Roasting Chicken Table

[Skip my explanations and jump straight to the printable chart.]

We’ve moved to a new house and I’ve been porting over my cupboard notes to the new kitchen. By this I mean the things I keep taped up in the cupboard door above the primary cooking area for fast reference. These references have become even more important to me as I continue to suffer with Long Covid and associated brain damage (colloquially called “brain fog”), making it harder for me to remember numbers or perform calculations on the fly.

So that’s a Disabled Life Hot Tip: put the information you routinely need up in a place that you can easily access it in a way that works for you!

For many years my cupboard notes have included a table from Brown Eyed Baker converting butter measurements from US sticks/tablespoons to weight, because in the UK butter comes as a block and rarely has package markings of much use for measuring. Further, since developing lactose intolerance I now use a lactofree butter that comes in a tub so weight measuring is key. I also have a Fahrenheit to Celsius table from JavaCupcake and frequently used recipes with annotations for increased yields, converting volume to weight, etc. Over the years I’ve converted my partner to using these tables too as I showed him repeatedly how fast it was to simply open the cupboard door and look up calculations on a table even compared to asking Siri, especially since Siri is perpetually confused by his accent anyway and rarely gives him what he’s asked for.

In moving, I removed any recipes that I no longer recognised/used, and I shifted some rarely-used ones to a different cupboard door to put the ones I use most above the primary workspace. I say “recognised” because frankly most of these are hastily-typed notes designed to be smaller than common printouts, and again these are things I do all the time so I don’t need to be told to mix the dry first or other methodology stuff. I just need to remember how much stuff at what temperature for how long. So I don’t put titles on many of them, meaning if I no longer recognise it, I haven’t made it in years and probably never will again.

So here’s my current cupboard with today’s edition of whole chicken roasting times by weight, which I’ll describe further below:

An open kitchen cupboard door with papers taped inside.

We haven’t properly moved in yet so the cupboard is horrendously unorganised. We need to buy a cabinet for good dishes to get those dishes out of this and other cupboards so we can arrange ingredients here better. Everything is a hot mess right now so I really need to make my cooking more efficient!

Note that conversion tables can vary wildly by geography/type, especially for things like flour and sugar. The grams I’ve listed on my notes in the photos may not be accurate for your area and types of flour/sugar/etc. That’s why mine are hastily scribbled on recipes like this: I print the recipe with its volume measurements, get sick of cleaning measuring cups/spoons, eventually take the time to weigh a recipe out as I make it, and scribble the notes on the printout in my cupboard. Similarly if you find lovely charts (like the others at the JavaCupcake link above) of weight conversions for ingredients, understand that UK plain flour does not weigh the same as US all-purpose flour and even regional variance in US all-purpose can throw a large recipe off. Volume also is greatly affected by things like sifting, crystal size, etc.

Basically my point is conversion charts are great but be careful and understand your ingredients/recipes from the start to avoid failures. And if you’re cribbing off my cupboard door notes that’s totally fine, I don’t mind, but understand my notes may not apply to your ingredients!

What I’ve added today should apply internationally, though: that blue-and-green table for roasting whole chickens. This is based on Julia Child’s much lauded calculation that has always worked for me in any country I’ve lived in, so long as the chicken is fresh and hasn’t been frozen (thawing is all well and good but every failure I’ve had with this method has been with a chicken that was frozen and the joints had not fully thawed even though the meat had).

Child’s calculation is this: [weight of the whole chicken in pounds] times 7, add 45, that gives you the total minutes. Her method is to start it at a pre-heated oven at 425F, which is 218C but I go by my handy chart that rounds it to 220C. Roast it at that high temperature for 15 minutes, then drop the temperature to 350F / 180C for the remaining time of the calculation. If you’re using a fan/convection oven, drop the temperature accordingly by your oven’s instructions. In my case with UK fan ovens that means taking 10c off the above numbers, so I start my fan oven at 210C and then drop it down to 170C. And again, as long as the chicken has never been frozen either by me or an unscrupulous grocery store selling frozen birds as fresh (it happens!), this recipe always works for me.

My chicken preparation method is to take it out of the bag it comes in already tucked and tied, do not wash (this spreads germs around your kitchen and removes nothing from the chicken!), just pat dry with paper towels, put it in one of our Lodge cast iron pans (bigger bird in bigger pan), pour olive oil all over it and flip it all around to rub the oil everywhere, salt it all over like crazy and a bit into the cavity, leave breast up and roast by the chart. I do not baste it at all, but I do rotate the pan roughly every 15 minutes. We check for doneness with a high-quality instant-read thermometer when it comes out, make a foil tent over it on a cutting board, and then I make a pan gravy. If you want instructions on making a pan gravy ask in comments and I’ll do a separate post.

