Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Cake Decorators Do you want to save the planet?

March 5, 2009

Dear Cake Decorator:

On March 28, 2009, at 8:30 pm, tens of millions of people will demonstrate concern for our planet by turning out their lights for one hour. Earth Hour. A global event that enables us to express our collective concern about the future health of our planet, and reminds us that by working together, we can make a positive impact in the fight against climate change.

I plan to participate in Earth Hour at home and I would like to suggest that you consider taking part in this important event as a way to demonstrate to your children and friend that you care about the environment.

By simply turning out all non-essential lighting for one hour— in our own homes—we will join tens of millions of concerned citizens throughout the world in calling for action to save our planet for future generations.
Earth Hour is sponsored by the World Wildlife Fund, one of the largest and most respected conservation organizations in the world.

 In 2008, more than 50 million took part, as the lights darkened at Sydney’s Opera House, Rome’s Coliseum, the Empire State Building and the Golden Gate Bridge. Even Google’s homepage went black. In Israel, President Shimon Peres personally turned off lights in Tel Aviv.
Businesses, individuals and government leaders from more than 400 cities took part because they recognize that global climate change poses a serious threat to our world and the economic well-being of our plant.
This year, Earth Hour will be even bigger. In the US, cities large and small have said they’ll participate including Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Nashville, and San Francisco. They will join international cities such as Auckland, Beijing, Copenhagen, Edinburgh, Helsinki, Hong Kong, Istanbul, Lisbon, London, Manila, Mexico City, Moscow, Oslo, Rome, Singapore, Toronto, and Warsaw.
To get a better sense of the inspiring nature of the event, I hope you’ll take a moment to watch a video about Earth Hour 2008 at

Earth Hour isn’t just for big cities. Every individual and business has a stake in the future of our planet and must do whatever we can to make a difference
In weeks leading up to Earth Hour, you and your family could work together to think of ways you, waste less and reduce our environmental footprint—not only in your own home, but throughout our community.

 Joining Earth Hour is a great way to demonstrate that you care about the planet and want to cooperate in a responsible way. Perhaps we could gather a group of friends to brainstorm other ways that you  can participate.

Earth Hour is not only easy and fun, but it costs nothing. Details are available at
I hope you’ll consider  taking part and encourage your family and friends to also participate.

Thanks for your consideration.

Marivi Bassabe


cake decorators Do you know how safe are food additives?

January 26, 2009

Cake Decorators Do you know how safe are food additives?


I like to thank you all for the emails sent during the holiday season, and for all those questions and comments about the food colors information.

Today, I will present you the new sweetener in the market. A product that according to Pure Circle, the largest supplier of Reb A (RebaudiosideA), derived from stevia plant is bake-stable.

Researching about stevia plant, I found that this plant has being historically used in South America to sweeten the tea. There is a lot of information about the controversial history of the sweet food additives that we use in our kitchen.

In the web site sweet-from sugar to stevia, you will find a very well done historical account of sweet food additives that had been approved by FDA and then banned some years after being determined to be dangerous to human. Stevia was banned in 1991 or considered unsafe for the use of humans. Although unresolved questions remain concerning whether metabolic processes can produce a mutagen from stevia in animals, the early studies prompted the European Commission to ban stevia’s use in food in the European Union, pending further research: Singapore and Hong Kong have banned it also. However, more recent data compiled in the safety evaluation released by the World Health Organization in 2006 suggest that policies may be obsolete. On December 2008, 18 years after the FDA deemed it unsafe, stevia is granted GRAS status (Generally Regarded as safe).

The Center for Science in the Public Interest, in their web site, under food safety/food additives link, you will find alphabetically listed additives today in the market. It will tell you, which are safe, which to cut back and the reason to do so, which avoid, and which not to use. Scroll down to stevia. I invite you to visit: or

One of the basic ingredients of our trade is sugar. It is our responsibility as bakers and cake decorators to be informed of the quality of the products we place in our cakes and cookies. I suggest you to search for the pros and cons of additives like saccharin, aspartame, sucralose and stevia and how they can affect the health of our customers and family.

