Decorate cakes & cupcakes like a pro

Dessert,Desserts with Dairy,Eco Tips,New Developments

After seeing Todd’s exquistely frosted, ribbon topped Bon Appetit cake pictures and comparing them to the photos in Elana’s new Gluten Free Cupcakes book and the delicious, but less than stellar job I did of frosting mini cupcakes a friend’s wedding reception in early May, I realized that I needed to ramp up the presentation of my desserts. (Thank you, Felicia and Todd!)

Pastry bag-less in Phoenix
I didn’t own cake decorating tools until a week ago. I was 16 years old the last time I’d used a pastry bag. My friend’s wife, Tracy, mentioned using a plastic zip-top bag to decorate cakes, cutting a hole in one corner. when she did catering. My new friend Felicia uses disposable pastry bags for ease of clean up. Two days after the delicious lamb riblet meal at her house, I began hunting for pastry bags. I vaguely remembered how messy cleaning a pastry bag had been when I was a teenager. I nixed the idea of using disposable pastry bags; I didn’t like the look of them or the prospect of throwing out a steady strem of plastic bags knowing that other alternatives exist. I found what I was after at the second store I visited.

Decorate like a pro
I settled on the Wilton Dessert Pro Decorator kit: an ergonomically designed stainless steel cylinder with a pull-out plunger, 6 decorating tips, 2 couplers, and a nylon-dishwasher safe storage bag for the tips and couplers. The tool resembles both a cookie shooter and a jerky press. I like that it’s durable and eco friendly (mostly stainless steel rather than plastic) and easy to fill and clean. It won’t transfer flavors and does a better job of maintaining the temperature of the filling than a bag. Cloth and plastic bags absorb the heat of your hands, which can make frosting melt faster.

My first demo
Last Saturday, after my cooking class and before dinner, my 9 year old neighbor, Abby, helped me make two batches of gluten-free red velvet cupcakes, one with a gluten-free flour blend and the other with coconut flour. We also made one batch of honey-sweetened goat cheese buttercream frosting (a lower-sugar, lower-fat twist on classic cream cheese frosting. I filled my new Dessert Decorator Pro  with frosting and used the star tip. You can see the results here (photo right). I think I did fairly well for a first attempt!

Cupcakes in the works
I plan to test more red velvet cupcakes and frosting in preparation for a two-part, gluten-free cooking series I’ll be leading at Desert Botanical Garden in July and August. I like to add new recipes to my repertoire. Not only had a never made a red velvet cake or cupcake prior to last weekend, I’d never even tasted a red velvet anything prior to last year when I took home a killer, gluten-free red velvet cupcake from Nourish Café in Scottsdale. It had a massive  amount of thick, creamy, white frosting on top, skillfully swirled through a pastry bag. Now I’m on a mission to make something as good or better!

My team
In addition to my baking buddy, Abby, I have a team of taste-testers who help me evaluate my experiments. I won’t post my best red velvet cupcake recipe until after the class at Desert Botanical Garden. If you sign up for the class (see my cooking class page for details) you’ll have the recipe before it goes live here. However, I will share the results of my testing and tasting process and tell you what other foods I decide to decorate with my new Decorator Pro. In the meantime, if you already decorate your food with a pastry bag or want to, consider getting a Wilton Dessert Decorator Pro. You can order one using the link below.

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