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Friday, November 30, 2012

Royal Icing Ginkgo Leaf

Even thought it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas (everywhere you go), there are still a few trees bearing stunning fall-colored leaves. The other day I saw one and was inspired to do a Google image search of "fan shaped yellow leaves." I'd gotten about 2.5 words typed by the time it prompted me with "gingko tree"! In retrospect, I think I probably knew that. Anyway, to pipe ginkgo leaves (which start green and turn yellow), you'll need stiff consistency royal icing, leaf tip #104, oval tip #55, a flower nail, a Styrofoam block to rest the nail in, a glue stick, and parchment paper squares. Start by sticking a parchment square to the flower nail with a dab from the glue stick. 
 Hold the tip against the surface with the narrow end facing outward. Squeeze while moving your hand in a fanlike motion, keeping the wide end in more or less the same spot. Wave the narrow end up and down while you pipe to create the texture. Stop pressure and pull the tip away.
 Repeat for the second half of the leaf, which should touch the first one at the base.
 Switch to the #55 oval tip to pipe the stem. It would look better narrower, but would be more likely to break.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Tribute to Lemon Cream Pie Day

I just found out today is National Lemon Cream Pie Day. I don't have enough time to bake an actual pie, but I can certainly pipe a tiny approximation. I was browsing cnn.com for actual news and came upon the story of how today is National Lemon Cream Pie day, and how all you really need to go the easy route in creating one of these pies is a box of lemon pudding mix, a pie crust, and some whipped cream.
If you're so inclined, go for it! Alternately, if you'd like to pipe one the size of a nickel to serve to Christmas elves who show up early, you'll need stiff consistency royal icing in yellow, brown and white, round tip #12, petal tip #101, star tip #18, a flower nail, a Styrofoam block to rest the nail in, parchment paper squares, a glue stick, and a dusting pouch filled with a 50/50 mix of cornstarch and powdered sugar. Start by sticking a parchment square to the flower nail with a dab from the glue stick. 
 Hold the #12 tip about 4 mm above and at a right angle to the surface, and squeeze steadily while moving the tip around in a circle. Fill in the hole in the center. Touch a fingertip to the dusting pouch and tap the icing smooth.
 Attach the #101 tip to the brown icing. With the narrow end facing upward and the wide end at the base, pipe around the perimeter of the yellow disc while rotating the nail. Pulse the #101 tip in and out to create the crimping of the pie crust as you pipe.
 Let the icing firm up for a few minutes, then finish off with a dollop from the #18 tip to suggest whipped cream. Substitute the yellow icing with orange and BOOM! You have a pumpkin pie.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Royal Icing Christmas Cracker

Piping Christmas crackers is a great way to use up that last bit of stiff consistency royal icing in any festive color; don't worry, you don't need to pipe a tiny hat, toy and joke to go inside them. You'll need round tip #12, petal tip #101, a flower nail, a Styrofoam block to rest the nail in, a glue stick, an offset spatula, parchment paper squares, and a dusting pouch filled with a 50/50 mix of cornstarch and powdered sugar. Start by sticking a parchment square to the flower nail with a dab from the glue stick. 
 Pipe a cylinder of icing about one inch long. Start by wiping away any icing from the tip. Hold the tip flat against the surface and pipe for about an inch. Stop pressure…
 …and slide in the spatula alongside the tip.
 You should be left with a reasonably tidy cylinder. Neaten it with a fingertip you've touched to the dusting pouch, if need be. Allow it to firm up for a few minutes. 
Switch to the #101 tip to pipe the ruffly ends. Hold the narrow end of the tip outwards and pulse the tip back and forth to form ruffles while piping in a fanlike motion. These could work for any holiday if you adapt the colors thematically.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Royal Icing Mittens

Here's a cute accompaniment for yesterday's Santa hat; in fact, it uses the same icing colors and tips (round #12 and #8). You'll also need parchment paper squares, a flower nail, a glue stick, a Styrofoam block to rest the nail in, and a dusting pouch filled with a 50/50 blend of powdered sugar and cornstarch. Start by sticking a parchment square to the flower nail with a dab from the glue stick. 
 Hold the #12 tip just above and at a right angle to the surface. Squeeze while moving the tip along for about half an inch. Stop pressure and pull the tip away. This is the thumb.
 This time, move the tip in an upside-down "U" motion. Touch a fingertip to the dusting pouch and tap the line in the center to smooth out the icing.
 Repeat, if you'd like to do a pair of mittens. Why not?
 Pipe the cuffs in a contrasting color with the #8 tip. Pulse the tip while you pipe (move your hand back and forth subtly and rapidly) to give it some texture; it almost passes for "fluffy"!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Royal Icing Santa Hat

A royal icing Santa hat would be cute on cupcakes or petits fours, but I think it would be especially useful as a topper on a Santa Claus cake pop. You'll need stiff consistency royal icing in red and white, round tips #12 and #8, a flower nail, a Styrofoam block to rest the nail in, parchment paper squares, a glue stick, and a dusting pouch filled with a 50/50 blend of cornstarch and powdered sugar. Start by sticking a parchment square to the flower nail with a dab from the glue stick. 
 Attach the #12 tip to the red icing. Hold the tip at a 90 degree angle to and just above the surface. Squeeze while drawing the tip up for about 3/4". Stop pressure and pull the tip away. Touch a fingertip to the dusting pouch and gently nudge the peak of the icing over to one side. Allow this shape, the base of the hat, to dry for about 15 minutes.
 Attach the #8 tip to the white icing and pipe the brim of the hat. Pulse your hand slightly to give it some texture. Touch a fingertip to the dusting pouch and tap the area where the two ends meet to blend them, if need be.
 Pipe a ball at the pointed end of the hat shape with the #8 tip. Hold the tip a few millimeters away from the surface, squeeze out a ball, stop pressure and pull the tip away. Shape the icing with dusted fingertips into as close to a ball as you can. These hats would instantly turn any cake pop animal into a Christmas version of itself!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Royal Icing Candy Cane

