I recently made a baseball-themed birthday cake for a friend's boyfriend (a big SF Giants fan). I wanted to pipe a few flowers on it, but nothing traditional like a rose. The shaggy mum came to mind; it's one of the first flowers you learn in the Wilton Method classes, and looks a lot like a cheerleader's pompom. Even in the book handed out in class, the directions aren't very thorough, so I thought I'd show you how I make them.
They can be piped directly on a cupcake, but I like to pipe them onto a Nilla Wafer and then place them in a more precise fashion. I like to use the Wilton Ready-To-Use Decorator Icing, because of its stiff consistency. I colored it using AmeriColor Soft Gel Paste Food Color in Orange. The piping bag is loaded with Wilton tip # 233 (which is frequently used for fur, hair, and grass). Start by squeezing out a random blob onto one of the Nilla Wafers:
Smooth it out evenly with an offset spatula. Push it as close to the edge as possible, while allowing yourself some icing-free edge to hold onto. The icing doesn't need to be thick; it just needs to mask the color of the cookie.
Hold the bag perpendicular to the cookie, with the tip just above the surface of the icing. Squeeze firmly, allow the icing to anchor itself, pull upwards while squeezing for about 1/3", then stop pressure and pull the bag away at the same angle. Do this all over the iced surface of the cookie, with each "squeeze" touching its neighbors.
Here's more or less how it should look when you're finished. Add a few squeezes to the back of the cookie…