Sunday 28 June 2015

Nautical Ombre Blue Iced Gems with Miniature Sailboats

After a hiatus of a few months, these gems are back! This time they appear in a nicely gradual shade of ombre blue and whimsical teeny sailboats riding on "waves"!

These old school iced gems are really easy to make so if you are a fan of these, do give it a try! No tricky meringue, electric mixers, folding techniques or eyeballing oven temperature needed ;).

Ombre blue gems was requested but I couldn't resist playing with the idea of using the blue icing to form waves! I borrowed the idea from Molang macarons to use sprinkles to form an object. I used chocolate rice and crescent shaped sprinkles to form part of the boat and used royal icing to put the parts together.

Let these babies air dry overnight before attempting to move them.

Recipe for biscuit base (makes about 220-230 biscuits)
210g plain flour
30g icing sugar
1/8 tsp salt
3tsp baking powder
72g vegetable shortening (or unsalted butter if you prefer buttery taste)
84g milk (may not use all)
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Sift together flour, salt, sugar and baking powder.

2. Rub in shortening until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.

3. Add vanilla extract to the milk. Add the milk mixture gradually until a ball of dough can be formed. You may not need all of the milk.

4. Roll the dough to about 3mm thick between two baking sheets. Use a round cutter (about 2cm diameter) to cut out rounds.

5. Lay out the cutouts on baking tray lined with baking sheet. You may place them quite close together as they puff out upwards, not sideways.

6. Bake for 13-15 minutes at 170°C fan mode. Rotate the tray after about 9 minutes. Bake until golden brown. Do note that your baking time may vary from mine.

Freshly baked

Cool completely before icing. You may store in airtight container and ice another day.

 Recipe for royal icing*
252g icing sugar
18g meringue powder
45g water
1/3 tsp vanilla extract
Wilton sky blue and royal blue gel colouring
Charcoal powder or black gel colouring

* If meringue powder is not easily available, you may make royal icing using raw egg whites. I am not comfortable feeding people raw egg whites so I use the baker's convention method :). Meringue powder can be found at any baking supplies store like Phoon Huat or even departmental store like Robinson's. If you do use raw egg whites, you may dry the iced biscuits in the oven at 70°C fan mode to "cook" the egg whites a little.

1. Sift icing sugar and meringue powder together. Add water and vanilla extract and use a hand whisk or spatula to mix until well combined.

2. Use a handheld electric mixer and beat on lowest speed setting for 3-4 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl halfway through beating. The icing should be able to hold stiff peaks. I usually whisk by hand for about 6 minutes but with big batches of icing like this, it really takes quite a lot of arm strength. I resorted to using the electric mixer :p. Hand whisking has the advantage of introducing less air bubbles in your icing. Alternatively, some bloggers suggest using electric mixer with a paddle attachment to reduce air bubbles. I don't happen to have that around.

Portion out about 45g icing for each colour.

I could have used blue pea flowers to colour blue but due to the very subtle change in shades of blue spread over 6 portions, it would be hard to control the gradual change. Here's how I coloured:

1. Left as white icing
2. A tiny chopstick tip dip of sky blue gel
3. 3 small chopstick dips of sky blue
4. 5 small chopstick dips of sky blue and tiny dip of royal blue
5. 7 chopstick dips of sky blue, 3-4 chopstick dips of royal blue and very small pinch of charcoal powder.
6. 8-9 chopstick dips of sky blue, 5-6 dips of royal blue and use chopstick to scoop up a bit of charcoal 

Adjust the colours accordingly by doing a visual check.

Cover the bowl of icing with clingwrap until it is time to pipe the icing.

Ombre blue royal icing

Use a star tip to pipe on the trademark iced gem ruffles. Hold the piping tip perpendicular to the biscuit a few mm away from surface. Squeeze the piping bag and slowly lift upwards. Release pressure and lift off the tip sharply.

To pipe the wave-like icing, simply pipe a taller ruffle. Gently press the sailboat onto one side of the ruffle and bend it.

Lil' boats riding the waves!

Dry the iced gems in the oven at 60°C with the fan on for an hour to 1.5 hours or until icing is dry and biscuit is crunchy. I usually make some extras to do a taste test. Cool completely before storing in airtight container. You may pipe some icing on the baking sheet to test for doneness too. Once the icing can be lifted off the baking sheet and is completely dry, the iced gems should be ready. Still do a taste test with the biscuit just to make sure.

All packed for the party!

Do note that the gems with the sailboats will not survive this method of storage as shown in the photo. They have to be stored upright without any pressure on the icing. My kids had so much fun eating the gems with the tiny boats!

Keep a lookout for more nautical themed cookies in the near future :).

With love,
Phay Shing

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