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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

RECIPE: Gingersnap Whoopie Pies

Today is National Gingersnap Day. Treat everyone to some homemade gingersnap whoopie pies.

Crunchy gingersnaps are descendents of Lebkuchen, soft spice cookies that were probably created by Medieval monks in Franconia, Germany (the earliest written records are from 1296). The history of whoopie pies, an American creation, is much more recent—1926!

The ginger snaps themselves are a cross between a cookie and a cake, sandwiched between an easy vanilla buttercream.

This recipe is from The Faux Martha via Go Bold With Butter. Prep time is 20 minutes, cook time is 40 minutes.

RECIPE: GINGERSNAP WHOOPIE PIES

Ingredients For 12 Cookie Sandwiches
 
For The Cookies

  • 2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
  • 2/3 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup cane sugar
  • 1/3 cup light molasses
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  •  

    gingersnap-whoopie-pies-goboldwithbutter-230

    Make them for family and friends. Photo courtesy The Faux Martha.

     

    For The Filling

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  •  

    pumpkin-230

    You can buy gingerbread whoopie pies from WickedWhoopies.com.

     

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.

    2. WHISK together the flours, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, cloves and nutmeg in a medium bowl. Set aside.

    3. CREAM the butter and sugar in a large bowl until evenly combined, using a handheld or stand mixer. Add the molasses and blend until incorporated. Scrape down the the sides of the bowl and mix in the cream, egg and vanilla.

    4. MIX the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined. The dough will be dry but will still hold together. Using a one-tablespoon scoop, drop 24 cookies onto baking sheets, about an inch apart.

    5. BAKE for 10 minutes. The cookies will still be soft but will firm up after cooling. Allow to cool on the baking sheet for 2 minutes before removing to a cooling rack. Meanwhile…

     

    6. MAKE the filling. Using a stand or handheld mixer, whip the butter in a large bowl until creamy. Add the powdered sugar and cream together until well incorporated. Add the cream and vanilla. Continue to beat until the filling light and fluffy.

    7. SPREAD a generous amount of filling on the flat side of half of the cooled cookies. Top with the remaining cookies to create sandwiches. Serve or store in airtight container for up to 3 days.

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Patriotic Cookie Pizza For July 4th

    Show your colors this 4th of July with this or snack fun and festive dessert from Pillsbury. Raspberries, blueberries and creamy filling top an easy cookie crust.

    Prep time is 20 minutes, total time is 1 hour 35 minutes.

    RECIPE: JULY 4th COOKIE PIZZA

    Ingredients For 24 Servings

  • 1 roll refrigerated sugar cookie dough
  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
  • 2 cups fresh raspberries
  • 1-1/2 cups fresh blueberries
  • 1/4 cup apple jelly, melted
  •  

    patriotic-cookie-pizza-pillsbury-230sq

    A cookie pizza for July 4th. Photo courtesy Pillsbury.

     
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Spray a 12-inch pizza pan with cooking spray.

    2. CUT the cookie dough into 1/4-inch slices; place in the pan. With floured fingers, press evenly over the bottom to form the crust. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until the crust is a deep golden brown. Cool completely, about 25 minutes.

    3. BEAT the cream cheese, powdered sugar and lemon peel in medium bowl until fluffy. Spread over the baked crust. Arrange the raspberries in large star shape in the center. Arrange the blueberries around raspberries.

    4. DRIZZLE or brush with the melted jelly. Refrigerate until set, about 30 minutes. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

      

    Comments

    JULY 4TH: Red, White & Blue Angel Food Cupcakes

    angel-food-cupcakes-RWB-goboldwbutter-230

    These angel food cupcakes are red, white and blue (with an optional touch of green). Photo courtesy Completely Delicious.

     

    Here’s a July 4th recipe based on that summer favorite, angel food cake: light and airy and just waiting to be topped with whipped cream and fresh berries.

    This recipe, from Annalise of CompletelyDelicious.com via the folks at GoBoldWithButter.com, spins angel food cake into cupcakes, with a lightened whipped buttercream topping instead of whipped cream.

    Prep time is 15 minutes, cook time is 45 minutes.

    RECIPE: ANGEL FOOD CUPCAKES

    Ingredients For 12-18 Cupcakes
     
    For The Cupcakes

  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2/3 cup cake flour
  • 1 cup egg whites (from about 8 large eggs)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  •  
    For The Whipped Buttercream

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  •  
    Garnishes

  • Fresh berries: blueberries and raspberries
  • Optional: candied mint leaves (recipe)
  •  

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Line a muffin pan with paper liners.

