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Alternative edible creations and images for childrens' parties

To savor the flavor, perform a short ritual first, says new research. Only one point. At children's birthday parties, blowing out the candles over the cake puts all those viruses and bacteria on the cake for the rest of the party to sample. It's not sanitary and just spreads diseases like colds and flu or worse among kids.

Alternative edible creations and images for childrens' parties.
Alternative edible creations and images for childrens' parties.Photo by WPA Pool/Getty Images

Instead of blowing out the candles, let each person have his or her own cupcake with a candle to blow out or forget the candles and decorate the cake with an edible photo made of various frosting components or edible rice paper on the cake or cookie.There's no need to have kids sputtering their childhood ailments on a cake served to guests.

Now a recent study, "Rituals Enhance Consumption" says the birthday or other event cake tastes better when some type of ceremony, recitation, or song is chanted and/or acted out over the cake.You may wish to check out the abstract of the September 2013 article, "Rituals Enhance Consumption," published in the journal Psychological Science, September 2013 vol. 24 no. 9. Or see another abstract of the article, "Rituals Enhance Consumption - Article - Harvard Business School."

Birthday celebrations often follow a formula, including off-key singing, making a birthday wish while blowing out candles, and the ceremonial cutting of the birthday cake. New research suggests that this ritual not only makes the experience more memorable, but might also improve the taste of the cake.

The new collection of studies, published in Psychological Science a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, reveals that the rituals we perform before eating -- even the seemingly insignificant ones -- can actually change our perception of the food we eat

Psychological scientist Kathleen Vohs of the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota wondered about the power of rituals after noticing the funny routines that people -- including Vohs herself -- often perform before eating and drinking:

"Whenever I order an espresso, I take a sugar packet and shake it, open the packet and pour a teeny bit of sugar in, and then taste," Vohs observes, according to the July 22, 2013 news release, To savor the flavor, perform a short ritual first. "It's never enough sugar, so I then pour about half of the packet in. The thing is, this isn't a functional ritual, I should just skip right to pouring in half the packet."

Vohs and colleagues conducted four experiments to investigate how these kinds of ritualistic behaviors might influence our perception and consumption of various foods

In the first experiment, some participants were asked to eat a piece of chocolate following a detailed set of instructions: "Without unwrapping the chocolate bar, break it in half. Unwrap half of the bar and eat it. Then, unwrap the other half and eat it." The other participants were simply instructed to relax for a short amount of time and then eat the chocolate bar in whatever fashion they wished.

The results showed that those who had performed the "ritual" rated the chocolate more highly, savored it more, and were willing to pay more for the chocolate than the other group. The findings suggest that a short, fabricated ritual can produce real effects. A second experiment reinforced these findings, showing that random movements don't produce a more enjoyable eating experience. Only repeated, episodic, and fixed behaviors seem to change our perception of the food.

The data also revealed that a longer delay between ritual and consumption bolstered these effects, even with a neutral food like carrots; the anticipation of eating carrots following a ritual actually improved their subjective taste

In the final two studies, Vohs and colleagues showed that personal involvement in the ritual is paramount -- watching someone else methodically mix lemonade doesn't make it taste any better. Additionally, they found that "intrinsic interest" -- the fact that rituals draw people into what they are doing -- fully accounted for the positive effects that rituals have on our eating experiences.

While these rituals may seem small or mundane, the researchers note that the effects they produce are quite tangible. And while rituals are common before mealtimes, they could play a role in other situations, too: "We are thinking of getting patients to perform rituals before a surgery and then measuring their pain post-operatively and how fast they heal," Vohs says, according to the news release

Co-authors on this research include Yajin Wang of the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota; Francesca Gino and Michael Norton of Harvard Business School. The APS journal Psychological Science is the highest ranked empirical journal in psychology. The article is "Rituals Enhance Consumption," published in Psychological Science, September 2013 vol. 24 no. 9.

