Icing And Cookie Help

Discussion in 'Disaster Help' started by Ashley Rhoden, Jul 10, 2017.

  1. Ashley Rhoden

    Ashley Rhoden Member

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    We saw some cute fiesta cookies on Pinterest and decided to try them for a party we had. We made the 10 count, 15 count, and 20 count icing and even though the consistency was textbook what the pinterest links were telling us, it was still incredibly hard to use. The icing would be hard and dry and thick when stiring and wouldn't go through the tips, we'd add some water, i'm talking like a couple of drops, it'd thin just a little and go through the tip but break when drawing lines/drawing shapes, we would add a couple of more drops of water and it'd go through the tip fine and then spread and not make/hold shapes like flowers or zig zags or whatever when it got on the cookie. We spent about 7hrs and about 50 piping bags putting the icing in the bowl to add water and mix, it'd seem a perfect consistency, we'd get it in the bag and find out it wasn't and have to cut the bag up to get the icing out and back into the bowl to try to mix and water down again. The cookies looked terrible, we couldn't control the spread of the icing to hold a shape.

    On the flip side, the cookies themselves wouldn't take the icing. It was like they were solid flour and even when you dust off the tops it didn't help, it's like the flour never came off, you'd keep dusting and wiping and over and over and never found the feel of the top of a regular cookie, just that powdery flour feel. Followed the recipe to a T and the cookies tasting great, just a pain to icing. The icing wouldn't stick and would move and roll and pick up with the icing bag and tip instead of staying on the cookies, etc. What went wrong?

    We used powdered sugar, water and a touch of vanilla for the icing
     
    Ashley Rhoden, Jul 10, 2017
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  2. Ashley Rhoden

    Norcalbaker59 Well-Known Member

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    It's impossible to know what went wrong.

    It could've been any of the number of things. It could've been the formulas themselves were poorly developed.

    It could be the ingredients brands you used compared to the brands used by recipe developer. Not all sugar is created equal; not all flour is created equal. Some brands of sugar are made from beets. Some sugar is cane sugar. Personally I won't use anything but cane sugar. I find the performance is greatly affected by beet sugar.

    Brands of flour also very greatly; some flour have much higher protein than others, yet they're all labeled all purpose.


    I would recommend Julia Usher's recipes. Julia Usher is considered the foremost cookie expert in the country. Not only has she set the bar for quality of decoration, she has developed and refined a lot of the techniques used in cookie decorating.

    The Oklahoma State Sugar Art Show (OSSAS) is the largest and the most coveted of cake and cookie shows in the country. The cookie competition there is the Julia Usher Decorated Cookie Competition.

    So I think you will have better luck with recipes from someone who has a lot of experience in the decorated cookie arena.

    Once you perfect your recipes then use for any cookie design. You don't have to use the recipes associated with the designs you find online.

    Cookies and icing recipes:

    http://www.juliausher.com/documents..._Cookies_and_Royal_Icing_by_Julia_M_Usher.pdf


    Her blogs

    http://cookieconnection.juliausher.com/

    https://www.juliausher.com/blog
     
    Norcalbaker59, Jul 10, 2017
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  3. Ashley Rhoden

    Ashley Rhoden Member

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    thanks so much!! If brands and such are such a big influence you'd think the baker would mention that, ya know? haha I bake a lot and cookie BAKING is a no brainier, cookie decorating I've never tried before. So the royal icing shouldn't be that much of a pain? I mean we're talking we spent a good 7hrs the first day on it and about 5hrs the next day on it. Talk about so over it now LOL Is it normally harder to control and work with than buttercream icing?
     
    Ashley Rhoden, Jul 10, 2017
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  4. Ashley Rhoden

    ChesterV Well-Known Member

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    You didn't have a stabilizer in your icing. It wouldn't have worked, no matter what you did.

    When using royal icing like that, you have to have a stabilizer added to the mixture, which is usually egg whites and cream of tartar.

