After much Twitter debate the other week about whether or not to get presents for Ruby's Nursery teachers (opinion was split about 50/50), I decided I'd make them each a token handmade gift.
I devised this alternative method of making peppermint creams because I'd bought a fancy-pants icing cutter/plunger thingie and was determined to get some use out of it! I'd tried it with no success on air drying clay for my tree decorations, and regular peppermint cream mix (icing sugar and water). Perhaps it was because it was designed to cut royal icing?
So, instead of mixing icing sugar, I simply added a few drops if peppermint to the ready made icing and kneaded it in. It's a great way of being able to cut out intricate shapes that the normal icing made from powder doesn't seem able to cope with.
You will need:
250g ready made royal icing
50g 70% cocoa chocolate
few drops of peppermint oil
edible glitter (optional)
Makes approx 35 snowflakes. I costed this up from my local supermarket and reckon it costs about £1.50 not including the wrapping or edible glitter. Incidentally, I couldn't get hold of edible glitter in my local baking shop, only lustre powder. They said they'd taken it off the shelves because imported glitter was labelled 'non-toxic' rather than 'edible' and they were seeking reassurances it was safe. Eek!
Add a few drops of the peppermint oil to the icing and knead in (the ready made icing seems to take more than the powdered version, so I added about 4 drops). Roll out with a rolling pin having 'floured' your surface with icing sugar. Try not to roll too thin as it makes the cut shapes too fragile. About 50-75mm worked well for me.
Cut out your shapes and place on a tray covered with grease-proof paper. Pop in the fridge to harden a little.
Melt your chocolate over a saucepan of water, taking care not to boil or get water in the chocolate. The easiest way I found to coat my snowflakes, was painting the melted chocolate on with a brush. They were simply too tricky to handle for dipping and I wanted one side white and the other chocolate coated.
Put a blob of chocolate in the middle of the shape with your brush, then gentle draw it out to cover the points of the snowflake. Try and work quickly, and if your chocolate starts to harden in the bowl, re-heat it. Don't worry too much if it looks messy - it will dry neater and anyway, this will be the underside. If it's really messy, just tell the recipient your child made them!
Pop back in the fridge once the chocolate has hardened. The addition of a chocolate coating really makes the delicate shape more sturdy.
If you're using edible glitter or lustre powder, add this to the bare side once the chocolate is firm. Again, I used a clean, dry paintbrush for this.
Place into little polythene gift bags, add a label and tie with a bow - voila!
Are you giving your child's teacher a gift for Christmas?