Now we're getting to the icky, gritty, what-to-do-now stuff!
And I do mean icky!
You know that icky, sludgy, left your icing sit in the bottles for two days (or two weeks) separated goop stage? Yeah, you know the one... It kinda looks like this (on a good day)
The icing has separated into fluffy, airy icing on top, and runny, liquid nightmare on the bottom.
This one time, this other girl I know was making cookies (when she first started out) and she didn't really know what she was doing. She used piping bags, because all the cool kids were using them and she definitely wanted to be a cool kid or at least think she had something in common with the cool kids! She mixed all her icing and bagged it up and planned to decorate the next day. She did not know, that was a bad idea. She did not know that icing separated overnight. And she tried to "massage" it back to a smooth consistency, but she didn't try very hard. Everything went fine at first, a little piping here, a little pipping there. And then out of nowhere, the wrath of the gloopy liquid icing!!! It poured out and ruined
Shortly there after, I discovered bottles and I shared them with my friend! The little, the big, the medium, the fantastic! I have a bunch of different ones, but I primarily use the ones with the interchangeable tips, they come in 2 sizes and you can find them here.
So when your icing separates in the bottles and you still need that icing to continue decorating, because despite what some people think I can't magically produce 4 dozen cookies from start to finish in a few hours. It usually takes a few days. And you're probably going to need to sleep somewhere in between there. And while you are sleeping, the little icing ninjas are breaking your icing down and planning to attack your perfectly good cookie!! I've seen it happen... To my friend.
So here is how to fight back! Grab your bottle, twist off the coupler with the tip still attached.
I normally buy powdered sugar in the 2lb bags and I keep it stored that way so I can grab one bag and whip out a batch of RI without having to measure it. But I also keep a big glass jar of it in my work area for this.
This is just regular, straight out of the bag, unsifted powdered sugar. But if yours has been sitting out for a while and exposed to air or moisture and has a serious case of the clumpy you may want to sift if just so you don't spend 10 minutes trying to break the clumps down in the icing.
Grab a teaspoon or a small scoop, whatever you have on hand that isn't too much larger then the bottle opening.
Take a spoonful and pour it right down into the bottle, I try to do this part over a kitchen towel or the sink so I don't have powdered sugar everywhere.
Okay now for the best part, *squee* the super, awesome best part! Grab your chopstick!!
And stick it right down into the bottle! Swirl and swirl and swirl that little magic stick around in your bottle (if you close your eyes you might hear the music see the scene from Fantasia where the little flowers are dancing around it the glen... I do...)
Just a few seconds of swirling and you'll be done! Pull the chopstick out wiping the excess icing off on the bottle opening as you pull it out so you don't waste any.
Now chopsticks have two ends (duh), one is skinny and one is chubby. The skinny end is rounded and the chubby end is squarish (on some, some are still round just larger). When my icing has separated and I have to completely remix it I use the skinny end. The small round tip gets down and swirls all around the bottom of the bottle making sure everything is mixed up and there are no pockets of goop.
You may remember from Icing, Part Two that I only have one consistency of icing. I don't mix up flood and piping in each color. I start with thick flood icing (15-20 seconds) and do whatever I need to do with it, usually outline and fill the cookie before I add details. Once I've done that to all the cookies I use this same technique to thicken my icing for details. It's already the right color so I don't have to make a separate batch for a different purpose. I use what I have and adjust it to fit what I am doing.
But your icing doesn't have to separate to be fixed :) for this I use the chubby side of the chopstick. I just pour in a little powdered sugar, stick the chubby chopstick into the bottle and swirl it around for a few seconds. The chubby end mashes the powdered sugar up a little faster, and since the icing is already one consistency and I don't have to worry about the aforementioned pockets of goop I want easy and fast!
This picture was literally taken about 20-30 seconds after adding the icing in the picture above. It really doesn't take any time at all to swirl the chopstick around and completely transform your icing!
