As I have more than mentioned I ADORE summer; it seems incidental as I write this blog the weather has already changed. The air is cool, damp, and starting to feel crisp. I know there will still be the 85 degree days, but all the romance of summer has all but ended. We wanted to create the ultimate artistic pastry to our admiration for the passing summer. This summer began with DF and I renewing our wedding vows on a Caribbean adventure, as Sydney took the responsibilities to be maid of honor. I can still smell the ocean, taste the Mia Tias, feel the warm sun, and bring myself back to a relaxing atmosphere just by closing my eyes.
Sydney has been wanting to work with homemade pastillage, I thought why not create seashells with royal icing flowers and dulce de leche petit fours inside the shell. The process does take a few days, but is not hard, only needs two days to dry. Pastillage is sugar paste, perfect for making decorations; as it dries quickly and becomes very hard. This paste can be rolled very thin and formed into everything from decorative boxes, seashells, to lifelike flowers. This is considered “technically” edible, but is quite hard on the teeth and prepared with gum tragacanth, prettier to look at than actually to eat.
300 grams/ 2 1/2-cups icing sugar
10 grams/1 Tablespoon gum tracaganth
20 grams / 1 1/2-teaspoons water
15 grams/ 1 1/2-teaspoons limoncello
Cornstarch for dusting
Prepare your mise en place.
In a bowl of a standing mixer, with the paddle attachment, sift the icing sugar, gum tracaganth, add the water and beat thoroughly. Scrape the sides down as necessary.
Sprinkle on a flat surface or mat with cornstarch, transfer the pastillage, and knead the mixture until it forms a pliable dough.
Either use or store in an airtight container.
For The Shell:
Place a small amount of pastillage into the shell mold and smooth out with the back of a spoon or dough-lining device.
Leave the shells to dry hard, fill with candy or decorations of choice.
After filling the bottom of one shell use a piping bag and add a line of icing along the back of the shell, place another shell on top of the shell with icing to create a seashell shape. You may need to support the inside of the shell till they have completely dry. Place a fondant impression or anything you have small enough to stick in between the shells until they dry.
These make great party favors or place tags.
Icing Sugar Flowers:
126 grams / 4 1/2 egg whites
¼ teaspoon egg white powder
907 grams/ 7 1/2 cups icing sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon limoncello
Colorant of choice
Prepare your mise en place.
In a large mixing bowl, using an electric mixer, add the egg whites and egg white powder, and whisk to a foam. Pour the lemon juice, almond extract, and limoncello, continue whisk till soft peaks form, sift the icing sugar till the mixture is a stiff consistency.
Place the stiff royal icing in a piping bag, with a either a wilton 1o4 tube, a pme, 57r tube, or Aceto 104 tube (if those are unavailable use a plastic bag, place the icing sugar in the bag and cut at an angle).
We place petit fours covered with fondant and sugared flowers shaped like pansy, daisies and violets inside our shells, but your imagination is the limit, have fun! To pipe any one of these flowers use a piping bag, the flower tube and piping nail with a small square of parchment paper fastened with icing sugar in place; hold the piping bag at a 45 degree angle, with the wide end of the tube barely touching the nail and wide end facing 9:00. Pipe with gentle pressure as you turn the nail.
When the flower is finished carefully with a gentle touch lift the parchment paper off the nail, and allow the flower to dry completely (over night). Depending on the flower will determine the number of petals, remember nature has differences and no two flowers are alike.
Once the shells have been completely dried add the decorations with a small amount of icing sugar to hold them in place. Finish with a decorative ribbon and icing sugar.
P.S: The ribbon is not edible.
Please remember as 9-11 approaches to honor those by watching their favorite movie, listening to their favorite song, and prepare their favorite food!!