For the Love of Red Icing

How to make red icing that is ACTUALLY red!!

How do you make dark red icing? Find out here!

I've always loved red icing. For a long time, I just kind of admired it from a distance. I knew it was gorgeous, and it made me question myself. Could I DO that? Would that true, deep red understand me and accept me for who I am? Would I have to change? Would it bring the satisfaction I desperately hoped for? I bought flowers and threw them away. I was too shy to just go up and introduce myself. I stuck with some weirdy shade of pink icing that I tried to convince myself was just as good as the real thing. But I never stopped thinking about the real red icing. The kind of red icing that seems to go deeper than the cookie it is placed upon. The red that wakes you up at night and won't let you go to sleep until you promise that THIS TIME you are not going to take "no" for an answer. The kind of icing that won't let you walk away, won't let you accept defeat, and most importantly, won't be confused with PINK.

It took me a while, my friends. Sigh. Looking back, all I can see is the wasted time, the empty afternoons that could have been filled with deep red icing cookies, the happiness slipping down the drain like some forgotten, crusted over icing doomed for the dishwasher. I see a past that could have been....

But enough about me. Let's focus on you. On YOUR FUTURE. Don't make my mistakes. Don't settle for pink when what you really want is crimson...or ruby....or carmine. Don't be a fool. Don't tell yourself it couldn't happen. IT CAN HAPPEN. And it can happen TODAY!!

Seriously, I'm not kidding here. Don't walk away. Don't shake your head. Oh wait, are you shaking in laughter? Okay, this is a little awkward here. I'll just umm,  I'll just pretend I didn't see that and get kind of quiet and maybe trail off for a minute or....

Oh, HEY! I didn't see you there! Guess what I'm doing today? I'm making red icing. Come on over.

I start with regular ol' white icing.

Then I add red until its that weirdy shade of almost red, but really just still kind of pink. (Okay, maybe it really is red, and I'm just biased because I like dark red.)

Then I add brown. I use either chocolate brown, or cocoa powder. They both give about the same result -- a deeper red. Usually, I use cocoa because it makes the end result taste much better. You know, like...chocolate instead of red lake 40. (Okay, PS -- WHY do they name food coloring after a LAKE? I do NOT want to know where those dyes come from.) (I'm lying. I totally do.)

Sometimes I add too much brown.

So then I add a little bit of Wilton burgundy (which, for the record, is WAY closer to magenta or fuschia than burgundy. Someone should pay me to name colors. I could think of way better things to name it after than a LAKE.) to brighten it up again.


** Colored icing will darken as it sits. If you can, try to mix colors the day before you use them and stop adding color when it is 1-2 shades lighter than you will need. 

** Always use a gel or paste food color to make dark, saturated colors. They are more concentrated than liquid food coloring. 

**If you need your red to be really dark, you can also add a little bit of black and then play around with the amounts of brown and burgundy needed to even it out again.

** Worried about the flavor of all that food coloring? Here's my secret: I color the icing while it is still thick. And then I thin it down with vanilla or other flavoring. It *always* tastes amazing!! 

** Don't be afraid to experiment with different brands of red food coloring! Some of my favorite reds are blends of two different brands at the same time.

That's it. Don't be afraid. Fall in love with your own shade of deep, dark red today.


Grab some Americolor SUPER RED gel paste in the 4.5 ounce size or be brave and get the 13.5 ounce size!

Learn about the secret to "no-taste" red icing from Callye at The Sweet Adventures of Sugarbelle.

Tiled Heart Cookies

Once upon a time there was a young girl. And she had a crush on a certain Valentine's candy. Who am I kidding? She was in love with that candy. She thought about it all year. She saved up every cent she could find or earn. And when the stores started turning pink in the winter, she would anxiously count that money and walk very slowly to the neighborhood store with her brothers, being very careful not to drop any of it. And while her brothers were looking at things that made loud noises or some kind of electrical something that they would invariably take apart upon reaching their home, she scanned the candy aisles. She started at the front, knowing full well that the bag she was looking for was at the back, on the left, at the very top. She would grab a bag and run for the counter and buy it before her brothers saw.

