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Ask The Expert: Aixa Zunino

Aixa Zunino of Dolce Sentire is our expert of the month. She is an expert sugar artist in cookies having been nominated for many awards in the industry and winning the Cake Masters Magazine Cookie Award for her realistic and beautiful designs. Find out more at dolcesentire.com

Cookies on Cakes

Q: What is the best way to incorporate cookies on cakes?

A: Decorated cookies on cakes could be a pretty embellishment, the perfect substitute for fondant decorations or an original way to put the icing on the cake. You can use cookies on a stick as a topper or glue them to the perimeter of your cake depending on the design (one, two or three-tiered cake).

Fix Soft Cookies

Q: My cookies are too soft, what’s going wrong?

A: Probably they needed to be baked a little bit more. My cookies are usually medium/large sized and I bake them for 10-12 minutes at 325°

Freezing Cookies

Q: I’m worried about freezing my raw cookie dough before baking – can you tell me more about this?

A: I always freeze my raw cookies before baking; for me, this is actually the best way to avoid cookie spreading and air bubbles and save time! Just prepare cookie dough according to recipe directions, let set for about 15 minutes and then cut out your cookies. Make sure you wrap them properly and tightly in plastic wrap and transfer to a freezer bag or plastic container.

Royal Icing Solutions

Q: My royal icing falls off my biscuits, what am I doing wrong?

A: The consistency of your royal icing is key! If your icing is too runny, you can’t control it and probably it will fall off your cookie. I never outline my cookies when flooding, so this is a very common issue I always try to avoid by using a dried egg white royal icing recipe: 500g icing sugar, 15g dried egg whites and 175ml water (flooding consistency, also called 10-12-second icing).

Decorating with Royal Icing

Q: What is the perfect consistency of royal icing for decorating cookies?

A: I use to say to my students that a perfect consistency for decorated cookies doesn’t exist. Actually, decorating cookies by using different consistencies is the most exciting and funny part of it! Remember, practise makes perfect!

Using Fondant on Cookies

Q: What thickness should fondant be when covering a cookie?

A: It depends on the decoration you want to achieve, but around 4mm works well for cookies.

Eliminating Air Bubbles

Q: Some of my cookies have air bubbles or bumps, how do I stop this from happening?

A: As mentioned above, chilling the cookie dough or freezing the cookies before baking is a perfect way to avoid air bubbles. Some extra tricks could be baking the cookies on a baking mat (I absolutely love Demarle Silpain mats, for me, they are a must) and slightly pressuring the surface of the warm cookies with a fondant smoother.

Flavoured Cookies

Q: What is the best way to add flavour to cookies?

A: I love to add flavouring to my cookies during the dough prep. I mix a little amount of flavour paste with the eggs and then add them to the mixture. For extra taste, you can add some drops of your favourite flavour to the royal icing.

Correcting Mistakes on Cookies

Q: What is the best way to correct a mistake when piping on cookies?

A: Of course, it depends on the mistake, but if it’s not to hard to eliminate, you can do it by using a wet paintbrush (make sure you properly dab off any excess water), boo boo stick or scriber.

Best types of nozzles for piping

Q: What are the best types of nozzles to use when decorating a cookie?

A: The perfect nozzle is made of stainless steel and has a proper length. I love to flood my cookies by using a no.2 nozzle if it’s medium sized. For larger cookies, I recommend a no.3 or even no.4. For adding some tiny royal icing details (lines, beadworks, etc.), I choose no.1-2 nozzles. Wilton and PME are my favourite brands.

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