I invite you to read carefully today information and visit the links, for you to be able to make the best decision of what type of additives to place in your food.

In the mean time, I will use sugar anytime. Happy Cake Decorating.

Marivi Bassabe

Cake Decorators Do you know how safe are color additives?

June 22, 2008

Cake Decorators: Do you know How Safe are color additives?

It is very important for us, cake decorators and cold porcelain crafters, to know the importance of the request to the FDA by The Center of Science in the Public Interest to ban food dyes additives linked to children behavior problems.

Two things concern me about this request:

     1. How this will impact our business, what colors can be used to tint the icing,  gumpaste and fondant?.

The first is a problem that has an easy solution, search for natural food dyes.  A growing number of natural food dyes are being commercially produced, partly due to consumer concerns surrounding synthetic dyes. Some examples include:

*                   Caramel coloring, made from caramelized sugar, used in cola products and also in cosmetics.

*                   Annatto, a reddish-orange dye made from the seed of the Achiote.

*                   A green dye made from chlorella algae.

*                   Cochineal, a red dye derived from the cochineal insect, Dactylopius coccus.

*                   Beet juice

*                   turmeric

*                   saffron

*                   paprika

To ensure reproducibility, the colored components of these substances are often provided in highly purified form, and for increased stability and convenience, they can be formulated in suitable carrier materials (solid and liquid).

In the USA, the following seven artificial colorings are permitted in food (the most common in bold) as of 2007:

*                   FD&C Blue No. 1 – Brilliant Blue FCF, E133 (Blue shade)

*                   FD&C Blue No. 2 – Indigotine, E132 (Dark Blue shade)

*                   FD&C Green No. 3 – Fast Green FCF, E143 (Bluish green shade)

*                   FD&C Red No. 40 – Allura Red AC, E129 (Red shade)

*                   FD&C Red No. 3 – Erythrosine, E127 (Pink shade) [4]

*                   FD&C Yellow No. 5 – Tartrazine, E102 (Yellow shade)

*                   FD&C Yellow No. 6 – Sunset Yellow FCF, E110 (Orange shade)

2.       What is more important for us, our children or greed?

The idea that food additives can cause hyperactivity in children was first proposed by allergy specialist Dr. Benjamin Feingold in 1975. This sparked international inquiry with mixed results. In a new study financed by Britain’s Food Standards Agency and published online by the British medical journal The Lancet researchers have conclusively confirmed this link. The study focused on a variety of food colorings in combination with sodium benzoate, a common preservative. In the six-week trial, researchers gave a randomly selected group of several hundred 3-year-olds and 8 and 9-year-olds drinks with color additives and sodium benzoate — a mix that mimicked children’s drinks that are commercially available. Their diet was otherwise controlled to avoid other sources of the additives.

A control group was given an additive-free placebo drink that looked and tasted the same.

All of the children were then evaluated for inattention and hyperactivity by parents, teachers and through a computer test. Neither the researchers nor the subject knew which drink any of the children had consumed.

The researchers discovered that children in both age groups were significantly more hyperactive and that they had shorter attention spans if they had consumed the drink containing the additives.

In response to the study, the Food Standards Agency advised parents to monitor their children’s activity and, if they noted a marked change with food containing additives, to adjust their diets accordingly, eliminating artificial colors and preservatives.

 comprehensive 2004 meta-analysis of the medical literature concluded that artificial dyes affect children’s behavior, and two recent studies funded by the British government found that dyes (as well as the preservative sodium benzoate) adversely affect kids’ behavior. Unlike most previous studies, those British studies tested children in the general population, not children whose parents suspected they were sensitive to dyes. As a result, the British government is successfully pressuring food manufacturers to switch to safer colorings.