Again, in the beforetimes before I had Long Covid I could remember the cooking formula easily. Now I can’t. Also in the previous house my computer was in the kitchen; now it’s across the house. So today since I’m roasting a chicken for dinner, I decided to do myself a favour and whip up a printable little chart, and that’s what I’m sharing with you today.

I am using the conversion from kilos (how chickens are sold here in the UK) to pounds based on one kilo being equivalent to 2.2 pounds. This is a rounding, as the actual calculation is 1:2.20462 and I used to do it via Google calculate (you do know if you type math into the Google search bar it spits out results, right?). But the chart came out ugly like that and I have neither the time nor spoons to learn how to make Calc do rounding so I pre-rounded my calculation to a fairly standard culinary value of 1:2.2. I checked the chart before and after and it’s only fractions of seconds of difference.

I also truncated the chart for probable whole chicken weights. The whole chickens we’ve been buying in the US and the UK for decades almost all fall between 2-3kg / 4-6lbs, so I added some rows before and after for anomalies but to be honest I haven’t tested the formula at the low and high points of this chart, nor do I ever cook game hens or turkeys so I cannot guarantee this formula/chart works outside of those parameters. This table is not suitable for cut-up chicken parts.

I made it blue and green because I do not have colour blindness and I like those colours. I think if you greyscale print it’ll come out fairly evenly grey.

Below is a mediocre-quality PNG of the chart that links to a much nicer PDF file. I recommend clicking the picture below and printing from the PDF.

chicken roasting calculation chart

This is a low-res PNG. Click to get to the much nicer PDF for printing/saving.

I have not bothered to brand this or label it or anything because I am tired. If you find this useful please share it around and link back, but honestly I’m just happy if this is useful to anyone else. If you want to take the raw Libreoffice Calc file and alter it to your needs, here you go. If you want it stripped back further to before I added colours, here’s that version. Enjoy. 🙂

Posted in Dinner, Disabled Life Hot Tips, Food Issues, General Cooking Tips, Links, Main Dishes, Other Food | Leave a comment

The Podcast Is Over

This is the official announcement that the Eat The Evidence podcast has concluded.

Despite shielding, in 2022 I contracted covid because of the UK lifting its mask mandate in schools. My teenager’s school was quickly overwhelmed by covid cases so despite her continuing to mask, she picked it up and brought it home. That was in March 2022; I’ve been ill ever since with long covid issues and exacerbated other chronic illness issues.

In April 2022 I released a short episode announcement saying I was putting the show on hiatus because I could barely hold a conversation due to my constant gasping, let alone find the energy to edit episodes. I said at the time that if/when my health improved I’d come back to the podcast, in particular to do an episode in early 2023. At that time most people were still on the masking side of things. Most cake folks who were friends of mine were railing against the lifting of mask mandates in their areas, posting memes about how they were still going to keep masking because they cared about themselves and others in their community, and otherwise being quite vocal against the anti-masker types.

However, despite epidemiologists continually begging governments not to remove mitigations and in fact put many of them back, and despite escalating case rates to the point that some areas have had entire hospital/paediatric unit shutdowns for months now, the public has decided it generally doesn’t care anymore and they can pretend covid is over. Governments have done likewise in defiance of their own medical experts, many of whom have quit over it. Covid is not over. Deaths and disability continue to pile up. But the health supremacist attitude that it’s okay to travel around and party with no mitigations has taken hold.

When I started this podcast, I declared it might not be a political podcast but it was going to exist in the real world where politics matters. That’s why on so many episodes my guests and I would talk about how these issues affected our sugar arts businesses on both the micro and macro levels. I also declared from the start that bigotry would not be tolerated within the podcast. We’ve spoken about problematic cake issues like “gender reveal” or those who don’t want to do LGBTQ+ cakes and liken LGBTQ+ folks to Nazis. We’ve talked about using our art to fundraise for groups assisting asylum seeking families who have been ripped apart and put in concentration camps. We’ve talked about the environmental issues of everything from the products we use up through travelling for cake shows. And we’ve talked about disability and chronic illness and how these things affect us as sugar artists as well as our clients.

In 2021, several people came on the show to rightly call out those who weren’t masked in public spaces. There was absolutely justifiable anger on the part of those who were still trying to make a living at teaching at cake events being one of only a handful of folks masking at that time. People whose surgeries had been delayed due to covid waves came on this podcast to talk about how finally getting those treatments had turned their whole businesses around, and we talked about our mutual friends whose conditions had worsened to the point that they’d had to close their businesses.

Yet despite all of this, the very people who enthusiastically called for supporting disabled/chronically ill folks in 2021 have been posting their naked-face, crowded-event selfies on social media in 2022 and expect those who remain ill to be okay with it. Some even came to me for travel advice or made other insensitive, health-privileged comments that would have infuriated them only months before, and again, expected me to be okay with that.

