In this BONUS tutorial, we walk you through how to create a mermaid cookie design - a perfect complement to the mermaid cake topper I created back in August.
Supplies and Prep
Using a cookie cutter in a mermaid shape and run-in royal icing method of frosting, you can make personalized cookie favors for your Nautical themed party. Run in icing is a well-know, reliable technique. You’ll need two batches of white royal icing: One stiff which should be in a bag with a #2 piping tip. The other should have the consistency of white glue (or melted ice cream) and the best way to contain it will be a squeeze bottle with a small tip.
- 1Roll out the sugar cookie dough of your choice and cut the mermaids using a shaped cutter. Place on baker's parchment and put the freezer or refrigerate until ready to bake to prevent excessive spreading. Allow to cool fully.
Tip:You will want to start this project at least three days before your event date.
To prepare, pipe around the outline of your baked, cooled sugar cookie using the stiff Royal icing.
- 2Carefully drip your run-in icing on to the cookies staying close to the outline.
Once you have filled the cookies in completely let them sit at least overnight or until fully dry. You want to leave them uncovered at room temperature to insure the icing sets fully. If you find air bubbles coming to the surface before the icing sets, you can pop them with a tooth pick and swirl the surrounding icing into the hole.
Now that the cookies are dry, it’s time to paint! I like to use powdered food colors dissolved in vodka or other clear alcohol (Everclear works well, too). Mainly you want something with a high enough alcohol content that it will evaporate fully leaving no trace or oder behind. You can also use clear lemon extract to dissolve your powders which will give the icing a faint lemon flavor.
I prefer powdered food colors and it is easy to pick a set of primary colors, black brown, pink and purple from a good specialty baking store. Powdered pigments dry fully and do not smudge when handled or packaged. As you can see in the picture I substituted petal dust colors because that’s what was handy, but they tend to be more expensive.
You will also want a couple of fine brushes (size 0 should work best). Have a few larger brushes for doing color wash over large areas. A paint pallet is also helpful here, though a plate or tile works well, too. Be aware that food color will stain surfaces!!
Tip:Don’t buy an expensive brush as the powdered color destroys the fibers and you will do just as well to have a cheap brush that can be thrown away after.
Start by making a loose, diluted color that can be “washed” over the surface. Don’t worry if it seems light, we can build up to a deeper tone or it may settle darker. I started with the flesh tone.
Next I washed in a light green for the tail.
Then wash in orange for her hair. Now, let this one dry and move on to the other cookies in your batch! You can change the colors as you like.
Now let’s add some detail! Using a darker green than your wash color and the small brush, start at her waist and draw scales. This is a bit like making a “w” over and over again.
Keep going until you reach the base of the tail. Now outline the tail in the sale color and define her fins.
She is starting to look pretty fishy!!
- 10Her shell bra is outlined in green, too. I filled in with shades of pink starting with a light wash and getting deeper.
Finally I used a little brown to lightly define her face, arms and body and add detail to her hair. A little pink for her lips and we’re finished! Have fun and make every mermaid different! Or customize them to the guests at your party.
If you want to change the method slightly, or simply can’t work with royal icing (humidity, etc) you can roll fondant to a little less than 1/4” and use the cookie cutter to cut it out. A little water, vodka or lemon extract brushed on the cookie will hold it in place. Allow it to set up for a few hours to overnight depending on the type of fondant you use. I work with Satin Ice, but any brand that dries to a nice surface will work. Avoid any fondant with chocolate or that claims to “never dry” as it will not suit the project. Once your fondanted cookies have set up you can progress painting them in the same way you would with royal icing.
Tip: If you feel a bit shy about painting on the cookie, cut some fondant shapes out ahead of time and let them dry so you can practice! You can even trace the cookie cutter shape on paper and paint with the powdered food colors the same way until you feel brave enough to tackle the real thing.
Tutorial: Nautical Themed Tutorial Bonus: Mermaid Cookies!
Skill Level: Beginner/ Intermediate
- #2 Piping Tip
- Mermaid Cookie Cutter
- paint brush
- Parchment Paper
- Powdered Food Colors
- royal icing
- Squeeze Bottle (Small Tip)
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Anna is a classically trained sculptor and illustrator who started her career in cake decorating with Ron Ben Israel in 2000. Since then she has worked for a number of well known cake studios in the New York area doing complex sugar work and design. Her specialties include freehand painting,...