Everybody loves Elmo! I made these cupcakes for a reception following a friend’s Baby Naming ceremony for her son Jonah. The Elmo cupcakes are Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting. The “J” cupcakes are Vanilla Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting. The toppers are Almond Sugar Cookies decorated with Royal Icing.
I love the idea decorated sugar cookie toppers on top of cupcakes. Not only are they pretty, but they actually taste good. The edible decoration means that you get a cookie and a cupcake. More dessert equals better, so win win win.
At first, my plan was to outline Elmo in black and to fill in with the appropriate colors. Unfortunately, these first prototypes resembled Freddy-Kruger-Elmo, a little too scary and definitely not blog worthy. After some experimentation, I changed my design and came up with with a more satisfying result. Thank you to my friend Nicole who served as my baking “B” & fabulous design assistant!
I am NOT an expert at decorating or royal icing, if I can do this…you can do this.
As a rank amateur, I am totally in awe of the amazing sugar artist bloggers. Reading sites like Bake at 350 and the Sweet Adventures of Sugarbelle has given me a new appreciation for the art of cookie decoration. I could not have made these Elmo cookies without the fantastic recipes and tutorials on their sites. With their help, I am slowly improving my own skills. Thank you thank you thank you.
When working with royal icing, you often outline the cookie in a thicker piped icing and then fill in with a runnier version of the same color called “flood” icing. Thanks to the fabulous Sugerbelle, I have learned that there are variations between those two consistencies. She has an intermediate icing she calls “20 second” icing. See her tutorial for how you determine the correct consistency. This “20 second” icing, properly handled can save a lot of time because it doesn’t require the piped outline.
A couple more things that I found useful as I made my cookies:
- Sugarbelle’s extremely thorough tutorials on working with royal icing & storage of royal icing will save you much heartache.
- Keep a bunch of tooth picks on hand to help spread icing and fix small mess ups.
- Knocking your cookies gently against a surface while you decorate helps the frosting spread and can eliminate small bubbles in the icing.
So, in summary, I’m not worthy, but here’s what I did.
After figuring out the order in which to decorate, I ran through the decoration process pretty fast on each cookie (I made 35 in about an hour).
First I outlined the body in piping-consistency royal icing.
Then, I immediately filled that in with “flood” icing.
Next, I added the eyes freehand with white icing at the “20 second” consistency.
Then, I added the nose in a “20 second” consistency icing.
The cookies came alive when Elmo got pupils. The black was somewhere between the “20 second” consistency and piping consistency.
Lastly, I added the mouth with the same black.
Next time, I want to try making the shape of the mouth a little more simple. I think it would be slightly more “Elmo”esque.
The icing began to set up quite quickly, but wasn’t completely hard for several hours. The cookies were good, maybe even better, the second day, so these are a great make ahead project.