It turns out a lot of people were willing to talk a good talk about caring for each other within the sugar arts community and out into the wider world, but when it became inconvenient to do this one small thing, they bailed.

Those of us who are still masking all the time have formed small groups of support. We know who has our backs, and we see the many who don’t. Some have left social media entirely. Some have pared down to only a handful of trusted folks. There is a lot of anger and despair to see people we thought were on our side abandon us for the sake of partying.

At the point where I saw so many people attending November 2022’s Cake International without masks, I gave up on the wider cake community. I considered focusing the podcast just on those who were continuing to mask, and in that light messaged the person who was supposed to come on in early 2023. I begged him to please have his team mask up at their upcoming event as they had the previous year (I actually asked months in advance, I didn’t spring this on him) so that I could have them on without the personal stress of feeling like I was broadcasting activities where medically vulnerable folks like myself wouldn’t be safe. I even said he didn’t have to reply right away, just to please consider masking at the event if he wanted their team to be on the podcast again. But not only did he not reply at that time, he never did. The event happened and I touched base again to ask if they’d masked so I could have them on the show. He never replied. I’ve been fully ghosted over it, but pictures have surfaced of the event and they weren’t masked. So I gave up.

This wasn’t even the first ghosting for the podcast. Several other times people have begged me to come on the show and even when interview times were scheduled, they just didn’t show up. I’d sit for an hour waiting, poking them on Messenger, and they just never replied. I don’t know why.

In other cases I’ve had people ask to be on, sometimes with others, and then bail at the last minute. Repeatedly. At least they didn’t ghost me, I guess.

My point is I’ve dealt with people being disrespectful of my time repeatedly over the years, but being ghosted on this issue while the wider cake community has stopped caring if some of us live or die is just too much to bear.

It comes down to this: I no longer wish to pour so much of my energy, time, and money into giving the sugar arts world a completely free product to enjoy when I am not receiving basic-level respect. I no longer wish to cater to those who treat the disabled/chronically ill as disposable in the ongoing pandemic. I declared from the podcast’s start that I had no interest in serving those who didn’t care for the rights of others to live decent lives, and now that includes not wanting to serve those who don’t care about spreading a level-three pathogen because there’s a party to attend.

So even though my breathing has improved a little with some medical intervention, I do not wish to expend my very limited energy on continuing to produce a free product for those who don’t value my health and life nor the health and lives of my other vulnerable friends.

With that, the podcast is officially over. Here are the final statistics I’m recording as of January 14, 2023:

stats of all time plays from Soundcloud

This is the all-time graph of episode plays/downloads from Soundcloud. It may not include all podcatcher apps but it gives a general impression. Soundcloud recorded 21,135 plays of episodes over the years since the podcast began in 2017. I know some folks listened to episodes repeatedly (I’ve even been told by non-sugar-artist friends that they listen because they find my voice soothing when they’re stressed!), so it’s hard to say how many listeners this amounts to, but over 21,000 plays of 70 tracks is a lot!

top episodes

As of January 14, 2023, these are the plays recorded on Soundcloud by episode for the top few.

For reference, here’s the entire list of the top 50 episodes in order, copied and pasted from Soundcloud and I’ll add in numbered rankings (it always made a huge difference if guests promoted their own episodes!):

