A Cookie Tree of Gratitude

Here’s a short post on a fun Thanksgiving treat for your family get-together next week, because who could turn down cookies, even if there is pie?

Gratitude Cookie Tree by Melissa Joy

I put a little twist on the Gratitude Wreath Cookie I made last year with my kids, and created this Gratitude Tree platter. It’s sort of like a family tree…the family shares their gratefulness on the cookies and then said family eats them. I came up with the idea from inspiration by CookieCrazie and her Autumn Tree set (which is amazing!), and that reminded me of the flowering tree platter I made last spring for Earth Day. See how the cookie ideas sort of influence one another and morph into something new? It’s hard to keep track of who originally came up with what, but in the end, it’s all really just deliciousness anyway.

accent leaves for gratitude tree cookies

For my tree, I kept it super simple. Easy sanding sugar leaves for an accent…

Gratitude Cookies by Family

to go with the smooth iced leaves, ready for messages of gratitude. Use a food writer and gather the gang around to pen their notes of thanks.

Gratitude Tree Platter

I added a tree trunk, and the extra cookies were practice for piping letters with my new KopyKake. I love that machine. I’ve named her Mabel, if you’d like to know. We will have a wonderful Christmas together, me and Mabel.

Gratitude Cookie Tree Platter by Melissa Joy

Build your platter like so, bask in the abundance of thanks, and share with those around you.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving of gratitude!

Easy Ghost and Mummy Cookies for Halloween!

It turns out my youngest is a bit scared of Halloween this year. So much so, he may choose to stay home instead of trick-or-treating. Not even the lure of candy will get him out there. I’m not sure what spurred this sudden wariness about the holiday, but I know he’s freaked out by the creepy stuff, and that I completely understand. I have never been to a haunted house, enjoyed being frightened, or wanted to watch gory movies. Blech. Call me a wimp, but it’s just not my thing. In my world, Halloween is full of cute stuff.

ghosts and mummy cookies by melissa joy

To help him cope with his worry, I decided to try and make the sweetest Halloween cookies I could and these were the result. SO CUTE, right? Not only that, but pretty easy too! I’ll show you just how easy, starting with the ghosts…

Easy ghost cookie how-to by Melissa Joy

1. My ghost cookie was made with a skull cookie cutter, just the right size for the design. The first step is making the head and giving it a little swirl at the top. Place the candy pearl eyes in position while the icing is still wet. I forgot a few times, and well, they don’t stick when the icing sets! Alternatively, you could pipe the eyes on, but I liked the look of the pearls better.

2. Allow the head to dry a bit, then give the ghost a body. I gave the “girl” a scalloped bottom and the “boy” swoosh.

3. After this has set several hours or overnight, you can add the details. Little lashes for the girls and eyebrows for the boys using a food writer. The ladies got a flower candy sprinkle and a bit of bling, while the boys received a bow tie made with two heart sprinkles and a dot of RI. Add a sweet smile and you’re DONE!

Easy Ghost Cookies by Melissa Joy

Not so bad, right? Next up, and my favorite of the two designs, an easy mummy cookie!

Easy Mummies Cookies How-To Part One

1. The dough started out as a bear, but with an quick trim, it became the perfect mummy body. A gingerbread cookie cutter would work as well.

2. Ice the head and body and set the candy pearl eyes in place. Just a note that I use the CK brand of sugar pearls. I found the Wilton black pearls to bleed a lot and that really annoyed me. (A special thanks to Make Me Cake Me for her help on this matter! 🙂 )

3. I added the arms and legs and shaped them a bit with my scribe tool as shown.

Easy mummy cookie how-to part 2

4. Let the body dry for several hours or overnight. Add lashes with a food writer for the ladies and eyebrows for the guys. It is a good idea to place the features now and work around them in the next step. If not, your lines can get in the way of his/her face.

5. Using a thicker black RI, go willy nilly with your mummy wrap!

6. You can add a flower sprinkle at the top for the girls and as a boutonniere for the boys, using a drop of RI to adhere them. After that, you’re finished!

Easy Mummy Cookies by Melissa Joy

Come on now…there is not a stitch of spookiness with these Halloween cookies, is there?! They should pass the ultimate cute test. All treats, no tricks, I say!

