Painting on Cookies: 6 four-inch Portraits

Ok, the cat is out of the bag. I like art. So when I hosted a painting party on New Year’s, I couldn’t help but bring some cookie treats. The people attending the party had each chosen an artist and I used some of their choices to help decide which paintings to put on the cookies. I also included an icing version of the artist’s actual signature.

All cookies were decorated with royal icing and/or painted with gel food coloring. The one below, for example, was done using a pointed tool dipped in icing and then dabbed onto the cookie. All I can say is, thank goodness this cookie is only 4 inches, because… I did not like this particular step. how to paint cookies lichtenstein Next on my purchase list: a rectangular cookie cutter. I don’t own one, so I used a tupperware to cut the cookies out. And how awful it looks! Bumpy and uneven edges. One would think that I would have just used a knife, for pete’s sake. Alas. So here are some pretty paintings on really awfully-cut cookies.

cookie painting daliIMG_0510(Sorry about Leonardo’s photoshopped leaf, but this is a G-rated blog, people!)

cookie painting vermeer pearl earringcookie painting lichtensteincookie painting frida kahlo cookie painting warholIf you’re as interested as I am in the fusion of sweets and art, you can find my other art-cakes at the following links:
Renaissance: Michelangelo with modeling chocolate
Renaissance: da Vinci with food coloring
Impressionism: Monet with Nerds candy
Impressionism: Monet with royal icing
Impressionism: Cezanne with apple peels
Post-Impressionism: Van Gogh with buttercream
Cubism: Picasso with fondant
Photography: Adams with chocolate shavings
Surrealism: Dalí with gum paste and food coloring

Exchanging Paint for Fondant: Picasso’s “Three Musicians” in Cake Form

Well, Picasso, I used to think you were one weird dude. But after piecing together this painting shape by shape, my view of you has changed. I now see that there is beautiful overall balance and symmetry to your composition that I hadn’t really noticed before. For example, take this guy on the left:
Picasso cake man on right
He has a very wide white belly area, along with a white hat. Just weird, right? But as I pieced this together, I realized, hey! That’s just one big white triangle, from the sides of the belly to the tip of his hat. So Pablo, while I won’t deny that I anticipate nightmares involving the guy on the right (see below), your geometric cubist designs have won me over.
picasso cake face 1 close up        picasso cake face 2 close up        picasso cake face 3 close up

Ninth in my series of ten “Art” cakes, and I’ve just about saved the worst for last. Not because of the subject matter or artist, but because of the cake material. Fondant. Ugh. All along, I had planned to use fondant with this cake, and all along, the dread was building up. Mixing each bit of fondant to match the painting’s color exactly…rolling it out and cutting it and adhering the pieces juuuuuust so, and then cutting off the imperfections with the precision usually reserved for brain surgery. I repeat: Ugh.

I’d like to say that I was wrong, but unfortunately, I was not. Except for the bit about brain surgery: I should hope that surgeons watch a little less Netflix than I while performing their dissections.

Sighing, I decided to suck it up and get to work. I began by covering the cake in white fondant, and then put a square of black fondant on top of that.starting picasso cake blank fondantHere’s a fun Vine of the process! (This is my first Vine. I now know that embedded YouTubes do not play for those of you who receive this blog in your emails. Since I’ve never put a Vine in a post before, I don’t know if this will work in an email, either… so if nothing comes up directly below, click on the blog title at the top of the email and you’ll be taken directly to the post, and it should play there!)

The most important tool: an exacto knife. I don’t always use one for cakes, but this cake required very fine slices.picasso three musicians cake exacto knife to cut fondantFor a few portions of the cake, I used a food coloring marker to draw the designs.

picasso cake three musicians Here’s my cake with the print of Picasso’s for comparison. (The painting is on top and the cake’s on bottom. Obviously. 🙂 ) Picasso three musicians painting made with fondant cake If you like art, you may enjoy these other cakes in the series. Eight different artists/paintings with eight different cake mediums.
– Michelangelo’s “Pieta” in modeling chocolate
– da Vinci’s “Self Portrait” in food coloring
– Monet’s “Winter Haystack” in Nerds candy
– Monet’s “Sunset in Venice” in royal icing
– Cezanne’s “Still Life with Apples” in apples
– Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” in buttercream
– Ansel Adams’ “Moon Over Half Dome” in chocolate
– Dalí’s “Meditative Rose” in gum paste

Do you have any other ideas for art you’d like to see recreated in a cake? Leave a comment below!

picasso three musicians cake fondant in frame

“That Rose Looks So Real!” – “No, it’s Surreal.”

