What happens when you cross a foodie with an ancient Egypt tragic?
She makes ancient Egyptian edible art! Some people might think that making ancient Egyptian cookies is taking Egyptomania too far, but in reality, it continues a tradition started by the ancient Egyptians themselves.

Ancient Egyptian Pastry Chefs
Ancient Egyptian pastry chefs at work in the palace cake room. The man on the left is shaping dough into fancy shapes, including animals. The two men on the right are cooking spiral pastries by swirling batter with two sticks on a hot griddle. From the tomb of Ramses III, ca. 1150 BC. Illustration after Rosellini, 1834.

The ancient Egyptians were very fond of sweets that were eaten at parties and religious festivals. They had confectioners and pastry chefs who specialised in producing small cakes that were similar to cookies and cupcakes. These treats were specially shaped and decorated to represent symbols associated with the major Egyptian religious holidays—much as people today like to bake and decorate Christmas cookies.

I enjoy continuing this ancient custom by making cookies and cakes decorated with ancient Egyptian designs. The cookies I make are sold at Christmas to raise funds to help the Ancient Egypt Society of Western Australia with its mission to promote understanding and appreciation of the culture of ancient Egypt.

If you'd like to try your hand at making cookies like these, you can find ancient Egyptian cookie cutters at specialist baking suppliers on the web. You can download my favourite gingerbread cookie recipe here.

King Tut cookies

(Above) The golden mask of Tutankhamun cookies (Christmas 2013). (Left) This is a gingerbread cookie covered with vanilla fondant which has been imprinted and hand-painted with edible metallic glazes. The beard was cut from a chocolate wafer cookie and then rubbed with edible gold powder. (Right) It took the best part of a week to produce this army of King Tuts!

Egyptian Pharaoh cookies

(Above) Pharaoh papyrus cookies (Christmas 2012). (Left) The portrait of a Pharaoh was stamped onto rice paper using edible vegetable colour. The rice paper was glued to a gingerbread cookie using clear glucose syrup, which rendered the paper partly translucent and made it look like papyrus. (Centre, top) A royal icing border with sacred blue lotuses handmade from fondant was added around the rice paper. (Centre, bottom) The edges of the cookie were gilded with edible gold powder. (Right) The craft stamp I used for the portrait is a generic Pharaoh, but the image bears a striking resemblance to Hatshepsut. She seems pleased with the result!

Egyptian winged scarab cookies

(Above) Winged Egyptian scarab cookies (Christmas 2011). (Left) This cookie celebrated the 15th anniversary of the Ancient Egypt Society of Western Australia. The gingerbread cookie was flooded with royal icing and the wings were hand-painted using Lustre Dust. The scarab beetle and sun disk were cut from fondant and gilded with edible metallic paint. The legs of the beetles and lettering were added with an edible ink marking pen. (Right) Winged scarab cookies ready for packaging. Can you spot the one that's missing its hind legs? I got to eat that one!

Ancient Egyptian cupcakes

(Above) These are Egyptian-themed cupcakes I made for the 2012 Annual General Meeting of the Ancient Egypt Society of Western Australia. Our AESWA members went through three big boxes of these in less than an hour!

Ancient Egyptian lemon cupcakes I called these cupcakes 'Cleopatras' because they're a little tart! The buttery lemon cake base has a tart lemon curd filling. It's topped with a swirled rose of lemon Swiss meringue buttercream and a gilded fondant portrait of Cleopatra.

These decadent little treats contained so much fine chocolate they could probably raise the dead, so I called them 'Immortals'. The Valrhona dark chocolate cake contains nuggets of butter-roasted pecans. It's topped with an intense Valrhona glaze and a wreath of whipped ganache. The decoration is a gilded fondant plaque with a hieroglyphic spell for resurrection and edible gold
hearts—because eating a cupcake like this is the next best thing to falling in love!
Ancient Egyptian chocolate cupcakes

Ancient Egyptian Grand Marnier cupcakes I named these cupcakes 'Kamutefs', after the ancient Egyptian god of male fertility; they're definitely for adults only! The vanilla-bean cake was injected with Grand Marnier syrup and topped with a vanilla Swiss meringue buttercream spiked with Grand Marnier. The decoration is a gilded fondant plaque which shows Hatshepsut making an offering to her favourite deity, Amun-Kamutef.

© Patricia L. O'Neill · All Rights Reserved