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Owl Sugar Cookie Tutorial

November 2, 2020

Owl Sugar Cookie Decorating

In today’s post, I’m going to talk through the process of turning an inspiration piece into an decorated sugar cookie owl!

I’m calling him Professor Owl because he’s wise (owl, duh) and the bowtie and vest look professorial to me!

Inspirating Strikes in Odd Places Sometimes

I would never refer to my sugar cookie design as “inspired”, but the fact is that the design was inspired by a random trip to CVS and the impulse purchase of a clearance $4 decorative pillow.  

I put it down and picked it up again.  And put it down and picked it up again.  Eventually I just bought it to take home. During my fits of putting it back, I kept thinking back to how cute he was and how I thought he would make an awesome cookie design for Thanksgiving.

Holiday Cookies and Place Settings

If you’ve read my blog before, you will already know that I’m a fan of a little “extra” in the table setting department.  In fact, if you’ve followed the last few posts, you’ll see the placecards I made for Thanksgiving last year as well as the pumpkin napkins that I folded for the table.

Today’s owl cookie rounded out the place settings for my table last year.  So now you have all of the pieces!

Thanksgiving 2019 place setting

It is pretty common for me to include a bagged cookie with a place setting for a big holiday meal.  Nobody is actually hungry enough to eat the cookie, but it goes home as a party favor and people seem to really like it.

Sometimes, the cookie even acts as a placecard itself if I’m short on time, like in this pic from Easter 2016.  Cookie and placecard all-in-one. 🙂

(Incidentally, if you’d like me to teach you that bunny napkin fold in advance of Spring, let me know in the comments and I’ll put together a tutorial!)

Easter place setting 2016

Down to the Decorating - Time Saving Steps?

Tipless Piping Bags!

Despite having a lot of steps, I actually consider my approach to cookie decorating to contain a lot of time-saving steps.   I realize some of you are probably laughing at me saying that right now….but that’s how it seems to me.

For example, I don’t use tips for the most of the cookie decorating I do.  For this owl cookie, I only used a tip once, and that was to create the bowtie!

So, throughout the process, you may notice that I haven’t put a tip in my bag.  I vary the size of the hole I cut in the end of the bag, depending on how much detail I need.

15 Second Royal Icing

If you’ve decorated cookies before, or watched cookie decorating tutorials before, you have probably heard about the various icing consistencies.

There is often reference to “piping consistency” and “flood consistency”.  I have used those terms before in some of my own tutorials.  BUT there are plenty of designs that don’t require the use of both.  And for those, I split the difference!

My icing consistency is neither flood nor piping, it’s 15 second icing.  If you want a GREAT royal icing tutorial, here is one of my favorites…https://www.sweetsugarbelle.com/2012/03/consistency-is-key-twenty-second-icing-and-more/

Sketch Out Your Design on Your Cookie

I started with a food color marker and used a light shade so if I colored outside of the lines it would be less noticeable. 😉 

I wasn’t going for a dead ringer for my pillow here.  I was trying to put the cutest parts of that pillow design into my owl cookie cutter shape.

 

sketch basic shapes onto owl cookie

Outline and Flood Different Sections - Drying In Between

I started out with the body-colored parts, again with my tipless bag and 15 second icing.  

The icing is runny, but I use a scribe tool to help push it into place.  I also happen to find that process really satisfying!

Scribe tool to help with icing distribution

I think one of the greatest cookie decorating secrets is this:  you can let individual shapes dry and flood shapes next to them later in order to create a natural break in the colors and shapes. 

Let sections dry in between

You can see that here because I clearly went back and added the vest after the feathers had dried.  This helps insure the colors don’t bleed into one another. 

Same with the little feet.  

I work in sections and since I’m making multiple cookies at once, there’s really no time wasted.  Once I’m done with a section on all of them, I just go back to the first one and start on the next section!

Include Details When Possible

Nothing finishes off a good cookie design like the addition of a couple of interesting details.

In the case of professor owl, I really wanted the dots around his eyes, and the little pocket on his vest.

And, of course

THE BOWTIE

I almost FORGOT the bowtie.  In fact, I started taking photos and everything and then went “wait a minute….”

Decorated owl cookie excluding bowtie

Royal Icing Transfers

To make the bowtie, I made super-simple royal icing transfers.  It sounds complicated, but it’s basically piping your shape out onto parchment paper in advance.  

I do it a lot if I want to get a jump start on some details I need for cookies (eyeballs are a common use).  I might also do it if I don’t want to have to worry about piping directly onto a cookie and screwing it up.

Royal Icing transfers allow you to only put on your cookie the shapes that look good. 

So, for this bowtie, I used a small open star tip and DID NOT USE 15 SECOND ICING.  I needed this icing to be firm enough to hold it’s shape. 

What if you already thinned all your icing (I had!)?  Just add more powdered sugar and thicken it back up. 🙂

Royal Icing Transfers

When they completely dry, you can peel them off of your parchment like those old candy buttons that they used to sell (or do they still?)

Peel off royal icing transfer
Apply to cookie with icing glue

And then just apply to your cookie as a finishing detail!

Also, Accidents Happen...

I was making a couple dozen of these at once, and naturally that meant moving things around on the table, in and out of the way, in and out of the camera frame, etc. 

I dragged the end of a bag of icing through my owl cookie!

Owl cookie mistake

I suggest watching the video tutorial if you want to see the fix on this guy, but yes.  We CAN fix it.

Salvaged cookie damage

In the end, each cookie was really different anyway…so a little extra texture from a repair blended in just fine!  Truth be told, I just made that cookie mine at my place setting…so nobody knew anyway, but I don’t think it would have been apparent.

Tray of finished owl cookies

Video Tutorial

As usual, I made you a video tutorial (super high speed) to show you the process.  I find it easier to learn that way, so I hope it’s helpful.

Materials used for this project are listed below.  Some links are affiliate links, and if you make a purchase through one of these links, I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.  If you do, thank you in advance for your support of this blog.


 
Owl cookie cutter: (mine was old and I don’t see it any longer, this is the closest one in shape and size) https://amzn.to/3oDd0fq
Icing colors used are Americolor gel colors.  https://amzn.to/3oEcTQS
 
Food color markers: https://amzn.to/3p0OBAS
 
Piping bags, bag clips, and detail brush are all from Truly Mad Plastics  https://trulymadplastics.com/
 
Need a scribe tool?  https://amzn.to/3mJQYpF

Love, Amanda

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I'm Amanda, and I put the AMANDA in A MANDAtory Activity (and I like a good bad pun). This blog is a focused on baking and crafting for gatherings and gifts! I LOVE making things a little extra special and I love sharing those ideas with you. Have a look around, or read more here.

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