How does Salvador Dalí start his day?

With a big bowl of surreal.

I’m sorry, I saw it on the internet and I couldn’t resist.

Ok, back to the cake! This one, called “Meditative Rose,” by Salvador Dalí, is the 8th in my series of Art cakes, each representing both a different art style/era, as well as a different cake medium. Here is my attempt at Surrealism, using gum paste for the rose.

STEP 1: Create Rose
Since this rose was so big, I didn’t use the formal “rose cutter,” which is available at your local crafting store. 🙂 I just cut pieces out of gum paste, softened the edges, and stuck the pieces on.

how to make gum paste rose I used balled up pieces of wax paper in between the petals. Cut out a petal, stick it on, put some wax paper around it while it hardens, repeat.

step by step gum paste roseSTEP 2: Paint background.
Using gel food colors mixed with clear vanilla extract- paint away! These meditative rose painting on cake with food coloring vanilla extractcolors are very tricky and don’t act like real color, so beware. For example- when brown is mixed with the vanilla, its base color becomes green. And black’s is purple. So- mixing these colors together becomes a little tricky. That’s why my version of this painting is much more vivid than Dalí’s- I had trouble softening the colors, especially the blue, and basically just used the blue straight from the tube. My apologies to Dalí! 🙂

Here are some step-by-step photos of the background painting process:

step by step meditative rose dali painting on a cake gum paste rose food coloring Comparison of the two paintings side by side. My little food coloring brushes didn’t allow for long strokes, so the background is pretty choppy compared to his:


Here’s a super-zoomed-in pic of the bottom of the painting. Like I’ve said before- it’s impossible to add white. So in this case, to make those highlights on the two people, to make the path on the right, and to make the little village in the distance, I just used a sharp tool and scraped off the color. White fondant underneath: viola!

close up of bottom of meditative rose painting on a cakeThe rose really jumps off the page! It reminded me of a Harry Potter photo that comes to life! 🙂     meditative rose painting on a cake with gum paste roseDo you like art? Take a peek at the other art cakes I’ve made here, in timeline order:
Michelangelo’s Pieta, sculpted with modeling chocolate
Leonardo da Vinci’s Self Portrait, painted with food coloring
Monet’s Haystack, Nerds candy
Monet’s Sunset in Venice, royal icing
Cezanne’s Still Life with Apples, apple peels
Van Gogh’s Starry Night, buttercream frosting
Ansel Adams’ Moon and Half Dome, chocolate shavings

meditative rose dali painting on a cake food coloring gum pasteHave other art ideas? Leave them in the comments below!

How to Paint on a Cake: A Short Timelapse Video

Have you ever wanted to see how a cake can be painted to resemble a beautiful Van Gogh?

Well, you’ll have to look elsewhere. This shaky video, filmed with my iPhone hanging with rope off a light fixture, accompanied by a sample of YouTube’s free music that, though inexplicably labeled “If I Had a Chicken,” brings to mind a black-and-white 1910s flick featuring a Vaudevillian duo comically arguing in a dusty saloon…. well, let’s just say this is my first try, and in the future, I shall be purchasing an actual camera and a tripod. Or something.

If you’re interested in seeing some still-photos from the last time I tried this cake, please click here. I promise, it looks nicer and you won’t feel quite the same need to break out your Flapper beads and bust out the Charleston!

I recommend you watch this video, though- you can count the amount of times I hit my head on the light by the amount of times you see the screen shake. 🙂

Introducing: Vegetarian Ribs

carving a ribs cake step by stepAs a 99% vegetarian person, these are some ribs I can really get behind! It’s not that I have any moral problems with meat- I just don’t like it- but these “ribs,” I have no problems with. Vanilla cake, buttercream, fondant, royal icing, and sprinkles. Yummy!