You can't do that with an icing bag, so matter how hard you try! You can massage the bags and try to get the it back to one consistency, but if you've worked with icing a lot you know that it thins out overnight anyway. If you prepare a batch of thick detail icing and wait until the next day to use it, it's gonna be too thin already, the meringue powder breaks down and will need to be rewhipped to get back to the thick, fluffy consistency you had it at the day before.
So now that your icing is back in shape, you're ready to go! If your bottles have been sitting around for a few days, the icing in the tip and in the coupler is probably a little dry and crusty and you don't want it to come off and clog up your tip so you will want to toss your coupler and tip into your tip jar and grab a fresh set.
If you were just using the icing for filling and now you are detailing the coupler will be fine, but you'll likely want a smaller tip for the detailed work. I usually "flood" with a Wilton #3 or Ateco #2 and detail with anything from a Wilton #2 down to a PME 00.
The separation doesn't just happen in bottles and bags, any leftover icing will still separate in the mixing bowl. But this isn't hard to deal with. You wont need the chopstick for this part, you can just grab your little flat spatula.
Plop down some powdered sugar and mix away! You can add more or less depending on how thick you want. If you add too much sugar, give it a few sprays with your water bottle and mix it some more.
Powdered sugar is awesome. It's like duct tape for icing. It fixes everything! Unless you add too much and then water is like duct tape for icing ;) So maybe not the best analogy, but I hope you understand what I am saying. Powdered sugar is your friend!
Just a few seconds of mixing and you're back in business!
Now when you are thickening your icing your don't have to worry much about the resting processing we discussed in Icing, Part Two. Thick icing tends to not only have fewer air bubbles, but they are less noticeable, much less likely to leave craters. But when you thin your icing, you're whipping water and air back into it, resulting in lots of air bubbles.
So rest the icing when you thin, use it right away when you thicken! A good rule to follow to save yourself time and tears.
Chopsticks are also great for drying out your bottles! I wash them and grab a piece of paper towel and use the chopstick to push the towel into the bottle and swirl it around to dry the inside. If you only have a few bottles and need to clean them out right away for a new color that really makes a difference.
And if you have a half used bottle of pale pink icing and you want a bright pink icing, add a few drops of food color to the bottle and use the chopstick to mix it up. You'll have to mix a lot longer than when adding sugar to make sure the color is evenly dispersed, but it works great!
I also use chopsticks for cooking just about everything, they flip and turn and stir and help me reach the big bottles of spices on the shelf that is way above my head!
Chopsticks are the coolest!! And now you know why I love them and bottles so much! I have saved a ton of time and have way less wasted icing this way.
If this was a class I'd have a big stack of certificates to give away right now! You are now THREE steps closer to being a RI master! But I didn't have time to print off a bunch of certificates and none of you paid your class fees on time anyway, so instead I am going to give one lucky reader all the great tools I used here and a few more fun things to play with!
One fabulous, deeply appreciated reader will receive everything pictured here!
- 1, 16oz bag of CK meringue powder
- 1, 8 piece (4 bowls, 4 lids) set of KitchenAid prep bowls, White
- 2 small flat spatulas
- 2 pack of rubber spatulas
- 2 pack of CK 2 oz squeeze bottles
- 1, 4 oz bottle of Tahitian Vanilla extract
- 1 super cute new apron with riffles and pockets and pretty flowers (I have a matching one, so we'll be twins :D) and
- 4 shiny, new chopsticks of your very own!!!
Required Entry: Become a fan of Flour De Lis. Either on Blogger, Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest, and leave a comment here letting me know you are a fan.
For one extra entry:
Share a link to this giveaway on your favorite site, you can pin it, tweet it, post it or even share it on your blog if you want! But you must leave a comment letting me know that you did.
Thats it, that's all! Enter only twice per person. Open to US and international fans. Winner will be chosen from all eligible comments using random.org. Contest ends on Tuesday May 29th and winner will be announced Wednesday May 30th!
Thank you all so much for reading and enjoy the holiday weekend!
Flour De Lis