Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A cupcake decorating machine!

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Okay, so maybe it is not actually a machine. But it totally has batteries and makes your life way easier. I was recently sent a Kuhn Rikon Frosting Decorating Pen to review. Have you seen this product? When I was approached about this item I was super excited. In my head, my cupcake and cake decorating is exquisite. In reality, not so much. I was super curious to see if my finished treats would be something I would proudly call my own. The minute I got this pen, my 4 year old son, O, HAD to try it. And when I mentioned it to my friend, Kristin of Meringue Bake Shop, she was interested in it too. So I thought all three of us should try it and give our opinions. I invited Kristin over and set out baking cupcakes and frostings. My son has food allergies so I made sure to bake some allergy friendly chocolate for him and since I was baking for a professional baker, I decided to to also prepare my best recipe, Betty Crocker Cherry Chip - seriously, look in to it, yum!

So the kit comes with one "pen" and three cartridges that you fill with icing. It also includes four decorating tips and a "filler" for adding extra goodness to the middle of your cupcakes. The pen is designed for use with ready made frosting (right up my alley!!!) so they include three plates for filling the cartridges as well. I wanted to make my own vanilla buttercream as well as using store bought so I easily filled one of the cartridges with a baby spoon. I'm pretty sure an offset spatula would have worked too, but the baby spoon was the perfect size!

Kristin helped me fill another cartridge with the Cherry Chip frosting. It's amazing how easy it is (I should note, as long as whatever frosting you are using is the perfect room temperature it is super easy. If the frosting is harder, filling becomes quite messy...). You put a cartridge in the filling plate and press down evenly on the top. The pressure forces the frosting up into the cartridge. Then you just pop it in to the pen.

Here we loaded some caramel sauce to try out the filler. That worked like a charm. And how can anything with caramel in it turn out bad?

As you can imagine, when trying to do a post with a four year old and your 20 month old is running wild, my focus was not well, focused. I didn't get a photo of the finished cake that Kristin did, above. She tested out several of the tips and I thought they came out pretty cute. But I really prefer her normal decorations.

My son was super excited about her work. Or maybe he had had too much frosting. I think it is important to point out, also, that the day we did this, it was about 90 degrees outside and my air conditioner was broken. All of the frosting was a little more runny then usual and I will tell you, that on a previous attempt with the pen, the decorating effects from the tips held up a bit better.
The decorating pen was really easy for my son to use and I wouldn't think twice about having him use it to decorate cupcakes for his own parties. Is that considered child labor? He really enjoyed using it and I think it could have kept him busy for hours. He did enjoy squirting the frosting directly in to his mouth, though, so you may have to stay up on food safety and hygiene when kids are using it...

Here are some of my attempts at decorating with the Kuhn Rikon decorating pen. The two tiered cakelet was my only attempt from the night Kristin was over. With all the baby wrangling, this is the only one that I managed. I frosted some more the next day so I could really see how the different tips worked.

I think that I will use this pen to decorate all my cupcakes from now on. In my opinion, they look far superior to when I try to slap a nice simple coat of icing on the top with a spatula. Here are some things I learned about the decorating pen though:
-Be sure the icing is the right temperature to fill the cartridge. If it has been in the fridge, be sure to give it plenty of time to come to room temp.
-If it is too hot (above average temps here, not like 10 degrees hotter then normal) the designs will sort of slide so the cupcake will look good, but in a more abstract sort of a way.
-There are two speeds on the pen, slow and fast. Both are pretty fast. I think it just takes some getting used to it, but when you take your finger off the button, the frosting still comes out a little so you have to account for that.
-I much prefer this over decorating bags as you don't have to work the frosting down to the tip. The pen does it for you. And when you run out of frosting, or want to change flavors, you just pop in a new cartridge.

Clean up was awesome. And I will totally use this pen again.

Here is the final opinion from my four year old son:
"I tried to put the chocolate in the side of my cupcake and it didn't work very well (talking about the filler tip). I liked the pen. I would use it again. Mom, can we make some frosting today?"

and here is the final word from Kristin of Meringue Bake Shop:
"Using the pen was fun. I can see kids enjoying the shapes that come out of the different tips and feeling like they are creating their own cake show masterpiece. I think it's definitely something for older kids though because it requires patience, hand/eye coordination, dexterity and a level of cleanliness. But I could definitely see having the pen as an option for my cupcake decorating parties. If someone were to buy this, I would definitely recommend getting more tubes for frosting and another set of tips to help make the process of using it go a little faster."

All photos are mine.

*I was sent the Kuhn Rikon Frosting Deco Pen for free. All thoughts, opinions and sugar highs are mine.


coolkids said...

I need one of those!

Jenny @ Hank + Hunt said...

I've always wanted to try this! Very awesome! I think my boys would squirt it directly into their mouth too! They do take after their momma after all! Gotta go get one! Yay!

Kristin said...

the pics came out great! thanks for having me over to play. it was really fun :)

Anonymous said...

omgoodness... those cupcakes are yummieee!!

i love cupcakes!!

Not Just A Mommy! said...

I'm always wanted to try one of these too! I'm not really a gadget girl, all I can think about is more stuff to take out, clean up & put away! :) I'll have to keep my eye out now...


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