Sunday 13 May 2012

Flowers for Mom: African Violet and Pansy Cookies

Now, I don't usually start with a shot of the finished product, because I'm a big fan of suspense, over here, but get an eyeful of these:

These cookies sprung initially from the mind of my coworker and pal Bonnie, who asked me to make cookies for her to give to her Mom on Mother's Day. At first it seemed a simple request, just, "Hey, do you think you can make cookies that look like flowers? Purple flowers? Like, pansies and violets?"

And I, in my incredible ignorance of all things flowers, replied, "Flower cookies? Sure! What could be simpler?"

Then Bonnie showed me some Google image results for pansies. 


Pansies are actually kind of complex. Well, Bonnie, challenge accepted!

Despite my initial bravado, I actually decided to start with the violets as a warm-up. I couldn't find a simple 5-petal flower cutter (seriously, what the heck?) so I started with a round cutter and made notches for the spots in-between the petals.

Admittedly, this was not the look I was going for. The petals came out more square than I had intended. I need to go on a serious flower-shaped-cookie-cutter shopping spree.

But in the meantime, I had to make these look something like violets.

I piped onto the somewhat-misshaped cookies a better approximation of the violets' outline and filled with flood icing in - you guessed it - a shade of violet. Real violets are not flat, of course, so to try to give the illusion of the center being recessed, I added a spot of darker purple flood icing in the middle while it was still wet.

After the flood icing had set up for 15-20 minutes, I went back and added the lines on top for a bit of petal definition and three dots of yellow icing to each for the stamen.

Et voila, Viola, vive le violets! (Apologies, an avid aficionado of alliteration.)

Now, before I start showing you the pansies, have you ever seen a pansy? I mean, and really looked at it? Tell me, have ever really, really really ever seen a pansy?

They're bizarrely asymmetrical. They look like they have evil little faces. Look at them staring into your souls with their eyes of pure darkness and gaping mouths!

Okay, so I'm being a wee smidge dramatic here, but come on. I was pretty intimidated about making those into cookies!

I again started with a simple round cookie cutter, and trimmed bits away until I had the general shape.

Then, using a smaller circle cutter, I cut half-moons to add on as those weird additional layered petals pansies seem to have on one side (freaky, I tell you.)

If you looked at the sample pics of pansies, you may have noticed many varieties are multicoloured. Bonnie was really going for an all-purple assortment but I weaselled her into letting me do some white & purple pansies for variety.

So, as you can see above, I outlined the white petal sections in white, and the purple in purple. Pretty straightforward so far.

Fill in with thinned royal icing to match the outline, then, while it is still wet, add a yellow blob of flood icing for the center, and contrasting highlights to some or all of the petals.

Sorry for the cookie switch out, folks, took photos of different cookies at different stages. You know how it is.

Once you have your contrasting colours down, take a toothpick, and using quick strokes pulling from the center out, and then from the highlight colours inwards, work the icing until...

Well, until it looks like a pansy! It's hard to explain, really, I just kind of fiddled with it until I got this:

So basically, if your cookie looks a little like it has a streaky smiling monster face on it, you're on the right track.

For some of these, the yellow centers got a little too muddy with all the streaking. If that happens, just blob on a tiny bit more yellow icing while it's still wet.

The technique is pretty simple once you get the basic shape and look of the pansies down, which I'll admit, took a couple of tries. Luckily, I always make a few extras for just such practice, and there's always someone happy to help hide the evidence when mistakes are made.

But a bit of practice and perseverance, and...

Practically perfect pretty pansies, plus they're palette-pleasing! (Sorry, I just can't help myself.) 

I really hope these go over well. I know if I were a mom, I'd be pretty touched to get my favourite flowers in food form. All credit for that thoughtfulness of course goes to Bonnie!

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go prep to make my Mom's very favourite coffee cake for brunch in the morning. If all goes well, I'll let you guys in on it.

Until next time!


  1. Had to let you know, my mom loved them. She said they were beautiful, and that they were delicious too. Kudos to you!