Go Bo! Foundation.org

Once these were finished, I decided they would be perfect as my contribution to an amazing event, the GO BO! Foundation Bake Sale. Held in Door County, WI, this will be the third year of cookies that Pay It Forward and in a BIG way. Cookie artists from every state and many countries have agreed to donate their sweets out of LOVE and COMPASSION, to raise money in honor of an incredible boy who lost his battle with cancer, and who’s mother created a foundation set up in his name. As bakers, we are just trying to live out his wishes to be kind to each other and help one another out, the best way we know how…by sharing our talents to do good, one cookie at a time.

You can read Bo and Annika’s personal story here (make sure you have tissues), find out about the epic bake sale on the Facebook page Go Bo Foundation Bake Sale, and learn more regarding the foundation at www.gobofoundation.org.


Back To School Tic-Tac-Toe Cookies

It was right before we left for our last vacation of the summer that I thought of the idea for a back to school version of my tic-tac-toe cookie obsession. I think I’ve done five different themes so far…maybe six…

tic tac toe back to school cookies by melissa joy

Even though I am in denial I will have to set an alarm and drag the kids out of bed to get ready in the morning, I must be subconsciously preparing myself. I know there are some of you that have already begun, but I’m not rushing our after Labor Day start of the new year.

Mini back to school cookies by melissa joy

To make the kids transition a bit easier too, I figured a cookie game might help shift their mindset. A little anyway. And speaking of little, here are the mini pieces I chose for my back to school tic-tac-toe set…

Back to School Mini Cookies How-To by Melissa Joy

I decided on these five designs and worked with what cookie cutters I had. Just a note that I did trim a small part off of the square to make the notebook paper more rectangular. The pencil was made using a mini holly leaf with the sides trimmed like so:

Mini pencil cookie how-to

Mini cookies can be tedious to make, but turn out so darn cute. Especially with a tiny smiley face. I can never resist the face!

back to school tic tac toe cookie by melissa joy

Here is a brief lowdown on the tic-tac-toe cookie board, if you are so inclined to make your own. It measures around 6 inches by 6 inches square…

Chalkboard Tic Tac Toe Cookie How-To by Melissa Joy

Not so hard, right? An “A+” for you!

Back to school cookie game by melissa joy

We’ve only got 6 days left to enjoy the city pool before they close for the season, so I’ve kept this post short and sweet and full of photos.

Priorities, you know.

Back to School Tic-Tac-Toe Cookies by Melissa Joy

Enjoy the last of the summer, if you’re not in your desks yet, and wishing you all a stellar school year!


Uncle Sam Cookies

Doesn’t it seem, every year, in a blink of an eye it’s July 4th?! I decided to get ahead of the game this year. I spotted a few Uncle Sam items in the craft stores months ago and tucked that little bit of inspiration away for future cookies. See? It’s not such a bad thing they get the decor out WAY too early. While many scoff at this insane notion to stock shelves with holiday merchandise LONG before it’s appropriate, I am snapping pictures with my phone and making mental notes for cookies. It’s a sickness, this baking addiction.

Uncle Sam Cookies by Melissa Joy

I am feeling that in the cookie world, old Uncle Sam could be the new trend for the 4th of July holiday. Like sweet Mrs. Claus was this past Christmas, after this awesome creation by Sugared Hearts Bakery made the Facebook rounds. It inspired many of us cookie peeps to make a version of their own. Me included! But, we’re not talking Christmas in July here, we are talking actual JULY. Though I did use Santa cookie cutters to make Uncle Sam….so maybe we are…it’s a blurred line.

Uncle Sam Cookies by Melissa Joy

Here’s a little info on how I created my man, Uncle Sam. I created two versions, one with a few less steps than the other. Let’s start with the bigger guy!

Big Uncle Sam Cut Out How To

These are the cutters I used to get the desired shape I had in mind. Think big beard and tall hat, then dig through your cookie cutters for the right look.

Big Uncle Sam Cookie How To

Decorate as shown above. I let each section dry a bit before moving on to the next.

Uncle Sam Cookie by Melissa Joy Cookies

Add face and feature details. I added a few star sprinkles to make it extra festive.

Uncle Sam Cookie by Melissa Joy

Big Uncle Sam cookie finished, but he needs a buddy! Moving on to the little Sam then…

Small Uncle Sam Dough How To

This design was one I wanted to try based on the Santa Gnomes I made this past Christmas.

