Earlier this year, a dear friend of mine got elevated to the Order of the Pelican, the highest award given for service in the SCA and one of the peerages. For his elevation ceremony, I made him cookies based on his heraldry by designing and making custom cookie cutters. They were designed in Adobe Illustrator (with the help of another friend) and laser cut out of acrylic at i3 Detroit, one of the best hackerspaces in the Midwest.
It took a couple iterations to get cutters that worked well. (Please excuse the poor quality of the photos – these were taken with my old camera as it was dying.) The first one I designed was huge. I made the outside cutting edge really deep, and the inner impressions shallow.
Making cookies with these intricate cutters was painstaking and difficult. I had to re-coat the cutter with flour between every press, press it as hard as I could into the dough, and then very slowly shake the cutter until the dough came free.
To decorate the cookies, I dyed powdered sugar icing and painted it on with a paintbrush.
The big cookie cutter left pretty good impressions that were easy to fill with icing. There were a couple problems with the big cookie cutter, though. Because the cutting edge and the impressions were on the same piece, the cookie had to be really thick to let the impressions get deep into the cookie. Otherwise, the cutting edge hit the counter before the dragon and wheel even touched the dough. These deep, thick cookies took a LOT of dough to make, and were just too gigantic for one person to eat. (Also, I forgot about the reversal effect, and made the dragon facing the wrong direction.)
My second design included two separate cutters: one for the inner impressions, and one for the outer cutting edge.
It was very easy to not make the impressions deep enough on these cookies. A lot of time and effort was needed to make sure that most of the cookies turned out with decent impressions.
The design was painted with tiny paintbrushes. Working with a friend, it took well over an hour to paint about twenty of the cookies. I ended up leaving most of them unpainted.
Painted or not, these cookies turned out pretty magnificently! The cutters were gifted to my friend, should he ever want to make his own heraldric cookies. 🙂
If anyone wants anything custom designed and lasercut (out of chipboard, acrylic, or wood, typically), I know someone who accepts commissions and is fantastic at it. I imagine he could improve upon my designs here to make better cookie cutters.
Have any of you made creative cookies or food decorating techniques? ~Kell