And she would take it home and hide it in the space behind the loose paneling in the wall. And she would ration it out, eating 3 pieces a day for like, a week, until she couldn't handle it anymore and then she would eat every last sugar crumb from the bag while everyone was gone for the afternoon. And even in my her sick, sugar induced stomache, she would lie on the couch plotting how she could procure another 79 cents to purchase more of said candy.

Until one year...when she got to the back of the aisle, and she realized IT WASN'T THERE. That precious pink and white bag of candy had been replaced with heart shaped marshmallows. The injustice. Why would a candy company stop making a candy that everyone loves to eat? Don't they WANT my 79 cents? Don't they LOVE me? It's Valentine's Day. Share the love, you know? BRING BACK THE CANDY!!

Anyway, so  those candies were the Runts Valentine hearts. And I never got over it. And I still dream about them every year. And even as an adult living in a foreign country with 3 children of my own, I still think about them so much I make cookies in their honor.

If they still made that candy, these cookies would be INSANELY easy to make. And delicious. And I would buy TWO bags every year. And I would keep one in the cupboard, and the other one hidden from my husband. That way, when I eat the entire bag while he is gone for the afternoon, there will be no judging eyes upon his return. I totally do that with Cadbury mini eggs at Easter time. My goodness, if they ever get rid of those, the world may stop.

Fuzzy Valentine Cookies

Let's all just admit it together. This guy is cute. And fuzzy. (Although, I'm not really sure yet whether fuzzy goes on the positive or negative side, so maybe we should just leave it at that.) I think I will call him Bob. And let him come to the store with me. I bet he'd be real nice and probably wouldn't scream or bang his head on the floor in a show of solidarity for the box of fruit snacks I just returned to the shelf. I wouldn't have to pin him down with my knees while singing a song and acting out a finger puppet play just so I could get him buckled back into his carseat. Probably, he would even let me buy something real nice for myself. He would want me to do it. It would make him happy to see me so happy. I mean, I would have to say yes.  How could you say "no" to a face like that?

This guy is SO EASY to make. But you need to plan ahead just a little bit. First, pipe some eyeballs onto a piece of wax paper. *** Let those dry for at least 3 hours or overnight. (Tutorial HERE.)

Then, you need a cookie, some thick icing and a #233 tip. The real secret to the fuzziness is to never let the tip touch the cookie. Start squeezing a bit while lowering the tip toward the cookie. Stop squeezing and pull up quick so that the strings of icing break off. The faster you go, the easier it is. Try it on some wax paper first if you are nervous. (Then scrape that icing back into the piping bag so nothing is wasted.) Do the edges first and then methodically....okay, you know what? Go ahead and get a little crazy with it. Just make sure you do the edges first. (Check out the video in THIS POST if you are still a little confused.)

As soon as you are done adding all that fuzzy goodness to your cookies, drop on some eyeballs.  Wait 10 minutes and then draw a little mouth through the icing with a toothpick. Done and done.

 *** Not actual eyeball colors. Eyeball colors have been changed to protect the innocent.

Snowman Party Finale

Oh my goodness -- I LOVE YOU ALL! I really, really wanted a Snowman Celebration (as evidenced by my shameless pleading) and you all totally came through for me! I mean, I just threw the invitation out there and then huddled in a corner hoping that I wouldn't be sitting all alone eating the chips by myself because no one wanted to hang out and celebrate with me.


That's the number of  links on the Snowman Celebration link-up party. 94. As in Ninety-Four. That's way more than I expected. I should probably have gotten more chips. And maybe rented a bouncy house or something.

I wanted to make a whole bunch of snowmen cookies as a grand finale sort-of giant fireworks in the sky thing. But I didn't. Because you all made such FUN cookies that I couldn't help sharing some of them. (And also partially because I spent an inordinate amount of time online ogling snowmen cookies this week. But let's stick with the positive, shall we?)

This was actually the last entry and I am SO GLAD you linked up Sugary Flower! I love the bulbous bottom circle. Like, the squishing kind of love. Which sounds totally weird when you are talking about the bottom end of a snowman, but I can assure you its the entire cookie I want to squish.

And as far as squishing goes...THESE snowmen from Pam at Cookie Crazie are next in line. I just ADORE her patterns and colors!