  1. Episode 24 – Abby Jimenez – 740
  2. Episode 1 – Eat the Evidence – Dawn Parrott, Kyla Myers, Mark Desgroseilliers – 536
  3. Episode 63 – Summer Spectacular Quiz Show – 528
  4. Episode 65 – Sarah Hadley-Rainsford – 522
  5. Episode 58 – Jacqui Kelly – 510
  6. Episode 66 – Jacqui Kelly – 472
  7. Eat the Evidence – Pilot – 28 March 2017 – 467
  8. Episode 68 – Merry Mischief Bakers – 414
  9. Episode 59 – Haley Popp of Hive Bakery – 410
  10. Episode 61 – Merry Mischief Bakers – 391
  11. Episode 14 – Michelle Green, Shannon Orr, Jean Schapowal, Kristi Rhodes-Mann, Julia Usher – 390
  12. Podcast Announcement – April 2022 – 389
  13. Episode 42 – Thomas Blake Hogan – 380
  14. Episode 67 – Jesse Lesser, Stacy Frank, and Blaque Shelton – 373
  15. Episode 44 – Becca Makris – 359
  16. Episode 30 – Robert Harwood – 347
  17. Episode 45 – Dawn Butler – 347
  18. Episode 54 – Lou Finn – 334
  19. Episode 57 – Stacy Frank the Frostitute – 316
  20. Episode 62 – Sandie Beltran – 313
  21. Episode 20 – That Takes the Cake Sugar Arts Show in Austin TX – 309
  22. Episode 41 – Julia Usher – 300
  23. Episode 48 – Rosie Mazumder – 299
  24. Episode 53 – Kyla Myers and Hemu Basu – 298
  25. Episode 33 – Kyla Myers – 297
  26. Episode 55 – Summer Spectacular Cake Friends Quiz Show (Kyla, Jesse, Jacqui) – 286
  27. Episode 9 – Eat the Evidence – Michelle Boyd, Sachiko Windbiel, Mallory Mae Ragland, Rebecca Sheer – 285
  28. Episode 3 – Eat the Evidence – Kyla Myers, Mike McCarey – 283
  29. Episode 7 – Eat the Evidence – Sara Weber, Mike McCarey – 283
  30. Episode 18 – Shanna Miller, Samuel Plont, Trucolor, Mary Carmen Gonzalez – 281
  31. Episode 49 – Mark Lie and Jesse Lesser – 280
  32. Episode 36 – Jacqui Kelly – 278
  33. Episode 46 – Mary Carmen Gonzalez Abrams – 278
  34. Episode 4 – Eat The Evidence – Cindy Autrey, Amy Ford, Mary Nicholas, Shannon Orr, Jean Schapowal – 274
  35. Episode 2 – Eat the Evidence – Mark Desgroseilliers, Sidney Galpern, Sachiko Windbiel… – 273
  36. Episode 34 – Cake International 2018 – 271
  37. Episode 8 – Eat the Evidence – Shannon Orr, Jacqui Kelly, Lynn Webb, Kendall Cusick, Mike McCarey – 269
  38. Episode 51 – Christine and Phil Jensen – 268
  39. Episode 13 – Eat the Evidence – Wayne Steinkopf and Mystery Guest, plus Heather Sherman – 266
  40. Episode 15 – Cake International 2017 – 265
  41. Episode 17 – Heather Sherman, Shannon Orr, Kyla Myers – 265
  42. Episode 11 – Eat the Evidence – Meghan Allison, Kaysie Lackey, Mitchie Curran – 262
  43. Episode 31 – Jesse Lesser – 258
  44. Episode 6 – Eat the Evidence – Jacqui Kelly, Nick Lodge – 257
  45. Episode 43 – Rob Baker-Gall – 256
  46. Episode 35 – Knockoff Products and How They Harm the Sugar Arts Industry – 255
  47. Episode 27 – Rhianydd Webb – 254
  48. Episode 39 – Heather Campbell Brookshire – 251
  49. Episode 16 – Mari Senaga, Flexique, Simi Cakes – 249
  50. Episode 23- Christy Seguin – 249

There were 70 episodes (including the not-numbered pilot and the announcement of hiatus) in total, so there are 20 not shown on the list because Soundcloud only offers the top 50 in stats.

The podcast did achieve quite the global reach, despite being only in English. I’m quite proud of that. Here’s Soundcloud’s play map:

play map

The darker the red, the more plays for that country. I think grey means zero.

Here’s the breakdown by country and city:

table of countries and cities

It’s a big image so click it to see it in full.

So a lot of episodes did reach a lot of people all over the world through the years! The other stats show that the vast majority of plays (about 20,000 of that 21,135 total) came via podcast apps, then about 1000 from Facebook links, and then tiny amounts by other websites. For all the effort I put into posting videos for each episode on Instagram when folks came on to tell me that was the way to market the show, only 11 came through that way.

But now that it’s over, I’m considering those the final stats even though there are a handful of new plays every week.

Here’s what’s going to happen next: I’ve already posted the MP3s alongside the episodes on the main list plus on each episode’s page, right above the Soundcloud player window. This means folks can download individual episodes at any time. I’m very proud of the work I put into this thing, so I’m not throwing all that old work away!

However, Soundcloud’s annual payment is due in April, and I am turning off the automated payment for that. I’m not actually certain if that means some episodes will disappear from their platform, or if I simply won’t be able to add anymore. I’m also not certain how this will play out with podcatcher apps. I believe if you’ve already downloaded episodes to your app they should remain in there, but I can’t guarantee it. So again, you may have to come back here for the individual MP3s.

There will be no new episodes. Instead, I will return to making my own sugar art and blogging it here when it suits me. I gave up a lot of my own art to bring folks this podcast, but I am choosing instead to return to doing things for me, that I wish to do, that enrich me and don’t make me feel like I’m giving my whole self to those who don’t appreciate it. That might mean I eventually catch up on promised posts like about gingerbread softening and/or more ebooks about techniques I’ve developed, but I do remain quite ill with long covid and I’m still spending a lot of time on my fandom project that makes me feel good instead. I am getting very good at respecting my own needs and no longer fawning for those who disrespect me.

