Why make Gopher Valentine Cookies, you ask…?? The short answer is that it is a school mascot. (I’m not sure why, mind you, as it is not an animal that is native to our part of Canada.) The long answer is that the Home and School Association at my daughter’s elementary school organizes a Teacher Appreciation Day each year around the time of Valentine’s Day and parents supply food for break time each day. I try to come up with a different cookie design each year. The school mascot is a gopher, so I used that as the focus…and it works into a cute Valentine’s Day pun, as well!
I recently purchased a Silhouette Cameo cutting machine, so this was a perfect opportunity to put it to use. I wanted to put a gopher head on some of the cookies, so first I used the web-based application Background Burner to isolate just the gopher head from the picture of the mascot. Then I used the “trace” feature of the Silhouette Design Studio (the software which interfaces with the actual cutting machine) to create a gopher head stencil from a picture of the mascot.(There were a lot of editing steps, which I will not detail at this time.) I have found the Silhouette School blog very useful in helping me learn to use the Silhouette Design Studio software.
Here is the original mascot, pictured on the left, and a picture of the completed cookie stencil on the right. The stencil was cut from a 5.5″ square piece of clear plastic meant for report covers, purchased from the copy center of my local Staples outlet. (Originally, I tried overhead projector acetate, but it was not thick enough to stencil successfully with this detailed stencil. I think it would work okay on a more simple stencil, however.)
I had made a few test cookies previously to try out the stencils and test optimal icing consistency. That is when I discovered that the overhead projector acetate was too flimsy for the gopher; when I tried to lift the stencil from the cookie, it lifted inconsistently in different areas and the icing smudged. I found the best success with the following method: piping consistency icing in a piping bag, applied with a #5 Wilton round tip, over stencil areas, then gently pull icing across the stencil using the edge of another scrap piece of report cover. This prevented edges of the cut out from getting caught by something such as an offset spatula.
The school logo uses a varsity-style font:
Here are some pictures of the completed cookies:
I ended up creating two cookie platters, because there were going to be too many layers on a single tray (perhaps 5-6), and I didn’t want the details on the bottom layer cookies to become crushed or smudged. (I started with a triple batch of sugar cookie dough.)
Soooo, let’s see, what did I learn when making this set…? Stencilling is FUN, but it can be time-consuming to clean the stencil between each use. Perhaps if I had two identical stencils and enlisted a family member to clean one while I use the other, production speed would increase immensely. Fortunately, I don’t think my immediate family members read my posts, so they will have no warning that they may be helping me, next time I make a cookie set that uses stencils! 🙂