Aren't these FUN? I love all the colors and the sparkle and the happiness. You don't see the happiness? Look close. It's there. (What Kristina? It's called "glitter?" Eh. Same thing.)

I don't know how Jen from JP Creatibles does it. I mean, she takes an idea like giant chunks of ice stacked on top of each other and makes it all warm and cuddly. And beautiful. And...I kind of really want to own that hat.

I love that Callye from The Sweet Adventures of Sugarbelle linked up this snowman cookie. As it turns out, this very post was my first introduction into the world of cookie bloggers. I had no idea you all existed before this cookie.

Ohhh these cookies!! I just can't get over how ADORABLE their little faces are! (PS-- Naomi also makes some beautiful cakes, too!)

Marian of Sweetopia makes the CUTEST little snowmen! Okay, let's be honest -- she makes the cutest little everythings. I love this guy. (And as an added bonus, if you click on the little snow guy, you will also get to see her royal icing consistency video!)

These guys may not be cookies, but they are a super fun, safe, clever, CUTE craft project from The Party Wagon. LIGHT UP SNOWMEN!! I love it!

And you. Have I mentioned today that I love you all? Go ahead and eat the rest of the chips while browsing through all the other snowman creations at the Snowman Celebration!

Snowboarding Snowman -- Guest Post from Haniela's

Ohhhh -- you all are in for a super big fun surprise today and you don't even know it. Unless, of course, you read the post title. And then you would know that my dear friend Hani from Haniela's is here today! But what you don't know is that she created a super big fun surprise snowman cookie for us all. Okay, fine, if you read the post title you already knew that as well.  (My goodness, you are ruining all my super big fun surprises today.) 

So ... Haniela.  Love her. Adore her. Sweetest woman on the planet with some pretty amazing things on her very beautiful blog of superbigfunsurprises. She makes delicious food, takes incredible pictures, and somehow managed to grow a tomato the size of my head. Okay, maybe not quite the last one, but I wouldn't be surprised if it turned out to be true. AND... she makes the most fantastic cookies with a ziplock bag.

Blogging is amazing. I found another friend! One year ago, just around this time in January, I was holding a cookie decorating contest over at my blog, Haniela's and that is how I found Georganne - via the contest. Sweet, heartfelt, funny, witty, creative and absolutely beautiful in and out Georganne.
Georganne emailed me several weeks ago about her idea of  a Snowman Series on her blog and wanted to see if I would have time to stop by and share  a snowman or two, and even  though I've only made one  snowman cookie in my life I said YES.
I made you a Snowboarding Snowman, with a snowboard and all and who, btw, is deeply in love. I'm sure you'll notice the mittens with little red hearts.
  • Prepare cookie dough and royal icing. Color royal icing with desired colors. Fill piping bags with outline consistency and flood consisteny icing for each color you are using.
  • Make a template for the snowboard and the snowman. (It is not entirely necessary if you have a proper size cookie cutter for the snowman. I have either small or large cutter so I decided to make a template that would work for my project. )
  • I cut my cookie slightly larger than my template. Once baked and cooled, I used a yellow food coloring pen and outlined my template directly onto the cookie. See the yellow lines?
  • I  piped outlines on the Snowman and the Snowboard.
  • Flood both cookies with royal icing, let dry completely.
  • Using Food Coloring Pens add details onto the snowman cookie.
  • Attach the snowman to the snowboard using a medium to stiff consistency royal icing.
  • Support the snowman from several sides and let dry for several hours until he stands on his own.
  • Enjoy.
Snowboarding Snowman
I hope  you all like my Snowboarding Snowman; it would make my day if you dropped by over at Haniela's. I'm always baking, whipping and decorating  something over there.
See you at Haniela's soon.

Snowman Teacups -- Guest Post from Sweet Sugarbelle

If I was stuck on a deserted island, and I could only take one thing with me, I would choose Callye from The Sweet Adventures of SugarBelle. She's really, really creative and has a way of looking at things from a surprising angle. So you know, she could probably find a way to turn sand and leaves into a sailboat and we would be out of there in a couple of days. But just in case it took a few weeks, she also makes the best cookies we'd be set. Plus, she's super nice. She'd probably agree to do a guest post or something for me while.....wait a minute -- she already has! She's HERE. Today. Guest posting. Go ahead. Just say hi to her!