Thank you to those who supported the podcast over the years. Thank you to those who came on, to those who helped promote it, and to the listeners. And most of all, thank you to those of you who are still doing all you can to help keep others in your community safe.

Posted in News, Podcast | Leave a comment

3D Candy/ChocoBlood-Filled Tombstone Cookies

This post originally appeared on another external blog in 2016. That other blog has since been abandoned, so I am re-posting it in its entirety here now.

Hi, I’m Kimberly from Eat the Evidence, and I specialize in coming up with wacky cake and cookie projects for kids and decorating beginners. One of my most popular tutorials is how to make your own fake, edible, chocolate-flavoured blood for Halloween treats, so for a collaboration with Raise A Mother, I’m very excited to my bring my 3D filled cookie techniques to a whole new audience.

On Eat the Evidence, I often use a special pan covered with semi-spheres to make dome-shaped cookies that can be filled with candy, the fake blood, or other fillings. But I know not everyone has access to or interest in buying such a device. So for this article, I’m going to show you how to use basic kitchen tools to still be able to create filled cookies, explaining everything at a beginner-friendly level with lots of options so you can create with confidence.

Let’s make some filled 3D tombstone cookies!

Five 3D tombstone cookies on a blood-red platter

These are made by stacking several identical cookies together with the middles cut out of the inner cookies, creating a hidden cavity. They’re sealed together with chocolate and decorated on top with icing and edible ink markers.

Time Required:

This is a weekend project with long breaks between stages. Dough will need to be made and chilled, then rolled, cut and baked, the cookies will need to cool, and you will need the royal icing to dry overnight before you can write on it. Depending on your kids’ ages and craft levels, you may want to do some parts like mixing and/or baking the cookies on your own and just let them decorate, or if you’ve got budding bakers you can have great fun doing it all together. For the photos, I made the dough myself on a Friday evening, then cut and baked the cookies myself Saturday morning, then let my 11 year old do all of the assembly and decorating on Saturday afternoon, and then let her write on them Sunday morning.

Supply List


Cookie dough of your choice (see notes below)
Fillings (fake edible blood and/or small candies of your choice)
Royal icing
Chocolate chips/chunks for melting


Standard cookie baking equipment (ie baking trays, spatula, mixing bowls, etc.)
Tombstone shaped cookie cutters or equivalent or a template and knife (see below for details)
Piping bag (can use a small zip bag and snip tip off)
Edible ink marker in black
Small silicone spatula
Cooling racks (for cookies and to have a drip tray)

For this project you’ll need a cookie dough that doesn’t spread too much when baked, and that will in part depend on where you live because different types of wheat, butter, and other ingredients can make a recipe vary widely in outcome. In the photos below I’m using the UK version of my Dark Chocolate Rolled Cookies recipe (which also has a good, low-spread US version right there on the page), but sugar cookie dough or gingerbread would also work well especially if you lower or omit any baking powder called for.

The reason you don’t want too much spread is because you’re going to be making several cookies with the same shape and some middles cut out, so if the dough spreads too much they won’t line up well or may fill in the holes you’ve left for a filling. If you’re going to make these with your kids as a fun weekend project and the cookies come out uneven, that’s not a big deal because I promise your kids will help you eat the evidence that anything went wrong! But if you’re making them for an event where the results matter and you’re not sure about your dough, simply make a test batch beforehand; cut out some dough using a cutter, then compare that cutter to the baked cookie to make sure it hasn’t spread too much or changed shape. Again, I guarantee you that you’ll have no shortage of volunteers to help consume any extra cookies.

You’ll also need some cutters. In the photos below I used a Wilton gravestone cutter and two FMM arch cutters. The first is fairly cheap and the second is more of a professional level tool made for fondant, but I wanted to show you that you can use a variety of cutters to get a good end result, as long as they’re big enough to allow for a cavity inside.

You can also do a Google image search for “gravestone outline” and pick one you like to use as a template. Simply resize and print the graphic to be at least three inches wide, print, cover both sides of the printout with clear packing tape, and then cut it out. Voila, you now have a greaseproof template! Put that on your rolled-out dough and cut around with a knife or pizza wheel. Obviously if your kids are too young to handle sharp tools, you’ll have to do this part yourself.

Once you’re set up with chilled dough and a way to cut it into the shapes you want, roll it out to about 1/4”. You want a thick cookie so you get good height to fill, but not so thick that it won’t bake (if your recipe calls for thinner cookies, adjust your baking time accordingly). It’s important to roll your cookies to a consistent thickness, so if you’re going to make cookies often I’d recommend getting some kind of rolling guide. These come as bands to fit specific rolling pins or sticks you roll along on either side of your dough. An ultra-cheap method is to grab some 1/4” dowels from a craft store and roll along those. But again, if you are just playing around with your kids, it’s okay to just roll them out without guides and just try to go for 1/4” the whole way around on the dough.

