Pastillage made with rose instead of pure water has a heavenly fragrance and is soo pleasant to work with! I got the idea for the substitution because we use rose water quite a bit for baking and flavoring drinks.
Since I am mostly decorating as a creative outlet and have nobody who would eat heavily decorated cookies and other sugar art, I started to decorate transfers that could be attached to and removed again from cookies. I call this my ECKSA system (Eat the Cookie, Keep the Sweet Art), and I will write about it and its many advantages a bit later.
When I made the frame of my Andon-style Lamp with pastillage, it gave me the idea to use it for cookie decorating in the same way as I used whole royal icing transfers. And as it turned out, for my needs, it is absolutely perfect!
It's so much less fragile than pure royal icing transfers. I let a small heart fall the other day onto a parquet floor, and guess what?! It did not break, even though it was only 2mm thin! A royal icing transfer would have shattered into many pieces.
Pastillage can be dissolved in the mouth about like hard candy, but due to the gelatine content, it feels smoother.
My pastillage recipe is a combination of Yener's and others' recipes. And there are quite a few out there with different ingredients and techniques.
To make the pastillage really strong, you can add a pinch of tylose powder. But be warned, it will be much harder to work the pastillage with it, as it also makes it dry out faster.
I used it with the above mentioned lamp, but not for my pastillage transfers for cookie decorating. In the contrary, for those bases I even add some shortening/use oil to make it more pliable and easier to work with.
400 g / 14 oz. confectioners' sugar
40 g / 1.4 oz. corn starch
50 g / 1.8 oz. (rose) water
9 g / 1/3 oz. powdered gelatine
20 g / 3/4 oz. glucose syrup
1 pinch cream of tartar
1 pinch of CMC (Tylose powder)
Small amount of shortening
Oil for your hands
Here just a short verbal rundown for now. I will add pictures later.
In the bowl of a stand mixer and the dough hook attachment, combine and mix the sieved confectioners' sugar with the corn starch. You can use a hand mixer with the dough hooks, but it will be more tedious work.
In a small pan, add the (rose) water and sprinkle the powdered gelatine over it. Mix in the glucose syrup and cream of tartar.
Yener brings his mixture to a short boil, but I did it twice his way, even strained it through a sieve, and it formed small nasty clumps in the pastillage both times. I heard from another person who had the same thing happen to her with that recipe.
The cause might be our gelatine, or that he uses less water, but I found that with my recipe here heating it just to where a bed of tiny bubbles starts to form at the bottom turns out the best and smoothest results for me.
Turn on the mixer on low and add the gelatine mixture in this hot state to the sugar/starch. After a little while, move it up one notch until all sugar is mostly incorporated.
Turn the pastillage onto the counter and finish kneading it by hand until you have a smooth ball.
Roll it into a sausage, wrap it in saran plastic, put it into a ziplock bag, and then in the fridge.
It's best to let it rest for at least a couple of hours in the cold before using it.
When you take the pastillage out from the fridge, it needs to be warmed up to be
workable. Yener does this in a microwave for a few secs at a time,
depending on the amount.
If you don't own a microwave like yours truly, heat the oven to about 80°C (175°F). Then turn it off, cut as much pastillage from the sausage as needed, wrap that piece in saran and put it in the oven until it becomes softer (put the rest tightly wrapped back into the fridge). Check after a few minutes. You'll get a feeling for it in time.
You should be able to squeeze it in your hands. If you left it too long and it becomes too soft, take it out and put it on the counter. Flatten it and keep turning it around, always on a new spot that is still cool for a few seconds, kneading it slightly as you go to prevent it from crusting up due to the excessive heat that it received.
Once you feel that the outside has become cooler, you can try to take off the saran. It should come loose without much sticking to it. If not, continue to cool it down. Never use the old saran unless you are certain that nothing is sticking to it, or you will end up with tiny dried fragments in the pastillage.
Once you can get it off the plastic without problems, dust the counter or a silicon mat with cornstarch, put the pastillage on it, and start kneading it, adding corn starch as needed until it is nice and pliable again.
You can add a bit of oil to your hands before kneading to lessen the sticking and to get it smoother. Always keep the pastillage covered with either saran or a moist towel when you have to do something else, like washing your hands or the work surface.
Roll it out under a saran wrap (best on top of a silicon mat) if you want to cut out forms for transfers or start modeling...
I will expand this section with examples etc. a bit later...