STEP 1: Carve and cover the cake.
This is SO MUCH EASIER if the cake is frozen. I used a 16″ circle and then cut off the top and bottom parts of the circle. Then I cut some divots for the ribs.

After the cake is carved, cover it with buttercream.

Lay fondant across the cake and carefully press it into the divots and around the base. I used a really light color of fondant, but remember, you can’t put a light color of food coloring on top of a darker color. So if I wanted any “highlights” of this light color, it needed to be the base color.

STEP 2: Make rib bones.
I actually made these a few nights in advance so they were quite hard. Using a mixture of gum paste and fondant, I shaped the bones and put them on a long stick. Lay them out to dry. Flip them over every few hours so both sides dry.

STEP 3: Paint away!!!
This was the super fun part!! Mix up a batch of royal icing, and then color it a few different shades. As you can see here on the left, I began with a reddish brown. Of course, don’t cover it completely- let a little of that light brown show through. I then added some black, and then some grill marks. Finish it off with black sprinkles, and then pour on some red royal icing to simulate barbeque sauce! A feast for all- vegetarians included!


bbq ribs cake close upcookie french friesI also made some cookie fries. Very simple- regular cookie dough just cut into strips, with a little brown dust added to the tips. With a little cup of royal icing barbeque sauce, you could just dip your cookie into the icing!  bbq rib bones made out of fondant  bbq ribs cake cut open  bbq ribs cake fondant icing cookie french fries  grill cookies hamburger kabobs royal icingI also brought these cookies to the party. They were designed by SweetAmbs- check it out on facebook here:

Painting a Stained Glass Cake

food coloring paintbrushes for painting cake Warning! If you attempt this cake, it will take you longer than you think. And whatever you think that means, double it, at least. And if you happen to have an afternoon Easter gathering to get to, well, then, you’re just outta luck.

As I’ve made more and more cakes over the past year, that is honestly one area in which I’ve improved: I can give myself a fairly accurate timetable for how long a cake will take. So I was feeling good on Easter morning, my cake all made and covered in fondant the night before, ready for the vibrant splashes of color from my paintbrushes. I meandered to the kitchen, giving myself four entire hours to paint this, but was almost certain it would take around three. It took five. And I was late for Easter. 😦

And, shhhhh… I didn’t even finish the back, something that caused me, the Ultimate Perfectionist, physical pain and anguish.

It really is quite simple: all you need are the gel food colors, a brush, and some clear vanilla or lemon extract (or any clear alcohol, like vodka!). Put a little food coloring on the plate, mix a little extract so that it becomes the shade you want, and paint away. My steps are photographed below: cover cake in white fondant, sketch design with yellow food coloring, paint in the sections, and outline with black food coloring. Ta-da!

how to paint a stained glass effect on a cakeHere’s what the top looked like! Some of the sections are a bit streaky, but like I said, I was running really late!   stained glass cake with food coloringEaster cake painted stained glass I also tried this neat jello dessert I saw on this blog:

I CAN’T STAND HOW CUTE THEY ARE! Easter egg jello with colorful rainbow layers

Painting on Fondant

materials for da vinci painted cakeQuestion: How on earth can I recreate a Renaissance art piece using cake materials? I’ve been putting it off for months. Impressionism, post-impressionism, surrealism, cubism… those are so much more forgiving. But the precision of those Italian masters would be impossible to recreate, and I resigned myself to skipping that period.

But then I thought, really, Kath?! You’re going to do an art series and skip one of the most well-known periods? So I devised a compromise. How about I do a famous drawing instead of a painting? That would be easier because I wouldn’t have color troubles. A sketch would be even better than a drawing- a nice, rough, one-tone sketch that maybe looked like it was scribbled in five minutes, as opposed to, say, the Mona Lisa.

After looking around a bit, I found a print of a Leonardo da Vinci drawing that is suspected by some to be a self-portrait. Pretty simple- brownish background with brownish chalk. (Well, simple for Leo, I mean, haha!) I set to work with the fewest materials ever: brownish fondant, one fine paintbrush (that would be a paintbrush that has a thin tip, not a paintbrush that you look at and say, Dang, that paintbrush is fiiiiiine!), brown gel coloring, and lemon extract. That is literally it.

