Monday, January 9, 2012


   This come to us from www.sweetopia.net .  Live it, Love it, Learn it!

Hope you’re enjoying the holiday hustle and bustle, and hope you have some time to fit a little cookie decorating in. The cookies I’m about to show you in this video are great in that they’re versatile… Make your icing to match the theme and voila, colour co-ordinated decorated cookies for any type of event! The icing lines may seem daunting at first, but with a few tips and tricks, you’ll be able to make these too.

{Video} How to Pipe Straight Lines with Royal Icing

Click here if you can’t see the video.
If you’d like to try making these, here’s what you’ll need…


What you’ll need to make decorated cookies with royal icing lines:


How to Pipe Royal Icing Lines – Top 10 Tips

1. Royal Icing Consistency is Key

One of the most important tips has to do with the consistency of your royal icing. Too thick and your lines might curl, crumble and break. Too thin, and they’ll look like a soupy mess. I use the 10 Second Rule to help me find the right consistency for piping. You can find a post and video on the 10 second rule by clicking here.

2. Piping Tip PME #1.5

My favourite piping tip is #1.5 made by PME. It’s fine enough to be able to pipe details, but large enough so that it doesn’t clog like piping tip #’s 1, #0 or #00 often do. If you don’t have access to the #1.5, #2 is the next best thing (in my humble opinion). One thing to note – If you’re using a tiny piping tip, such as #00, #0 or #1 you should let the icing come together (See Consistency Video), at about the 5 second mark, instead of the 10 second mark. You might also want to check the post on Avoiding Clogging in Piping Tips.

3. Don’t Overfill your Piping Bags

It’s easier to pipe detail when your piping bag isn’t too full. Much like writing with a pen, a large, fat pen would make it more difficult to write nicely.

4. Practice First

Your hand may need a little practice to get the feel of the piping motion, and practicing on parchment paper first ensures that you’ll be piping nicely when you’re ready, instead of possibly wasting a few cookies.

5. Let Your Icing Fall

Gently squeeze the icing out of your piping tip, let the icing catch on the surface you’re piping on, lift the tip away from the surface, and let your icing fall, while guiding the piping tip/bag. You’ll end up with a smoother line which is easier to control.

6. Piping Pressure

When you’re piping, try and use the same amount of pressure on the piping bag to squeeze the icing out.

7. Piping Direction

Pipe in the direction you feel comfortable with. I prefer piping from left to right, probably because it’s similar to writing. You can pipe right to left, top to bottom or bottom to top. Have fun experimenting!

8. Avoid Pulling

While you’re piping and letting the icing fall into place, it’s easy to move your hand a little too fast, while not pressing enough icing out. The result is usually a broken line.

9. Speed

Tying in to #8, sometimes piping too fast can lead to icing lines breaking. I find that mistakes happen more when I’m going too fast, and piping at a slower speed gives me more control over how the icing falls.

10. Mistakes Can Be Corrected

Toothpicks are a great tool to fix mistakes with. Anything from a broken line, a ball of icing at the beginning of your line due to too much pressure, or just general mistakes. Use your toothpick to remove excess icing, move icing around or scrape your mistakes off.

These tips are what have helped me improve in terms of piping lines – now I just need help lining up my lines so that they’re symmetrical… maybe I could have measured out the angles/spacing and marked the edges with a dot of icing and then just connected the dots with the lines. Buuut, was having too much fun to bother doing that. Maaaaybe next time. Could also use some help in the photography department. I have got to get a better handle on my camera settings, lighting and editing. Oh well. Hope you like the pics anyways.

Thanks to the ├╝ber-talented Yukiko of Rosey Confectionary Sugar Art for letting me use her Christmas ornament design (above in pink – top right of the photo), and for basing my fan cookie design on hers. I absolutely adore her work, and have a hunch you might too.


   This recipe comes from www.madincrafts.com .  This is for all of you that miss those chocolate mochas from Starbuck's, after the holidays are over.  Enjoy!

