I know I've said this before, but character cookies are a challenge for me. They actually stress me out. I think it's because everyone knows what the popular characters look like and expect the cookies to be an exact replica. So these cookies are not like an animal or a onesie that can be decorated any way. But my little buddy Logan was turning 2 and really wanted cookies for his Elmo party. Thankfully, Elmo and Dorothy the Fish are characters I know well. Not like the Star Wars characters I did a few months ago.
Elmo was the easier cookie of the two.
I enjoyed making Elmo, especially since I got to experiment with my newest cookie tool - a heat gun (You have to read below how this new tool aids in my cookie decorating.)
I used my circle cookie cutter and outlined Elmo's head and mouth.
Next I filled his head with red icing.
I blasted his head with the heat gun and then flooded the black mouth. I added his orange nose and let him dry for a few hours.
Then I added his eyes and outlined his mouth. But he didn't seem furry and lovable enough.
So I outlined his head and added a little fur detail. I think that extra step made a big difference.
Dorothy's cookie was a little more detailed.
I outlined the fish bowl and dorothy.
I flooded the fish bowl blue, but then decided it needed a little more detail.
So I added the white stripes at the bottom for the bowl and a few white dots for bubbles.
Then I blasted the cookies with the heat gun. It's a super cool flash-dry method. I only had to do it a few minutes and the blue was dry enough that I could flood the orange. Normally I would wait a little while so that the colors would not bleed together.
I did another quick blast on the orange icing and was able to add the yellow right away.
I added the fish outline and the fin detail. The eyes were last and Dorothy was complete.
Here are the benefits of using a Heat Gun:
1. The icing dries faster so that neighboring icing colors can be applied sooner.
2. The icing dries quickly and creates a beautiful sheen on the cookie surface. I prefer this look to the matte look. Take a look at these number cookies.
They were iced using the same icing consistency. They were done in the same room, but the orange two was blasted and flash-dried with the heat gun, where as the red two dried naturally. Even though we have a dehumidifier, it's still tough to control the humidity on an extremely rainy day. The heat gun seems to make this a non-issue.
3. In my opinion, the best benefit of using a heat gun is the impact it has on the 'small' icing areas like Dorothy's three small fins. I always have issues with the small areas cracking. Look at this pumpkin cookie - total disaster.
I can never figure out why this happens and how to prevent it. I have played with the icing consistency. I have applied the icing in different ways. But, with the heat gun, the icing seems to dry fast enough to eliminate the cracks. I didn't have one fin on Dorothy crack.
I will continue to test this theory and report my findings. But this could really give me more confidence to tackle cookie designs with small detail. Normally I design around small icing areas to avoid the stress of a cracked cookie.
I purchased my heat gun at Wal-mart for $19.99. It is a Wagner Heat Gun HT 1000 and has two speeds (hi and lo).
A few heat gun tips:
Don't hold it too close to the cookie.
Don't linger over the cookie for too long. Keep the gun moving (like a blow dryer) to avoid overheating the icing.
The surface behind the cookie will become hot. I decorate my cookies on a metal cookie sheet - so it was a little hot to the touch after I was done using the heat gun. Just use a little caution.
Good luck with decorating. If you use a heat gun, please feel free to leave a comment with your findings. I'd be curious to know if other cookiers find this tool useful. I'm always looking for new tips on how to improve my cookies.
Have a sweet day,