First up... cupcakes! They're cake but in a more portable, bite-sized form. Now-a-days, there's more to cupcakes than just slapping some icing and sprinkles on top. They are now being topped with fondant, buttercream and pour-over icings intricate enough to be used as wedding cakes.
The cupcakes pictured above are decorated with fondant. They are your simple red, green and white colors of Christmas. If you're hosting a party, you might want to go with colors that fit your theme or decor. Using fondant on cupcakes is also an easier and less messy way to get the kids involved. Just mix up your colors, roll out and let the kids cut out shapes and designs to their hearts content.
Here's how to make these adorable snowmen: 1. Frost your cupcake with white icing. 2. Stack large marshmallows on top of each other and use a dab of water or a pretzel stick to hold them together. 3. Break a pretzel stick in half and stick each half in either side of the snowman to create arms. 4. Top with a peppermint patty and a brown M&M or other brown candy to make a top hat. Use frosting as a "glue" to hold it together. 5. Cut a strip of fruit leather and wrap it around to make a scarf. 7. Use a small piece of orange gummi candy to make a nose. Use water or frosting to hold it on. 8. Draw on facial features and buttons with a Food Writer marker.
Like cupcakes, cookies can be decorated with anything frosting, fondant, candy or a combination of everything. The cookies in the picture are decorated with fondant and royal icing. Royal icing is a icing that hardens... not too hard to eat but hard enough to stack without smashing the design.
If you're going to decorate with fondant you'll to cutout the shape of the fondant in the same shape of the cookie then decorate to your liking. Again, this is easier and less messy if you're cooking with kids.
If you want to try your hand at royal icing, be warned that it can be pretty tempermental. If any of your ustinsels have any sort of greasy residue on them it will break down your icing and render it useless. Therefore, I suggest you make sure EVERYTHING is hand washed with Dawn before you start and allowed to dry completely. Once made royal icing can NOT be stored in the refrigerator because the water buildup will also cause it to break down. An airtight container kept in a cool dry place should be good enough to keep it for months.
1 lb (4 cups) Confectioner's Sugar
3 tbsps Meringue Powder
5-6 tbsps warm Water
Place confectioner's sugar and meringue powder in a large bowl. Stir until well blended. Add water and mix 7-10 minutes at low-medium speed until icing loses it's sheen. Royal icing dries very fast so you'll need to cover your bowl with a damp cloth while you work.
To decorate, you'll need two bowls of each color you're using. A thick consistancy and a thin consistancy. The thick consistancy is easy because that's the consistancy it is when it's first made. Thin consistancy is made by adding small amounts of water to your icing until you can lift out a spoon full, drop it back in and it disappear within 10 secs.
Once your consistancy is right, use the thick icing to draw a frame around each section you want to be that color.
Again, royal icing can be a complicated process but it makes for beautiful cookies you won't want to eat. Enjoy and I hope everyone has a wonderful, safe holiday!!