How to put an edible "printed image"on cakes, cookies, or pastries

Here's how to use photographs or illustrations turned into digital photos to make a printed image using edible ink and edible rice paper (frosting sheets) of anything that can be photographed or illustrated to decorate cookies or cakes with the photo or art illustration. For example a photo of your family member, pet, or your favorite photographable item, gets pasted into the background white frosting on a cookie or cake.

You can print these images on edible rice paper using edible inks and an ink-jet printer. Make cookies for a party, holiday, or wedding or other event with a photo on the cookie. The secret is edible rice paper and edible ink on the photos. First you need access to an ink jet printer rather than a laser printer.

Never mix regular inks with edible inks because the edible inks made from food coloring are intended to be used only in new compatible Inkedibles refillable ink cartridges that are filled only with Inkedibles edible ink.

Never put edible ink inside a cartridge (or inside a printer) that has had regular ink running through it because contamination can happen. You don't want to feed anyone chemicals from regular printer inks. And never order a regular ink cartridge for use with edible printing. Keep a separate ink-jet printer and edible ink cartridges as well as edible rice paper for your cookie decorating items. You need to use edible inks intended only for food decoration purposes. For further information on edible inks and edible rice paper see the site, FAQ'S - What is edible ink?

Start with cookie cutters and edible rice paper

You can buy edible ink online at sites such as Edible Ink Photo Paper - Printer specializing in edible ink, Amazon.com: edible ink, or Edible Ink - Printing Cake Frosting - Best Discount Printer. If you're a student, you can make cookies with photos of your school events or people running for office, fundraising events, or holidays and family. Or make money putting photos on cookies or cakes for others for your school, social club, neighborhood, home or church bake sale fundraising event. It's suitable for holiday events.

Edible ink is made from edible frosting (edible coloring) that is engineered to be jetted through an inkjet printer in a way that allows digital images to be printed onto edible paper, also known as frosting sheets, according to the website, FAQ'S - What is edible ink? Also see the site, What is Edible Ink?

Cookie and cake decorators use edible ink to produce photos turned into digital images that customers email in such as photos or art designs. The photos or artwork as a digital photo is applied to a cookie or cake. It looks to the eye as if the photo or image has been printed directly onto the cake.

Cartridges of the printer are filled with edible ink

The edible ink goes through the ink-jet printer so that it's jetted onto the edible paper known as frosting sheets. Then the frosting sheets flow through your ink-jet printer.

The printer does not discriminate between edible ink and to regular ink. Photos are produced by your printer on the edible paper with edible ink called frosting sheets. Make sure you buy your frosting paper and edible ink from a place that carries FDA-approved ink and paper that's edible. And find out what ingredients or in the ink and paper, for example, whether it's from food coloring or plant juices. If it's from food coloring, make sure the FDA approved the particular type of food coloring chemicals as edible and safe.

When you look at what's printed on the edible paper with the edible ink, it will be a color photo of whatever the digital photo is when that photo was emailed to you or sent to your printer. The image is generated from the edible ink and the sheet of edible paper.

If you're putting the edible paper on a cookie, you need to cut it to fit on the cookie. So you need to keep the image small enough, such as the face of a human, pet, or artwork, to fit on the size of the cookie you're baking. If the image goes on the cake, it needs to be cut and shaped to fit the cake. You put the paper with the image on the cake or cookie after it's baked and cooled.

On a cake, you put the frosting sheet on after it's layered with frosting because the frosting sheet absorbs into the cake frosting. The result you want is the image pasted onto the cake frosting or cookie. The image has to paste itself onto the cake or cookie frosting. Edible ink is for food decoration purposes only, not to eat as part of a meal on a steady basis.

Make sure the edible ink and paper is FDA compliant

The edible paper and ink has to show that it has passed FDA food safety tests. The food coloring in the ink has to show it's safe and what's in it. It needs to show that it's only to be used as a food coloring agent to be printed to edible paper using an inkjet printer. Don't use a laser printer.

You can look at kinks made by the Inkedibles ™ brand. That company's edible inks are manufactured under stringent food safety and quality control conditions and are FDA compliant.

