We’ve all had a few epic Pinterest fails, right? You know, sinking layer cakes, blobby cake pops and, of course, the dreaded cutesy cookie icing that morphs into a thing of nightmares. So color us *super* impressed by the masterful cookie decorating from Baked Ideas, a custom bakery in New York City. No joke — just check out these emoji cookies.
Owner Patti Paige is the artist behind these incredible edible treats, and we don’t just mean artist in the baking sense. Armed with a master’s degree in painting and an eye for inspiration, she’s been dubbed by the Barefoot Contessa herself as “the high priestess of decorated cookies” and “the most creative baker I know.” We bow down.
Patti’s custom cookies were a hit long before emojis were even on the scene, though — even before other bakers were doing designer cookies. “All the attention and rave reviews made it pretty clear that people loved the idea of a really nice-looking cookie that also tasted great, unlike those big clunky things you could get in the grocery store at the time.” Nowadays, she knows more and more people are finding tutorials and products for mastering cookie decoration at home. Last fall she published her first book, You Can’t Judge a Cookie By Its Cutter, which demonstrates how to decorate 100 different cookies with just 25 cookie cutters. Patti shared some extra tips with us to help budding bakers make the prettiest cookies out there — plus a tutorial, just in time for Easter!
Seeing the Potential in a Cookie Cutter
Aside from her crazy popular emojis, most people request special occasion cookies. “People’s dogs are popular,” she says, “and I’ve even done cookies for memorials and to congratulate someone getting out of jail!” So how does she manage to make so many different designs? Well, Patti does make all of her own cookie cutters (hello, next DIY project!). But otherwise, the answer is pretty darn simple: Use your imagination. Turn each cutter this way and that, forgetting what it’s supposed to be and instead seeing what it could be. Just look at the Baked Ideas Instagram account (it’s seriously a must-follow) to see which cookie cutter experiments Patti’s working on this week.
The Two Most Versatile Cookie Cutters
Do you own a drinking glass? Turn it upside-down — boom, you have a circle cutter, which can be used for an endless number of designs. The other you may already have around is the heart-shaped cookie cutter. “It’s a great one for making lots of simple images aside from a Valentine,” Patti tells us. “There’s a strawberry, fish and a pumpkin or jack-o lantern!”
Essential Baking Gear
Bracing yourself for a long list of expensive top-of-the-line kitchen appliances? Fear not. “Honestly you only need a piping bag, two or three pastry tube tips and a brush to apply the icing.” Patti likes making her piping bags out of parchment paper (plastic baggies will work too), since you can make all different sizes that are cheap and easy to toss out later. As a painter, she prefers the somewhat unusual method of applying icing with a brush, which allows her to apply thin layers.
The Secret to Making Your Own Icing
Perhaps the most daunting part of cookie decorating isn’t the time or patience it takes — we’re all DIYers here, we can handle a bit of party prep — it’s the icing, and the possibility that allllll that baking and decorating is going to yield a messy glob that doesn’t remotely resemble Mickey Mouse. Patti gets it, and yes, even she’s used some store-bought icing tubes before. “But you don’t get much flexibility and your lines and surfaces will not be quite as refined,” she points out. “Icing consistency is of utmost importance, and you need a different consistency for each step of decorating cookies.” She says it’s always better to start with icing that’s too thick, rather than too runny, because it’s easier to gradually loosen it up. But if you’re in too-runny territory, more confectioner’s sugar or a little more beating will thicken it up.
Patti’s Perfect Sugar Cookie Recipe
Ready to give the professional cookie decorating a go? Patti has shared her sugar cookie recipe, a crowd favorite for being not overly sweet and delish. Just mix all the ingredients together and roll out the dough.
— 2-1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
— 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
— 1/2 teaspoon salt
— 3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
— 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
— 1 large egg
— 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla
Easter DIY: Hatching Chick Emoji Cookies
Here’s the perfect complement to all the emoji Easter eggs! All you need to make the cutie pie hatching chick is a heart cutter, and large circle cutter, and a small circle cutter.
After rolling out the dough to a thickness of between 1/8″ and 1/4″, cut out one of each cookie cutter shape for however many emoji chicks you’re making. Cut out four jagged edges from the large circle to make the eggshell shape. Cut off a 1/4″ from the bottom of the heart, plus the two top bumps, to make the chick’s body. Then begin to layer the pieces on the baking tray, starting with the body, followed by the eggshell, leaving some room for the wings to stick out. Cut out a small sliver from the top of the body with the circle cutter, then add the small circle of dough for the chick’s head.
Bake at 350 degrees fahrenheit for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden around edges. Let cool for five minutes and transfer to a rack to dry completely.
To decorate, use royal icing the consistency of toothpaste to outline the edges of the chick in yellow and the egg in white. Use a looser version of each icing to fill in the shapes, and allow the icing to set. Don’t forget black icing with a white dot for the eyes and orange for the beak. Then, go to town! Use a small paint brush or icing from a tube to create springy patterns, or leave the eggshell white to recreate the original emoji.
For even more step-by-step instructions, be sure to check out Patti’s blog at Baked Ideas.
What cookie designs are you going to whip up for the next party? Be sure to follow the Baked Ideas Instagram for daily inspiration from Patti!