“We spent years trying to figure out the cause of our son’s behavioral problems,” said Judy Mann, of Silver Spring, Md. “For a long time, we thought the culprit was sugar. But when we started carefully monitoring everything he ate we were able to see that artificial dyes and preservatives were the problem. Since eliminating them the change has been positively stunning.”

“The continued use of these unnecessary artificial dyes is the secret shame of the food industry and the regulators who watch over it,” said CSPI executive director Michael F. Jacobson. “The purpose of these chemicals is often to mask the absence of real food, to increase the appeal of a low-nutrition product to children, or both. Who can tell the parents of kids with behavioral problems that this is truly worth the risk?”

Americans’ exposure to artificial food dyes has risen sharply. According to the FDA, the amount of food dye certified for use was 12 milligrams per capita per day in 1955. In 2007, 59 mg per capita per day, or nearly five times as much, was certified for use. Dyes are used in countless foods and are sometimes used to simulate the color of fruits or vegetables

“The science shows that kids’ behavior improves when these artificial colorings are removed from their diets and worsens when they’re added to the their diets,” said Dr. David Schab, a psychiatrist at Columbia University Medical Center, who conducted the 2004 meta-analysis with his colleague Dr. Nhi-Ha T. Trinh. “While not all children seem to be sensitive to these chemicals, it’s hard to justify their continued use in foods—especially those foods heavily marketed to young children.”.

“It’s almost impossible for parents to eliminate these chemicals from their kids’ diets on their own. The FDA could make life a lot easier for parents and children by just getting rid of them.”

“Banning these synthetic chemicals is certainly a far less drastic step than putting so many children on Ritalin or other potentially dangerous and sometimes-abused prescription stimulants,” said Jacobson. “The food industry has known about this problem for 30 years, yet few companies have switched to safer colorings. We hope today is the beginning of the end for Yellow 5, Red 40, and these other dubious dyes.”

CSPI’s petition asks the FDA to require a warning label on foods with artificial dyes while it mulls CSPI’s request to ban the dyes outright. CSPI also wants the FDA to correct the information it presents to parents on its web site about the impact of artificial food dyes on behavior. Joining CSPI’s call are 19 prominent psychiatrists, toxicologists, and pediatricians who today co-signed letter urging members of Congress to hold hearings on artificial food dyes and behavior, and to fund an Institute of Medicine research project on the issue. Those doctors include L. Eugene Arnold, professor emeritus of psychiatry at Ohio State University; Bernard Weiss, professor of environmental medicine at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry; and Stanley Greenspan, Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics at George Washington University Medical School.




Cake Decorators,Do you know what cold porcelain is?

March 2, 2008

Cake Decorators, Do you know what cold porcelain is?

I have received many e-mails asking about what is and how to make cold porcelain and its uses.  In this writing I will tell you everything I know about cold porcelain and  where to use it.

Cold porcelain is a non –edible paste. It is made with glue, corn starch and some chemicals.   Cold porcelain is not to be used to decorate cakes, because it contains a contaminant.  Cakes should and most be decorated with sugar paste, pastillage, gum paste or chocolate flowers and ornament.

Cold Porcelain is excellent for table decorations and centerpieces, bridal bouquets, corsages and boutonnieres.  You can make very delicate non edible favors with this paste.  Porcelain should never be place in contact with the cake or food.

Here are the reasons why Cold Porcelain is a contaminant.  I have in my file over 30 cold porcelain recipes.  People place different names to the same paste, like porcelanicron, Russian porcelain,  French porcelain, magic paste, etc.  Many of these recipes contain one or more of the following ingredients:  stearic acid, titanium dioxide, formalin or formaldehyde, baby oil, hand cream and others.  Here is some information about the ingredients or chemicals, to my personal opinion, dangerous for the artisan that make the paste and also for the consumer of the food exposed to these contaminants.