Starbucks Peppermint Mocha Knockoff (with Homemade Chocolate Mint Syrup)

starbucks peppermint mocha recipe square
Do you remember how I told you I was going to share a yummy way to use up my herb garden mint? Time to make good on that promise.
chocolate mint
If you have ever grown mint, you know that it is an “aggressive grower” A.K.A. even Jess can’t kill it. Despite my brown thumb, my chocolate mint plant has been producing like crazy, so I needed to find a good way to put it to use.
What better way than to make some yummy chocolate-chocolate mint syrup?
chocolate mint leaves
For the recipe, you will need about 30 mint leaves. I didn’t actually count mine out, but I am pretty sure I had a good 3 dozen. Rinse them and pat them dry with a paper towel.
torn mint leaves
Next, rip the leaves into small pieces. Rip, don’t cut. You want to bruise and beat up the leaves as you go. This makes the mint release more of its oily goodness.
Oily goodness isn’t a term I use often.
swampy deliciousness
In a saucepan, combine 3/4 cup of white sugar, 3/4 cup of water, 1/2 cup of cocoa powder (I used my beloved Special Dark), and the torn mint leaves. I know that this picture resembles Shrek’s swamp, but it smells way better than ogre farts.
chocolate mint syrup recipe

Bring the mixture to a boil and simmer for about 10 minutes or until the sugar is all dissolved. Let the syrup cool.

strain out the mint leaves
Strain the syrup into a jar or plastic container. I used to have a nice mesh strainer, but I gave it to my 3 year old to play with and now it’s rusting in the backyard somewhere. So, I improvised by stabbing some small holes in the bottom of plastic baby food container. Whatever works, right?
The syrup will keep in the refrigerator for about 2 weeks, so drizzle it on ice cream, make chocolate-mint milk, or treat yourself to one of my favorite coffee drinks.
starbucks peppermint mocha knockoff recipe
I love Starbucks Peppermint Mochas, but not only are they expensive, Starbucks only carries them around the holidays. You can use your homemade chocolate mint syrup to make your own at home!
The homemade syrup provides the “coat your mouth chocolatiness” of the Starbucks version because it is made with cocoa powder. Regular Hershey’s syrup will work, but not as well. And it won’t be all minty fresh.
To be really decadent, you can top the coffee with whipped cream and sprinkles. If you know you are going to have one of THOSE days (like for instance you are putting your obstinately un-potty trained 3-year-old in underwear for the whole day for the first time), go ahead and use ice cream instead of the whipped cream.
I won’t tell.
Starbucks Peppermint Mocha Knock-Off
3 T. chocolate-mint syrup
1/3 c. warm milk (or steamed, if you’re fancy)
6 oz. strong coffee
whipped cream and sprinkles (optional)
Mix together syrup and milk. Pour in coffee. Top with whipped cream and sprinkles.


    Visitors from all over the world will be playing in the snow and enjoying the winter festivities at one of the biggest winter celebrations that Canada has to offer. Quebec, Canada has been host to the winter wonderland known to locals as "Carnaval de Quebec", for more than 50 years and shows no signs of slowing down anytime in the near future as this year's carnival will see more than 400 unique activities. It has been dubbed as the "The coolest Part in the World", and why not? It has all of the offerings that you would expect form traditions Nordic culture, only they have went all out and included events for people of all generations, tastes, and backgrounds.

    The Winter Carnival got its start in 1894 and has grown each consecutive year by updating events and festivities to fit every lifestyle. Starting at the end of January and lasting up until the middle of February. Quebec opens its doors for a winter celebration that includes snow baths, glittering night parades, slide runs, ice fishing, concerts, snow rafting, snow sculpture competitions, a canoe race over the frozen St. Lawrence River, horse-drawn sleigh rides, husky powered dogsled rides, and skating.

    Music, dancing, live entertainment, deliciously prepared cuisine, rides and activities are also part of the Winter Carnival. The activities are non-stop throughout the week, but the special events are typically held during the weekend. If this isn't enough to tantalize your taste buds, then the city of Quebec itself might be what you are hungering for. The medieval setting is something straight out of a book as you will delight in seeing everything from the French architecturally designed homes nestled along narrow, winding streets to the colorful and inviting restaurants and shops that demand your attention. It is truly one of the most beautiful destinations that you will ever have the pleasure of laying your eyes on.

    The heart of the carnival is set up at the Plains of Abraham where the French and British once battled, but is now home to grazing cattle and the Winter Carnival. A particular favorite is the St. Hubert Derby that easily draws crowds of people waiting to see the single and double championship drivers of the horse team competition. While other visitors can't wait to chill out in the Ice Palace and see the one of a kind structure made up entirely of ice. Children gather in large crowds awaiting the arrival of Bonhomme the snowman who plays as Master of Ceremonies during the snow bath event where daring adventurists play in the snow the Eskimo way, in bathing suits.

    The city of Quebec not only offers fun winter festivities, but it also holds the allure of being the only walled city in North America. More than 1.5 million visitors find their way to the Carnival de Quebec, and most of them will eventually find their way to the ancient part of the walled city that houses French neighborhoods that closely resemble a European village of sorts. Brightly lit shops and local cuisine can be found along the heart of the city as well as scenic views of the lake and mountains.