Blog: How-Tos

There are few things in life more gratifying to Julia than making special gifts for others and watching the smiles that ensue when those labors of love are shared. Here, you’ll find Julia’s how-tos for everything from cookie projects and decorating techniques to paper and other inedible crafts.

Julia M. Usher

How to Stencil Cookies with Royal Icing

Limited video release from my Ultimate Cookies Decorating Series on DVD! Because of the large quantity of requests I’ve received for basic cookie stenciling tips, I’ve released Lesson 10 (basic cookie stenciling) from my DVD series to YouTube for the world to

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Julia M. Usher

How to Contour Cookie Dough

Wondering how to create curvaceous pieces of cookie dough, like the half-circles used to create my cookie baskets in my Contoured Cookie Baskets video? Well, you’re in luck! In this video, I show you all the ins and outs of shaping

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Julia M. Usher

Dual-Mode Stenciling

What the heck is dual-mode stenciling, you ask?! (So sorry – it’s the former engineer in me who loves to make up pseudo-scientific names to explain cookie decorating techniques!) Anywho . . . it’s a term I coined (I think)

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Julia M. Usher

3-D Contoured Basket Cookies

Lovely for Easter, May Day, or Mother’s Day, these baskets are made from contoured cookie dough covered with frosting sheets. Simply swap out what’s tucked inside to adapt them to a particular holiday! To see the video version of this tutorial, click here.

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Julia M. Usher

Holiday Party Crackers

If you hadn’t already gathered, I have a sweet spot for 3-D cookies that resemble things you never thought they could be – like these holiday cookie crackers filled with candies and special messages. I originally designed them for party

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Julia M. Usher

Stuff-able Stockings

Think out of the box – and off the plate! I love the element of surprise that comes from cookies presented in new and different ways, like these 3-D Christmas stockings filled with cookie lollipops, candies, and other treats. Inspiration

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Julia M. Usher

Santa-sational!

Create a sensation this Christmas with these easy-to-decorate Santa faces inspired by clip art of vintage images. All that’s required are the images (as a guide or to trace), edible marking pens, and some Royal Icing for simple borders and embellishments. Looking

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Julia M. Usher

Old-Fashioned Rose Cookies, Four Ways

While prepping for my recent video shoot, I became fascinated with these simple rose cookies and how amazingly different the same stamped cookie could look with only slight variations in other decorative treatments. The effects range from sharp and clean

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Julia M. Usher

Packing Cookies for the Long Haul

If you’ve ever worked in the wedding cake business, you’ll appreciate why I always approached delivery day with an impending sense of doom. After putting hundreds of hours into each wedding cake, I shuddered at the thought of any misstep

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Julia M. Usher

Beadwork Technique Tips

Even though some people may think of beadwork (the making of perfectly round icing dots) as a minor icing detail, I treat it here and in my book Ultimate Cookies as a full-fledged decorating technique. Why the extra attention? Well, partly because

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Julia M. Usher

Making a Parchment Pastry Cone

I hope you’ll find it reassuring to learn that I do 95 percent of my cookie decorating with this simple DIY tool, also called a cornet. Rarely do I go as far as rigging a reusable bag with a metal

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Step 1: Hold the Cone by the Notch When Filling
Julia M. Usher

Filling and Handling a Parchment Pastry Cone

So how do you use my favorite decorating tool once it’s made? Regardless of the decorating technique you choose, there are some basic cone handling instructions to always apply! Read on, and/or check out Lesson 4 in my cookie decorating video

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Julia M. Usher

Easy Ephemera Name Tags

Need some name tags or place cards, but hate your handwriting? Or tired of store-bought options and canned clip art, yet not the best artist? It’s all good – you can still craft beautiful tags using special fonts and ephemera

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Julia M. Usher

Rubber-Stamped Springtime Cookies

I call rubber stamping my ultimate cheater technique, because it allows anyone – even those without God-given artistic talent – to create show-stopping cookies with very little work. Simply choose a lovely stamp and grab some soft-gel food coloring, and

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Julia M. Usher

Baby Rattle Cookies

Ever since developing the projects for Ultimate Cookies, I’ve been smitten with the notion of 3-D cookies. (You’ll see everything from 3-D lizards and peacocks to handbags and other edible bling in my new book!) These treats are as tasty as

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Live sweetly, Julia