Using icing for food decorating can be lots of fun. Taking a cake decorating class can teach you the different ways to use a decorating bag, but there are plenty of ways to use icing in food decoration that anyone can use, regardless of skill level. Here are some fun ways to use icing in food decoration.
Cakes, cookies, and pastry:
Regular buttercream icing can be put to good use on the standby desserts of cakes, cookies, and pastry. You can use a spatula to spread icing over the surface of the dessert and a decorating bag to apply designs, but a plastic food storage bag with the tip of a corner cut off can work well for some simple applications. The simplest designs start with lettering and swirl patterns. You can also learn how to do balls, flowers, asters, sunbursts, beads, and basket weave patterns, to name a few.
Buttercream icing is the most popular for these applications, but you can also use whipped cream icing or chocolate ganache, which is a creamy, decadent mixture of chocolate and cream. Fondant or marzipan is an advanced icing application. It is a type of icing that can be rolled out into sheets and smoothed over the entire cake surface, encasing it in a smooth, clean wrapping of frosting. It can also be cut and sculpted into letters, shapes, and three-dimensional artwork.
Icing doesn’t only have to grace the outside of a dessert. You can use a decorating bag to pipe icing into the center of a cupcake or pastry after it has been baked to create a flavorful surprise. It’s a simple step that yields great results.
Icing can also be used to decorate ice cream, ice cream cones, and pastry sculptures set to look like faces, cars, buildings, farms, tractors, and anything else you can imagine. Craft stores carry special cake pans and decorative tips for icing bags that can be used to create great works of food art.
Another useful tool to be found at art stores or food specialty stores is the icing pen. It can be used for intricate icing application such as calligraphy or lace patterns. You can create a lace pattern directly on your cake or other dessert or you can apply it carefully to a sheet of parchment paper. Let it harden on the paper and then it can be carefully peeled away to be applied to your dessert. This is one of the techniques dessert chefs use in making sugar sculptures. Sugar letters, shapes, and characters can be made in this way, as well, using the decorating bag and icing with a high concentration of sugar. Try making apples, bananas, grapes, or other fruit, cactus, chickens, apple blossoms, flowers, baby booties, balloons, animals, or faces. Let them dry and then transfer them to your dessert. Sugar sculpture like this, when you’ve mastered it, can even be used to generate party favors or centerpieces.
Another fun way to use icing is to find interesting foods to fill with icing. Hollowed out fruits can make delicious and decorative desserts when filled with icing. Chocolate cups are also tasty and fun to make. Spread melted chocolate into baking cups in a thin layer and refrigerate for at least an hour. When the chocolate is hard, peel the baking cup away to reveal a light, airy chocolate confection. Fill with whipped cream or buttercream frosting, or add to a cake decoration or sugar sculpture.