Cookie Portraits | Edible Art

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Here is a craft project that is absolutely foolish (in a good way) and will bring a smile to anyone who receives it. It’s a cookie portrait — a silhouette portrait turned into cookie art! For the purposes of this blog I chose to make an Elvis portrait because he is easily recognized by a general audience.

A cookie portrait of Elvis

A cookie portrait of Elvis

Bonnie Thomas

Now, I have to admit– this is a project that takes patience and a good sense of humor. But it is well worth it.

Materials for Cookie Portraits:

  • A black and white silhouette portrait printed onto 8″ x 11″ paper. Use your favorite search engine to search for “famous person’s name” + “silhouette”, i.e. “Elvis silhouette.” Print the image. If the image does not fill your paper you can scale the image to fit your paper.
  • Cookie dough (recipe below)
  • A cookie sheet pan
  • An oven
  • Parchment paper
  • Masking tape
  • A toothpick or butter knife
A cookie portrait of Elvis-- side view

A cookie portrait of Elvis– side view

Bonnie Thomas

It is important to make your own cookie dough and NOT make cookie dough from a mix. Cookies from a mix usually contain risers which would alter the way your portrait comes out. I’ve included a genuine hand-me-down family recipe from Downeast Maine that has no rising agents in it.

Dough for Cookie Portraits:

  • 1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups of butter (this equals 2 1/2 sticks of butter)
  • 1 egg
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/4 tsp. of salt
  • (1/4 cup of cocoa which will be added later)

Mix the butter and powdered sugar until smooth. Add the egg and stir. Add the flour and salt. Mix thoroughly until you can form the cookie dough into a ball.

Split the cookie dough in half. Put one half of the dough in a bowl and set it aside — this will be plain sugar cookie dough.

In a separate bowl add 1/4 cup of cocoa to the other half of the dough.  Mix well and then form this dough into a ball. This will be chocolate cookie dough.

Directions for Making Cookie Portraits:

  1. Make the cookie dough as noted above and chill it for 2 hours before using.
  2. Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the size of your cookie sheet pan. Lay the parchment paper in the pan.
  3. Slide the silhouette picture UNDER the parchment paper so that you can still see the portrait. Make sure the picture is straight and then tape it into place. (Helpful hint: Use one piece of tape to secure the picture to the parchment paper and then use tape (as needed ) to tape the parchment paper to the pan. Make sure the parchment paper is as flat as possible because this will make your silhouette easier to see).
  4. Look at the silhouette and observe the shaded part — this is the area you will work on first. Look at the various curves and lines to get a sense for how you will need to shape your dough to fit these areas.
  5. Start with the chocolate cookie dough. Take a small amount of dough (a half teaspoon at most) and start shaping it to fit a shaded part of the portrait. The dough should be pressed or placed onto the pan at about 1/8″ – 1/4″ inch thick. The silhouette should be easy to see under the parchment paper, so press, shape or place dough exactly where the shaded parts are.
  6. When it comes to making thin lines, roll the dough into snake-like  shapes. If you are making sharp edges or fine details, you can also use a snake-like shape to gently push in tight spaces and/or you can use a toothpick or knife to help push the dough where you need it to go.
  7. Continue using small amounts of dough to fill in the shaded part of the portrait little-by-little
  8. When all of the shaded parts are completed, look over your details to see what needs to be adjusted. Make those corrections as needed.
  9. Now place the cookie sheet in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes — this will harden the shaded parts and make it much easier to add the lighter areas in the next phase.
  10. By now the shaded parts of the silhouette will be firm and you can go ahead and repeat the process above, but filling in the lighter areas.
  11. Start with the areas that have fine detail first — this is because the chocolate dough is still cold and firm from being refrigerated and it will be easier to shape the sugar cookie dough into any tight spaces. Remember to use small amounts of dough at a time.
  12. Complete all of the  light areas.
  13. Finally, fill in the spaces around the silhouette with the sugar cookie dough so that you have a uniform shaped cookie — you can make the overall cookie shape to be a square, an oval, or a rectangle depending on the portrait.
  14. Again, look over your details to see if they look as accurate as possible. You can always remove any cookie dough from areas that don’t look right and do that area over if needed. I did Elvis’s lips three times until it was “good enough.”
  15. Your portrait will have a bumpy appearance. If you still have any patience left you can use your warm hands to smooth out the worst of the bumps.
  16. Carefully remove all of the tape from the pan, as well as the original portrait underneath the parchment paper.
  17. Bake the cookie in a preheated oven at 400 degrees for about 8 minutes or until the edges start to turn light brown.
  18. Allow the cookie to cool completely.

    Steps in making a cookie portrait

    Steps in making a cookie portrait

    Bonnie Thomas

And there you have it– your first cookie portrait!


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