Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Tips for Edible Images, Icing Printers & Frosting Sheets . . . Works for Me Wednesday

Last year, I bought an icing printer.  It hasn't been all sunshine and lollipops, but it has been kinda fun.  Here are a few of the cookies I've made using it:


First, let's talk about the printer itself.  You can go one of two ways....
  • buy a printer specifically made for icing printing, like the one sold here,
  • or, buy a NEW printer that is compatible with the food coloring "ink" cartridges.  (A list of those printers is here.)
I bought one of the compatible printers.....I chose an Epson WorkForce 30.  (I bought it from Amazon.)

Next, let's talk "ink."  Food coloring cartridges are, well, expensive.  Go to the list of compatible printers and find the edible ink that you need.

The ink for my printer is $90.  Yes, $90!  How long does it last?  Well, it depends.  Depends on the images printed, how much ink is wasted cleaning nozzles, running print checks, etc.  My guess is, you can get 30-40 pages out of a full set of ink.

The best tip for the ink that I've found is to refill is with these ink refills They are $10 a color and are SO nice to have on hand when you realize that you're out of magenta and your printer won't work without it.

{Refilling the tanks can get messy and I won't pretend I know any tricks to doing it, other than batting your eyelashes and seeing if you can get your hubby to take over.  Worked for me.}

Getting ready to print:

Scan your picture or save it on your computer.  Use a photo editing software (I like PhotoScape) to crop it to the size of your cookie cutter.  The easiest way to do this is to view the image at 100% and hold your cookie cutter up to the screen.  I like to make my images just a tad smaller than the actual cutter.

Put as many pictures as you can fit into a Word or Open Office document.  I typically get 6 per sheet, of course, you'll get more if your cookies are smaller.  The frosting sheets have a printing area of 7.5 x 10".

BEFORE PRINTING:
  • Run a nozzle check of the printer.
  • If any colors are not printing, run the print head cleaning (you may need to run it twice).
  • If one of the colors is still not printing, turn off the printer, remove the specific color and swab the nozzle with a damp QTip.
  • Print a test page on a plain sheet of paper.  (Once you see that it is printing correctly, you can cancel the print job to keep from wasting ink.)
 
Now, print the image/s onto the frosting sheet

There are a few ways to apply the sheets.  (And, I'm only talking cookies here, not applying to cakes.)

Once printed, I find the sheets a little easier to work with if they have "aged" a little.  Now, this could be because I live in a really humid area, I don't know.  But, when I've tried to used them immediately, I have had problems with tearing.

So, if I'm using them right after printing, I leave them out on the counter for a bit....at least 15 minutes to dry out.  You don't want to leave them out too long, or they will become brittle.   If I'm not going to use them the same day, I store them in a gallon-sized baggie.  Then, before using, I'll cut them into the size needed and let them sit out while I prep the cookies.

Method #1 (my favorite): Prepare the images by cutting the size needed, set aside. Outline and fill the cookie with royal icing.  While the icing is still wet, remove the backing from the frosting sheet and gently place on the cookie.  Pat the edges and corners down.  This may make up to 48 hours to dry.

Method #2 (I used this method on these St. Patrick's Day cookies):  Prepare the images by cutting the size needed, set aside. Thin piping consistency royal icing with water until it is loosened.  It should not be runny, just easily spreadable.  Remove the backing from the image and gently cover the back with the loosened icing.  Adhere to the cookie.  Because the icing is not as wet underneath, these don't take as long to dry.  (I like this method for when you don't want to add or see a border.)

Method #3 involves brushing corn syrup on the back of the image and applying it to a dry cookie.  I haven't had any luck with this method.  The corn syrup seemed to tear and stretch the sheets and the ones that didn't tear felt sticky to the touch. 

A few more tips....
  • "Hot hands" can tear the images. My hands are cold all the time....except when I decorate cookies.  If this happens to you, wash your hands in really cold water and dry thoroughly. Repeat as needed.  I also will take the ice pack for kiddo's lunchbox out of the freezer and hold onto it for a while.
  • A piped or sprinkled edge is a really nice way to finish the cookies or hide uneven edges.  I love a #16 star tip!
  • Use your printer once a week....even if you don't need to...to help prevent ink clogging.
  • Wait AT LEAST 24 hours before packaging. Tap gently on the image to see if it's dry.
  • Never use your icing printer with real ink. :)
Now, here's the real deal....would I buy one again?  I'm not sure.  It's nice to have, but the troubleshooting hasn't been fun.

If you don't have an icing printer, but want to use edible images, here's what you do.   Format your pictures and take your file on an SD card or flash drive to your local bakery supply (or even the grocery store).  Call first, but more than likely, they can print FOR you!  Our bakery supply charges about $7 per sheet.
works for me wednesday at we are that family
I'm not an expert at these edible images, so if I come across any other tips, I'll be sure to pass them along!

I know this post is LOOOOONG and wordy, so bear with me.  I want to let you know about a really neat event I'm participating in...and you can, too!

I’m co-hosting an upcoming class in the Web’s first-ever virtual cooking school, Cooking Connections, and I would love for all of you to participate! Here’s what you need to know:

When: Wednesday, March 9, at 1 p.m. ET

Where: TheMotherhood – here is the link to the page where the class will be held.

And here is the registration page for all Cooking Connections classes.

What: The class I am co-hosting is called “Sweet Treats,” and it is hosted by Julie Mastbrook (Mommie Cooks) and Kristen Doyle (Dine and Dish ). We all will be sharing our best resources for finding sweets; sweet snack suggestions and recipes for when we’re craving just a taste of sugar; and dessert recipes with kid-friendly instructions and cleanup, so your children can help you whip up delicious creations!

The class is sponsored by ConAgra and hosted by TheMotherhood.

I hope to see you there!

My other fabulous co-hosts are:

Cheryl Sousan, Tidy Mom
Kristan Roland, Confessions of a Cookbook Queen
Monet Moutrie, Anecdotes and Apple Cores
Dennis Littley, More than a Mountfull
Kim Kopp, Quit Eating Out
Naomi Robinson, Bakers Royale
Robyn Stone, Add a Pinch
Rebecca Spivack, Let It Marinate
Kaitlin Flannery, Whisk Kid
Cate O'Malley, Sweetnicks
Faith Gorsky, An Edible Mosaic

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