You want to buy edible inks made of water, glycerin, ethanol, preservative and FDA approved colorants, and are engineered to flow through inkjet printers such as popular Canon and Epson printers sold through regular office supply stores.

You want to buy edible paper and inks that are manufactured using machinery that does not come into contact with food allergens, and are made in accordance with the FDA Code of Federal Regulations - 21CFR). The nutritional information for Inkedibles ™ inks (according to 21CFR 101 of the FDA) based on 100grams (3.5 oz) of Inkedibles ™ edible ink is listed here (% of daily volume based on a 2000 calories diet), according to the website, FAQ'S - What is edible ink? Also see the site, What is Edible Ink?

Home bakers can make printed images for their cookies just like professionals.

Rice paper is an edible paper made using rice flour. Buy it online or in cake decorating specialty shops. Keep your rice paper from getting wet and moldy by storing it in tightly sealed zip-lock bags. Use digital photos or your own artwork or cartoons or slogans and pictures.

If you draw cartoons, use a clean pen that was not handled before at the point and use edible inks to draw your artwork on rice paper such as cartoons or illustrations or even write your short poems or use calligraphy and an image. You'll be drawing on the edible rice paper with edible ink pens. Or you can use a digital photo that's printed out on your printer. If you don't want to use a computer, draw directly on the edible rice paper with the edible ink. But you'll need that ink-jet printer to make more than one image unless all you're doing is decorating one cookie or one cake with your cartoon or poem.

Put the edible ink cartridge into your ink-jet printer

The edible rice paper replaces the rest of your usual ink-jet printer paper sheets. You simply place edible rice paper sheets called frosting sheets in the paper tray and print the image you want. If you're using an edible ink pen, just draw your image directly onto your edible rice paper sheet. You can make money doing this for other people--decorating cookies or cakes with photos of their loved ones or special cause.

Your artwork illustrated on one sheet of edible rice paper can still be saved into a computer by scanning the image and saving it as a photo file, such as a jpg. or png. file in your computer. That way it can be printed out many times to decorate a lot of cookies, say for a birthday party or holiday event or to raise funds by putting people's photos on cookies or cake frosting decorating various types of cakes. The image can be scanned and saved instead of a one-time event.

Cut the rice paper to fit the cookie size

Use a cookie cutter to cut out the images or use a sharp scissors. Then putt the rice paper in a dry place. Next you frost your cookies with a background of white or light-colored frosting. Use royal icing or sugar paste, or if you don't use sugar, use any type of frosting or icing that has the consistency of royal icing or sugar paste in texture. Then brush the back of the rice paper with a damp brush soaked in a very small amount of water.

After this step, turn the rice paper right side up with the photo or image facing you, and press onto the surface of the frosting. Be careful not to plop the photo facing down on the frosting. You want to see the photo, not smudge it upside down into the frosting and lose the image. Then gently pat enough so that the rice paper sticks to the cookie and becomes pasted down. Don't put too much pressure or you'll smash the photo into the cookie or cake frosting and smear it. If you decorate around the edges of the cookie frosting that's behind the photo, use your frosting pipe to keep decorating the photo with any flourishes, leaves, decorations, or writing.

Make healthier cookies with your kids for the holidays

The old fashioned recipe for almond cookies, usually what you buy commercially in many restaurants calls for a cup of lard and a cup of sugar. But you can show children how you bake almond cookies using healthier ingredient substitutes that tastes great. Kids form tastes and eating habits early in life by what they're frequently fed as snacks and desserts, for example cookies.

When printing photographs on icing paper using food coloring to decorate cookies for the holidays, you can make healthier food colorings from natural spices, herbs, berries, and vegetables such as carrot juice, spinach juice, turmeric, beets, dark kale, and cinnamon instead of commercial food coloring.

That's the secret of the taste if you want to duplicate Chinese almond cookies that you commonly find in commercial restaurants and bakeries where you take out a bag of those delicious cookies. But you can make almond cookies with children showing them how to substitute healthier ingredients for the cup of lard and cup of sugar, since many children eat the entire bag of cookies, and not only one.