Howdy y’all.  Don’t panic.  I don’t really talk that way all the time, only when I’m in a new place trying to subtly tell people that this blog has been hijacked by a Texan.  

So, here I am. The cookie baking Texan.  Nice to meet y’all.  By the way, I don’t say howdy much, but I do say y’all all the time.  

Anywhoo …Texans are kind of known for being friendly.  As a matter of fact, the name Texas comes from the Caddo Indian word meaning “friend”.    There’s your history lesson for the day.

I’ll admit, after a few years in Virginia, I developed a few non-Texan traits.  But when it comes to friendliness, I’m all Texan.  I like making new friends almost as much as I like baking cookies.

A couple of weeks ago Georganne asked me if I’d like to swing by her bloggy-o and share a snowman cookie. She said she wasn’t quite ready to let winter pass us by, I had to agree.  So, even though I live in the desert, and know zero about real life snow, I had an idea.  

And wouldn’t you know, after I made these, we had the snowstorm of all snowstorms!  It couldn’t have worked out better if I planned it.

To begin you’ll need to piece together the cookies.  This will require a snowman and teacup cookie cutter.  It doesn’t really matter if they’re exactly the same as mine.  As long as they’re close, it’ll work.

Cut out snowmen cookies and place them on a parchment lined cookie sheet.  Be sure to leave a little room for the teacup additions.  Next, use the teacup cutter to trim the snowman as I did below. Place a teacup cookie into the space you made.

Make sure they are touching and bake.  My recipe works well for pieced cookies, but if you have one you love, use it.  The general rule is the larger surface area that’s touching; the less likely they are to break.  Also, make sure they are completely cool before moving them.  Warm cookies are super fragile.

Now to decorate.  Choose the color scheme you’d like to use for the cookies.  I’ve done a pastel version before, but this time I was in the mood for rich “Christmas-y” colors.  Anyone else feel like they missed Christmas?

Anyway, outline the cookie. Except don’t do the little inside the cup thing I did.  I planned to make it look like the snowman was sitting in hot chocolate, but it just ended up an unnecessary step.  

By the way, it wasn’t until I started explaining this that I realized that if Frosty were REALLY sitting in a boiling hot cup of cocoa, he’d be writhing in pain.  So, I’m glad I skipped it. It was really for the best.

Next fill the spaces in alternating sections.  At this point they will need to dry completely, so this would be a good time to call it a night.

The next day, add the details.  I used a stencil for the snowflake, outlined the cup, and added a hatband.

Soon after came the brim, face, and a cute little scarf.

Finally, you’re finished.  Cute, huh!

Now that the snow is melted, this is probably the closest I will be to a snowman until next year.

Hope y’all like these and aren’t stuck with the melting snowman image from earlier.
Remember I said I like new friends?  Well I was telling the truth.  Feel free to hop on over to my place, The Sweet Adventures of SugarBelle and say hello.  I’ll be waiting for you!

Ombre Snowmen

Do you ever have those days where NOTHING seems to go right? -- Your garbage bag breaks while you are taking it out and the garbage juice gets all over the kitchen floor and worse...leaves a trail on the carpet to the door because you are running late for work and didn't notice the rip until you got to the sidewalk but you couldn't possibly hold off emptying it until later because it's already kind of (a lot) overflowing. The shirt you need is in the dryer and you forgot to turn it on. Someone asks you if you are pregnant. (You're not.) Your shoe breaks. Your water bottle tips over. You run out of gas. Dinner starts on fire. Your children go to bed with toothpaste in their hair. And then, at the very end of the day, you realize ANOTHER DAY IS COMING. And then a meteor hits your house and the roof caves in.  -- Me too (except the meteor part.)

Let me ask you another question. Do you ever NOT have those days?

