I had often seen pictures of snowflaked shaped cookies in baking books and I thought that they looked beautiful. I can often improvise with a stencil and a sharp knife when I want to make biscuits in a more unusual shape but I thought the more intricate snowflake design was a bit beyond me! So I decided to hunt down a snowflake cutter set, and the one I eventually settled on was made by Tala. I bought them from Amazon.
The cutters come in a stainless steel look round tin. It is useful to have a substantial storage container to keep the pieces together, although it looks identical to many other such sets that I have so when they are stacked up it is hard to tell which is which. It now wears a label. Inside the tin are the cookers and tightly packed they are too. You get 5 in total, in 3 different sizes. The Amazon description said the cutters ranged from 1.5"/3cm to 3"/7cm. The inch measurements seem correct but I would say the smallest cutter is actually 4cm diameter and the largest nearer 8cm. It is only a small difference but it may matter to someone! In addition to the small and large cutters there are also 2x5cm cutters, each in a different design, and a single 7cm cutter.
The cutters sprang out off the tin when I finally managed to wiggle them out. I do wonder whether keeping them under pressure in the small tin will eventually lead to the cutters warping somewhat but there has been no sign of them doing so in the year that I have had them. They do feel as though they are made of rather thin metal and so they do not seem substantial in the hand. I have no problems with how they cut however, and I do not think there is much danger of them breaking, as little pressure is actually needed to use them. The cutting edge is sharp enough to convey the complexity of the design but they work best with a dough that is failrly substantial. This is because a lighter more fragile dough doesn't hold the shape as well when you transfer it to the baking tray. I had to tidy up up a few biscuits, just by using a knife to even out the edges, but I found that giving the cutters a tiny squeeze helps release the dough neatly. I usually lightly flour the cutter and I am sure this helps too. If all fails, I cut the biscuits out on the baking sheet.
I am pleased that the designs are both attractive but also pratical because they produce a biscuit that is evenly enough shaped to ensure they cook properly. [Shaped biscuits with protruding elements often burn at the edges.] I have used the largest cutter the most, and if anything I would have liked the set to include a larger cutter still. As the sizes were given in the Amazon product description I can't complain that I didn't get one though. The larger the biscuit, the easier it is to decorate for me. As the cutters only give the outline of the snowflake, I like to fill in the centres of the biscuits with decorations, piped using fine writing icing nozzles. A glittery white frosting looks especially pretty.
I have used the smallest cutters to make a sweet little pastry lid for mincepies, as an alternative to a star for example. I think the larger cutters convey the snowflake design best, but the smaller shapes are still easily recognisable for what they are supposed to be. That size is also useful for cutting out shapes from fondant icing to use in decorating cupcakes and larger cakes. So while the snowflake design isn't one that I will use all year round, I have got plenty of use from the set over the festive period.
When the baking session is over the cutters take a bit longer to clean than those of a simpler shape. That is because there are more indentations around the edges which catch dough. Once that is done, I have the struggle of fitting the snowflakes back into the tin, which is not as easy as it sounds! These are only small problems though, and despite their rather flimsy look, I love my biscuit cutters! They cost £8.39 last year, but I bought a set for a friend in August this year for £7.00 - an early Christmas present! She has been using the cutters with dough for craft projects. They are worth the price to me, as I know I will get a lot of use from them for years to come - snowflakes will never date after all. Recommended for enthusiastic and festive bakers!
[This review is also under my user name on Ciao.]