Instead of creaming lard with sugar until fluffy, you use ground almond meal with a tablespoon of sesame seed oil to moisten and a little carrot juice or water to moisten enough to form into a dough along with amaranth flour mixed with the ground almond meal. If the dough is too wet, sprinkle with amaranth flour.

To make the almond meal, grind up 2 cups of almonds in a coffee grinder or dry nut grinder until you have two cups of almond meal. And set aside one cup of amaranth flour. And instead of sugar, choose a pinch of stevia to sweeten or two mashed bananas to 'cream' with the almond meal. You're going to mix all these ingredients together to form into a dough.

You can add 1/4 teaspoon of almond extract for more flavor to the meal. Instead of putting in yellow food coloring as in most commercial recipes, use a 1/4 teaspoon of turmeric powder to add the color to the meal. Then you mix in a cup of amaranth flour, that is ground amaranth grains that have been turned into a fine flour.

Buy almond meal flour in most natural food stores, health food stores, or order online at websites such as the following: For amaranth flour: See, Organic Amaranth Flour :: Bob's Red Mill Natural Foods. And for almond meal if you don't grind up your own almonds in a dry grinder such as Vita-Mix or an inexpensive coffee grinder that also grinds seeds and nuts, buy almond meal online or in food markets. See, How to Make Fresh, Homemade Almond Meal- A Healthy Gluten. Online, see the site, Bob's Red Mill, Almond Meal / Flour, Gluten-Free, 16 oz (1lb). Check out the site, Almond Nutrition Benefits - Only 60 Calories per Serving.

To the mixture, add a tablespoon of ground flax seeds. This substitutes for the one egg yolk in the original recipe. You also add 2 tablespoons of water or liquid such as carrot juice to the batter.

Shape each cookie by measuring one level tablespoon of dough. Press with your hands to form a round, flat cake about 1 3/4 inches in diameter. Place the cookies on a cookie sheet which you have either sprayed with an olive oil spray or oiled with rice bran oil or sesame seed oil.

Gently press a whole almond in the center of each cookie. Optional: Beat an egg yolk with a teaspoon of water and brush the mixture over the tops of the cookies. If you're vegan and don't use eggs, you can brush the tops of the cookies with a teaspoon of sesame seed oil sweetened with a tiny pinch of stevia. This step is optional. Or just bake as is, with or without putting the 'gloss' on the cookie from either egg or oil.

You bake at 275 degrees F. for 30 minutes. The you increase the heat to 350 degrees F. and bake another 10 minutes or longer until lightly browned on top. Let cook. Remove with a spatula and store airtight because these cookies break easily into crumbs. This makes about 36 cookies.

You can show your children the original recipe and then modify it to eliminate all the lard (pig fat) and white table sugar, as the original recipe calls for a cup of sugar.

Here's the traditional (commercial) Chinese almond cookie recipe you may find in numerous restaurants or bakeries

1 cup (half pound) of lard

1 cup white sugar

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

A few drops of yellow food coloring

3 cups unsifted all-purpose lour

36 whole blanched almonds

1 egg yolk

2 tablespoons water

The healthier substitutions calls for these ingredients instead

sesame seed oil

pinch of stevia or mashed banana as sweetener

almond extract

turmeric powder instead of commercial yellow food coloring or a few drops of carrot juice

2 cups almond flour and one cup amaranth flour instead of all purpose bleached white wheat flour

36 almonds, blanched or not blanched

2 tablespoons of water, more or less if necessary to keep the dough stuck together into a cookie shape, or substitute carrot juice for the water.

Baking time

With either the original or the healthier gluten-free substitute recipe, you bake at 275 degrees F. for 30 minutes. The you increase the heat to 350 degrees F. and bake another 10 minutes or longer until lightly browned on top. Let cook. Remove with a spatula and store airtight because these cookies break easily into crumbs. This makes about 36 cookies.