    2. SIFT together the powdered sugar and cake flour, three times. Set aside.

    3. BEAT the egg whites, cream of tartar and salt on medium high speed until foamy, in the bowl of stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, or with a hand-held mixer. Increase the speed to high and slowly add the granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, with the mixer running. Beat until glossy and soft peaks form. Then stir in the vanilla.

    4. SIFT the dry ingredients over the meringue in 3 additions and gently fold in after each addition. Do not over-mix or the meringue will deflate.

    5. SPOON the mixture into the prepared muffin pan, filling the cups all the way to the top. Bake until golden about 18 minutes, until the cupcake tops spring back when touched. Let the cupcakes cool completely.

     

    angel_food_cake_betty-crocker-ps-230

    Angel food cake is always baked in a tube pan, which creates the environment best for a light-rising cake. Photo courtesy Betty Crocker.

     
    6. MAKE the frosting in the stand mixer or with the hand-held mixer. Beat the powdered sugar and butter together until smooth. Add the wcream, salt and vanilla and beat on high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Frost the cupcakes and top with the berries.
     
    WHAT IS ANGEL FOOD CAKE

    Angel food cake is a light, flourless cake made with sugar, cream of tartar, salt, vanilla or almond extract, and a dozen or so egg whites, depending on the recipe. There is no leavening. It is typically baked in a tube pan, and popularly served with berries and whipped cream—although it is just fine plain or with a dessert sauce (caramel, chocolate, custard, fruit, etc.).

    Some historians think that the first angel food cakes were baked in the South by African-American slaves, due to the strength required to whip the air into the whites. Others theorize that the cake originated in Pennsylvania Dutch country in the early 1800s.

    October 10th is National Angel Food Cake Day. Here are recipes for a from-scratch angel food cake, and for a strawberry glaze. If you don’t want to bake from scratch, try a store-bought or cake mix.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Gourmet Condiments As Host Gifts

    sir-kensington-spicy-trio-230

    Sir Kensington’s spicy trio: ketchup, mustard and mayonnaise. Photo courtesy Sir Kensington’s.

     

    Invited to a July 4th celebration? Instead of bringing wine or beer, how about treating your host to gourmet condiments?

    With all due respect to Heinz, French’s and Hellman’s, there are finer flavors to be had. Head to your nearest specialty food store or upscale supermarket and check out the options.

    Since its debut five years ago, we’ve been enjoying the Sir Kensington’s brand—not a British import but a hip American creation.

  • Sir Kensington’s Ketchup, in Classic and Spiced, have 33% less salt and 50% less sugar than conventional brands.
  • Sir Kensington’s Mayonnaise is made from free range eggs, and is 33% lower in saturated fat than conventional brands. There’s Classic with lemon notes; Chipotle with cumin, garlic and tomato flavors; Dijonnaise, blending the Classic with Dijon mustard; Special Sauce, a riff on French remoulade with touches of paprika, mustard, and pickle relish; and Sriracha with the latest rage in heat.
  • Sir Kensington’s Mustard delivers more layers of flavor in Dijon, Spicy and Yellow.
  •  
    The line is Non-GMO Verified.

    If you can’t find the products locally, you can buy them online at SirKensingtons.com.

    And think past summer: They make great stocking stuffers.

     
      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: LidLover

    LidLover was created by a woman who wanted a lid that could fit with a tight seal around her kitchenware: bakeware, containers, cookware and dishes.

    While LidLovers can (and should) be used year-round, now that it’s summer we especially like them to keep the bugs out of patio and picnic food.

    The lids are easily storable and strong enough for the containers to be stacked. They can be easily stretched to fit over bowls with any type of rim.

    Even better: You save money and the environment when you use LidLover instead of temporary, landfill-bound covers such as plastic wraps and foils.

    The 12″ LidLover, with grooves fitting from 9″ to 12″, fits most large serving bowls and dishes. It’s $16.95.

     

    lid-lover-230sq

    Seal ‘em, stack ‘em, save the environment and keep picnic insects out of your food. Photo courtesy LidLover.