Stearic acid is a product use to make candles, soaps, plastics, oil pastels, cosmetics and for softening rubber.  In fireworks, stearic acid is often used to coat metal powders, such as aluminum and iron, This prevent oxidation allowing compositions to be stored for longer.  In the case of the cold porcelain it give elasticity to the paste and prevent it from becoming moldy if not used for a prolonged time.

Titanium Dioxide has recently been classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as an IARC Group 2B carcinogen, “possible carcinogen to humans” This ingredient is used to help avoid the paste from becoming  transparent.

Formalin or “Formaldehyde” can be toxic, allergenic and carcinogenic.  The United States Centerfor Disease Control and Prevention, performed indoor air quality testing because exposure can cause burning eyes and or nose, coughing, difficulty breathing, headaches and has been shown to be carcinogenic, causing nasal nasopharyngeal cancer and possible leukemia as well.  Formaldehyde is classified as probable human carcinogen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

 I have a double concern, because I care for you, all of you. Why? I am convinced that we are all one.   Care about the one that make the cold porcelain using those ingredients. Do you know what happens when you mix those ingredients and cook them together?  What chemical reaction are you generating?  Do you know how harmful inhaling these fumes when heated might be for your health, your family?  Do you know about the environmental consequences? On the other side, those that buy these cold porcelain pieces, ornaments and beautiful flowers to decorate the cakes, do you know the source of the products? There is no way to know the chemicals used in their production.  Think about it, and pleeeeeeease do not place them on the cakes. There are many sugar crafters and, companies that sale the sugar flowers and will be more than happy to do business with you. We spend long hours baking, decorating our delicious cakes to be consumed by human beings.  Please, don’t place cold porcelain flowers an ornament on your cakes.  Sugar  flowers for the cakes and the cold porcelain ornaments for the tables centerpieces.  Next week I will give a recipe of cold porcelain that is innocuous and it not need to be cooked.  It is the recipe I use to make figurines, and flower arrangements for home decorations, also use it for non edible favors, but never to decorate cakes. See you next week, 


Cake Decorator Thanksgiving Idea

November 15, 2007

Hi friends:
We, cake decorators, must be very grateful to the Universal
Energy/God, for all that we have.  Through our talents we are
able to help others celebrate their special occasions.
When we meet a possible customer or a friend that want to
celebrate a special day, usually they are full of ideas,
happy, dreaming with a beautiful day of gathering with
their friends and families. We are so lucky, to be the
representatives and creators of happy moments, delicious
cakes and candies.
We have so many reasons to celebrate Thanksgiving Day.
Thanks for our country, that represents the freedom for
million of people.  A country I respect and love, I
personally Thanks God for giving me opportunity to be here.
And you?  When you raise your eyes and see the clear blue
sky, close your eyes and feel the wind in your face, or
hear the music it makes blowing through the branches of
the trees.  When you feel the warmth of the morning sun or
enjoy the colors of the sunset, do you Thanks God?  Do you
realize that there is enough air for everybody to breath,
that the sun shines for every body, and the water that
cleans you is plenty TODAY for everybody?  But that if we
do not take care of nature, for our children and
grandchildren, could be not enough?
The best way to Thanks God for all our blessings is
acknowledging that we must work together for the
preservation of the Planet.  This planet was given to us
for our enjoyment and to care for it, and we are destroying
it.  Let’s give the opportunity to our children to enjoy
all that have be given to us, a magnificent Blue Planet
And now to use our talents for a very special Thanksgiving
Celebration, a recipe for:
Pumpkin Caramel Custard
Caramel sauce:  1 cup sugar, 1/3cup water, 2 tablespoons
corn syrup, 1/4 teaspoon juice from one lemon
Procedure for caramel:  In a medium nonreactive saucepan
and without stirring, bring sugar, water, corn syrup,and
lemon juice to simmer over medium-high heat, wiping sides
of pan with a wet brush to remove any sugar crystals that
might cause syrup to turn grainy.  Continue to cook until
syrup turns from clear to golden, swirling pan gently to
ensure even browning, about 8 minutes.  Continue to cook,
swirling pan gently and constantly,until large, slow
bubbles on mixture’s surface turn honey-caramel in color, 4
to 5 minutes longer.  Remove pan immediately from heat and
working quickly, but carefully (the caramel is above 300
degrees and will burn you if it touches your skin), pour
caramel into the 8×3 pan, tilting the mold, (with great
care, remember is very hot), to cover the sides of the pan.
Allow caramel to cool and harden before pouring the
Pumpkin Custard
1 pound can of mashed pumpkin
1 can evaporated milk
1 can condense milk
6 eggs
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 dash salt
1 dash nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla
Procedure:  Place all ingredients in the blender and mix
for one minute.  Pour the mix in an round 8×3 caramelized
pan. Half fill a 12 or 14 inches pan with water and place
the 8 inch pan inside. Place in the center of the oven and
bake at 350F for one hour and a half or  until when
inserting a tooth pick comes out clean.
Take the pan way from the water bed. With great care, swirl
the pan in circular motion to release the custard from the
pan,but do not take it out of the pan yet. If you see that
the custard still attached to the pan, carefully slide a
paring knife around the entire mold circumference,
pressing knife against the side of the pan.
Let cool.  Invert the custard in a serving dish (Keep
covered with the same pan) Refrigerate overnight, then have
the most happy, grateful thanksgiving day with your family
and friends.