Perhaps you're wondering, why pipe candy canes? It's easy enough to buy them by the dozen ANYWHERE (during December, anyway). However, candy canes have an annoying knack of becoming sticky and gummy in short order as a decoration on gingerbread houses (in humid climates, anyway), and their flavor isn't always appropriate if you use them to decorate cupcakes. All you'll need to pipe candy canes are two round #8 tips, stiff consistency royal icing in red and white, parchment paper squares, a flower nail, a Styrofoam block to rest the nail in, a glue stick, and a dusting pouch filled with a 50/50 mix of powdered sugar and cornstarch. Start by sticking a parchment square to the flower nail with a dab from the glue stick. Alternately, you can tape a sheet of parchment paper to a baking sheet, especially if you're piping canes on a larger scale. 
 Start by piping a small "S." Hold the tip at about a 45 degree angle.
 The next few photos just show the process repeating…
 …and repeating…
 …and repeating.
 You'll need to alter the shape a bit as you curve the cane over to one side or the other.
 The shape you pipe, though, is still essentially going to be an "S."
 Here it is, almost done…
 …and here it is completed, finished off with a dab of contrasting color at both ends. Touch a fingertip to the dusting pouch to tap down any peaks of icing that remain. You could use this technique to pipe all sorts of candy cane-striped things; wreaths, hearts, straight sticks for fence posts for a gingerbread house, etc.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Royal Icing Holly and Berries

If you have leftover red and green icing from making wreaths, why not pipe some holly? All you'll need is leaf tip #70, round tip #3, a flower nail, a Styrofoam block to rest the nail in, a glue stick, parchment paper squares, round toothpicks, and a dusting pouch filled with a 50/50 mix of powdered sugar and cornstarch. Start by sticking a parchment square to the flower nail with a dab from the glue stick. 
 Attach the leaf tip to the bag of green icing. Lay the tip almost flat against the surface and pipe for about 1". Stop pressure and pull the tip away. Touch your fingertips to the dusting pouch and define the end of the leaf into a point.
 Press a round toothpick into the icing all the way around the edge of the leaf (except the tip), drawing it outwards as you pull it away.
 Pipe a cluster of red berries with the #3 tip. Hold the tip just above the surface, squeeze out a ball, and pull the tip away. Repeat, repeat. Tap down any peaks that remain with a dusted fingertip. These holly leaves would look great as a garnish on any dessert for Christmas.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Royal Icing Christmas Wreath

I've had tip #71 by Magic Tip in my possession for months, but I've never used it. I was never really sure what the point of it was; it's basically a star tip that looks like it's been stepped on (it's flat on one side). As I was pondering which tip to use to pipe a Christmas wreath, I gave that one a try and I think it worked quite well. You'll also need a small round tip like the #2 to pipe berries, and a tip to pipe the bow; I used the petal tip #101. You'll also need a flower nail, a Styrofoam block to rest the nail in, parchment paper squares, a glue stick, and a dusting pouch filled with a 50/50 mix of powdered sugar and cornstarch. Start by sticking a parchment square to the flower nail with a dab from the glue stick. 
Hold the tip, flat side down, against the surface, and rotate the nail more slowly than you pipe; your pressure should be fairly firm. This is what will cause ruffles to form. When you reach the point where the two ends meet, overlap the ends a little, stop pressure and pull the tip away. You might neaten up this area with a fingertip after touching it to the dusting pouch. 
 If you're going to pipe a bow, do it over the junction of the two ends. I piped the two loops of the bow first, with the wide end of the tip in the middle and the narrow end angled outwards. Move your hand in a tight "C" motion while piping for each side.
 The tails of the bow are just short squirts of icing; there's no real direction for them.
 Switch to the #2 tip and pipe berries, which are nothing more than dots of icing. Pipe all the dots, then tap down any peaks with a dusted fingertip. The wreath would be perfect on a Christmas cupcake, but it would really look great on the door of a gingerbread house!



Thursday, November 22, 2012

Royal Icing Wishbone

I'm about to hit the road for Thanksgiving! Who knows when/if I'll be anywhere near a computer later (or passed out under the tree; oh wait, that's Christmas), so here's a quick little post: a royal icing wishbone. The wishbone is arguably the most popular part of the turkey, even thought it's ridiculously small, there's only one of them, and you have to let it dry out for weeks before actually snapping it. Talk about the antithesis of instant gratification! So, if you'd like to pipe a tiny, edible wishbone for every single one of your guests, get out that white royal icing, a round tip (I used a #5), and some parchment paper taped to a baking sheet. Pipe the wishbone directly onto the parchment and tap the ends flat with a fingertip you've touched to a dusting pouch. Allow them to dry all day, and by the time you're serving the pumpkin pie they should be dry and ready to snap. May all your Thanksgiving wishes come true, even if they involve getting one of each of all the new Monster High dolls at Walmart's Black Friday madness ;)
Happy Thanksgiving!