     

    LidLover is top rack dishwasher safe, may be used as a cover in the microwave and can be used in both the freezer (down to -40°F) and the oven (up to 400°F). All LidLover lids are made of BPA-free food grade silicone.

    Check out the different varieties of LidLover on the company website.

    If you’re invited to a picnic or a barbecue, bring one to the host!

      

    Comments

    JULY 4th: Ice Cream Cones

    ice-cream-cones-amymillerdesigns-230sq

    Impress your friends and family with these Independence Day ice cream cones. Photo courtesy Amy Miller Designs.

     

    Who wouldn’t want to be Amy Miller’s friend?

    The designer, crafter and baker created the best-looking July 4th ice cream cones.

    Head to AmyMillerDesigns.com for the step-by-step showing how she did it.

    In brief, you need ice cream cones, vanilla candy melts in red, white and blue, and sprinkles. You can use either cake cones (shown in photo), sugar cones or their big brother, waffle cones.

    The toughest part is deciding what flavor of ice cream to scoop into your cones. Vanilla works best, but keep an eye out for cherry vanilla, strawberry or blueberry swirl.

    How much do you know about the different types of ice cream and frozen desserts?

    Check ‘em out in our Ice Cream Glossary.

     

     
      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Nut-Crusted Fish

    Coating fish with nuts and baking or sautéeing is an easy, foolproof way to prepare an elegant entrée. The nutty flavor of this simple but rich coating pairs beautifully with flaky white fish fillets.

    Nuts add even more protein to your dinner, as well as these health benefits.

    You can use any nut you like (pistachio is one of our favorites), along with a mild white fish like cod, flounder, halibut, sole or tilapia.

    There are more affordable white fish, too: Look for orange roughy, walleye pike or other species recommended by your fish monger. Fillets should be about 1/2 inch thick.
     
    TIPS

     

    almond-crusted-eatingwell-230

    Coat your favorite fish with your favorite nuts. Photo courtesy EatingWell.com.

  • If breadcrumbs are recommended, try panko.
  • Instead of a sauce, place the cooked fish on a bed of steamed spinach or other green, tossed with a light drizzle of garlic olive oil. Good, good for you, a win-win.
  • Trade the conventional lemon wedge for lime.
  • For a starch, try parsley new potatoes–the parsley will complement the fish.
  •  
    RECIPES

  • Almond & Lemon-Crusted White Fish (recipe)
  • Macadamia-Crusted Mahi-Mahi (recipe)
  • Nut Crusted Fried Fish (recipe)
  • Roasted Halibut With Walnut Crust (recipe)
  • Pecan-Crusted Fish Fillets (see recipe below)
  • Walnut & Lemon-Crusted Cod (recipe)
  •  

    pecan-crusted-fish-fillet-bettycrocker-230

    Pecan-crusted fish fillet. Photo courtesy Betty
    Crocker
    .

     

    RECIPE: PECAN-CRUSTED FISH

    Turn the catch of the day into delicious dinner in only 25 minutes, with this recipe from Betty Crocker. Hot pecan-crusted fish fillets are cooked easily on stove top and are served with lemon wedges.

    Prep time is 15 minutes, cook time is 10 minutes.

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 1 cup finely chopped pecans (not ground)
  • 1/4 cup dry bread crumbs
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 pound delicate white fish fillets, about 1/2 inch thick
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Garnish: lemon or lime wedges
  • Preparation

    1. MIX the pecans, bread crumbs and lemon peel in shallow bowl. Beat the egg and milk with a wire whisk or fork in another shallow bowl.

    2. SPRINKLE both sides of the fish with salt and pepper. Coat the fish with the egg mixture, then coat well with the pecan mixture, pressing slightly into the fish.

    3. HEAT the oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat; add the fish. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook 6 to 10 minutes, turning once carefully with 2 pancake turners, until the fish flakes easily with a fork and is brown.

    4. SERVE with lemon or lime wedges.

      

    Comments

    JULY 4th: Patriotic Milkshake Recipe

    For a dessert or snack over July 4th weekend, serve these patriotic shakes. They were designed by QVC’s chef David Venable.

    RECIPE: PATRIOTIC MILKSHAKE

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 1/4 cup + 4 teaspoons strawberry syrup, divided (recipe below)
  • 3/4 cup fresh blueberries
  • 2-1/4 cups strawberries and cream ice cream
  • 1-1/4 cups quartered fresh strawberries
  • 1-1/3 cups whole milk
  • 4 ounces whipped cream (you can substitute frozen whipped topping)
  •  
    *You can use leftover strawberry syrup in club soda, cocktails, iced tea, lemonade, on angel food cake and pound cake, ice cream, pudding, sorbet etc.
     
