Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Ella's Cookie Basket with Hat and Ballerina Booties

Hi Knitters,

A dear friend became a grandmother for the first time last week to a sweet little baby girl named Ella.  My friend, a sewer and quilter, helped Ella's momma decorate her nursery in pink and white toile and pale celery green.  The sweet little nursery looks like a page out of a magazine. 

While working on the wedding cookie favors for Hannah's wedding I found a wonderful book at my local bakery supply shop.  Cookie Swap is chock full of the most informative, artistic, and clever recipes and instructions for cooking making that I have ever read.  And instructions for making pink toile cookies!

Julia Usher is an artist.  When I saw her pink and white toile beaded cookies I knew that I would be making them for Ella sometime after the wedding.  In the back of her book Julia gives a detailed list of all the sources she uses for supplies and clear instructions on all her techniques, including how to use "wafer paper" to decorate cookies.  Wafer paper is made of potato starch.  It's a little thicker and softer than regular paper and can be used in a printer with inkjet cartridges of food dye.  I ordered the already-printed toile papers from fancyflours.com and they were no disappointment.   The pink toile came as a set with a blue toile sheet so I made some in the blue too. 

The daughter of our next door neighbor got married just a few weeks before Hannah and she was back in town to visit her mom and dad.  We've known her since she was a little girl and were so happy that she dropped in to say hi.  I knew from her wedding registry that she was decorating her first kitchen in blue and white and yellow so I sent the blue toile cookies home with her and she seemed pleased.  Perfect timing.  I love when things happen like that.

I had never decorated cookies with wafer paper before but thanks to Julia's tips it went pretty well for my first go-round.  I can't wait to order some of Fancy Flours Christmas-themed papers.  They carry green and red toile and even plaids and I am already picturing a pretty holiday cookie tray.

After the cookies are iced and very dry (overnight) you simply cut the wafer paper using the same cookie cutter that you used for the cookies.  Since I iced inside the edge I traced on the inside of the cutter with a pencil and then cut just inside the line.  Using a sponge craft brush coat the backside of the paper with light corn syrup and press on top of the icing -- Presto! 

The paper edge stuck out over the edge of the icing a little and I found that if I dipped my finger in water and ran it gently around the edge of the icing the paper relaxed and covered the edge perfectly.  You have to be careful though because with too much water the paper disintegrates.

Another idea out of Cookie Swap that I tried for the frst time was using stencils to monogram my cookies.  When I have monogrammed cookies before I assumed it was just a very steady-handed talented decorator behind them.  Julia enlightens us and gives s source for nice quality culinary stencils.  It was a little challenging to get the frosting consistence just right so that the stencil didn't bleed but for my first try I think they came out okay.   Cookie Swap gives several sources but I ended up buying them from Designer Stencils.  They arrived in two days.  The instructions included some other great ideas for the culinary stencils including monogramming home-baked bread and rolls with crushed herbs -- Can you imagine?  Very Martha Stewart.

Of course I had to include something knitted to go along with the cookie basket so I made this hat and pair of ballerina booties.  They knit up in one evening in Berocco "Weekend."  It's a cotton/acylic blend that feels and looks just like 100% cotton and costs only $6.00/skein.  For the booties I used a Zoe Mellor pattern from Fifty Baby Bootees to Knit and changed the button strap to little ties.

Finished basket ready to go.

My next cookie venture is going to be Halloween cookies.  Whooooooooo.  I'll keep you posted.

Happy Knitting, Josey