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DECK THE HOLIDAY'S: 02/22/12

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

MAKE YOUR OWN STRESS-FREE ROYAL ICING!

   This diy comes from www.mykitchenaddiction.com .  If you're a baker, you will probably use alot of  royal icing to decorate your cookies, cupcakes and misc. other sweet treats.  Nothing is worse than not having the right consistency of your icing while in the middle of decorating a couple dozen cookies (let alone ruin a tasty cookie with a subpar icing).  Good luck!

Stress Free Royal Icing



Last week, as I was decorating cookies for Halloween, I was reminded of the fact that I’ve been meaning to share my tips for making royal icing with no stress. After all, everyone wants to decorate beautiful cookies during the holiday season, but no one wants to fight with the royal icing. Between shopping for gifts, decorating the house, and lots of friends and family dropping in, there’s enough stress already!
This is one of those blog posts that has been writing itself in the back of my mind for quite a while. Almost every time I post about cookies that I have decorated, I get a few emails or comments asking me about my royal icing. I usually either give a quick reply with the ratio of meringue powder, powdered sugar, and water that I use… Or I direct the question to these posts from Bridget and Gail. They are both brilliant when it comes to cookies… And, they have taught me most of what I know. Want to see where their two worlds collide? Check out this fantastic video about royal icing over at the University of Cookie. They are the masters, and I cannot even begin to pretend that I know more about cookies or royal icing than they do.
But, here’s the thing… When it comes to royal icing, I think you have to do what works for you. I’ve made royal using Bridget’s method and meringue powder. I have also gone the egg white powder route and followed Gail’s thorough instructions. My problem is that no matter what I do, I end up with clumpy bits in my royal icing. And, those clumpy bits always end up getting stuck in my pastry tips and causing me quite a bit of stress. And, believe me, when you have a big batch of cookies sitting on the counter just waiting to be decorated, you don’t want the royal icing acting up.
I am pretty sure the problem lies with me 100%. I take full responsibility for the lumps in my royal icing. But, after having the same problem time and time again, I developed a new method that works for me. And, so far it has been 100% clump free.

My Stress Free Method…

Eventually, I realized that I was introducing all of the clumps into my icing when I was reconstituting either the meringue powder or the egg whites. I had issues both ways. I would always have gooey little clumps that just would wreak havoc on my icing and poor pastry tips. I tried pouring the mixtures through a strainer before adding them to the powdered sugar, but then I’d have a sticky strainer to deal with. No fun.






So, the one day, I had some extra time, and I decided to attempt making a batch of icing without reconstituting the meringue powder (I usually use meringue powder for no great reason other than that’s what I like to do). Instead, I whisked the dry meringue powder into the powdered sugar. Then, I added the water, popped the bowl into the mixer and went about my way. No. Clumps. I thought maybe it was a fluke, so I tried it again the next time I made royal icing, and sure enough, it turned out perfectly smooth with no clumps.
It’s been almost a year that I’ve been making my royal this way, and I don’t think I’ve had any issues with clumpy royal icing since then. Coincidence? I think not!





The Royal Recipe…

My recipe for royal icing certainly isn’t unique to me. I’ve referenced plenty of blogs, cookbooks, and even packages of meringue powder… And, this is the one I’ve kind of settled into. As I mentioned before, I do typically use meringue powder, so that’s what is included in my recipe. Just be sure to use a good tasting, good quality meringue powder for your royal!
This recipe for royal icing uses only one pound of powdered sugar. The number of cookies that it will cover will certainly depend on the type of decorating you are doing and the size of the cookies. It’s easy to double or triple, though… And, it’s usually better to err on the side of too much royal vs. not enough. I typically end up making a double batch.





Royal Icing
  • 1 pound powdered (confectioner’s) sugar
  • 3 rounded tablespoons of meringue powder
  • 6 – 8 tablespoons of warm water
  • 1/2 teaspoon of fresh lemon juice or clear vanilla extract (optional)


In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine the powdered sugar and the meringue powder. Whisk the two together by hand. Add 6 tablespoons of water to the mixture and add the lemon juice or vanilla extract, if desired.
Fit the mixer with the beater blade/paddle, and start mixing on the slowest speed until everything comes together and there are no visible pockets of dry powdered sugar. Gradually turn the mixer up to medium/medium-high speed and beat until the icing is fluffy. Adjust the amount of water, as necessary, adding just a few drops at a time, until you reach the desired consistency.
Use immediately or transfer to an airtight container to avoid the icing crusting over before you use it.

Happy decorating!

TOP SELLING CANDIES FROM AROUND THE WORLD!

   You wouldn't wear the same food costume every Halloween — so why trick-or-treat with the same candy? This year, try something new. If you're already well-versed in the categories of movie treats and nostalgic candies, then consider serving various candies from around the world. Need a bit of an education in global candy culture? Then test your knowledge of the world's candies and check out some of our favorites here.



Bounty, United Kingdom

Bounty, United Kingdom

   Mounds lovers will appreciate Bounty, a coconut-filled bar enrobed with milk chocolate.



Botan Rice Candy, Japan

Botan Rice Candy, Japan

   Even if you've never been to Japan, you may have come across Botan Rice Candy in Asian supermarkets. Botan, which means "peony," is a prominent brand in Japan and makes a sticky rice candy with a slightly citrusy flavor.