Happy Thanksgiving

In search of light

Cake Decorators harmony

November 4, 2007

Overlooking the impressive mountains of Northern Italy,
Dulcinea and Don Quixote talked of how little we are in
this gigantic world, notwithstanding, how big the human
being can become using his intelligence and his innate
skills.  Within our comparative smallness, we can reach the
highest mountain, explore the depths of the ocean or the
immensity of the universe.  But to achieve it, we must
recognize the importance of harmony in the world that
surrounds us.  We should live in harmony with nature, with
all human beings and especially within ourselves.
For example, if you are going to decorate a cake for a
wedding, there are a lot of details that have to be in
harmony with the occasion: like what flowers to use, which
color, the bride preferences,the time of the affair, the
place of the reception.  To make this decisions we need to
have inner harmony within our self.
How are we going to discover our path, to decide what is
our mission in life, without having inner harmony?  If we
hold in our mind a jungle full of darkness and wild
thoughts, we will never find our real inner self.  To reach
harmony, we have to learn to love ourselves.  Pull out of
our inner self all negative thoughts and negative
feelings, because they would not let us act with serenity.
Accept that there is a Supreme and eternal being that when
we accept it in our lives, will fill us with light and
peacefulness.  Once we reach the light, will have the
harmony and will be able to develop our potential.  We can
trace our goals and work toward them.
When we are in harmony with the Universe, we feel the most
noblest sentiments: love, compassion, friendship will
have important roles in our lives.  When we do our job, it
is not a matter what do you do, when you do it with love
you will always succeed.  When we have compassion in our
heart, we can help more effectively those in need.  In this
way we will discover the beautiful present of
friendship,that help us to understand and accept others
with their mistakes and defects.  When we live in harmony
with the Universe, there are not dangerous and negative
paths or destructive thoughts to harm us.
In harmony we will always have our mind clear, to make
effective and positive decisions for our personal growth.
We can develop our potential and reach our goals.
Let’s search for our inner light, live in harmony in order
to be able to escalate the highest mountains, explore the
depths of the ocean or the immensity of the Universe.
Because when we are in communion with God, the eternal
love, everything can be accomplished.

Marivi Bassabe
In search of light

Cake Decorators Do you know who is Dulcinea?

