Archive for: cake decorating
Most of the time, cupcakes are frosted with just one color of frosting. You can make two tone frosting by mixing up two different colors of frosting and putting them both into the same piping bag, allowing you to squeeze out a marbled frosting with both colors. This latter method definitely works, but it is difficult to get the colors distributed evenly into the bag, so you’ll end up with some cupcakes that have a lighter swirl and others that have a much darker one, while other times the colors will just completely run together. The solution is a piping bag with two chambers so that you can fill one side with each color and know that you’ll get equal amounts of each color on your cake and that the icing colors won’t blend into one color you weren’t anticipating.
This Duo Icing Set offers just that. The set includes a total of eight disposable icing bags, each with two chambers that allow you to use multiple frosting colors with ease. Four bags are 18-inch and four are 12-inch bags. The set includes six different tips for making everything from thin lines to stars to flowers, and also includes a coupling set that allows you to attach the tips onto the outside of the bag, making it easy to change the tip multiple times on one project. When you run out of bags, you can order a replacement set of them that includes either 10 large or 20 small bags, keeping the tips from this first set to use over and over.
It’s fun to top cupcakes with big swirls of frosting, but there are many times when you might want your baked goods to get a little more detail in their decorating. Piping small details or decorations onto cake with colored frosting can be a challenge, since pastry bags don’t always make it easy to get the fine level of detail that you might need – especially if you’re more of a casual cake decorator, as opposed to someone who does this all the time.
Fortunately, Nordic Ware’s EZ Deco Icing Pen seems designed to solve just this problem. The pen holds a small piping bag and allows you to pipe out frosting with the same level of control you would get with a regular pen. The tool has a compartment to hold the piping bag and you simply press a small lever as you work to control the flow of the frosting. It’s comfortable to hold, which means that you won’t tire your fingers out as you might with a traditional pastry bag, even if you’re working on a big cake or batch of cookies. It works both with stiff and slightly softer icings, and it is easy to change the pastry bag out so that you can work with different colors. The pen also comes with several different tips, so that you can get different textures in your details, too.
When it comes to decorating cakes and cookies, I like to keep things simple. Around the holidays, however, I usually feel the need to take some of my creations over-the-top and put more work into the decorations to make them stand out. Halloween is definitely a holiday of colors, and you’ll see orange, black, purple and green everywhere you go. That color palate is what made Halloween Glitter Gels from Betty Crocker catch my eye in the decorating section of my local market. It can be difficult to find (or make) black food coloring, and the fact that there was a black color in the box made me give them a try.
This type of gel frosting is typically used to decorate the tops of cakes, and the squeezable tubes are handy for writing “Happy Birthday”- type messages. This box showed pictures of decorated cookies, which made me wonder if the gels were a bit different than some I’d used before, and if they might be a good choice for decorating Halloween cookies.
The gels ended up having both strong and weak points. The colors looked awesome – rich and vivid, with just enough glitter to make them pop without looking silly – and the tubes were easy to use. I was able to get very detailed designs onto my cookies with ease. Unfortunately, the gel stayed wet and sticky for a long, long time (more than 12 hours), so it made handling the decorated cookies a little bit difficult. I think that they should change the picture on the packaging to show decorated cupcakes, instead of cookies, because I would definitely use these to add some Halloween color to a cake, but I will stick to other (homemade) frosting options to decorate cookies next time.
Candy melts are a product that are often recommended for easy candy making or coating cake pops wit a chocolatey coating. They come in many colors and have a plain, vaguely milky flavor that serves as a base for additional flavorings. There are other products with very similar names out there that perform in the same way. Many people make the mistake of thinking that these are chocolate, since they’re recommended for candy making, but these melts are not chocolate. They’re primarily made with a combination of sugar and vegetable fats – not cocoa butter.
Candy melts are easy to use – just melt and dip – and they come in a wide variety of colors, which makes it easy to decorate with them and achieve a wide variety of looks. Since they are not chocolate, so they don’t need to be tempered. Candy melts will set up with the same look and texture after they have been melted and allowed to harden again. The only real downside is that they’re quite sweet and definitely don’t deliver that rich chocolate flavor to candies made with them.
Tempering chocolate – a process that stabilizes melted chocolate so that it has a smooth, glossy sheen with a nice “snap” after it sets up – can be a tricky process because you have to raise and lower the temperature of your chocolate to get just the right result. It can take a little bit of practice to get the hang of tempering chocolate, but it is well worth it for making homemade chocolate bark or other candies. Candy melts are best used for decorative purposes.
Cakes are the perfect way to celebrate many occasions, from birthdays to weddings, and there are any number of ways to customize a cake to make sure that it is the perfect fit. One option is to print an edible photo to decorate the cake with. Another is to sculpt a cake into an edible model, a theme that many cake-decorating shows are based around. And, of course, you can always simply write your message in simple icing.
Disney is thinking a little bigger than these cake-decorating ideas, looking for new ways to make a cake amazing. The company recently filed a patent for designs on augmented reality cakes. Augmented reality refers to something that has been visually altered with computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video or graphics. The patent describes technology, such as small projectors, that could be applied to cakes to make them look different using computer generated images projected onto the surface of the cake. In the simplest form, this could translate to a slideshow of pictures that play across the top of the cake. In its most complex form, this could result in a 3D cake with 3D images mapped over the whole surface, complete with moving or interactive items that bring the scene to life.
In other words, this type of technology would allow a cake to look and feel like an attraction at Disneyland – on a much smaller scale. This, of course, isn’t practical for everyday use because you probably wouldn’t be able to use it at home. But Disney hosts an incredible number of special occasions – like birthdays and weddings – throughout the year and this would definitely bring all of that Disney magic into every cake. With the patent application, these cakes might not be ready for primetime next year, but I certainly wouldn’t mind seeing a cake that comes to life like this – although I might feel bad about cutting into it!