    Making it from scratch like that takes too long, so I use meringue powder. It comes in a can and you don't need much of it. It is the same stuff, with additional stabilizers in it.

    By using a stabilizer, you will have a smoother icing, it will hold its shape when decorating, and it won't run.
    It will also dry hard.

    Be warned though, if you use too much, it will make the icing harden faster. Too little, and it won't harden fast enough.

    I used this royal icing method for decorating cookies as well as making gingerbread houses.

    Once you get the hang of using this stuff, you can also make your own handmade decor by making sort of a clay with the icing and letting your decor harden overnight, then using it to decorate with. Unlike fondant, it does dry hard, and once dried, you cannot change it.

    [​IMG]

    As for cookies that icing won't stick too, you need to make a "pourable" version of this method and put a thin coat of icing on the cookie section you will be decorating. Let this dry a bit. Once it starts to dry on the cookie, you can start decorating on it.

    When making gingerbread houses, I would make a large bowl of this stuff and keep a very damp towel over the bowl to keep the icing from drying out while I'm using it. I also used a clean spray bottle with water in it to keep the icing I was working with a bit moist....once you start getting hard bits in the icing, it wont go through the decorating tips.
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2017
    ChesterV, Jul 11, 2017
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  5. Ashley Rhoden

    Norcalbaker59 Well-Known Member

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    Yes I don't know why bakers don't indicate the brands they use, especially the flour and sugar brands because they really have an impact on the final product. When I give a recipe I always indicate the brands are use. I posted a couple of gluten-free recipes on this board and I indicated the brands.

    Flour brands like Pillsbury and Gold Medal have lower protein content, so.they do better in cakes, pies crust, and quick breads. There's definitely not the brands you want to use for things like pizza dough, dinner rolls, and biscotti. King Arthur Four has a much higher protein content so it's more suited for the biscotti, pizza dough, and rolls.

    And beet sugar just does not caramelize in the same way that cane sugar does. So it's only cane sugar for my baking.

    Powdered sugar contains cornstarch. Different brands contain different percentages of cornstarch. Brands C& H is about 3%. But the store brands could be as high as 5%. So when you work the kinks out of a recipe, it's best to be. Consistent and use the same brand each time you make the recipe.

    Sometimes a particular product is used for a reason. When I bake my gluten-free chiffon cake I use a particular brand of coconut milk. The reason being is coconut milk usually has the thickening agent in it. It helps bolster the gluten replacer, xanthan gum, in the batter. So bakers really should indicate the brand they use.

    Regarding your question about the laborious process of cookie decorating...trust me if you can handle buttercream, and I mean real butter cream such as Swiss meringue buttercream or Italian meringue buttercream, then you can handle royal icing--piece a cake as they say. I really think it was your recipes. When the baker followed the instructions as written, it's usually more a problem with the recipe and not the baker.

    I think if you use Julia Usher's recipe you'll have much better luck. It was very strange that your cookies had flour floating to the surface. I've never seen anything like that in a sugar cookie. I couldn't even begin to guess the cause. But a layer of flour on the surface would definitely keep the icing from adhering.
     
    Norcalbaker59, Jul 11, 2017
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  6. Ashley Rhoden

    Norcalbaker59 Well-Known Member

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    ChesterV, I have you ever used meringue powder in Swiss meringue or Italian meringue buttercreams? I'm an old-school crack those eggs type. I rarely even ever use commercial pasteurized egg whites. Mainly because I don't get quite the volume with the pasteurized eggs. So I'd rather do it myself.

    The only time I've ever used a meringue powder has been in a classroom. I've been working on my Swiss meringue recipe, trying to reduce the amount of butter. I replaced part of the sugar with powdered sugar. I beat it in after the egg whites are beaten, but before adding the butter. While I like the smoothness and it is definitely lighter in weight with less butter. But it could be a tad bit more stable. I was going to run another test this week, decrease the granulated sugar, increase the powdered sugar. I heat my egg whites to 160 which I know is a lot higher than most recipes state. So I get less volume. I'm wondering if a bit of meringue powder might give me stability and volume.
     
