I have been asked many times in the last few weeks about how to make PYO cookies. When I wanted to make the first PYO cookies I did, I went searching for some online tutorials. I didn’t have any luck, so it was just trial and error on my part. Now that I am trying to write a tutorial for these cookies I can understand why there isn’t one. When writing everything out it seems like it’s going to be a daunting task, as there is no quick and easy way to tell you everything. But, be patient and bear with me. Once you read everything you will see how easy they are to make and will hopefully get the courage to try your own. I promise you that you will wonder what took you so long! Because I didn’t plan to make this post I don’t have good step by step photos.
You will need a few supplies to get you started. One of the most popular PYO cutters available is from Creative Cookier. It comes in two sizes. I bought the larger one, but I sometimes wish I had bought the smaller one.
You may use any cutter you like as long as it is big enough to hold your image. A search on Pinterest will bring up hundreds of ideas. The reason I like the one shown is because it has a ready place to put your paint dots and a place to lay the paint brush.
You will also need a stencil. I bought my first PYO stencils on Etsy, which has many options to choose from. I am now learning how to cut stencils with my Silhouette machine. The ones pictured below are the first ones that I cut myself. There is a Facebook page for a Silhouette Cookie group, and the very talented Kealalani Baumann made these files available to the members of the group.
That’s all you “need” for this project, but there are a couple of items that make the process so much easier so I have to mention them.
The Stencil Genie is an amazing tool for stenciling cookies. I did a blog post on my thoughts about this wonderful tool. You may read it here. There are some basic stenciling tips in the blog post that you might find helpful.
The last tool that isn’t a necessity, but one that I find really helpful are these scrapers. I used to use an offset spatula. The spatula works but not as easily as the scrapers. They are also from Creative Cookier
I have not received anything from Creative Cookier to recommend these products, I just really like them and think you might find them helpful, as well.
First you will need to cut, bake and flood your cookies with royal icing. Let them dry for 24 hours.
There are several ways to get your paint dots on the cookie. Some people paint a circle of the color they want directly on the cookie. I prefer to use royal icing transfers. I made a sheet full of circles awhile ago, and I store them in a covered container and then paint them when I need them. I do all of my transfers on acetate or transparency film (the kind used for overhead projectors). They seem to dry faster and pop off easier than on parchment paper or waxed paper but you can use that as well. If you choose to use acetate, lightly grease it with something like Crisco. I wipe it all over and then take a paper towel and wipe most of it off. I almost always use an image of what I am making under my acetate. I use small magnets to secure them to the back of a small cookie sheet so that I can easily move the transfers to a safe place to dry when I’m done. This is one of the free images available through Google that you can print to use as a pattern. This is a one inch circle but you can Google whatever size you want. Measure the space on your cookie that you will be putting the dots on to make sure you have enough room to put all the colors you want on each cookie. Print it out and put it under the paper you are going to pipe your transfer on. Stay inside the circle with your icing because it will spread a little. When getting ready to paint the dots it will be easier to paint them if you stick them to your paper with a dot of icing, otherwise they will slide around as you are trying to paint them. DO NOT add the dots to your cookie until after you have stenciled them, because your stencil will not lie flat on the cookie.
When I first started making PYO cookies I used gel color mixed with a little vodka for the “paint.” They took at least 5 days to dry. I did a little research and found that a lot of cookiers use airbrush colors instead of the gel colors because they dry so much faster. They were right. You don’t need to add any vodka to it. You will just paint the color straight on the transfer and let dry. One coat will usually be enough. They still take longer to dry than you think they will, so plan accordingly. Mine took a full day to dry.
Next, you will need to choose what your stencil medium will be. Most people use thick royal icing and I always did, too (the cookies at the top of this post were done with royal icing). My main complaint with that process was that when the outline got wet, the color ran a little. The kids didn’t care, but I didn’t like the way they looked. I experimented with using chocolate candy melts on my Halloween PYO cookies a couple of weeks ago, and it worked like a charm! I melted some candy melts and used that in place of royal icing for the stencil. My theory was that once the chocolate was dry, a little water wouldn’t melt it and the edges would stay nice and tidy. I was right, it worked wonderfully! It will be my stencil medium of choice from now on. The cookie below was done with black candy melts. I used a snow globe cutter because I wanted a smaller cookie this time.
When you are ready to stencil your image on the cookie, secure the stencil in place and scrape the icing or candy melts down the stencil in one smooth stroke. This video by the always fabulous Julia Usher is what I used to learn how to stencil. Truthfully, I learned most of what I know about decorating cookies from watching her videos.
If using candy melts, melt them by placing them in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for as long as it takes for them to be almost melted. That will depend on how many candy melts you are melting. I did a small custard cup with 1/3 cup of candy melts and it took about 40 seconds. Stir until fully melted. Let it cool and thicken and then proceed as you would with royal icing. Place a dollop of the chocolate at the top of the stencil and run your scraper or offset spatula down the cookie in one smooth stroke. Remove the stencil and set the cookie aside to dry. Another advantage of using candy melts is that the cookie dries in just a few minutes. I can usually do about 4-6 cookies before I need to wash the stencil. You will wash your stencil with warm, soapy water to remove the chocolate then pat dry with a paper towel. If you are doing a lot of cookies you might want to keep your bowl of melted chocolate in a larger bowl of warm water to keep the chocolate of spreading consistency. I only did 6 cookies, so I didn’t need to use a water bath. I could probably have done a dozen or more cookies with the chocolate that I melted. It takes much less than one would think.
You will also need paint brushes to give with each cookie. I found the best price at Walmart. I paid about $1.00 for 20 paint brushes. If you want a shorter handled paint brush you can break or cut off as much as you like. Then take a lighter and melt the end. It only takes a few seconds and it makes a nice rounded end on the brush. I bag the cookies and tie a ribbon around the top securing the paint brush in the ribbon. It makes a nice presentation.
I buy cellophane bags from Gifts International. I buy bags that can be tied at the top for PYO cookies. I like the self sealing bags for other cookies. Their prices are really good, but the shipping is a little high. I try to order about a 6 month supply of bags at once to minimize the shipping costs. I bag every cookie that I give away so I go through quite a few bags in a year.
I print some instructions to tape to the back of each bag. Feel free to copy and print it for your cookies.
Paint Your Own Cookie
- Dip the brush in water
- Wet the color you want to use
- Color the picture
- Rinse brush in clean water before using on a different color.
- Eat your creation!!
I hope these instructions are clear enough and will give you the boost you need to make your own PYO cookies. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask. I will do my best to answer them. You may also find me on Facebook.
Have fun and good luck!