The process is simple enough- cover a rectangular cake with brownish fondant, put a little food gel coloring on a plate, add a splash of lemon extract (or you can use vodka, just sayin’), and paint away. The more extract you add, the lighter your color will be. The less you add, the bolder the color will be. Sounds easy, right? Not exactly, because:

Brown food coloring is apparently not brown, it is green at heart. And black is actually blue.

This is a weird phenomenon to me, and I do not understand the chemistry behind the process. But here is what happens, according to my simple observation: If you use brown coloring in fondant, royal icing, buttercream, gum paste, or any other medium I’ve ever used, it makes it brown. (Duh.) However, when you add lemon extract, it separates into individual colors, with the predominant one being green. ??? Why? I don’t know! I don’t get it! And the black coloring turned blue! Check out the evidence below!

difference between black and brown food coloring

In a way, this is a sort of beautiful plate. But in another way, it’s extremely annoying when your Leonardo da Vinci comes out greenish and seasick. And as I could find neither a cause nor a solution, I present to you: Leo: His Life on the High Seas.

It is hard to paint for hours while leaning over and not being able to support your hand.

Sounds like I’m being lazy, which is something I usually specialize in- but this is a serious problem here. Pick up a pen for a sec and try to write something without placing your arm on the table. I bet your handwriting isn’t very nice, huh? This is the way cake decorators always have to work, because obviously, one cannot rest her arm on the rest of the cake. Now, I’ve been taught a few different ways to anchor my piping hand (you get SUCH a better, cleaner result if you anchor your hand!)- but this was impossible to anchor for so many hours. Normally, the longest thing I would need to anchor for would be “Happy Birthday!” It would have been super nice to set this cake up on an easel, but again, that’s not something you can do with a cake. (Think: “cake-sliding-down-broom-handle” from Sleeping Beauty!)

As always with food coloring, you cannot add light color on top of a darker one.

Therefore, if you paint over an area that should be lighter, you are in trouble! You must be careful! Working with paint is quite different because yellow paint can be painted atop black, but since food coloring is clear-ish, that doesn’t work. For example, using the third photo below- with regular paints, I would paint the pupil the desired color and add a dot of white in the center of the pupil to make it look like it was glinting. But in this case, a little area for the “dot of white” must always be preserved and not painted on. It’s a backwards sort of way of thinking.

Here is the in-progress photo compilation, featuring the cake as well as the speck of dust that is inside my phone’s camera lens (anyone know what to do about that?):

in process painted da vinci cake 1in process painted da vinci cake 2leonardo da vinci cake painted with food gel coloring self portrait

leonardo da vinci cake painting with food coloring self portraitClick below for other art-inspired cakes:
Van Gogh (painting with buttercream), Monet (painting with royal icing), Monet (Nerds candy), Cezanne (apple peels), Michelangelo (modeling chocolate sculpture), and Ansel Adams (chocolate shavings)

Do you have an idea for an art-inspired cake? Leave me a suggestion in the comments below!

A Mountain of Chocolate to Make a Mountain of Chocolate

chocolate shavings for cake“All you need is love. But a little chocolate every now and then doesn’t hurt.” (Charles M. Schulz)

I’m getting to the end of my art series (“Finally,” you sigh with relief, for perhaps you do not like art at all and are sick of these types of posts!) and I’m running out of both art styles as well as viable cake decorating techniques. I’ve been putting off the photography recreation, because it seemed impossible. But after I baked a delicious chocolate cake last week (so yummy!), I had chocolate on my mind! A little idea took root in a dusty corner of my brain (it’s next to the little-used math section) and I thought, what if I cut up pieces of chocolate? Really, really small? And place them, one by one, in the form of something?

I’d love to report that this was easy as pie, but I cannot lie. I sat for hours and hours, hunched over the table, clutching tweezers in my hand, and glancing up at the real photograph for guidance. I mean, honestly. What kind of crazy person places these teeny tiny dots of chocolate individually? And to what end?

Unfortunately, I still have no answer to that question! But I finished the task, because it is my unfortunate allotment in life to be an obsessive perfectionist.

  close up chocolate photograph cake 2
(Close up view of the bottom right corner of the photograph)

Rather than post lots of photographs showing the progress, they are compiled here. Click to watch the cake come together in less than one minute!