Work with small batches of your dough at a time while keeping the rest in the fridge so it stays chilled, then as you bunch up what’s left after each cutting, add another chunk of cold stuff from the fridge and knead it all together. This will keep the dough cold and stiff to better hold the cut-out shapes.

For sugar cookie dough, sprinkle a bit of flour on your rolling surface and the top of the dough so it doesn’t stick. If you’re using chocolate dough, sprinkle cocoa powder instead; that keeps the cookies nice and dark and extra chocolate is yummy!

For each filled cookie you will need two solid cutouts (one for the bottom/back and one for the top/front), and then one or two middle bits depending on how deep you want the cookie to be; two deep in the middle is good for candies, one is fine for the blood.

cookie cutter being used on dough

Cutting out gravestone shapes using the Wilton cutter on chocolate dough, and the board is sprinkled with cocoa so the dough doesn’t stick.

Start by cutting out the solid backs and fronts, then cut out as many as you need for the middle and use either a knife or a smaller cutter inside to create an opening for the filling. If you find that cutting out the middle is mushing the dough too much and changing its shape, you can cut the middle out with the cutter still around the dough to hold it in place. Be sure to leave at least 1/4” of border around the whole cookie.

illustrating how to cut out interiors

I cut these rectangles out of the middle using a sharp knife.

If your cutters happen to be the same shape in different sizes, you can easily cut out matched centres. The FMM arch set is great for this because it even comes with a spacer bar to keep it all lined up for you. You just use the bigger one for the solid cutouts and then pop the smaller one in place for the interior cookies.

FMM cutter set with two sizes selected on spacer bar

If you’re going to make a pile of these cookies for a party, this gadget saves time and might be worth buying. No, I don’t get paid for saying this; I just like the set.

Place your cookies carefully on the tray to ensure they don’t get distorted (tip: place the cutter gently around the outer edge to nudge it back into shape if needed). To minimize spread, chill your tray for about 10-15 minutes, then bake according to the recipe’s instructions. You may need to add a bit more time because of the chilled tray.

baking try with raw dough in shapes ready to bake

The baking tray with a full set of arch cookies and two middle gravestone cookies. I find it’s useful to bake them in sets as much as possible to help me keep track of how many fronts/backs/middles I need.

Make sure the cookies have cooled completely before proceeding to the next step.

Meanwhile, you can prep the fake blood recipe if you’re using it, as well as the royal icing for the fronts. You can buy pre-made royal icing, a mix to which you just add water and then whip at high speed in a stand mixer or with an electric hand mixer, or you can make your own if you’ve got a favourite recipe. If you don’t want to deal with royal icing, you could also use fondant (roll it out thinly, cut it with the same cookie cutter, and stick it to the top cookie with a bit of corn syrup/golden syrup thinned with water). Whichever you go with, tint it light grey with a bit of black food colouring.

The assembly and decorating tools you’ll need are shown below:

labelled diagram of tools

Chocolate to melt to glue cookies together, cookies, a drip tray made with a wire rack over a plastic-lined cookie sheet, edible ink marker, grey royal icing in a piping bag stored with a damp cloth over the tip so it doesn’t dry out, fake edible chocoblood, pack of Smarties candy.

You can assemble the cookies with either royal icing or chocolate if you’re filling with candies, but to fill with liquid such as the fake blood, you need to seal the whole thing up so it doesn’t seep through gaps or through the cookies themselves. So in this example I had my child do all of the assembly with melted chocolate.

First I had her decide which cookies would have blood inside since those would have the most chocolate on them and take the longest to set up. We put a bottom, middle, and top on a little work board and flipped the top cookie over.

diagram showing the bottom, middle, and top layers

She spread chocolate all over the bottom cookie right up to the edge.

child spreading chocolate on cookie

Then she put the interior cookie on the bottom and lined the edges up so they were even all around.

child assembling cookie

Then I had her put more chocolate into that opening and spread it all around, including up the sides of the well. This is to make a chocolate seal around the entire inside of the cookie.

spreading chocolate inside stacked cookies to make a barrier

Then we put those two layers upside down on a drip rack fashioned from plastic wrap on a cookie sheet with a cooling rack on top. Excess chocolate drips out of the well of the cookie, leaving it coated inside but still with plenty of room for filling.

cookie on drip rack

Then she spread chocolate all over the overturned top cookie and set that to solidify as well, and then repeated the procedure with all of the cookies destined to be filled with the liquid fake blood.

For the candy filled cookies, you don’t need to cover the whole interior surface with chocolate; you only need to put on enough to glue the layers together.

sticking on top layer

She’s put just enough chocolate around the outer edge of the bottom cookie to stick the next layer on.