    Preparation

    1. PLACE the blueberries and 1/4 cup of strawberry syrup into a medium-size bowl. Mix until the blueberries are fully coated. Refrigerate until needed.

       

    patriotic-milkshake-qvc-230

    Drink the patriotic colors. Photo courtesy QVC.

     

    2. DRIZZLE 1 teaspoon of strawberry syrup in a spiral design on the inside of four tall glasses (we used a squeeze bottle). Freeze until needed.

    3. PLACE the ice cream, strawberries and milk in a blender with a large pitcher. Mix until smooth, 40–60 seconds. Pour into the prepared milk shake glasses.

    4. TOP each glass with 1 ounce whipped cream and the blueberry mixture, dividing evenly among the 4 glasses. Serve immediately.

     

    strawberry-syrup-tideandthyme-230r

    Buy strawberry syrup or make your own. Photo courtesy Tide and Thyme; here’s their recipe.

     

    HOMEMADE STRAWBERRY SIMPLE SYRUP

    Cook time is 25 minutes, total time is 40 minutes. The syrup should last, refrigerated, for 4-6 weeks. You can substitute any berries in this recipe,

    Ingredients For 3-1/2 Cups

  • 2 pounds strawberries
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cups sugar
  •  
    Preparation

    1. RINSE, hull and pat dry the strawberries. Cut into small pieces and place in a medium sauce pan. Cover with water and bring to a boil.

    2. REDUCE to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes, skimming any foam. After 20 minutes, the strawberries should be pale and the liquid should be a deep pink color. Remove the pan from the heat.

    3. STRAIN the strawberry liquid through a fine mesh strainer into a clean pot. DO NOT press down on the berries to extract more juice; it will make the syrup cloudy. Discard the berries.

     

    4. ADD 2 cups of sugar to the liquid and bring to a boil, stirring frequently to dissolve the sugar. Simmer for 5 minutes till the sugar is completely dissolved, skimming any foam.

    5. REMOVE from the heat and cool completely. Pour into a glass container, tightly cap and refrigerate.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Ricotta For Lunch, Dinner & Dessert

    A couple of weeks ago we discussed the glories of ricotta for breakfast. Today, we make some recommendations for lunch and dinner.

    HORS D’OEUVRE

  • Ricotta dip for crudités, chips, pretzels. You can season and serve it as is, in a bowl with a drizzle of olive oil; or blend it in the food processor, with or without fresh herbs (we like chives or dill). You can also blend it with plain yogurt.
  • Ricotta sandwich bites: Grill slices of summer squash or zucchini and fill with fresh ricotta, seasoned to taste.
  • Ricotta spread: Season and serve with crostini or fresh baguette slices. Seasonings include salt and pepper, plus anything you like from garlic to heat (chili flakes, minced jalapeño) to fresh herbs and lemon zest. Look on your spice shelf for inspiration. Here’s how we topped ricotta crostini with green peas.
  •  
    SALADS & SIDES

  • Topping: Use ricotta instead of yogurt to top grains, vegetables, baked potatoes. Garnish with a bit of fresh basil, chive, dill, parsley or other favorite herb. You can also purée the ricotta into a sauce.
  • Salad: Add a scoop of seasoned ricotta to a mixed green salad, instead of a round of goat cheese.
  • Radish salad: Make a first course salad of radishes and sugar snap peas, topped with ricotta and fresh-ground pepper.
  •    

    ricotta-honey-davantichicago-230

    Ricotta spread with honeycomb and toasts. Photo courtesy Davanti | Chicago.

     

    MAINS

  • Casserole: Check recipes for the type of casserole you’d like to make.
  • Pasta: Make ricotta gnudi or ravioli, stuff shells, layer lasagna or top cooked pasta (tossed with a bit of butter or olive oil) with a mound of ricotta, seasoned and garnished with snipped herbs, lemon zest, peas or snap peas.
  • Savory sauce: Purée ricotta with peas, spinach or other vegetable. Place a layer of sauce on the plate before adding the protein.
  •  

    radish-ricotta-oxandson-230

    Ricotta salad, topped with sliced radishes, microgreens and a drizzle of basil olive oil. Photo courtesy Ox & Son | Santa Monica.

