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October 19, 2009

I need your help.

Over the past two weeks I have been working to capture the perfect photo of my slice-and-bake sugar cookies to include on the website.  For this task I rolled out the dough (rather than simply slicing and baking) and cut it into Halloween-themed shapes. Once cooled, I frosted the cookies with either chocolate or white icing, depending upon the shape, and decorated accordingly.

As the kitchen witch, I strive to make beautiful cookies using only all-natural ingredients, which means no artificial color.  I haven’t invested in many all-natural food colorings, other than what I can make myself (from beet juice or raspberry puree).  I did happen to have naturally colored orange sprinkles in my bag of tricks, so those served well for the pumpkins.  However, most of the cookies are simply white or chocolate.

Along the way, this became a journey of actually trying to take a nice photograph of my products.  Despite my claim to settle for mediocre in most of my endeavors, this was different because these photos will represent me to potential customers.  Here are a few of my attempts, during what turned out to be a stretch of rainy, gray weather (which never helps an amateur photographer).

a mix of holiday cookies

A) a mix of holiday cookies


Halloween themed cookies

B) Halloween themed cookies


ghost cookie

C) ghost cookie


After putting a call for help out on Twitter, I attempted some photos during a sunny afternoon.

ghosts in a cup

D) ghosts in a cup

pumpkin and black cat cookies

E) pumpkin and black cat cookies


In the end, it seems that baking and decorating (oh, and eating) sugar cookies is infinitely easier and more enjoyable for me than photographing them.  In fact, I’m still not sure after the hours of decorating and composing shots and taking  pictures that I have something I like.

Here’s where you come in. I would like to hear from you about these here photos. Which one is the most appealing? (Granted, they may provide for slim pickings, but which is the lesser of all evils and all that.)  Which stands the greatest chance of being accepted at say, TasteSpotting or FoodGawker? (If none, I can live with that, too.  But I’m still going to submit them because, hey, what doesn’t make it goes over to TasteStopping anyway! So help me narrow it down.)

In the comments, please leave me your honest feedback. I know that they are lacking in many ways, so feel free to elaborate for me. Then tell me whether you like A, B, C, D, or E best.

And keep an eye out for the Great Halloween Tweet, which you will notice over on the sidebar.  Lots of spooktacular (couldn’t resist…how often to you get the chance to use that word in a sentence?) blogs to visit.

Thanks for your help. In return, enjoy this easy to make, easy to use “Easy Powdered-Sugar Icing” from The All-American Cookie Book by Nancy Baggett.  It’s what you see on the ghosts and pumpkins above, and it is truly easy to work with. Easier than my Canon PowerShot, anyway.

Easy Powdered-Sugar Icing

(makes enough icing to completely cover, then add piping to, about 50 (3-inch) cookies)

1 16-ounce box powdered sugar, sifted, if lumpy, plus more if needed
2 t light corn syrup
1/8 t vanilla, almond or lemon extract (optional)
liquid food coloring (optional)

In a large bowl, with an electric mixer on low speed, beat together the powdered sugar, 3 Tablespoons warm water, the corn syrup, and the extract (if using). Increase the speed to medium and beat until well blended and smooth. (Alternatively, in a medium bowl, stir together the powdered sugar, water, corn syrup and extract until well blended and smooth.) I tried the latter and it worked just fine. No need for an electric mixer on this.

Adjust the icing consistency as needed by adding a bit more water to thin it or more powdered sugar to stiffen it.  A fairly fluid consistency is needed to spread the icing easily and form a perfectly smooth, glossy surface; a stiff consistency is needed to pipe and form lines that hold their shape. If desired, divide the icing among separate small bowls and tint…blah, blah, blah.  If you honestly don’t know how to tint icing with food coloring, you need more than this recipe.  I won’t bore you with the rest of the directions.  Suffice it to say that you should let icing set in between piping and flooding, so as not to cause the colors to run. At least six hours, preferably longer ought to do it (and also allow to set 6 or more hours before storing cookies.)  Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days (I’ve been known to hold mine for weeks this way, allowing to come to room temp and adding some warm water to create the consistency I need).

5 Comments leave one →
  1. October 19, 2009 9:40 pm

    B and D would be my personal choices. What I really want is your cookie recipe! 😀 I’ve been looking for a good sugar cookie recipe for cutting into shapes, for years, believe it or not.

    These look fun and really appealing!

  2. October 20, 2009 3:32 pm

    Loved your comment “and tint… blah, blah..” I sometimes wish I didn’t have write all those “obvious” directions, too, but you’d be surprised at what can go wrong when I don’t tell exactly how to proceed. Thanks for crediting my book, by the way–credit is always suppposed to be given, but not everybody does this.

  3. October 25, 2009 10:45 am

    I thought B & D too, and see thet Renee picked the same. These are pretty cookies. Good luck to you!

  4. October 25, 2009 12:56 pm

    I like pictures A and E. But all are good pictures, you’ll do well with any of them.


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