You really want an extra middle cookie here to make it deep enough to hold several candies, so put more chocolate around the edge of that first middle cookie and then stick on another middle cookie.

assembling layers

Set that aside for the chocolate to firm up completely. If you’re making a lot, probably by the time you’ve assembled all of your cookies the first ones will be ready for the next step. If you need to pop them in the fridge briefly, you can, but don’t do this right away with the ones you want to drip out first.

For the blood-filled cookies, spoon or pour in enough of the blood to just underfill the well as shown.

pouring in fake blood

Then carefully put another line of melted chocolate around the top edge and put the top in place, chocolate-covered side down so you’re surrounding that liquid centre in a complete shell of chocolate.

putting top layer on blood filled cookie

Don’t forget to make time for silliness, like pretending you’ve cut yourself and licking it off (and then washing up, of course!).

child pretending fake blood is real and then licking it

For the candy-filled cookies, put your candies in first, taking care that there’s a bit of room at the top so the top cookie will sit flush. Spread some chocolate carefully around the edge and put the top in place. Try not to let the chocolate drip down into the candies because it will make them stick in place. This is also why you should put the candies in first, because if you put the chocolate on first and then pour the candies in, you’ll probably get candies landing in the chocolate.

adding candies

If you’re doing both blood cookies and candy cookies, expect the inevitable question, “Can we put BOTH in ONE COOKIE?” I said sure, knowing that the liquid would probably mess up the candies at least a little bit (some candies might melt entirely), but who cares…it’s Halloween goopy fun!

candies and chocoblood mixed in one cookie

Once the cookies are all assembled and the chocolate holding them together has solidified, it’s time to start decorating! Fill a piping bag or plastic sandwich bag with your grey royal icing and snip a very, very small opening at the tip/corner (start small and go bigger if you have to). Pipe a border around the cookie first, a little bit in from the sides (you may wish to pipe some guide dots for your kids to connect), and then zig zag to fill in the border. Use a toothpick or food safe needle tool to spread the icing around.

flooding with royal icing for the gravestone look

You want the royal icing to be thin enough to flow when piped onto the cookie. If it’s too thick you’ll have to spread it, which makes it harder to get an even coating (although my child said she liked the rough, stone-like way the spread icing turned out).

thick vs thin icing

The thick icing shown on the left doesn’t get as smooth as the lower two shown on the right.

Let the icing dry overnight, and then the next day you can write whatever messages you like on the cookies! My child opted for puns in the names, and I helped her draw some curled lines on them as well.

child writing on cookies

Soon you’ll have a graveyard full of deliciousness!

finished cookies on platter

Cut through the cookies with a sharp knife (an adult’s job!) to make them bleed, spill out candies, or both.

cookies cut open

And then eat!

child eating cookie

Posted in 3D Cookies, Cake Decorating, Chocolate/Candy, Cookies, General Freakishness, My Recipes, Severe Nerdery, Sick and Twisted, Working With Kids | Leave a comment

Podcast Announcement

I have to put the podcast on hiatus until I can breathe and talk at the same time again. Information here, including how you can participate in keeping mini episodes going.

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Podcast Episode 68 – Merry Mischief Bakers

Go here to listen and learn all about the team’s second big win at the National Gingerbread Competition!

Merry Mischief Bakers

Evonne Darby, Ted Scutti, Tim, Adam Starkey, Sachiko Windbiel, and their 2021 winning entry from the National Gingerbread Competition in Asheville NC.

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Podcast Episode 67 – Jesse Lesser, Stacy Frank, and Blāque Shelton

Check out the latest episode of the podcast where the Misfits from Disney+’s Foodtastic let us in on all the background stories!

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Podcast Episode 66 Featuring Jacqui Kelly

As always, Jacqui takes on several wild rides so be sure to tune in for all the shenanigans!

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Quick and Variable Tool-Themed Cookies

For those times when you need something to go with a fix-it theme or something more rugged than flowers, here’s a free tutorial on how to make cookies with little gears and various screw/nut/bolt heads. This can be applied to cupcakes and cakes easily as well.

