I’m not sure we’ll ever be able to top our Valentine Cookies from last year. The Steampunk Valentine Cookies we made are still my favorite to date.
I think these are still pretty cute, though. 🙂 I was inspired by this artwork.
These cookies gave me a little trouble, for a number of reasons. None of which were really about the difficulty of making the cookies themselves. Overall they’re pretty simple.
The first snag I hit was that when I was working on these, an amazingly talented blogger named Haniela posted these cookies, which are pretty much the same idea as the ones I was making. I nearly decided not to post these at all, but decided that they’re different enough that you might want to see another take on the heart-shaped owls. You should definitely check out her blog. That woman is really talented and seriously prolific.
Anyway. I started with Lila Loa’s chocolate roll-out cookie recipe, since it’s the best ever. EVER.
I started out using a massive heart-shaped cutter. Then I cut it in half with a bench scraper. Before moving it at all, I took 1 medium and 1 small heart cutter and imprinted them lightly where I wanted the wings & faces to be. Just push them in enough to make a mark, or it will cause problems. The imprint will still be visible once baked and it will make it easier to ice the shape you want later (a tip I learned from Sugarbelle) I baked the two halves separately on the cookie sheet.
Once the cookies were baked & cooled, I started icing them with royal icing. I did the beak & wings first, then let them set up before filling in the rest of the body. I used piping-consistency icing to outline first, and then flooded with thinner icing. I like my flooding icing to be somewhere between 10 and 15 second icing, meaning that a line drawn in the icing disappears in 10 to 15 seconds on its own. For the beaks, though, I used 20-second icing, but no piping icing. I put the orange in a piping bag with a #2 Wilton tip instead of a squeeze bottle. A #2 tip is also my favorite for piping outlines.
The second snag I ran into was that my sister’s schedule didn’t mesh with mine, so I had to do most of the decorating alone. With a toddler. So it took me roughly 100 years to finish these.
I let the cookies dry overnight at this point, and then started using the brush-embroidery technique to create feathers on the wings & around the eyes. It was the first time I’d ever tried this, and it took a few cookies before I got the result I wanted. If you compare the brown cookie to the purple cookie, you can see that the first ones I did were very thick– you can’t really see the color underneath them– and they got thinner the more comfortable I got with them. If you want to see a good tutorial on this method, check out Ali Bee’s on YouTube. (Note that I used a much smaller brush than hers to get the particular result I wanted.)
P.S. these eye-less owls totally creep me out.
I was hoping to get these done and up on the blog before the weekend, but I just couldn’t finish by then. Luckily, my sister had some time on Saturday to come over and help me churn these out. The eyes went in last. Make sure the feathered area is set really well before adding the eyes or they’ll mush together. I also did one eye at at time with 20-second icing in a squeeze bottle, let it set before adding the next so there was some definition between them. We used black candy pearls for the pupils, but those were yet another problem. If we added the pearls right away, they sank in deep and the black bled into the white a little. If we waited too long, the surface of the icing cracked a bit when we pushed them in. So it was a huge pain trying to guess when the exact right time would be. Next time I might just use a food color marker. Ha.
All in all, I think they turned out pretty good given all the trouble I ran into. Most of them, at least. There are a few that didn’t get photographed for a reason. Ha ha. We made mini ones, too. I used a fondant heart cutter for the faces on those. Tiny!
I think the heart-shaped face is cute, but it also kind of makes them look less like owls and more like some other kind of bird. Oh well.
I also randomly decided to make some of these hearts into single owls. I think they’re super cute and they were also crazy easy, which makes me wonder why I didn’t just make all of them like this. Next time, right? Or maybe you can make adorable heart owls like this. 🙂
What do you like baking for Valentine’s day?