Archive | April, 2011

Stencil Winners

26 Apr

We have some winners! The three winners of the stencils and Gourmet Writers are:

Lindy:
Those are soooo cute, Karen! Always fun to see what you are up to!

Tatyana:
I love your beautiful cookies. May be mine will look like yours one day ;)

and Elena:
So cute! A new and great idea to decorate. Thanks again…

Congratulations everybody! Sorry I didn’t have the winners announced in time to get them to you by Easter, but you should have them in time for Mother’s Day! And possibly May Day if we hurry. :)  Check your email and respond with your mailing address. If you don’t see an email from me, send me an email at contact at karenscookies dot net.

Thanks to all who entered! More posts and giveaways coming up soon!  Hope you’re all safe from tornadoes, floods and other havoc that is being wreaked across the country. We have snow here today, but I guess I won’t complain!

Using Stencils as Templates

18 Apr

A couple of months ago, we got a whole bunch of new stencils in our shop. I got to work right away playing around with them (it’s a tough job, but somebody’s gotta do it!)  Over the next few weeks, I’ll show you what I learned.

I probably shouldn’t start with my favorite– I should probably save it till last– but I can’t help it. I love these. They are done with the Mini Spring Garden stencils.  Which really aren’t all that “mini”, by the way. They are made by a company who is used to doing large cake stencils, so they call most of the cookie stencils “mini”. They are a great cookie size.

There are a few ways to use stencils. One is the traditional way that they were probably made for. You can see Mike show you how to do that here. (It was his video debut. I think he should do the rest from now on… :D)

Another way to use stencils is to use them as a template. I really like using them this way because it’s easier to get lots of colors on there. Sometimes it’s pretty tricky to get multiple colors using the traditional stencil method.

I made the four rectangle cookies without taking any step-by-step pictures, because I’m forgetful like that. So I had to go back and do the tutorial on an egg cookie that I had sitting around. But you’ll get the idea.

First you’ll need to bake and glaze (or outline and fill in) your cookies. I used the largest rectangle from the rectangle cutter set. Let them dry completely.

You’ll need some edible markers. I like the Americolor Gourmet Writer 10-color set. Choose marker colors that match the color of frosting you’re going to use. For this one, I was making red tulips with green leaves, so I used the red and green markers.

Use the template to outline each section.

Finish all of your outlining during this step. Otherwise, you’ll have to wait until the first part dries before you can replace the stencil to outline the next section. I know that’s just common sense, but I think it bears mentioning since I may or may not have forgotten to do that on one of these cookies.

So here’s what your outlined design will look like:

You’ll probably notice that there are some little blotchy spots. Sometimes that happens. Not all the time, but sometimes. Why? I don’t know. But don’t worry about it if it happens to you. You’ll be piping over it anyway.

Next, you’ll want to have some runny-consistency frosting. Meringue Powder Buttercream is what I used here (watered down a little bit so that it is pretty soft), but you could also use Royal Icing or Corn Syrup Glaze. Just use what you’re comfortable with.

Outline each little section with your frosting using a small tip. I used a #1 here.

You’ll want to stay just barely inside your marker guidelines, because when you fill in there will be a tiny bit of spreading.

While outlines are still wet, go back and fill in using the same frosting and tip. After I fill in, I use a boo-boo stick to even out the frosting and to pull out sharper corners and tips.

Continue on with all colors.

Try to get your frosting colors the same consistency. My green was a little bit thicker than my red, which is why the tulips look more smooth than the leaves. But hey, it adds texture. Yeah. That’s it.

Then you can add a cute border to the cookie.

They actually make pretty cute Easter eggs.

Here they are on the original rectangles that I did:

These were really fast and easy, and I loved how they turned out. It makes me think of spring… which is still pretty elusive here in Idaho.

So today I’m giving away a set of the Mini Spring Garden Stencils

and the 10-color pack of Americolor Gourmet Writers

To THREE winners. I’m tired of only having one winner. So just comment on this post by midnight on Wednesday, April 20th, and I’ll choose three winners using random.org. Good luck!

PME Tips Winner

18 Apr

Sorry I’m late announcing the winner! Before I do… there were a few questions in the comments asking what the difference is between regular (Wilton, Ateco, etc) tips and PME tips. There are two big differences– first, they are stainless steel, so they won’t rust. Some of Ateco’s tips are also stainless steel, but most of them are not. The other huge difference is that PME tips are seamless, meaning they are a true tube. That makes a big difference in the opening of the tip. Sometimes tips can corrode and/or bend at the seam, and it makes your frosting come out all funky. The PME tips stay true to their original opening. Hopefully that helps explain them a little more.

Also, a quick note– we sold out of the 1.5 tips last week (told you we can’t keep ‘em in stock!), but I have more coming later this week.

Ok, and the winner is….

Yainea, who said:

Wow! What a difference! It’s with no doubt a must have for cookie decorators. Thanks for sharing and for the fabulous giveaway :)

Congratulations, Yainea! I’ve sent you an email, but if you don’t see it, you can send me one at contact at karenscookies dot net.

And for those of you who didn’t win, I have another giveaway coming up in just a few minutes….

PME Tips

12 Apr

Here’s a little quickie about PME tips.

First a little background about me and PME tips. I’m a stubborn person. I learned to decorate cakes and cookies with Wilton and Ateco tips. They work fine. They cost about a dollar a piece, so I can buy lots and not sweat it too much when they get mangled in the garbage disposal. Which happens to me.  A lot.  So I kind of dug in my heels and refused to try the PMEs at almost $5 a pop.

Well, I started getting some requests to carry them in my store, and I have this thing about my store– “If I don’t love it, I won’t sell it”–  Soooo… I had to give in and try them out. And the results? Awesome!! How did I live without them?? My favorite by far for outlining is the 1.5. I keep asking Mike to bring me some home when I’m decorating, but we’re always out of them!! :D I just can’t keep them in stock.  So I currently have ONE that I wash out and use with all of my colors. Not even kidding.

So I had been meaning to write up a post extolling the virtues of PME tips when I got an email from one of our great customers, Kris. She did it just as well (or better!) than I could have, so I asked for her permission to share her great insights. So, from Kris about PME tips:

What a huge difference.. I am in love with them. I must order more very soon. I attached 2 photos of the comparisons of a PME 1.5   PME 2.0 and a Wilton 2.0    All with the same bag of icing withing 2 minutes of each other.. I am shocked at the difference. No wonder my writing always looked bad…. It was the tip all along. I have always had good penmanship except with frosting..I am in love with these new tips!
Kris

Here is the piping still wet:

And dry:

A few days later, Kris sent me a follow-up email:

Just another note to say how much better the PME tips work than Wilton. I am so convinced! I have told everyone I know about them and I hope you continue to carry them. I am attaching a pic of a  couple cookies  to compare.
Wilton tip #2 vs. PME tip #2.   It is like night and day!

The one on the left was Wilton #2, the one on the right is PME #2


Thanks so much Kris!!

Have you tried them yet? If you haven’t, here’s your chance. I’ll give one winner a set of every PME Supatube that we carry– 00, 0, 1, 1.5, 2, 2.5, and 3– so you can try them out for yourself. Just comment on this post by Midnight Wednesday, April 13 ,and I’ll choose a winner using Random.org. Good luck!

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