Continuing with the Around the World cookie theme, we’re travelling to Japan with these Kokeshi cookies.
But first, a little bit about a new section on Sweetopia, the FAQs.
I often get questions about decorating cookies; whether it be as to spots on icing to recipes, the same questions arise.
So, I’ve created a place, besides the tutorial section here, where you can hopefully find the answers to your cookie decorating questions. They’re in this post below and you can always find them at bottom of Sweetopia here:
Frequently Asked Questions – Cookie Decorating
Click on the pink questions below to find the answers:
to find out when submissions are open. You can find more information on the Sweet of the Month Contest here.
Kokeshi Decorated Cookies
So what are kokeshi?
According to Wikipedia:
“Kokeshi (こけし kokeshi), are Japanese dolls, originally from northern Japan. They are handmade from wood, have a simple trunk and an enlarged head with a few thin, painted lines to define the face. The body has a floral design painted in red, black, and sometimes yellow, and covered with a layer of wax. One characteristic of kokeshi dolls is their lack of arms or legs. The bottom is marked with the signature of the artist.”
I’ve been seeing them around everywhere, and am drawn to their cuteness, or as I’ve recently learned, how ‘kawaii’ they are. (Kawaii means cute in Japanese).
There are so many more Japanese-themed cookies I’d like to make, like cherry blossoms and traditional temples, but I’ll have to leave those for another time. If you’d like to make these and would like a little more variation, these fan cookies here, would go nicely together, I think.
Thank you so much to author of the Kokeshi Kimono Book, Annelore Parot, for the cookie design! Her work is simply adorable, and besides publishing several kokeshi-themed books and journals, she even has a site dedicated to her Kokeshi dolls.
I changed the color palette and patterns a bit, because the tiny print patterns were a bit difficult for me to achieve on a small cookie. If you’re interested in trying these, one thing which could work, would be to print the patterns out on edible ink paper link – that way you’d have an exact match!
Some of my colour and pattern inspiration came from this My Little Shoebox scrapbooking paper…
which I played around with on a simple circle cookie first. I’ve learned with experience (the hard way – lol), that a design I might like to do doesn’t always work out. So I’d rather experiment on simple cookie, or on parchment paper, first, before I use up the cookie shapes I need.
By the way, the reason why the smaller kokeshi cookies are a darker base colour than the larger ones, is because I forgot to put the timer on when they were in the oven, and almost ended up burning them! I generally like the look of a just-baked shortbread cookie, but actually didn’t mind how the small kokeshis turned out… and I ended up enjoying the slightly caramelized taste too.
The kokeshi below was inspired by the colours of this small bowl from Anthropologie.
The fan pattern on the cookie below, was inspired by a Japanese kleenex pouch, given to me a few weeks ago by my dear friend Kim, who was recently in Japan to watch her son compete in the Karuizawa International Curling Championship in Karuizawa Japan. Congrats to Cory and his team on winning Men’s Silver!
If you’d like to make these cookies, besides a recipe of your choice, royal icing, and the cookie decorating basics (list of materials I use and tutorial there), a few extra items I ended up using were:
- to the fan, was a little bit of gold luster dust.
- the blush on the cheeks; pink luster dust. For more ‘blush on cheeks’ examples, click here and here.
- the eyes and mouth; food coloring markers.
- I used a Kopykake projector to help me pipe the kokeshi dolls.
And if you like video, you can find some video tutorials here.
I’d love to see some of your Japanese-themed cookies, if you’d like to share them on my facebook page here, or if you’ve got some ideas for a Japanese theme, please feel free to leave a comment below! In case you missed it, I began my Around the World travelling series of decorated cookies in Paris, France, and asked you:
Where in the world do you live? Are there buildings, things or symbols from your city or country which you think would make great cookies?
Share your thoughts with me here in the comment section below, or you can share them on Facebook or twitter. I can’t wait to see where you’re from and which cookies you’d love to see!
Have fun creating!
p.s. I hope Google translate worked. 😉
These cookies are incredible! I have two questions though. How thick are the cookies and how did you cut them out? Oops. Actually 3. Could you make these as transfers too?
@ [email protected], @ K&B N., @ Ninang: Thanks for visiting!
Hi @ rasparise: Yes, I cut them out by hand.
