Dear Yankee Girl - Experiment with Corn Syrup: A Woeful Tale . . .

Title CS Painting

Ok, it’s not really that dramatic.

But it’s also not a fabulous, perfect tutorial with a happy ending either. Despite the fact that this is one technique that didn’t work out as well as I had hoped, I do want to share what I learned with you.

Painting corn syrup/vodka glaze onto a cookie iced with royal icing - to give it that shine!!

SweetAmbs captivated me with this technique a few years ago. I attempted it and failed miserably. It happens. Then Jill FCS showed us how to make ice cubes look like real ice cubes (mind blown!) – also using this glaze technique. After seeing some of the shiny Sugar Show entries at CookieCon 2014, I knew that I needed to figure out how this glossy concoction worked. I did have an opportunity to try it on my spa cookies, below, but on a very small scale. Melissa from Melissa Joy Fanciful Cookies posed the question to me about whether cookies with the corn syrup glaze dried hard enough to heat-seal in bags and ship. And this is my tale . . .

Spa CS Painting
I made this list of things that I wanted to know about corn syrup/vodka glaze:

  •    What's the ideal ratio of corn syrup to vodka?
  •    Can clear extract be used in place of vodka?
  •    Can it be used over a food writer? paint? royal icing?       
  •    Does it affect the taste?
  •    How long does it take to dry?
  •    And, Melissa's question: what about packaging and shipping?

All good questions, right?! Keep reading to see what I found out!

My set-up and supplies:

  •     Paintbrush
  •     Light corn syrup
  •     Vodka/clear extract
  •     Shot glass (or any container for mixing small quantities of liquid)
  •     Space heater


Set-up CS Painting

 

It’s a fairly easy technique. Mix together your corn syrup and vodka in the shot glass. Stir well! Paint on. Place in front of a space heater. Find something else to do because it’s going to be a while . . .

Just FYI: If your mixture is not stirred well or brushed on evenly, it’ll look blotchy. Blotchy can be fixed though by adding a second coat, so no worries.

Brushing on the corn syrup/vodka glaze
Now to address the list of experiment questions.

Ideal ratio: I mixed numerous combinations. What I found worked best was a two-to-one ratio of corn syrup to vodka. This dilution helped the mixture go on smoothly, but it wasn’t so diluted that there was a lot of color bleeding.

Substitution of clear extract: Yes! If you live in a dry county like I do and vodka is hard to come by, use an extract! I did not notice any difference between the two, but make sure that it’s a clear extract.

Painting it over food writers/paint/royal icing details: As far as the food writers and paint go – no! Don’t do it. It's the stuff that nightmares are made of. Yikes!

Food writers CS Painting
As far as coating a cookie detailed with royal icing, yes, it works. I did find that there was a small amount of bleeding, especially since I was working on a cookie that was flooded with a dark color. I used a small, dry paintbrush to immediately remove any corn syrup that color had bled into – and it worked out fine.

Taste: I don’t think that corn syrup tastes like much of anything. If you are covering a large area or the entire cookie, I think that you’d notice a change in consistency of your icing. It ends up being a bit stickier . . .

Time to dry and packaging: Now here’s were we have the woeful portion of our tale today. And it’s because I don’t have a straight answer for you.

My story goes like this: I painted the glaze on my cookies. Allowed them to sit in front of the space heater for approximately two hours and then left them out to dry overnight. Ten hours later, still sticky to the touch. At that moment, I may or may not have panicked.

I want to pause for a moment and define “sticky”. When I pressed on the painted area with my finger, a slight indentation of my fingerprint remained. When I placed the cookie into a bag, the painted area left a slight smudge (for lack of a better word) on the inside of the bag. Could you hand the cookie to a child and not make a sticky mess? Absolutely. Could you hand-deliver these? Totally. Mail them?? Maybe??

Upon realizing that the corn syrup area was still sticky, I did what any rational scientist would do. Cry on the shoulder of her cookie friends. Experiment some more! Things that I tried that DID NOT work: brushing confectioners' sugar over the top, adding meringue powder to the corn syrup/vodka mixture, adding egg whites to the corn syrup/vodka mixture, substituting piping gel for the corn syrup, and using threatening words toward the cookies . . .

Now at 48 hours since applying the corn syrup/vodka glaze to my cookies, I have determined that this is probably as dry as they are ever going to get. Still slightly tacky. Growing stale and now covered in fingerprints.

Factors that may have affected the results: Every good experiment needs this section, right?

  • Humidity. Always a good excuse. 
  • Painting large areas of the cookie. I have done this technique on small areas and it was much more manageable. Also on the spa cookie, the feet were added on top of the glazed area, prohibiting it from touching the bag.
  • Adding a second coat. I wanted my cookie to look like a tile and I coated it accordingly.
  • Maybe using a dehydrator would work??

 

Flower Quilt with CS Painting
Well, there you have it. A woeful tale. If you have any experience with this technique or suggestions, I’d love to hear! Let’s discuss!!