Yeah, me either

My misfortunes are probably a result of bad karma for secretly judging the guy who has a rooster living in the back of his pick-up truck in the parking lot. You all probably don't have the same excuse. (But if you do, you BETTER be telling me. ) 

So when you are waiting for sleep in the darkness and the doubt monster comes...let me just say -- You are not that slow. You are not really incapable. Not everyone is judging you. It's not even possible to gain 10 pounds just by watching a cooking show. Your cookies are beautiful. And in the words of my favorite new email friend --

 Share the love.

Parade of Snowmen -- Guest Post from Cristin's Cookies

What? Another guest post? I know what you are thinking -- Will the fun never end? Don't worry. It's for real. This is really happening friends. It's not going to go away when you close your eyes.

Today's guest post is brought to you by the number 38 and Cristin from Cristin's Cookies. When I met Cristin, she was trying to decide if she should get a 6qt mixer or a smaller, PINK mixer. I said big, she chose pink. It was like destiny brought us together. We are practically the same person. She rides her bike a jillion miles a day -- I sometimes go up the stairs if the elevator is broken. She's met Lance Armstrong -- I once did a running test that people say he was really good at. She uses glaze -- I use royal icing. We couldn't be more alike. Anyway...she was super nice to agree to guest post. AND, she even let me go over to her blog today as well! What she doesn't know is that when she's not looking, I'm totally going to peak in her cupboards to see if she is secretly hoarding any left over Halloween candy in there. We ran out of sour patch kids last week and I just don't think I can wait another 9 months for them to come 'round again. 

When I received an email from the infamous LilaLoa asking me if I would be interested in guest posting for her blog, I about cried – or peed in my pants (can you say that on a food blog?) or both! What an incredible honor!  I have drooled over Georganne’s gorgeous cookies and incredible creativity this past year as I’ve gotten to know her better through my new obsession with cookie decorating. In addition to sharing her wisdom and creativity, she is also FUNNY. Not just funny. Hilarious! Like side-splitting, pee in your pants (yes, I said it again) that kind of funny. She promised me that I don’t have to attempt to be funny or witty (not even slightly possible) and I could just provide you with a tutorial because I love to do tutorials on my blog:

So here we go. LilaLoa asked me to make snowmen cookies. Okay, I can do that. I have LOTS of snowmen and for  LilaLoa’s fans that don’t know me… I tend to do things big. Big cookies and lots of them, so Georganne’s theme of snowmen worked out great for me. I made just a few ;-)

I have about 10 snowmen cookie cutters, so I decided to make them all.

I started by baking all the cookies. I was going to use LilaLoa’s DELICIOUS chocolate cookie recipe (which people that don’t even like chocolate still get up in the middle of the night to sneak a chocolate cookie from this recipe), but I’ve been wanting to try out Sugarbelle’s brown sugar cookie recipe, so this seemed like a good opportunity for that.

Next I outlined all the snowmen cookies. Since I don’t use Royal Icing and instead use Glaze Icing, I often outline my cookies since glaze doesn’t get the dimension that RI does.

Next I filled the white on all the snowmen. I call this the base coat or bottom layer. This is also when you want to add candy pearls and eyes to your snowmen. I used black candy beads on most of them.

Next I filled the hats and scarves with colored icing. IF you decide to use sanding sugar, this is the time. Make sure all of the white sections are fully dry first. I decided not to use sanding sugar on my snowmen this time. Hubby loves sanding sugar, so I use it a lot, but with this new recipe, I decided not.

Now is the time to add some rosy cheeks to our snowmen. I love rosy cheeks. I used Cranberry Luster Dust since it’s a nice deep color.

To apply the luster dust, just make sure that the area is dry and use a cotton swab dipped in a bit of luster dust and swirl for rosy cheeks. Easy-peasy right?

Next I added eye-lashes for the girls and eyebrows for the boys. Sometimes I use edible markers for this and sometimes I use icing. Today I used edible markers from Americolor.

Next you want to add whatever extra detail you’d like. I added snow swirls at the bottom of the snowmen and I added some extra detail to their hats and scarves.

The last step was to add the carrot noses and their cute smiles and they’re all done. Then you show them to your friend, tell her how incredibly grateful you are to be invited to guest post on their blog and your son says over your shoulder – tell her how yummy they are and she’s missing out by being all the way in Korea! ;-)

Thank you for this honor Georganne!