Hi @ Jennifer Tan:
For the face, Americolor copper – a tiny bit! I don’t have a guide for colours but I will add that to my post ‘to do’ list. For the brown, chocolate brown (lots) with a little bit of black. Hope that helps!
Thanks @ Tatyana! I’ll go check it out, and yes, I cut them by hand. You could make these as transfers, yes, buuut, transfers are very fragile, so you would need to make extra just in case. A lot of work if they break! If you make them small, chances of breakage are less btw.
Hope that helps!
@ Kristen: The cookies are about 3/4 of a cm thick.
These are so cute! My only question is can u make these as transfers or will it be harder?
Hi @ Brooklyn: Please read the comment above yours. 😉
Sandra Paula says
Amazing!! You make them so perfect, that you should frame them.
You should be banned from doing such work 😉
You make us feel so jealous, me for sure 🙂
holy crap! i love these! someday i will master this craft. i HAVE to!!! you are so very talented. 🙂
These are beautiful…we lived in Japan for 3 1/2 years and I fell in love with these dolls and came home with my own little collection of them! They are definetly near and dear to my heart. I would like to give them a try (though they won’t hold a light to yours) and send them to my husband who is currently deployed (tips on mailing oversees would be great too!) I was wondering if you could give be a time-line for the process. I’m fairly new to this and sometimes have a hard time figuring out the breakdown of layers and steps and drying time. I see that some of your cookies you decorate over the course of several days…is it ok to leave them out that long or do they get stale. I know you said the drying icing works as a sealant…but what about when your flooding is dry and you are just drying small details? Sorry for all the questions and that this is so long…you are so inspiring and such a great help! Thanks!
Marian (Sweetopia) says
Hi @ Katie: Smaller details will only take a few hours… I leave them overnight to dry for large areas of flooding. One tip for you… make a cookie as a ‘test’ cookie… one you can poke and prod, or bite into, to see if everything is dry. That way you’ll know for sure.
Also, you might want to check out my Cookie Decorating Schedule (in the tutorial section), if you haven’t already.
I love kokeshi dolls too, and loved reading your story. All the best to you and your hubby! xo
Thanks everyone for your lovely comments!
Marian, thank you so much for your blog and tutorials!! These cookies are beautiful!! I tried to make these Japanese doll cookies and they turned out great..well..not as good as yours. But for someone who has never made cookies with royal icing before, I am very pleased with the result! Thank you so much for your great information and tips. You are a great teacher!!
That is wonderful, @ sylviana! I’m so glad to hear it! xoxo
Maybe I missed it but how did you get the cookie base cut out to match the doll?
I hand cut the dough (cut out a template and traced around it).
cheryl s. says
I am absolutely in love with these Kokeshi Dolls. Did you ever make a video tutorial for making them? I think there would be a lot of happy people out there, including myself, if you did.
Thanks so much.
Aww, thanks Cheryl! I’m sorry I don’t have a tutorial, but will add it my list now. xo
Kimberly Harbaugh says
Thank you for all the info you have put out there! I have a question that no one has mentioned, when I have piping incing in my pastry bags my hands seem to warm it and it becomes to loose, also when I leave the piping in the pastry bag overnight, it separates and is looser. Do you have any suggestions for me?
I LOVE your tutorials, your cookies are gorgeous!
This post will answer your second question (and may be helpful in general for you to read). Especially check out the section titled, “How long can one keep royal icing in the piping bag”:
If your hands are making the icing too warm, you may need to take a break and put it aside for a little while, and then come back to it.
Hope that helps!
Hoping that you can give me some suggestions. I don’t have any problems making small dots. But, when I try to make a big dot like for a round nose, it looks great when I’m done. As it drys, holes appear. I’ve tried taking a toothpick to get all of the air bubbles out of it before it dries and tried dropping the cookie on the counter to break up the bubbles. Any suggestions?
Oh yes, the crater issue. (Sorry for the delay in answering, it was a busy holiday season over here). Here are a few posts which may help you;
Another thing I’ve heard which I don’t mention in the posts above, is that some people seem to have success with putting their cookies in a dehydrator immediately after decorating… Speeding up the drying process seems to help in preventing those pesky craters.
Please let me know how it goes for you!
Marian. Would you recommend someone who would be able to recreate these same Kokeshi doll cookies, and send to the UK?