One of my favorite things about cookie making and baking is that inspiration can come from anywhere. I’ve made cookies inspired by cards, books, other cookie artists… really, the possibilities for inspiration are endless! The only downside is that cookie inspiration can mean a need for custom cookie shapes. Recently, I absolutely fell in love with these Day of the Dead ornaments by Jo of The Cart Before the Horse (be sure to check out her Facebook too!). Seriously, how can you not want to cookie these?!
It just needs to be done. But believe it or not, I don’t exactly have a Day of the Dead skeleton ornament cookie cutter lying around. I know, shocking right? (Since I have yet to find a sarcasm font, I’m just going to note here that that was, in fact, sarcasm) Luckily, there are lots of options for making custom cookie shapes without sending away for a custom cookie cutter or buying anything extra. Jo was gracious enough to agree to let me use her designs, so using that as inspiration, I’m going to talk about 3 of my favorite ways to create custom cookie shapes!
Method #1: Using cookie cutters you already have
If you’ve heard of Sugarbelle (who am I kidding, who hasn’t heard of Sugarbelle?), you might be familiar with her term “cookie think.” Cookie think encompasses many things, including the idea of piecing together a custom cookie shape using cookie cutters you already have.
For this particular project, the closest shapes I had were a broom cookie cutter (using the handle for the hat), a small circular cutter (for the head), and a mason jar cookie cutter (using the jar for the body). The jar part of the cookie was obviously a little too big for the design, so I cut it down with a small, sharp knife.
This is the easiest and least expensive method of the bunch, but it also depends on the cookie cutters you already own. For this design, given the collection of cookie cutter I currently have, this wasn’t the best option (as you can probably see).
Method #2: Creating a stencil
This second option is my favorite and the one I use the most (and ultimately what I used to cut out the majority of the cookies for this project). For this method, you’ll need some basic supplies like a pencil, eraser, ruler, and some really heavy duty card stock (you can use cardboard in a pinch, too). Start by drawing the basic outline of your design. I usually freehand this part, occasionally using cookie cutters and rulers to help me get perfect circles or straight lines. To make sure your outline will work for your cookies, I recommend penciling the details onto your card stock outline just to make sure everything fits and looks right. Once you’re happy with your design, cut out your shape using the outline you created.
Gently press you card stock design onto your cookie dough, and cut around it using a small, sharp knife. This method is a great option for creating a custom cookie shape that you might use a few times, but won’t need to use on a regular basis.
Method #3: Creating a simple cookie cutter
This method is great if you want to create a more permanent custom cookie shape solution. For this method, you’ll need some tin foil and a hot glue gun. Start by drawing a basic outline for your design (much like for the previous method). Once you’re pleased with the size and shape of your design, take a long piece of tin foil (if you’re unsure how long to make it, go for longer rather than shorter) and fold it in half lengthwise. Keep folding it in half, over and over again, until you’re left with a long piece of tin foil that’s only about 1/4″-1/3″ wide.
Using your outline as a guide, begin bending your thin piece of tin foil (edge facing down) around it to create a cookie cutter. Trim off any excess tin foil, and hot glue the slightly overlapping ends together. To cut out your cookies, simply press your homemade cookie cutter into the dough like you would any other cookie cutter (although perhaps a little more gently).
Now you can bake and decorate your custom cookie shapes! For these cookies I used my pumpkin spice cookie cutout recipe, and all the designs were hand painted or drawn on. For basic information about making and using royal icing, check out this post.
Have you seen something that you just had to make into a cookie (or other dessert)? Share it with us in the comments below!
Method #3 adapted from My Paper Crane