    Norcalbaker59, Jul 11, 2017
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  7. Ashley Rhoden

    sasa New Member

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    i would prefer a rich chocolate cake with vanilla frosting and happy birthday sasa on it
     
    sasa, Jul 11, 2017
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  8. Ashley Rhoden

    sasa New Member

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    FURGRHEJFT2QGYOhfygryurehgbjbdhiyghhrjwdhgyhernjhfugyu
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    sasa, Jul 11, 2017
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  9. Ashley Rhoden

    Ashley Rhoden Member

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    THANK YOU thank you so appreciate all the help and very good to know, never had any idea brands mattered but it makes sense that they would! You see these cool recipes on Pinterest (that site gets me in trouble with all the fun ideas)
     
    Ashley Rhoden, Jul 11, 2017
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  10. Ashley Rhoden

    ChesterV Well-Known Member

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    I've only used it in buttercream once, and that was in order to keep the frosting from sliding off the cake.
    I'm in Texas, and back then, the summers got HOT HOT HOT.........a bit of meringue powder helped keep it's shape and helped keep the cake together.. I was surprised, it didn't affect the taste or texture at all, it just made it where it wasn't all "gooey".

    I've really never used this powder in anything else but Royal Icing for cookies, bundts, and gingerbread, but I've heard there are 100 different uses for it in foods.

    I would think it would work with the recipes you are talking about. But as I said before, you have to be careful and use the right amount.

    I made French Buttercream before, which was pretty much mostly eggwhites, which was literally a pain in the wrist to make.

    If I were to use it, I wouldn't know at what stage of making the buttercream I would use it at. I suppose trial and error would have to be done on this. Although, if you use the Wilton brand, it usually comes with a small recipe "book". I've never looked too closely at it, but it might have some info on there.
     
    ChesterV, Jul 11, 2017
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  11. Ashley Rhoden

    Norcalbaker59 Well-Known Member

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    Thank you ChesterV. I think I'm gonna give it a shot. I'm thinking of adding it with the whites as I start to beat. maybe I'll give it more structure. But I'm gonna play around with it and see if it can't provide me with a little more stability. That American frosting ( I refused to call it buttercream because there isn't a speck of butter in it) is just way too sweet for my taste. But I'm finding that the meringue buttercreams are a little too buttery for my taste. So I'm trying to invent something not too sweet and not too buttery.

    Oh I know Texas heat. Used to live in a Houston. Humid as heck in Houston. I had the hardest time baking in that town because of the humidity.

    My son married a lovely women from Texas, so his roots are planted there. They're in Carrolton. But they just sold their house and they're moving out to Savannah I think it's called. The town where the giant water park is located.
     
    Norcalbaker59, Jul 12, 2017
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  12. Ashley Rhoden

    Ashley Rhoden Member

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    Can I ask what recipe you use for buttercream? That's one I've not mastered either, I was trying to cut the sweet with something and make it thick and crusting at the same time and tried flour, with the right balance it worked but it's a big time pain. Any ideas? And yes, I'm from Cameron Texas and it gets nasty HOT!! and when you make icing with eggs, wouldn't you have to cook it?
     
    Ashley Rhoden, Jul 12, 2017
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  13. Ashley Rhoden

    ChesterV Well-Known Member

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    I live in Plano, next to Carollton, but never heard of Svannah, Texas. Would have to look that one up.

    For my buttercream, I've developed my own special recipe. Depending on what I'm using it for and if I need it for decorating or just frosting, depends on what consistency I make. It also depends on what flavorings I use, on what cake it's going on.

    But here's my basic recipe.......no so exact, but you get the idea....

