I made these cookies as a dessert for my sister’s wedding. On the weekend before the wedding, I baked a large batch of sugar cookies using two different butterfly cutters I had gotten in a kitchen store in Seattle’s Pike Place Market. One was a fairly standard butterfly shape and the other was more moth-like. Once the cookies were out, I made a batch of royal icing, mixed up nine different bowls of icing with gel food colouring, filled up nine different disposable piping bags, and went at it.
I used what is usually called twenty second icing – royal icing thinned with water to the point where it will flow a bit, but not run off the edge of the cookie. I did a test batch of butterflies a couple weeks beforehand and found that, since I wanted to do so many colours, having both piping and flooding consistency icings was too much of a hassle. I was able to make neat patterns with this icing just by piping the different colours against or onto each other while still wet, so that they flowed together. Although I couldn’t get the shapes as precise without outlining, I kind of like the more natural shapes that happened, and I dragged a toothpick through some designs for pointed effects. I didn’t use any piping tips simply because I didn’t have enough plain round ones… they might have helped a bit and prevented some mistakes, but I managed all right just by cutting off the ends of the bags.
My inspiration for the designs came from this artwork:
I used it to decide on the colours, and for some cookies (like the one below), I actually tried to recreate the design.
One problem I faced was with the red icing. As you might be able to see in the photo above, it had a different texture than the other colours and went crumbly when it dried. From what I’ve read on other blogs, it seems that this is probably caused by the large amount of food colouring that was required to get the deep red, either directly, or because of the amount of mixing I did while trying to add a little food colouring at a time. I’ll try red again at some point and see if I can get better results. Anyway, I dealt with these ones just by touching them as little as possible before they were served.
The cookies were a hit on the dessert table beside the cake and eaten up before I got to grab one. Good thing there were a few failures to snack on during the process!