I’m calling it “variable” because this is one of those use-what-you’ve-got scenarios. A group I was involved with back in 2017 was running a household repair cafe as part of a reuse/reduce campaign, so I had to whip these up on short notice to donate for the bake sale portion of the event. And while I do have an airbrush on hand, if I didn’t I would have just dusted the parts with edible metallic lustre dusts instead. An airbrush makes it faster, as do the right sorts of cutters and moulds, but basic mini circles (and remember, the back end of any icing tip is a mini circle cutter!) and a couple of other wrong-end-of-the-tool hacks will help you make some fun treats really fast.

tool head cookies, close up

The Mini Tool Decorations

I used mini circle and hex plunger cutters (I also have non-plunger ones, the plunger ones just make it faster) to punch out a bunch of hex nut shapes (rolled thick) and screw heads (rolled slightly thinner) of various types. For the flat-head screws, I indented them with the back of a paring knife. For the little Phillips ones (that’s the one that looks like an x), I used my Sugar Shaper yellow mini firm tip twice crossing, but you could use any small, flat edge to make that effect. For the round indentations, I used the back of one of my brushes. For that spiky round ones I used the back end of a little plastic fondant tool. Basically, look around at your tools to see what kinds of shapes various parts of the tools can make. You want ones with squared edges, not sloped, because most screw heads have a flat inside to their holes. So a sharp-point tool isn’t a great choice, but go with whatever you’ve got that looks good to you.

Don’t use actual tools, even newly-purchased ones, as many tools contain toxic metals and/or are covered in oil to keep them from rusting. Actual tools are not food safe!

cut out fondant shapes

I also used a mini gear mould made by The Black Cherry Cake Company but they seem to have disappeared since I made these. There are other gear moulds around, though. Just don’t buy a knockoff junky one because this is definitely an application where you will need good-quality, rigid silicone if you want to get good shapes out, and knockoff moulds are usually soft, jelly-like silicone that do not do well with small, intricate shapes because the cheap silicone stretches when you push something into the mould.

moulded gear shapes in fondant

You could also hand-cut some gears by using two sizes of mini circle cutters to make rings and then cutting teeth around the edge, but that would be fairly tedious. I think I paid something like £6ish for this mould back in 2016 and the time savings was definitely worth it.

I used grey fondant for the shapes (as in, I purchased white and tinted it grey with some black food gel). Then I airbrushed them with Amerimist silver all over, and then used a few small bursts of Amerimist copper from only one or two angles to give a hint of rusty discolouration without overdoing it. Then I let them dry thoroughly overnight.

airbrushed 1

Go easy with the copper so you’ve got a few “rusty” ones but they’re still silver overall.

airbrushed 2

In fact, go easy with the silver too. One thin coat is enough to give them a metallic shine without looking like chrome. I tried hitting a few of these with the tiniest bit of black Amerimist but it risked overpowering the metallic look, so I didn’t do many that way.

airbrushed detail

Preparing The Cookies

I always use The Pink Whisk’s Biscuits for Decorating – Non Spreading, No Chilling Required! recipe for fast, easy, tasty sugar cookies using UK ingredients. This recipe may not work as well for other types of flour and butter in other regions, so use the sugar cookie recipe that works best for you.

I have the Ateco Plain Hexagon cutter set, and picked one of the middle sizes for a nice, angular, tool-evoking shape. You can use rounds or squares, it’s all good.

Next for the base coating. Here’s a brilliant hack you’ll love for saving time and producing delicious cookies: use chocolate fondant or modelling chocolate to roll out and cut one pan’s worth of cookie coatings while that pan is in the oven. Modelling chocolate is slightly better in that it won’t dry out, but I think I might’ve used chocolate fondant here, honestly this was so long ago I can’t remember. I have used both at various times.

When the cookies come out, gently rub out any puffy bits on their surfaces with the back of a large, metal spoon or metal icing smoother if you have one. Think of it as “ironing” the cookie. Move the cookies to a cooling rack when they’re cool enough to touch and then place your pre-cut base coats on. The lingering warmth (you want warmth, NOT HEAT) will melt the modelling chocolate/chocolate fondant right on without any need to glue it down.

In this case, I used one size down in the hexagon cutter set, so I knew they’d be a perfect fit. Honestly, a good-quality graduated shape cutter set is worth it many times over if you’re going to be using that shape a lot.

Now you have beautifully-covered cookies ready to go with whatever decoration you’re adding to that base coat.

Putting It All Together

Having all the decorations made in advance makes cookie day a snap. As the cookies cool and that base coat gets solidified on, you simply glue on the mini decorations using a bit of water or – if you think water won’t hold well enough depending on which media you’re using – water with a bit of golden syrup/corn syrup/honey added. Or if you’re really fancy you can use edible glue, but that stuff is expensive so I prefer to save that for where it’s really needed on competition or other delicate work. Use whatever you think will work best for you in your situation.

cookies being assembled

I use these giant trays for decorating/drying, as they don’t fit in any standard residential British oven. This lets me make lots of trays that can be cross-stacked for drying and set out of the way, which is really crucial when making royal icing cookies.

Attach your decorations as desired and voila, relatively quick and easy tool-head cookies that everyone will love!

stacked tool cookies

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Podcast Episode 65 – Sarah Hadley-Rainsford

Come have a listen and see the show notes here!

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Episode 64 of the Podcast – Sweet History Soundbites

Listen and read the show notes here!

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