Edible Gelatin Sequins: Using Powdered Gelatin and General Tips and Tricks
Many people have powdered gelatin more readily available to them (sooooo easy to get at the local super market!) rather than the sheet gelatin that I used in my Edible Gelatin Sequin tutorial. So I’m gonna break down the powdered gelatin method, which is slightly different. Still easy, just different. Below the powdered method you’ll find some general tips and tricks on how to get the best gelatin sequins and troubleshooting some common irregularities.
Powdered Gelatin Method
I used Knox Unflavored Powdered Gelatin. You’ll find these in a box with four each .25 oz. packets inside. In a microwave safe bowl, pour in 2/3 cup cool water. Sprinkle each of the packets individually over the surface of the water evenly.
The gelatin will get weird and wrinkley looking when it begins to absorb the water. It’s normal. Let it absorb as much as possible; there should be little to no dry, light powder left one the surface.
Give the hydrated gelatin a stir. It will become solid as you stir, able to be formed into a ball. Or three balls to make a snowman. But don’t play with it too much or you’ll incorporate air which will cause more work later. I know because I tried making a gelatin snowman. Now you know not to. Use the back of your spatula to smooth out any larger clumps of unevenly hydrated gelatin before heading to the microwave.
Microwave in short bursts of about 15 seconds until the thick mixture becomes very liquid. Give it a stir in between each burst in the microwave break up the solid areas and evenly distribute the heat throughout.
If the gelatin is liquid but still looks grainy when dripping from your spatula, heat it just until there are no more little grains. Do not over heat it, it should feel barely warm if you dip a finger in– never hot.
After another 7 seconds in the microwave it was completely smooth and without a grainy texture.
Due to the little clumps that typically form in the gelatin when you sprinkle it you’ll want to strain it through a very fine cloth. If you have even the slightest of clumps it will clog your size 1 piping tip and cause you to want to throw the bottle across the kitchen. (Well, at least that’s my childish reaction when my piping tips get clogged. But I hear our fabulous cookie friends feel equally tantrum-y when their piping bags and tips don’t behave. So. Justified. )
This is a section cut from a pair of girls tights/stockings that I got at the dollar store. NO they haven’t ever been worn. I’m not the girly type. Wash them with dish soap before using them for any food application. (Why dish soap and not in with the laundry? Dish soap is food safe. We don’t use laundry detergent and fabric softener on our dishes. At least I hope you don’t.) You can use either the toe end, or if you have multiple sections for different uses you can just securely tie a knot in one end.
Place the closed end into a see-through glass and fold the top ends over the outside to create a nice wide opening to pour the liquid gelatin into.
Carefully pour your gelatin into the open strainer.
Much of the gelatin will move through the strainer on its own. To get the last bit through pinch the top of the stocking between your thumb and forefinger, keeping you hand close to the top of the cup and pull the stocking upward with your opposite hand slowly. Seriously, do it slow. You’ll regret doing it fast and say to yourself, “Self, that was dumb. We should have listened to Kara.”
And now, you’re ready to pour it into your little bottle fitted with a number 1 tip and start making sequins!
***A quick side note: if you use highly saturated color like this one (Wilton Rose) the stocking strainer will most likely become stained. Having a colored stocking for applications like this is good. Don’t think you’ll be able to use this again for anything like white royal icing. Why did I choose white, by the way? I can see if it’s clean when I wash it I’m a functionality nerd.
Tips, Tricks and Gelatin Sequin Troubleshooting
I found that I got a little fussy about irregularly shaped sequins. I wanted perfect circular little sequins like the ones on my milkmaid costume from my tap dancing recital when I was 5. (I’ll find a picture. It’s too darn funny to NOT share now that I’ve mentioned it!) So I played a bit and figured out exactly why I was getting irregular shapes and paid close attention to the qualities and conditions with each tray I created. Here are my findings…
They aren’t perfect. But they’re so close! What was going wrong with these guys?
Well, two things.
1) Improper temperature. If the gelatin is too warm when you’re dropping it onto the non-stick surface, it may fall and run slightly into different directions. It’s kinda rebellious that way.
2) If when dropping the little spots of gelatin the end of your tip touches the non-stick surface you’re likely to drag, ever so slightly, the tip when picking it up to move to the next spot. That slight drag from touching the tray will give you an irregular, oval shape as you’re pulling the droplet to the side. Make sure they drop straight from the bottle by simply letting them drip onto the surface.
Another instance of inconsistent shapes. Some of these guys are just so different that it shouldn’t be ignored. There should be some uniformity in their appearance. The gelatin here was getting too cool. when gelatin is warm it’s really tough to get drops this small, it wants to run and pool in larger amounts. When the gelatin gets cool you may feel like you have more control over it, but you’ll have to move slower and much more intentionally to get them to come out of your bottle and to get drops to fall. Just like too warm wasn’t cool up above, being too cool isn’t cool either.
Because you’ll end up with merged and VERY irregular drops. The gelatin will naturally spread when you drop it. The drops are so tiny that it’s tough to see, but you know it happens when 5 seconds after you’ve dropped to close to each other, they reach out and begin snuggling, becoming one. Just like at a pre-teen dance, keep some distance between those two!
Last, but definitely not least… The nipple effect. Now guys, this may be ok with you. BUT it’s not ok on cakes. Wait… Nipple? Yep. That little dot in the center that you didn’t intend to put there? It’s air. It’s a bubble. But it makes a naughty looking sequin. Some of these are unavoidable, like when you pick up your bottle and turn to right side up and then back down. Air gets caught around the tip inside and can’t really move down into the bottle. The gelatin is too thick, so it stays put until you give it a squeeze. But they can become excessive if the gelatin has foamy bubbles when you pour it into the bottle initially. If your warmed and colored gelatin has foam on the top, take a moment and skim it off before pouring it into the bottle. Then, no nipples!
And that concludes this installment of fun with edible gelatin sequins! If you have questions or comments, let me know! I’m happy to help.
About the Author
I am a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America and have studied under some of the best pastry chefs and cake decorators in the world. I specialize in fondant covered cakes, gourmet cupcakes and cookies, custom designed to perfectly fit each client’s unique occasion. The only thing better than how my cakes look, is how they taste! Ask me about cake!