Airbrushing Apples!

I haven’t been doing as many cookies, lately.  There’s a reason for this.  I’ve been working on 360 wedding cookies for a good friend I’ve had for 25 years. The wedding cookies have taken most of my baking time, but since the wedding is this week . . . hopefully we will be able to do some more cookies, soon!
Since these cookies are fall shapes for a fall wedding, I wanted to take a little post, here, to show you how to airbrush some realistic details on cookies.
An airbrush machine is a pretty significant purchase– a decent one can run you around $200.  So if you are considering “taking the plunge,” make sure that you do your homework and see if it’s a piece of equipment you would actually use.  I love mine– it makes things so much easier and more professional looking.  My suggestion is that, if you are considering investing in an airbrush system, you first try out the Wilton color mist– these are kind of like a tiny cooking spray, except they spray color.  That way, you can try out the effects of an airbrush, but you will spend about $3 instead of $200.  It’s always good to start small, and then you can see if you need more equipment, later, or if you will even use what you thought you had to have.
Here is the most important part of the airbrush machine– the gun!!!  Yes. You can have a gun. And it’s legal.  But remember– guns don’t kill perfectly good cookies– inexperienced people do. 😉
And soon you won’t be inexperienced, because I’m going to show you how to work some airbrush magic on these apple cookie pops.
Here is our apple cookie pop.  Today, we are focusing on airbrushing, but if you want to learn more about how to make cookie pops, check out my tutorial here.
See how it’s kind of one dimensional?  It’s a perfectly good apple, but to make it look realistic, we need more. We need airbrush!
Another interesting point: this cookie was one that I took from the freezer.  Yes.  You absolutely can freeze decorated (or non decorated) sugar cookies with royal icing. Most cookies freeze quite well and thaw just as well as the day they were fresh.  However . . . I have noticed that certain colors– especially the dark ones, like red, tend to get little splotches in the color, when they are subjected to the freezer.
But never fear– a little airbrushing will make this apple good as new.  *DO NOT freeze cookies that have been airbrushed.  I learned this the hard way when my hard work turned into a sodden mess like a crying girl’s mascara, one holiday. Airbrushed cookies will RUN when they thaw. Just freeze the regular iced cookies and airbrush them when the cookies are completely thawed.
Next, let’s “load” this gun.  This is the barrel of your airbrush– and this is where you will put the color.  You can see that I have added a few drops of red color.  All the colors tend to look black, so be sure to note the labels before you add any color.  It’s also a good idea to spray a bit on a paper towel, first, to make sure that your color is what you want, before you apply it to an actual cookie.
Use a paper towel to cover any part of the apple that you don’t want to be airbrushed red– I am covering the green stem to keep it safe from the color.
But where to airbrush?  It’s really pretty easy.  Just think about where you would see shadows on a real apple.  You can even get a real apple out and look at it, if you need help.  Spray your color along the side and bottom of the apple.  If the white part were a reflection of light, the shadows would be on the opposite side.
When you are airbrushing, make sure you use very light strokes and keep the gun moving.  Concentrating too long in one spot makes the color pool and bleed.  If a light coat isn’t dark enough, let it dry and apply another light coat, afterward.  It’s better to have 2 light coats of color than 1 heavy coat.  Less is more.
When your paper towel starts to look like this– kind of “sodden,” either turn it or get another one.  If the towel gets too wet, it will bleed color onto the apple.  And who likes bleeding apples???  Not me.


Here are my apples, nicely shaded and ready to dry.  I love how the shading gives them a 3D effect.  Note that the apples look shiny.  This is not because I have globbed on the color– airbrush colors seem a little shiny, at first, but they will tone down a bit as they dry. Remember– less is more with airbrush color. A little goes a long way.
When the apples dry, the red will get a touch darker, and the apples will have a little sheen.  Who doesn’t love a little blushing apple?
You should!  Because you did it!  And I’m just so proud of you.


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  1. Cyndy

    Thank you so much for the advice. I am so glad that I read this before I froze airbrushed cookies. That would have made my own mascara run.

    1. Emilie (Post author)

      haha I hear that! Glad I could help. I like to airbrush after I remove them from the freezer and thaw them completely. It’s like doing their makeup before prom. 😉 –Emilie

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