     

    DESSERTS

  • Baked ricotta: Mix it with berries before or after baking, or serve it plain with a drizzle of honey.
  • Berry topper: Instead of whipped cream, use ricotta. We sweeten it lightly and add cinnamon or vanilla; but you can also process it until smooth and use it as a sauce.
  • Dessert cheese: Cheese doesn’t have to be sliceable to be on your cheese plate. Serve a bowl of ricotta with customizable accompaniments, like dried and fresh fruits and nuts, honey, jam, Almondina cookies, date nut bread or toasted raisin bread.
  • Ricotta cheesecake!
  • Pudding: Make “cannoli pudding” by sweetening the ricotta and addding a touch of cinnamon, nutmeg or vanilla. Top with mini chocolate chips, or serve with berries and/or cookies. You can find other types of ricotta pudding (called budino di ricotta in Italy), some of which are soft like rice pudding and others baked into tarts. Here are recipes for vanilla and a soft chocolate versions.
  • Ricotta ice cream: Follow a recipe for cream cheese ice cream or mascarpone ice cream and substitute ricotta.
  •  

    MAKE YOUR OWN RICOTTA

    While you may not have leftover whey begging to be made into ricotta, you can make your own version from milk and cream. Sure, it’s easier to buy it ready-made; but if you like to cook, you’ll enjoy the experience. This recipe is adapted by one from Chef Anne Burrell, who makes it to serve as an appetizer spread with toast.

    And it’s easy! Prep time is 5 minutes, cook time is 10 minutes, draining time is 15 minutes.

    Ingredients For 4-6 Servings

  • 6 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Finishing oil (we like to use flavored olive oil, like basil or rosemary
  • Bread: baguette, rustic loaf, semolina or other favorite
  • Optional: 1 clove garlic
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the milk, cream, vinegar and salt in a medium saucepan. Place over medium heat and slowly bring to a simmer. Simmer for 1 to 2 minutes, until curds begin to form.

    2. LINE a mesh strainer with several layers of damp cheesecloth. Gently pour the curds and whey through into the strainer and let drain for 15 minutes. Gather the cheesecloth together and gently squeeze some of the excess liquid from the ricotta. Transfer the ricotta to a serving dish and drizzle with big fat finishing oil.

    3. PREHEAT a grill or broiler. While the ricotta is draining, slice the bread into 1/2-inch thick slices. Toast the bread on the grill or in the broiler on both sides. Swipe the garlic 2 times on each piece of toast and drizzle each piece with finishing oil. Serve the ricotta, slightly warmed, with the grilled bread.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Star Cookies For July 4th

    star-cookies-WS-230

    It’s beginning to look like July 4th! The Silpat cookie sheet is from Williams-Sonoma.

     

    Want to bake cookies for July 4th?

    1. MIX up and roll out your favorite sugar cookie dough (or other rolled cookie dough).

    2. USE a star cookie cutter to cut shapes. If you have small and large star cutters, make large and small sizes.

    Here’s a set of 6 nested star cookie cutters, that you can also use for Christmas cookies.

    3. BAKE, cool and ice the cookie tops white royal icing (recipe below); then decorate with red and blue stripes. Voilà: the Stars and Stripes.

    Check out the different types of cookies in our delicious Cookie Glossary.

     
    ROYAL ICING RECIPE

    Ingredients

  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons meringue powder
  • 6 tablespoons water
  • Red and blue food color
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MIX first three ingredients together for 7 to 10 minutes, until icing stiffens. If icing appears too stiff, add more water, one teaspoon at a time. You want the icing to be thin enough that you can pipe it easily. Tint 1/4 of the icing red, and 1/4 blue (see instructions below).

    2. DECORATE the cookies when they are cool. Use an offset spatula to ice the cookie tops white. Then place the tinted icing into separate piping bags fitted with a very small round tip.

    3. CREATE the red and blue stripes. If you don’t have a steady hand, wavy lines are fine. Keep the tip about 1/2 inch above the cookie as you ice. This helps to achieve a straighter line.

    Variation: Instead of piping stripes, you can sprinkle red, white and blue star decorations on the white royal icing base while it’s still wet. Here are large stars and small stars.

    4. DRY the cookies completely, usually 1 to 2 hours.

     
      

    Comments

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