says you can prop up the front cookie with a small glass if need be. Let them dry for a few hours, and your edible tealight stands are ready to use!

You can store these cookies in a container deep enough to hold them, or if you don't have one, the book says you can leave them on a board or baking tray and wrap around loosely with cling film.

This is a fun project, and I hope you try it out and that it lights up your celebrations as well. Have a blessed Christmas and New Year!

Links to rolled cookie recipes:
Rolled Sugar Cookies - Glorious Treats
Chocolate Sugar Cookies - Glorious Treats
Eggless Saffron Cookies - Divine Taste
Gingerbread Cookies (recipe used for this project) - Craftsy

Monday, December 09, 2013

DIY Crepe Rose Wreath

There is a section on this blog I grandly titled 'Food & Craft', with some food-related posts and zero craft-related ones. I am pleased to say that I am finally able to notch one for craft, with this my debut crafty post.

Having a craft-loving daughter, we're pretty much cutting / gluing all year through. But for me personally, this is the one time in the year that I go into craft overdrive. I absolutely love decorating for Christmas, and while I love buying knick-knacks for my home, it gives me far greater pleasure when I look around and see things that we've made ourselves. 

Like this wreath, for example. The idea for this sparked at my daughter's playgroup a couple of months ago, when the craft activity organized by one of the mums involved simple crepe streamers. As I supervised my daughter, I was idly twisting a piece of crepe round and round, and I thought, well that makes a really pretty rose. Voila!

If you've ever made a ribbon rose, this is the same thing. But I was so charmed by this, I got all fired up and made a, ahem, tutorial, so here goes. Pardon the photography :).

What you'll need:

1. A frame (I used a cane one, about 8" wide, but you could use a thermocol one, or wire etc.)
2. Crepe streamers / ribbons in the colours of your choice.
3. Green garland (or shiny tinsel) 2 metres long, to luxuriously cover a frame this size.
4. Floral wire (not pictured).
5. Any additional decorations (like the glittery bow I used).

Crepe Rose How-to:

1. Cut a strip of the crepe, about 20" long (less for a smaller rose, more for a bigger one). Fold the top left corner down; it makes for a neater center.

2. Take the bottom left corner and start rolling it inwards, towards the top.

3. Once the center is formed, hold the flower steady and begin draping the strip around it, pleating it occasionally (I've got a picture to illustrate this in the next set, bear with me :)).

4. Make sure you scrunch the bottom half of the rose tightly, this helps the 'petals' poof out more.

5. When you reach the end, fold the top corner of the strip down and bring it down round the base.

6. Secure the rose together by twisting floral wire around the base. I've used extra wire so that it can be inserted through and tied to the wreath frame.

Two-Colour Rose:

Being Christmas, I used white as my second colour. Place the inner crepe strip slightly lower than the outer one, to show off both colours. Make the rose as above. I find that, as you're draping the strip, slightly pleating it backwards every now and then gives the rose a more ruffled look, which I feel makes the rose prettier.

Assembling the Wreath:

1. Insert the rose's wire through the frame and secure it lightly. Don't get fussy about this, as the roses will be firmly fixed when you loop the garland on.

2. Finish attaching all your roses.

3. Pick a spot and start looping the garland around the frame, making sure you cover the starting point once. Pull the garland tight around the roses to hold them in place.

4. For a wreath of these dimensions, I looped the garland thrice between each of the roses for a nice, healthy wreath. Tuck the end point neatly away; I assume this garland must also have some floral wire in it as it stays in place, and doesn't need anything else to secure it.

You can finish the wreath with bows, or other decorations of your choice. This baby now graces our front door :) If you can't get a hold of a wreath frame, the roses also work beautifully on Christmas trees, like so:

I hope this inspires you to get crafting this Christmas too!