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Bowling Cookies

It’s National Homemade Cookie Day in the USA today, and even though I live in Canada, who could say no to cookies? They’re tasty, versatile, and in these mid-pandemic days, a great way to provide individual portions per person.

Here’s an easy way to make a set of fun bowling cookies that you could even bowl with!*

I made these a few years ago for Father’s Day, as bowling has been a family sport since I was a kid. My dad was on a league through until Covid, and most of my siblings and I were on leagues at various times as well.

Back in the blogging heyday I used to follow a handful of cookie decorators (Sweetopia, The Bearfoot Baker and SweetSugarBelle were 3 favorites) and a big lesson I learned was how to use cookie cutters in creative ways. After deciding on “bowling cookies” I went through my bin of cookie cutters and pulled out 3 that would be perfect for this project.

The square cutter is from a nesting set similar to this one. Using it to create the lanes, choose the size that works best to fit as a multiple on the serving tray you plan to use. Rectangles would also work just fine. In my case I used the roughly 2″ square. The circle cutter is from a set similar to these. Used for the bowling balls, choose a size that looks appropriate on your size lanes. Mine is roughly 1″ in diameter. As for the bowling pin, this is where you have an opportunity to be creative! They do make actual bowling-themed cookie cutters, but I don’t have any so I used a Christmas bulb from a set similar to this one.

Step 1: Bake your cookies. You can use your preferred recipe of choice; I used my standard sugar cookie recipe adapted to taste years ago from this old Martha Stewart recipe. You want to avoid your cookies spreading while baking so be sure to chill your dough (before cutting works but after cutting is even better). Make enough squares (or rectangles) to fill the shape of your bowling lanes, plus a few extra to account for breakage. Bowling uses 10 pins so you’ll need to make at least that many, plus again extra to account for breakage. Finally, use the rest of your dough to make as many round cookies as you’d like. You really only need one to be the bowling ball, but I was serving a crowd so I made as many as I could with the dough that remained.

Step 2: Fondant toppers. If you prefer royal icing you could certainly line and flood the cookies and decorate them that way, but I find fondant a quick and easy way to get them done faster. Another example of this technique is here, where I used fondant to turn round cookies into records for a music-themed set.

Roll out white, ivory or cream fondant and use the same square and pin/bulb/etc cutter that you used for the cookies to cut a topper for each one. Moisten the back of the fondant (or the top of the cookie) with a bit of water and press the fondant into place, one topper on each cookie.

The bowling balls are a great place to use up leftover scraps of fondant. Roll out some black fondant then tear little pieces of your other colors and place them randomly on the black. Then roll over it some more to blend out the colors. Once you have it looking the way you like, use the same circle cutter to cut out enough toppers and place them on the ball cookies in the same way as above.

Step 3: Turn your base cookies into lanes. Start by using a yellow, orange or brown edible marker and a straight edge to draw stripes down your lanes to represent the individual planks of wood. I used a yellow Wilton FoodWriter and the edge of my transparent cutting mat. I generally prefer these AmeriColor edible markers so I tend to save them for when I’ll be needing to draw details because the Foodwriters are more broad-tipped.

Step 4: Wood grain, part 1. Using a paintbrush that’s ONLY ever used for food, dip it into a pot of brown icing gel color and blot onto a paper towel to get most of the globs of gel color off. Cheap plastic paintbrushes like what come in childrens’ art kits are perfect for this, but it’s super important that the brushes are reserved strictly for food use. Don’t worry about the messy bristles- the messier the better for this technique! Splotch the brown gel color directly onto the fondant cookie toppers. Try to pounce in a direction in line with the stripes you’d drawn so your wood grain goes in the proper direction. Repeat until you’ve done one full vertical row. In theory you could repeat this process on all the cookies and then move on to the next step, but I didn’t want to take a chance on the gel drying too much to reactivate so to be safe I did one strip at a time.

Step 5: Wood grain, part 2. Dip the same scrappy paintbrush into water and then brush lightly over the cookie to reactivate the brown tint and spread it across the fondant. Ensure to always brush in a vertical direction to create a faux woodgrain texture. Make sure to thin down the color just enough so that the stripes you’d painted earlier just barely show through.

