First, for all who attended my facebook chat this afternoon… My sincerest apologies!! Yes folks. We’ve not had problems with our internet in, gosh, maybe a year? Worked all day in fact. Until TEN MINUTES into my chat. No internet. I panic. I reboot. I unplug. I plug in. I call my husband at work, no luck. I call my friend, no luck. I get my editor and she leaves a message on facebook warning readers of my plight. I finally get my husband and the scene isn’t pretty (sorry dear!). Picture manic, some hysterics. That’s me, not cool collected him. More rebooting, more unplugging. I’m forcing my husband to leave messages on my facebok page with my apologies. Finally, my dear husband calls our internet service provider. OUTAGE! It lasts until ten minutes before the end of my chat. Seriously.
Now I ask you, what are the odds of that? How in the world can anyone argue there is no cosmic force at work here?? The only time we lose internet is the one hour I need it??
The positive in all of this? Pretty much ALL the questions asked by those today and those via email ARE COVERED IN SUGARLICIOUS!! Um, go me??
However, the questions asked during the chat were fantastic. Right on. (About royal icing, marshmallow fondant, cookie decorating for newbies, candy clay). Now to get to the questions emailed to me that I sadly couldn’t answer given said internet outage:
COOKIE DECORATING (royal icing, flooding, piping drying)
Ashley and Krystal both asked for royal icing tips for cookie decorating (do you outline first? Which tips do you use?) And Ginger asked about flooding. And Claudia asked about powdery, dry royal icing (is overwhipping the problem?) And Claudia asked how to pipe a perfect circle.
–start with a good recipe. I of course like mine in the book, but any tried and true recipe by your favorite cookie decorators will work. I’ve never experienced dry, powdery icing, Claudia, so I’m wondering about the recipe. Egg whites or meringue powder mixed with water both should result in good royal icing. I use meringue powder (4 T to ½ cup of water), and whip for several minutes until it looks like snow. In addition to powdered sugar though, I also use other ingredients that make it dry enough to handle, but not rock hard. I add a couple tablespoons of light corn syrup and Crisco.
–It’s all about the consistency. Some decorators do it differently than I do. They use the same consistency for both the outline and the fill, and as a result, you don’t really see the line of the outline. I’m an imperfect cookie decorator. I sacrifice perfection for that-which-is-easier. I use two consistencies of icing, and that’s what I teach in Sugarlicious. One thickish. Which means, after I make my recipe, I take a spoonful. It should hold its shape. Overturn it and it clings to the spoon, maybe slowly falling into the bowl. I prepare a decorating bag with size “4” tip (this is larger than most use! Most use a 2 tip) and outline. Let it set a good 15 minutes. Then I thin the icing with a few drops of water at a time until an overturned spoonful disappears in itself in ten seconds. Then I fill an EMPTY decorating bag and snip off a little bit from the tip, and use that to fill in the cookie. Let it set super well, overnight.
–Piping. The perfect circle? I pipe a lopsided circle, then scrape it off, then try again, then scrape it off, then try again til it’s sort of OK. It helps to pipe circles on a circle cookie so you at least have some guideline, but it’s really difficult for imperfect me. However, you could use a KopyKake projector, though I don’t own them. You can also trace a circle on the cookie with an edible writer first to serve as a guide. Though you’re still left piping perfection! I heard somewhere that you have to be insane to pipe a perfect circle!
Brina asked how do you keep fondant from drying while you are working with it?
Great question. Fondant really does get dried out quickly! Even if I store my fondant in saran wrap, it gets dry. I store it in two freezer Ziplocs! And keep it in there when I’m working with it. If the fondant gets pretty dry, I wet my hands and use some muscle to knead the fondant until it’s pliable again. I’ve also (off the record, because the microwave isn’t fondant’s friend), I nuke it for a few seconds, then knead it.
Claudia asked, How do I come up with ideas?
Such a great question. And sometimes even I don’t know! Often it helps to have parameters, like when I do guests posts to fit a theme… It also helps to be the edible crafts editor at cg. I mine the internet every day looking for edible crafts! I just learn so much from others. This huge collective of ideas swimming around is inescapable. I also am often found sitting at my computer staring into space trying to think of something and face blankness!
Claudia asked about the ring of chocolate at the stick when making cake pops?
Sometimes that ring of chocolate is just so unavoidable. What I do is dip the tip of the stick, maybe ½ inch, in the chocolate, then in the cake pop, rest them on the wax paper and return to the fridge for a couple minutes to help them set and get that stick stuck in there. Then I dip in the chocolate. However, the ring could also be if the melting chocolate is too thick. I always add some Crisco to my melting chocolate before putting in the microwave to melt. Maybe 1 to 3 tsp per cup of chips. This helps everything be of better consistency.
Lora asked about candy clay tips
Candy clay, aka modeling chocolate, is very easy to make, but takes a bit of muscle. The recipe I have in Sugarlicious calls for melting the chocolate, immediately adding the corn syrup and stir, then spreading on a baking tray lined with wax paper. It’s messy, and it doesn’t fill up the whole tray, so don’t waste time trying to smooth it perfectly. Then I let it sit out for about four hours. Take a small chunk and knead knead knead. It takes a while for the heat of your hands to really smooth the candy clay. Candy clay is great, and it tastes much better than fondant, but I find it does have some limitations. It can be a bit greasy, which makes edible writers work less well on them. And while candy clay is good for 3-D decorations, you can’t really roll it out and cover sweets with it very well, like you can fondant. You can knead drops of food coloring into it, but because of the greasy quality that resists water and gel paste food coloring, use candy colors. They look the same concentrated gel paste coloring, but are called candy colors. Find them at the craft store.
For much much much more information on modeling chocolate, go to www.hungryhappenings.com. She’s the master!!
Bertie’s Bakery asked about how to get royal icing from the mixer into the squeeze bottles?
Because it drives me nuts not being able to squeeze out every last drop from squeeze bottles, I actually use disposable decorating bags for both the outlining and flooding. (And promote this in the book.) I bet you could fill a decorating bag, snip the tip and squeeze into the bottle. I know this adds an extra step, but I think it’d work, especially since they are pliable and narrow enough to fit inside.