I bought an icing printer last year. It hasn’t all been rainbows and lollipops, but it has been enjoyable. Here are some examples of cookies I’ve baked with it:
First, let’s have a look at the printer. You can either buy a printer created specifically for icing printing, such as the one sold here, or you can buy a NEW printer that is compatible with the food coloring “ink” cartridges. (You may see a list of those printers here.)
I purchased an Epson WorkForce 30 printer from the list of compatible printers. (I bought it on Amazon.)
Let’s talk about “ink” next. Food coloring cartridges are, to put it mildly, pricey. Find the edible ink you require by looking through the list of compatible printers.
My printer’s ink costs $90. It’s $90! How long is it going to last? Well, that is debatable. It depends on the images printed and how much ink is wasted cleaning nozzles, performing print checks, and so on. I guess that a full set of ink will last 30-40 pages.
I’ve discovered that the greatest tip for ink is to replenish it with these ink refills. They’re $10 per color, and they’re great to have on hand if you run out of magenta, and your printer won’t work without it.
Filling the tanks can be a pain, and I won’t pretend to know any tricks other than batting your eyelids and hoping your husband will take over. It was effective for me.
Preparing for printing:
Scan or save your photo to your computer. Crop it to the size of your cookie cutter using picture editing software (I like PhotoScape). Viewing the image at 100% and holding your cookie cutter up to the screen is the easiest method to achieve this. I try to make my photos slightly smaller than the cutter’s actual size.
Fill a Word or Open Office document with as many photographs as you can. I usually get 6 cookies on each sheet, but you’ll get more if your cookies are smaller. The icing sheets offer a 7.5 x 10″ printing area.
- Perform a nozzle inspection on the printer.
- Run the print head cleaning if any colors aren’t printing (you may need to run it twice).
- Turn off the printer, remove the specific color, and swab the nozzle with a moist QTip if one of the colors is still not printing.
- On a blank sheet of paper, print a test page. (You can terminate the print job once you see that it is printing correctly to avoid wasting ink.)
Print the image or images onto the icing sheet now.
The sheets can be applied in a variety of ways. (I’m not talking about cakes here; I’m just talking about cookies.)
I find that if the sheets have “aged” a little after printing, they are a little simpler to work with. However, when I attempted to utilize them right away, I experienced tearing issues. This could be because I reside in a very humid place, but I’m not sure.
So, if I’m going to use them straight away, I leave them out on the counter for at least 15 minutes to dry off. If you keep them out for too long, they will become brittle. I keep them in a gallon-sized container if I do not intend to use them right away. Then, before using them, I’ll trim them to the appropriate size and set them aside while preparing the cookies.
Method #1 (my favorite): Cut the photos to the desired size and set them aside. Royal icing should be used to outline and fill the cookie. Remove the backing from the frosting sheet and gently place it on the cookie while the icing is still wet. Pat down the edges and corners. It could take up to 48 hours for this to dry.
Method #2 (for these St. Patrick’s Day cookies, I used this method): Prepare the photographs by cutting them to the desired size and setting them aside. Using water, loosen the royal icing to a piping consistency. It shouldn’t be runny, but it should be easy to spread. Remove the backing from the image and apply the loosened icing on the back. Stick to the cookie’s instructions. These take less time to dry because the icing isn’t as wet underneath. (When you don’t want to add or see a border, I favor this option.)
Brushing corn syrup on the back of the image and applying it to a dried cookie is method #3. This strategy hasn’t worked for me yet. The corn syrup appeared to shred and stretch the sheets, and those that didn’t tear felt sticky to the touch.
A couple more suggestions….
Images can be torn apart by “hot hands.” My hands are always cold, except while I’m decorating cookies. If this happens to you, immediately wash your hands in very cold water and thoroughly dry them. As needed, repeat the process. I’ll also remove the ice pack for the kid’s lunchbox from the freezer and keep it for a bit.
Finishing the cookies with a piped or powdered edge is a great technique to disguise any uneven edges. A #16-star tip is one of my favorites!
To avoid ink clogging, use your printer once a week, even if you don’t need to.
Before packaging, wait at least 24 hours. To check if the image is dry, gently tap it.
Never use real ink in your icing printer.
Now, here’s the actual question: would I buy another one? I’m not certain. It’s convenient to have, but troubleshooting hasn’t been enjoyable.
If you don’t have access to an icing printer but still want to make the icing,
Here’s how to use images printed on icing sheets. Format your photos and bring them to your local bakery supply business on an SD card or flash drive (or even the grocery store). Call beforehand, but they can almost certainly print for you! The cost of a sheet of pastry at our bakery supplier is around $7.