Once you’ve completed the entire vertical stripe, repeat steps 4 and 5 on the remaining stripes of cookies.

Here’s the final look.

If you’re a longtime follower of this blog you’ll remember I’ve used this technique before, to make the hot tub for the Betty Boop cake for my mom’s birthday.

Step 6: Marker details. Use a red edible marker to add the characteristic stripes on the bowling pins…

…a black marker to add three dots to represent holes on the bowling balls…

…and the red marker again to add the triangular lane markers onto the lanes.

And that’s it! Assemble your pins into place at the top of the lanes and your set of bowling cookies is complete! I added a quick fondant ribbon sign to mark the occasion but that’s completely optional.

*Can bowl with them: If you take “bowl” to mean “stand up the pin cookies and flick a ball cookie at them, hoping to not get caught on the lip of one of the lane cookies”

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betty boop cake

Remember back in October I showed a pic of my mom’s birthday cake?  And said how I would post more on it later?  It’s later!

bettyboopcake

(Today was actually a pretty fun and busy day.  I stayed home while Yannick took the kids to swimming, and started cooking the food/making dip/etc for Henri’s 3rd bday party tonight.  Once again I only used my camera, not cell phone camera, and don’t have it handy or the pics uploaded.  At least this post is about another birthday, and another sweet treat.)

This is the cake my sister Laura and I made for Mom’s 60th birthday.

I made the cake part, then Laura helped to decorate.  First I baked 2 (9″?) round cakes, both vanilla but one tinted red.  I wanted them a bit more dense than a regular box mix, so while I did use Betty Crocker mixes, I doctored them with less oil and added instant pudding mix.  That was on the Thursday before the party (Sunday).  On Friday I made a batch of buttercream, leveled the cakes, torted them (sliced them in half widthwise) and iced in between, stacking them, from the bottom up, red, icing, white, icing, red, icing, white.  I wanted a white layer as the top so none of the red would show or seep through the top layer of icing, just in case.  I then gave a quick crumb-coat over the whole cake.

I had more time that afternoon, so I started decorating.  First I took some of my leftover icing and tinted it a pale blue, then set it aside.  I rolled out white fondant until I had it almost long enough to go around the cake.  It took me 2 strips to go around the width, but I made the seams look like seams in the wood, so you can’t tell.

I dabbed the back of the fondant lightly with a q-tip in water, and pressed onto the sides of the cake, smoothing well to remove any air bubbles.  I put the cake in the fridge for a bit to set up.

Once the icing had crusted over I went back over it with the blue icing, mixing the two with my knife as I went, and chopping it up a bit so it looked frothy and bubbly.  Then I sat down to do the wood grain.

First I went around the cake, using a sharp knife to score the fondant lightly to look like the individual wood slats.  I went around the top edge and made little cuts as if the wood was weathered and beat up.  I went around the cake again with a black edible ink marker, randomly making little lines and drawing knots in the wood.   Then I used a food-only paintbrush, some water, and some brown icing gel and covered the sides and top completely.  First I’d use almost a 100% concentration of gel to go over the score marks, then I’d blend it out with the water, and some gel-tinted water.  I made sure to have it darker in some areas, lighter in others, and tried to make it look old and used.  The way the water reacts with the fondant leaves it glossy, so it looked like it has been shellacked.

 

Two black fondant “bars” with silver “nails” finished up the hot tub, and then I used some green icing in a squeeze bottle-thing to individually pipe each and every blade of grass to decorate my dollar-store platter.

Laura came over late that night once she got home from work, and she made Betty Boop’s head while I made the legs, arms and accessories.

The bikini and flip-flops were planned, but the boobs were a last-minute addition ‘cus she didn’t look properly “settled” in the tub without them.  🙂

And that was Mom’s cake.  We had made it secretly and Yannick delivered it to the brunch her friends were throwing, and she had no idea it would be there.  I heard it was a big surprise, and a big hit.  They were almost against cutting into it, but they did, and they ate it, and even saved me a nice, tall slice.