One of THE best party and holiday favours or activities is definitely the Paint Your Own cookie kit (PYO for short). If you have the right tools and a side of patience, these cookies are a great addition to your business - or just something fun for your family and friends!
I will mention to start, that if you are just wanting to paint cookies as a fun activity, check out my blog post on watercolour cookies! PYO cookies are amazing, but not necessary if you are just looking for a simple and fun activity for yourself or kids.
If you aren’t familiar, PYO Cookies are that in which you create an edible pallet and canvas out of cookies. With a paint brush and water, you are able to use the cookie itself to paint it. You know those painting books for kids that come with the hardened paint and you just use water? Yeah, it’s just like those... but edible!
To start, you of course want to bake and ice your cookies (see my first two blog posts for that). Be sure that your cutter is the right size for the image you are going to apply later via stencilling or an edible image. Ice your cookies white and allow them to dry FULLY.
In the meantime, you’ll want to create the royal icing paint dots for your cookies.
The alternative to making these paint dots is directly airbrushing or dabbing the airbrush colour onto your cookie with a small round sponge. I prefer making paint dots as it elevates the colours so that they don’t run together when the person is painting. I’ll show these options further down.
Now to make the paint dots, you’ll need a medium consistency white icing and baking pans lined with parchment paper.
The first step is to pipe your royal icing dots onto the parchment paper. It can be handy to have a guide like the one from Sweet Sugarbelle linked under the picture below. You can print this off and lay it under your parchment paper as a way to ensure all of your dots are the same size. Once you’ve piped your dots, it’s best to place your pan in front of a fan to help them crust over right away and not crater inwards.
Once the dots are completely dry, the next step is to add your “paint” to them. For this, I airbrush the colours onto them and then place them in front of the fan again because the liquid airbrush colouring can sometimes cause your dots to “melt” and become flat.
If you don’t have an airbrush machine, you can also add the airbrush colouring onto your dots lightly with a paint brush - you may not get the same coverage as with an airbrush and will need to apply a few coats, but it will achieve the purpose in the end. Gel colour can be used as well, but it tends to stay tacky which is an issue for packaging so I really don’t recommend it.
Once your dots are dry, it’s time to apply them to the cookie. Again, your cookie must be iced and completely dry. You can either use a large cookie that has room beside your image for the dots (there are special PYO cutters for this), or have a separate cookie as your paint pallet like I have. I recommend this second cookie as it keeps the “mess” separate from the image being painted. To apply the dots, you will glue them on with a little bit of thick consistency white royal icing. Be sure to press them on lightly so they don’t break themselves, or puncture your cookie.
Once your pallet is dry, brush a light layer of cornstarch over the coloured dots to prevent smudging if being packaged later.
Now for creating the actual image to paint, you have four options:
Once your image is applied and both it and your paint pallet is fully dry, you’re done! To paint the image is easy, all you need is water and a paint brush. The kid type plastic paint brushes are perfectly fine for this. Simply dip the brush into the water, brush against the coloured dot and apply the “paint” to your cookie. It’s important to not use too much water as it will eat away at your icing and cause your image if stencilled to run. Easier said than done with kids, I know! Just keep an eye on little Johnny to make sure he’s not creating a lake in the middle of his cookie.
Once complete, you eat - it’s a perfect activity and snack all in one!
If packaging, you’ll want to have some clear poly bags sized accordingly to your cookies. I always recommend that if you are doing cookies professionally, that you invest in a heat sealer and flat clear poly heat seal bags. It keeps your cookies (and hard work) fresh for weeks once sealed and adds that professional final look. If you are a hobbyist or are unable to invest in a heat sealer at this time, you can still package your cookies in the poly bags and just tie very securely with ribbon. Your cookies will still stay fresh for a few days. Finally, place your cookies in a small favour box with a paint brush and you’re done!