Email me or comment here about this topic or anything else you'd like to learn about! Thanks!

 

 
Kari ArroyoKari Arroyo started decorating cookies in 2011 after deciding to take a break from nursing, and learned the ways of royal icing by reading tutorials and LOTS of trial and error. When she’s not decorating cookies, you can find her chasing after two busy boys! Check her out on Facebook or her site, and email her your cookie questions at yankeegirlyummies@gmail.com.
 
Photo credit: Kari Arroyo
 

 


Note: Dear Yankee Girl is a regular Cookie Connection blog feature, written by Kari Arroyo, which allows you to get all your critical cookie technique questions answered, Dear Abby-style! Its content expresses the views of the author and not necessarily those of this site, its owners, its administrators, or its employees. To catch up on all of Kari's past posts, click here.

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So you don't know if a dehydrator would work? I've been wanting to do this also but I was really sure about the ratio either, thank you so much for sharing what you have tested on the corn syrup application. I know I felt Debbie Ferri cookies at CookieCon that won first place and the eye were dry, I don't know how long it took to dry or how she did the application of it. 

Loretta - 
 
My 'tile' cookie has been sitting out for 5 days now and just this morning it was not sticky anymore. So, it will - eventually - dry at room temperature. Perfect for cookies that are going to a show but not so much for eating. Mily did post that she's had luck using a dehydrator (I don't have one). So maybe that's the trick! 
 
Originally Posted by Sweet Southern Cookie-Loretta Ray:

So you don't know if a dehydrator would work? I've been wanting to do this also but I was really sure about the ratio either, thank you so much for sharing what you have tested on the corn syrup application. I know I felt Debbie Ferri cookies at CookieCon that won first place and the eye were dry, I don't know how long it took to dry or how she did the application of it. 

 

Wow that's a lot of experimenting! But I would never say any experiment is woeful...its, well, an experiment! Thank you for all your hard work... I might have to do some experimenting of my own 

I use the  dehidrator for all my heart boxes.  Some of them had corn mixture (dark pink, Red).  All had piping gel for the beads.     The red was painted with airbrush.  I don't know if they would bleed using more colors.  On the dehidrator you don't need so many days.   A few hours, but I can't remember how many.   I would like to experiment like you with colors, but here the weather is to hot and humidity (storm in Pacific 89% in my room)  is so high to decorate cookies.   There is a kind of gel that people are using to shine too.  Other idea is using the same for gelatin flowers (just thinking... I have a big list to experiment).

 

I'm sad it didn't work out so well for you! I use corn syrup quite a bit. I've used it plain, warmed, and with a TINY touch of vodka. They do usually require a second coat, but are always dry to the touch within 48 hours. I then can bag them without issue. I've done it on paint and marker without bleeding, but I really have to make sure it's dry.  I also live in Denver and we rarely have any humidity to speak of, so that may be a factor. I do know when I tried vodka the first time it was too wet and it activated the sugars in my royal icing and it didn't dry right. I also find it needs to be a thin coat, and don't manipulate it too much.

Wonderful tutorial. I also went through some trial and error with CS. I did get it to dry with a dehydrator. I also found I could paint over luster dust paintings, but you almost have to pour it on. Same with edible images. I used a heat gun so maybe that's why they set up?
Do you think if you cooked it down with some sugar, it would make a candy cover that might dry? A softball stage maybe?
Again, thank you. I am so wanting to figure this out as well.

I have read how some will use their oven's to dry out the cookies as well.  I know of several people who will use their oven to dehydrate their foods instead of a dehydrator. 

 I have an old one that does not have a temp gage on it and tried using it to dry my Royal Icing. Just make sure you do not leave it in there to long or your cookie will be hard on the outside and still soft on the inside. ( Just as me how I know) so for the next set I left the lid off and only let them stay in for a few minutes till they hardened up on top then took them out and just let them sit out overnight and they were fine.  

 Do not see why your oven would not work on a low setting maybe the lowest it will go.  

Thank you Rachael! I did not think to warm it! 
 
Originally Posted by Rachael Murray:
I'm sad it didn't work out so well for you! I use corn syrup quite a bit. I've used it plain, warmed, and with a TINY touch of vodka. They do usually require a second coat, but are always dry to the touch within 48 hours. I then can bag them without issue. I've done it on paint and marker without bleeding, but I really have to make sure it's dry.  I also live in Denver and we rarely have any humidity to speak of, so that may be a factor. I do know when I tried vodka the first time it was too wet and it activated the sugars in my royal icing and it didn't dry right. I also find it needs to be a thin coat, and don't manipulate it too much.

 

Oh friend, thank you for all of your hard work to demystify my corn syrup dilemma! My trial got lumpy and uneven, but maybe a second coat would've helped that. I think the humidity here (or maybe moisture from the cookie once contained?) kept mine sticky. The heated option is interesting. I hope to keep following this thread to hear what others have to say! Thanks girl!

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