ToffeeCrisp, United Kingdom

ToffeeCrisp, United Kingdom

   NestlĂ© makes a number of chocolate bars in Europe that aren't readily available in the United States. One of them is ToffeeCrisp, a staple in the United Kingdom. The long, slender milk chocolate bar is filled with crackling puffed rice and caramel. Its motto? "Somebody, somewhere, is eating a ToffeeCrisp."



Cheong Woo, Korea

Cheong Woo, Korea

   Leave it to South Korea to come up with pumpkin candy — a mellow, slightly salty candy with a prominent squash-like flavor and the texture of Starburst. If you can track it down, it's perfect for this time of year.



Kinder Country, Germany

Kinder Country, Germany

   I wasn't sure what to make of Kinder Country, which was described on the wrapper as "milk chocolate with rich milk filling." It was unlike anything I'd ever had in the States: a creamy, milky white center, made crunchy with puffed rice and then doused in milk chocolate.



Lion, United Kingdom

Lion, United Kingdom

   I was really happy to bite into a Lion Bar, another chocolate confection that hails from the UK. It was similar to a ToffeeCrisp, with caramel, crisp cereal, and a wafer enrobed in milk chocolate and reminded me of an even heartier 100 Grand. This lion was one of my top candy picks and definitely made me roar.



Baci, Italy

Baci, Italy

   Hershey's isn't the only one with kisses — Italy has its own version, Perugina's Baci. These chocolate bonbons are filled with hazelnut chocolate cream, topped with a whole hazelnut, and wrapped in a love note.



Peko Milky Candy, Japan

Peko Milky Candy, Japan

   Peko-chan Milk Candy is commonplace among children in Japan. The individually-wrapped candies are firm yet chewy and have a distinctive sweet milk flavor.



Yorkie, United Kingdom

Yorkie, United Kingdom

   The Yorkie bar — originally titled so because it was made by Rowntrees of York — was created in the 1970s as a larger chocolate bar alternative to Cadbury's Dairy-Milk. To this day, the chocolate stays true to its original branding with the slogan, "It's not for girls!"



Chimes Mango Ginger Chews, Indonesia

Chimes Mango Ginger Chews, Indonesia

   I'd never heard of Chimes Mango Ginger Chews before, but these individually-wrapped Indonesian ginger candies in the quaint tin turned out to be my favorite. They had a latent heat and spiciness to them, thanks to ginger that's grown on volcanic soil in East Java.



COLOGNE CARNIVAL FROM GERMANY!!!!




   Carnival in Cologne is almost as old as the history of the city itself. But the organized carnival celebrated today only dates back 178 years.
    The Greeks and Romans celebrated cheerful spring festivals in honor of Dionysos and Saturn with wine, women and song. The ancient Germans celebrated the winter solstice as a homage to the Gods and expulsion of the evil winter demons. Later the Christians adopted the heathen customs. The period of fasting (Lent) prior to Easter was heralded in by "Fastnacht" or "Karnival"...carne vale = Farewell to meat!






    In the Middle Ages, the celebration of Carnival, the masquerade, often took on drastic forms, very much to the displeasure of the city council and the church. Bans and ordinances did little to help, the celebration was wild and spirited.
    The boisterous street carnival was extended in the 18th century to include the so called "Redouten", elegant masked and fancy dress balls in Venetian style, which were initially the preserve of the aristocracy and the wealthy patricians. In 1736, the first Redoute was held in Cologne in a noble house on the Neumarkt.







    Almost 50 years later, Cologne was captured by the French revolutionary troops. But the new rulers allowed the locals "de fair son tour", to hold their carnival parades. The Prussians, who took control a short time later, were stricter, which, however, did not prevent the natives of Cologne from cultivating their Carnival tradition. Carnival was romanticized and became bourgeois. It became organized! With the "Carnival Hero", with today's Prince Carnival, a new idea was also introduced.
    In 1823 the "Festordnende Komitee" was founded. On February 10th of that year, Cologne celebrated the first Rose Monday Parade with the moto "Inthronization of the Carnival Hero". Also involved were the "Rote Funken" the former city militia, who had just established themselves as a carnival society, the carnival fool of the "Hillige Knaachte un Magde", Jan von Werth and Cologne's "Peasant" and "Virgin" as a reminder of the former free imperial city of Cologne. At that time, like today, a man wore the costume of the Virgin. In 1860, the first "Ghost Parade" was held on the evening of Carnival Saturday. Even after the turn of the century, the "founding period" of the Carnival fans continued. In 1902, the "Ehrengarde" was formed as the accompanying group of the Peasant and Virgin. In 1906, Prince Carnival was given his "Prinzengarde". Other societies established themselves. Willi Ostermann, with his songs and musings, Grete Fluss extended the fame of Cologne's Carnival beyond the city's boundaries.





    The "Sitzungen" (shows) with their humorous orators and singers bridged the gap between the opening of the "Carnival Session" On "11.11" to its climax on Rose Monday. That is still the same today. Now it is bands like the "Black Fooss", "Hohner" and "Paveir" and humorists like "Rumpelstizchen" or "Webfachmann" who are the trade marks of Cologne's "Fifth Season". The world famous "Strippefottchen-Tant" of the Rote Funken, a parody on the soldiers' strict life.
    There are approximately 160 carnival societies, local history societies and district groups in Cologne which celebrate their home town festival in about 5oo parties, balls and parades. The highlight is always the Rose Monday Parade.