    Butter Flavored Crisco "sticks"
    Confectioners sugar (large/standard bags)
    Salt
    Apple Cider Vinegar
    Vanilla
    Butter Flavoring
    Cream Cheese (half brick) or small container of sour cream

    I make this without really thinking about it anymore, it's more or less just a function to me, like blinking or breathing.....so I've never really measured anything. I will try and give you a recipe for one standard round cake.......frosted and decorated.

    2 "sticks" of butter flavored Crisco, mixed with 1 flat teaspoon of salt, and the cream cheese or sour cream.
    I blend those on low in a stand mixer, then when they are mixed up pretty well, I put it on medium speed and whip it till it's all blended together.

    I scrape the mixture from the sides and pile it in the center of the bowl. I turn the mixer on low and start slowly adding one full/standard bag of confectioners sugar.

    When I get halfway through the bag, I add the vinegar, 2 tablespoons of butter flavor, and 1/4 cup of vanilla flavoring. Believe me, you don't taste the vanilla with this much sugar.

    Once that is mixed well, I start adding the rest of the sugar. Once it's all incorporated, I scrape down the bowl and see if it's anywhere near what I want. Usually I have to add a half bag of confectioners sugar at this point. If I do add more sugar I follow the same steps, doing it slowly.

    Once it's all incorporated and I am happy with the consistency, I whip it on high for 2-3 minutes, scrape it down, whip it again, scrape it down and whip it again.

    If I need to add some water, I do so at this point and mix it in on medium speed.

    Once I'm happy with what I have, I scrape it all off into a metal mixing bowl. I pat it down and flatten the top.
    I then cover the top of the frosting with plastic wrap, making sure its all tucked in around the edges. I then put a damp towel over the bowl and put it in the fridge over night.

    The next day, I "break it up" by hand mixing (you can use a hand mixer on low if you want). It is then ready for me to use.

    I've been doing this for MANY years, so it's just second nature to me.......you might have to adjust it a bit here and there.

    You don't taste the cream cheese or the sour cream, but it helps take out that tooth aching "sweet" from the frosting, as does the vinegar and the salt.

    You don't really taste the butter flavoring or the butter Crisco, but it does have a very slight back taste to it. But for me, using butter flavoring is more for the scent than anything else. Unless you are using other flavorings, the butter scent should come through enough to give a slight hint of butter aroma.

    Letting it sit overnight helps all the ingredients 'set' with each other, so they all are more uniform the next day.
    There should be a difference between what you just made and what you have in the bowl the next day. It shouldn't be sugar sweet, and it should be smooth and creamy. It's still going to be sweet, but not that harsh sweet.

    If you want it to crust a bit, then I would definitely add some water to the mix when adding the flavorings. The water will help the sugar dry out and get a bit crusty, when it has set exposed to air for a while.

    If you want it super firm and to crust a great deal............add some of that meringue powder to the mixture when "breaking it up" the next day. You might need to add a few drops of water if it gets too thick. Once or two tablespoons of meringue powder should do it. The oil/butter/lard in the frosting will help keep it from setting up too hard.

    If you want actual flavors like orange, marshmallow, coffee, or whatnot.......just add it to the mixture when making it. Same goes with colors, if you are making all one color. This way, it all gets set together overnight.

    If you want to use a bit of substitutions for the sugar to cut more of the sweet out......you can use a bit of cornstarch, but if you use too much, it will taste funny and get "gritty". More than two tablespoons for this size recipe would be too much. There are other "fillers" you can use, but you have to do it all by trial and error.


    Also............if you are using melted chocolates or ganache to cover a cake instead of frosting or icing, then you can also put a little bit of meringue powder in that as well. I will set up very nicely.

    I'm lazy, so I don't like to make that European buttercream with the egg whites. Takes WAY too long for my taste!
    LOL

    Hope that answers all of your questions.
    :D
     
    ChesterV, Jul 12, 2017
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