Small Uncle Sam How To

Again, I let the icing dry a bit before moving on to the next section.  Add a nose after these steps are done.

Uncle Sam How To by Melissa Joy Cookies

Let him sit overnight so he’s dry enough to add the hat decoration, using a food coloring marker. This specific brand of marker is made by Ateco, which has a wider tip than my usual favorite, the FooDoodler.

Uncle Sam Cookie by Melissa Joy Cookies

Little Uncle Sam cookie! Not sure which version I like better…but it’s like with your kids, you can’t play favorites.

Uncle Sam Cookies by Melissa Joy

Have a wonderful 4th of July!

Looking for more Independence Day cookie ideas? Check out my bunting cookies, stars & stripes cookies, or cookies for the troops from the Melissa Joy archives.


This post linked to: Kitchen Fun with My 3 Sons, The Cookie Puzzle

Summer Tic-Tac-Toe Cookies

HAGS! Or #HAGS. This was written in my 5th grade son’s yearbook, next to his friends’ signatures. What the heck is that? Hags?! All I could picture was a white-haired old lady with bumps on her nose. I figured I would have to inquire once I unloaded the backpacks full of papers, art supplies, and stray locker items.

summer mini cookies

That being said, summer vacation has arrived! We celebrate the start of our break with cookies. What else, when your mom is a baker? In keeping with my cookie Tic-Tac-Toe thing {I’ve made Halloween, FallHoliday, and Valentine’s Day versions), I joyously created this Summer Tic-Tac-Toe to kick it off!

summer tic tac toe cookies by melissa joy cookies

I do get a lot of questions about how I’ve made my cookie tic-tac-toe sets in the past, so thought I would briefly break down a few of the details.

Summer Tic Tac Toe Cookies by Melissa Joy

First, the board. I measure and hand cut the dough with a pastry cutter, 6 inches by 6 inches square. Yes, I use a ruler. My recipe does spread a bit after it’s baked, but I don’t mind. If you are very particular, you can use a microplane grater to make the sides nice and straight. Outline and flood the monster cookie and let it dry overnight. The next day it will be ready for the details.

For this set I wanted the background to resemble a picnic blanket, so decided to paint the pattern on with food coloring (Americolor Super Red) slightly watered down and applied with a food only paint brush.

Tic Tac Toe Cookie Board How-To

To make the sections of the board into nine equal spaces, I use my ruler and mark off the top, bottom and sides of the board at the 2 inch and 4 inch spots. Use a scribe tool or a food writer to do so. This will give you a guide when you line up your ruler again, point to point, to create the straight-ish, grid lines. (This photo was taken at the time of my Valentine board…sorry for the discrepancy in pictures!)

Marking the tic tac toe cookie board 2

In the past, I would have piped the dividing lines, but for this particular set the ants were marching with a slight squiggle. Most ants do. With this in mind, it seemed more appropriate to get out the FooDoodlers and draw them on. Best invention ever, those FooDoodlers.

Tic Tac Toe Board by Melissa Joy Cookies

I did pipe the ants on with royal icing, because I wanted more of a 3D effect with the little guys, but you could just as easily draw them. Board complete!

summer tic-tac-toe cookie by melissa joy cookies

Let’s move on to the game pieces…

I had so many options with my ever growing collection of mini cookie cutters, but I settled on 5: an ice cream cone, popsicle, strawberry, watermelon, and sun. They seemed the most like the start of summer fun to me! I typically make six cookies of each design so there are enough to play the game with. Some details are done with the FooDoodlers and some with royal icing. It never hurts to make extra minis if you plan to snack as you participate.

Tic Tac Toe Cookie Game Pieces by Melissa Joy Cookies

The only shape I had to frankencookie (i.e. squishing two pieces of dough shapes together to get one desired shape) was the popsicle. I used a mini tombstone cookie cutter and the bottom of a mini Christmas bulb cutter. It was a bit tedious, but I only made 12 total. I could deal.

How-To make a popsicle cookie.j

Once the desired cookie game pieces are made and the board ready, it’s time to play! And then eat. A great way to commemorate the start of our summer break!