As you can see, the process was simple but time consuming:
1. Choose an appropriate photograph as your muse. I used Ansel Adams’ “Moon and Half Dome.”
2. Cover a cake with fondant in the appropriate background colors
3. Cut up chocolate pieces (I used a cheese grater and, for once, didn’t scrape my knuckles to death!)
4. Using tweezers (because, despite what we learned from M&Ms, chocolate does melt in your hand), carefully place each piece of chocolate.
5. Be prepared to dedicate a significant portion of your life to this, for no really good reason.
6. Use vanilla extract to create a darker background for certain parts of the photograph.
7. Take a photograph of the finished product using a black and white filter (I don’t usually use filters to alter the colors, but in this case, the chocolate was WAY too brown, so it needed to be done!)
8. Rejoice and be glad, for you are finished!

ansel adams cake made of chocolate shavings 2

blocking light for cakeHere’s an inside look at my high-tech photography studio! I made this cake at my parents’ house and used my mom as a human shadow-blocker. Thanks, Mom! 🙂

Check out the other art styles I’ve attempted:
* Renaissance using modeling chocolate (Michelangelo)
* Impressionism using royal icing (Monet)
* Impressionism using Nerds (Monet)
* Post-impressionism using buttercream (Van Gogh)
* Post-impressionism using apples (Cezanne)

Impressionism with Royal Icing

supplies to paint with royal icing cakeNext up in my attempt at recreating famous works of art with various cake supplies: Monet’s “Sunset in Venice.” Which reminds me- who’s with me for a trip to Venice? The only place I’ve ever had an attempted pickpocketing take place- and it was by an American. I mean, come on. Luckily the bag was twisted around my wrist so the grab only succeeded in nearly dislocating my shoulder. Apparently the thief did not know of my special shoulders that can dislocate at a moment’s notice. If he’d asked, I would have demonstrated how I can play the piano backwards.

In this series so far, I have used buttercream, modeling chocolate, fruit, and candy. In an effort to use as many different types of cake decorating techniques as possible, I now turn to royal icing. (Royal icing is that type of icing that is usually on cut-out cookies. It dries hard and shiny.) Since royal icing dries incredibly fast, I knew that blending was out of the question, so I needed an art technique that was more… dabby. And so it happened that I fell again to Monet, again to Impressionism- but what can I say! It’s a nice era and lends itself to sugar! 🙂

Once the cake was covered in fondant, I separated the royal icing into several small bowls and tinted them various colors. Once a dab of color was painted on, it was dry within 15 seconds, which caused a bit of a conundrum. Not only was the cake itself drying rapidly and with little time for blending, but the icing in the bowls themselves was hardening. One way to help stop this is to keep a wet paper towel across the rim of the bowl- it slows down the drying. But you’ll need to keep moistening the paper towel. 🙂

After that, it’s time to paint! Here are the “in progress” photos:

in progress sunset royal icing painting cake 1in progress sunset royal icing painting cake 2in progress sunset royal icing painting cake 3  And here is the final product, with a nice lovely frame to make it look like a real painting!

painted sunset cake royal icingI am running out of ideas for techniques! I have a plan for a fondant cake, and that is it. Please leave a note in the comments below if you can think of a different decorating idea. And a different artist. 🙂 I’m missing the 1600s-1700s completely, and can’t even fathom a decorating technique that would allow me to create such realistic figures. HELP!!!

Sculpting a Face with Modeling Chocolate

Dear Michelangelo,

Wow, you are good. This week I tried to attempt to make Mary’s head from your “Pieta” sculpture, and now I understand why it took you two years. I know you had to carve marble, but just for your information, it is no fun to use modeling chocolate, because it turns to putty after about ten seconds in your hands. But hey, at least with modeling chocolate, if you make a mistake, you can stick it back on. I’m pretty sure marble doesn’t work like that.

Anyways, I’m a big fan. Thanks for letting me attempt to recreate your work with an interesting edible medium. I think I’ve got about a bazillion years to go to learn how to do this, but it was fun to pretend for a week. Your marble pieces look beautiful, but I have to admit- this chocolate smells delish!


P.S. Please enjoy the following short video and photos of how my work progressed.

modeling chocolate face partially donemodeling chocolate face