As a followup to Spring Kookys, here’s a behind the scenes explanation of what I used for decorating, and why, with some photos.
With this batch I wanted to decorate the Kookys with more fluffy realism, have great flavor, using sweet but ‘nutritionally straightforward’ ingredients. I think I achieved that, but if I find something better I will try again. I also want to give umbrella Kookys another try and not have them fall apart at the handle.
But here’s what I have learned:
White Chocolate As Frosting/icing:
I used melted Godiva chocolate bars flecked with vanilla beans as the base icing for these kookys (see glass on the right, above.
Why didn’t I just pick up white chocolate chips (see glass on the left, above)? Well, I’ve been burned by them in the past. Literally.
I order to achieve melted chocolate with the ideal consistency–fluid, glossy, yet quick to dry with a matte finish, you must have cocoa butter as an ingredient. This is true with traditional brown chocolate as well.
As I was saying, I learned this the hard way. I would buy white chips, and try to melt them in a glass measuring cup in the microwave, 30 seconds to one minute. First they weren’t melted after one rotation, then they were crumbly and turning brown in the second rotation. I recreated my results for this post. They didn’t burn this time, but they still look nasty after multiple rotations in the microwave; stirring doesn’t help (see image below):
At first I thought adding butter or water might help, but it just made a bigger mess.
I researched the issue, and I learned that cocoa butter was the crucial ingredient. Then I went to multiple grocery store’s baking aisles to see if there were any white chips containing cocoa butter. Store brand, gourmet brand, it didn’t matter–none of them had it:
And there is a product called CandiQuik and a White Bark Covering, but it’s a poor man’s fondue. It’s intended for dipping pretzels and such, like candy melting disks I used to see more frequently. [I am suspicious of any candy product that says “vanilla flavored candy” or “chocolate flavored candy”. If it’s not truly chocolate and had to be flavored that way, just what is it? What am I potentially eating or serving here?]
So I walked to the candy aisle, and along the top shelf there were white chocolate candy bars. Their label indicated they contained cocoa butter.
So I bought it and gave it a shot. It worked like a charm, see below:
Not only does it look much better, but it does a job that the chips couldn’t.
This isn’t to say white chips aren’t good for chunky chocolate pieces in brownies, blondies or cookies; it is just to say, without cocoa butter, you can’t completely melt them for use as a liquid. It will not happen.
From what I’ve found, these chocolate brands have cocoa butter ingredient 100% of the time:
Green & Black; Hershey’s Bliss, Nuggets and Kisses; Dove; Perugina; Taste of Inspirations; Godiva; Lindt.
Chocolate brands that only sometimes have cocoa butter–basically it depends on the product type:
Ghiradelli, Nestle, ScharffenBerger
I did notice that Ghiradelli had “baking bars” that look like large candy bars and they contained cocoa butter; Ghiradelli white chips do not. At the same time, Nestle had a white “baking bar”, but it nor the premier white chips contain cocoa butter. The only way to know for sure how packaged chocolate can be used for your next baking project is to check its ingredients list before buying it. Gourmet branding, the price, and vague product names don’t follow any consistent logic.
Prepared frosting, whether it comes in a canister, a box, or a pouch, is really convenient and simple to use. So are gel food colors. Unlike melted chocolate, frosting/icing it can thicken up and get a sugar crystalled skin on it, but it won’t harden like chocolate does unless its Cookie Glaze in a tube (like a runny fondant; when the cookie is chilled or left to set for an hour at room temperature, the glaze will harden).
But these products, Cookie Glaze included, have a lot of mystery chemical ingredients, like partially hydrogenated ‘schmeckle-zoink’ (thanks Mike Myers Coffee Talk) and other oddities in them.
Here’s some images of labels:
These additives aid the color, the consistency, and the shelf life of the product, but they only hurt the health of the consumer, the more they are consumed over a lifetime. Think about all your birthday cakes, others’ birthday cakes, wedding cakes, job change cakes, anniversary cakes, romantic dessert cake. That’s a lot of artificial sweeteners and chemicals going into your system–and who knows, maybe they never really leave, they just build up over a lifetime.
While I’m on the subject of baking aisle atrocities, store bought sugared coconut found in the baking aisle is not healthy either. The bags I see sold in stores are practically ‘sweating’ sugar and high fructose schmeckle-zoink. UGH. You can’t taste the coconut anymore.
Here’s some ingredients lists for those:
I would swear propylene glycol is also used in hairspray. Wikipedia mentions its role in the dispersants used after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. There’s nothing sweet about the idea of eating that.
So I walked to the granola/organic foods/dried fruit aisle and found plain dried coconut for my Kookys.
Below is an ingredient list I could get used to!