Tic Tac Toe Cookie for Summer by Melissa Joy Cookies

We are looking forward to no early morning schedules, al fresco dinners, and the prospects of road trips near and far. HAGS! Or as us old people say….Have A Great Summer! 😉

summer tic tac toe cookies by melissa joy cookies

Root Beer Float Cookies

Last week our school celebrated Teacher Appreciation Week with treating the staff to something special in their break room. I volunteered to bring cookies for Root Beer Float day because I was dying to try out this idea…

Root Beer Float by Melissa Joy Cookies

The staff has received a healthy dose of my creations the past two years and I worry they will grow tired of “that cookie lady”. It seems I’m continually carrying a blue bakery box into school. I tell the teachers they are my Melissa Joy quality control for new designs. They must not mind too much yet because the cookies, regardless of style, seem to disappear rather quickly. These root beer float cookies were no exception. Here’s a brief low down on how it all got done…

Root Beer Floats for Teacher Appreciation by Melissa Joy

I had asked Jill of Custom Cookies by Jill where she had gotten her mug cutter and she sent it to me to borrow. Mind you, I have never met her, only admired and commented on her amazing work via the net. How awesome are cookie people?! Completely awesome! I was doubly thrilled I didn’t have to frankenstein the dough together to get a similar mug shape. Sixty cookies would be a LOT to do that way and I would end up very crabby.

root beer float mug how-to

I first started the cookies like this, with separate brown segments on the mug. I do like this version, but realized with letting the icing set between sections, it would take longer and I was short on time. I decided to do the rest in one solid section, vowing to use an food marker for details later, and that version looks like this.

root beer float cookie how-to

Regardless the way you choose, the next few steps remain the same.

paper straws for root beer cookies

Can I just say, I LOVE paper straws. The excuse to use them with a cookie is always a bonus. I cut the ones I purchased into 4 equal lengths.

root beer float cookie how-to

With a squirt of ivory icing, adhere the straw onto the cookie.

root beer float cookie how-to

With that same ivory icing, fill in your “ice cream”, leaving it sort of bumpy.

root beer float cookie how-to

Immediately add a sour cherry ball. Oh my, they are like the red jelly beans with a twist and may be a new favorite candy of mine. They also make the cutest cherry on top!

root beer float cookie how-to

Once the ice cream part sets up, it’s time to add the “froth”. With the ivory icing, go squiggly along the edge of the mug and ice cream. Add sanding sugar for sparkle and contrast.

Root Beer Float Cookie how-to

Let the whole cookie sit overnight if you make the drawn mug version. I used a brown FooDoodler to make the lines on mine. They are the best at making detailing a breeze.

Cherry Cookies by Melissa Joy Cookies

Because I had to create around 100 cookies for the staff, I decided to balance out the floats with a simple cherry cookie. These were made using a raindrop cutter and could not have been easier to add to the set!

Root Beer Float Cookies by Melissa Joy Cookies

Cookies completed and teachers appreciated! I am not ashamed to say that I love the way these root beer float cookies turned out. I am itching to make them again and thinking that a family picnic or a neighborhood BBQ would be the perfect opportunity to do so. Summertime is fast approaching and with these cookies, I’ll be ready!


This post linked to: Kitchen Fun with My 3 SonsTidy Mom & featured on the Cookie Connection Saturday Spotlight

Jelly Bean Jar Cookies

How can Easter be less than two weeks away and I’ve only made ONE new-to-me cookie design for it?! Yikes. Life has been busy.

Jelly Bean Jar Cookie by Melissa Joy

I made these for my monthly blog stint on the website Bake It Up a Notch. I am assuming you have a few jelly beans in your cupboard right now and perhaps dough in the fridge, in which case you should be able to squeeze in time to make these jelly bean jar cookies. It’s a simple design without a lot of steps. This is always a bonus when it’s a race against the calendar. The hardest part will be not eating all the jelly beans before they get on to the cookie.

jelly bean cookies by melissa joy

And speaking of jelly beans, here is a tiny tutorial on how I made them in cookie form:

Tiny Tutorial Jelly Bean Mini Cookies by Melissa Joy

Like I mention on the blog, minis are a great accent cookie to the big guys. For the complete tutorial, check out my post on Bake It Up a Notch by clicking here: Jelly Bean Jar Cookies.

Jelly Bean Jar Cookies by Melissa Joy

I’m hoping to get in at least a few egg and bunny cookies yet, but if not, I will be more than satisfied just sharing these. Happy Spring!

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