Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Icing Options
My last post was a recipe for orange nutmeg cookies (you can find it here) and I used some of the dough to make lambs and chicks for my little lamb and chick...and I promise this will be the last cutesy posting for a couple of months!  I also promised I'd post a recipe for royal icing which I have combined with ready to roll fondant on the lambs, and used 'neat' on the chicks.  It has taken me quite a while to settle on the recipe that works best for me and the local climate and I still need to adjust the amount of water if it's a particularly hot, dry, or stormy day...so don't worry if you need to make small adjustments too.  Also, most recipes I have read talk about 'meringue powder' which I haven't been able to find locally.  But, I did find something called Pavlova Magic (well of course, it's practically the national dish!) which seems to work just fine.  Now, there are several videos on You Tube if you're new to piping, and this one is my favourite for basic technique.  Oh, and please don't think you have to do any of that origami business to make your own piping bags...get a pack of disposables from the supermarket or a cake decorating shop.  Lastly, please don't freak out that the lamb and the chick are the same size, this is not some scary steroid experiment...they're just cookies!!
Royal Icing: enough for at least 36 cookies
3 tblspns Pavlova Magic or meringue powder
500g / 1lb 2oz icing or confectioners sugar
5 tblspns water (which should be hand hot)
Upto 2 tsps of flavouring (vanilla or almond essence, lime juice etc)
  1. Place the Pavlova Magic or meringue powder in the bowl of a free standing mixer and add the hand hot water.  With the paddle attachment, beat on slow for about 30 seconds until it's dissolved then increase the speed to medium and beat for about a minute until the mixture is nice and frothy.
  2. Add the icing or confectioners sugar all in one go and beat on slow - to avoid getting covered in sugar - until everything is well mixed.  Increase the speed to medium and beat for about 6 or 7 minutes.  The mixture should be very white and very stiff.  If you remove the paddle attachment and run it through the icing, you should be able to turn the paddle upside down and the peak of icing will stand straight up.
  3. At this point, I usually divide the icing between a number of smaller plastic boxes or bowls, according to how many colours I need, cover each batch with a piece of cling wrap - and make sure the wrap is touching the entire surface of the icing to ensure that no air gets in - put the lids on, and stash the whole lot in the fridge until the next time I get an opportunity to potter in the kitchen! 
For the Lambs:
Pre-baked and cooled cookies
A small amount of light corn syrup (such as Karo) or runny honey 
White ready to roll fondant icing
White royal icing
Black sugar beads
Disposable piping bag fitted with a coupler and PME 1.5 piping tip
  1. Dust the kitchen bench with a little cornflour / corn starch.  Roll out the fondant to approximately 3mm or 1/4"  thickness.  Using the same lamb cutter you used for the cookies, cut out as many shapes as you need.  You can re-roll the scraps of fondant a couple of times, but after that there's usually too much cornflour incorporated and you need to use a new piece.
  2. Brush the surface of the cookies with a little corn syrup - don't go right to the edges of the cookie as they will have spread during baking and the fondant shape will be slightly smaller.
  3. Place a fondant cut out on top of each cookie and press lightly all over.  Push a black sugar bead into the fondant for the eye.
  4. Next, take a couple of tablespoons of white royal icing and place in a small bowl.  Add a teaspoon of water and beat really well with a spatula.  Pour the icing into the prepared piping bag.  Lift the bag and shake the icing down to the tip then twist the top part of the bag to make a seal.  (See the Sweetopia video link in the top paragraph for the visuals).  Now, pipe a line all round the body of the lamb and around the edge of the face.  Pipe some spirals and "C's" on the body - and there you have your woolly little lamb!
For the chicks:
Pre-baked and cooled cookies
Royal icing
Black sugar beads
1 disposable piping bag fitted with a coupler and a PME 1.5 tip (for the orange)
1 disposable piping bag fitted with a coupler and #2 plain tip (for the yellow)
  1. Colour a portion of the royal icing yellow - I used Americolor's Egg Yellow - and just add one drop at a time until you have a colour just a shade lighter than you would like.  Now, you want to create what I call 'all purpose' icing.  That means an icing you can use to outline AND flood a cookie at the same time.  So, when you draw a knife through the bowl of icing you want the gap to close and for there to be no trace of the knife mark in about 10 seconds.  So, add about a half teaspoon of water and mix well with a spatula.  Try the knife test.  If it takes 15 or 20 seconds for the mark to disappear, add another half teaspoon of water and beat again then re-test it.  Cover the icing and set it aside for about 30 mins, the colour will develop further.  Take a tiny amount of royal icing and colour it orange - I used Americolor's Electric Orange.  Just add a couple of drops of water off the end of your finger to thin this tiny amount.  Beat it well after the water is added.
  2. Pour each batch of icing into their respective piping bag, shake down and twist to seal.
  3. Take the yellow icing and pipe an outline around the body of the chick (not the beak).  Immediately flood the shape by piping inside the outline until the body and head areas are filled.  Gently shake the cookie left and right on the work surface to make sure the icing is even and levelled.  With a pair of tweezers, drop a black sugar bead into the wet icing as an eye.  Leave the icing to set for about 30 minutes.  Next, outline and flood a little wing shape on top of the piped body - it will look very dimensional!
  4. Finally, outline and fill the tiny beak and pipe on the legs and feet.  Leave the cookies to dry completely for 4-6 hours then place them in an airtight box and they will keep prefectly well for about a week.

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