October 29, 2007

Hi friends:

Do you know who Dulcinea is? Dulcinea is the inspiration
of Don Quixote de la Mancha, a master piece of Hispanic
Literature. But this is not a literature class, is a cake
decorating newsletter and Dulcinea is my inspiration, in
many aspect of my life. For this reason I write The Voice
of Dulcinea. Once in a while I will be exposing you to
Dulcinea’s thinking, you know why, because, Cake Decorators
have a soul too. In the same way Dulcinea enjoy the
landscape from the top of her windmill, we find inspiration
in studying a flower, admiring the intrinsic shape and
colors in order to be able to make them in sugar.

Anyway, today the recipe for flower paste. Flower paste in
this newsletter will be known as Tylose paste, because
Tylose is the ingredient that give the paste the
elasticity, also retard the drying time and give you more
time to work.

Flower paste recipe

1 mix of stiff royal icing
2 tablespoon of tylose
1 or 2 cups 10X sugar (for kneading only)

Once the royal icing is to the peak consistency, add 2
tablespoons of tylose. Beat with the pallet for few
seconds, then put 10x sugar on the table and knead the
paste adding sugar a little bit at a time. If stick to
your hands place a very little small amount of shortening
to your hand and knead to form a ball. Wrap in plastic.
This paste need REFRIGERATION. You will love it.

Next week will tell how to work with this flower paste.

Send your input and your questions. And don’t forget to
invite your cake decorating friends to subscribe. Lots of
nice things are coming up and all for FREE.


Cake Decorators questions about pastillage

October 23, 2007

Thank you for all your  e-mails and questions.  It has been a
beautiful experience, receiving so many email from friends
and students that I have not heard for so many years,  some
of you more than a decade.  Welcome back to my life. And, a
warm welcome to those that subscribe to the newsletter.
One of the questions is: What can I do to avoid the
pastillage get dry so fast? And another, Why the
pastillagfe start crackling or wrinkling when making the
First,  the pastillage is a paste that air dries.  The
solution is simple, keep the paste covered with a heavy mug
when using it.  This will protect the paste from drying.
Second, Why pastillage start crackling or wrinkling when
making the petals?  The secret is in the amount of paste
you take to make the petals.  Take only a small amount,
sufficient for one petal and work with it.  Leave the rest
o f the paste covered with the heavy mug to prevent from
drying.  The reason is that you take less time to knead and
roll a small piece of paste.  The biggest the ball of paste
the longer the time of kneading and rolling and the fastest
the drying.  A capito?
Next week, the recipe for Flower paste, don’t miss it.

See you,

How To Make Pastillage for Cake Decorators – Pastillage Recipe for Sugar Flowers

October 15, 2007

One of the secrets to make beautiful cakes is the
decoration, and of course a cake decorated with sugar
flowers will always be a success.  Today we are going to
give you the recipe for how to make the pastillage.  It is simple
and if you follow the instructions you will not have any
problem whatsoever.  You will need:

1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin
2 tablespoons lime juice
3 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon glucose
1 pound and one cup powder sugar 10X (make sure the sugar
is 10X)

Place the lime juice and the water in a pyrex cup, add the
gelatin, place in micro-oven for 15 seconds.  The gelatin
will dissolve very well, (do not over heat)then add the
glucose y make sure is dissolve completely.  Now put half of
the sugar in the KitchenAid bowl, place the pallet on the
machine and beat slowly, keep adding the sugar a little bit
at a time.  If you put all the sugar at once, you can brake
your machine.  A little bid at the time will be fine.  You
will get a soft paste.  Place some sugar on the table, and
knead the paste with the remaining sugar.  Do not add all
sugar at once, go little by little.  The paste can be a
little sticky, don’t worry, just put powdered sugar in your
hands.  Wrap in a plastic bag and let it at room
temperature for 24 hours.

Pastillage does not need to be refrigerated.

This is a very easy to do recipe.  If you have any
questions do not hesitate to send me an e-mail.

See you next week.