CREATE Mental Health Week – Edible Sugar Flowers

This is a guest post in the series CREATE Mental Health. All week we will be exploring how different people use creativity to create and maintain mental health. Today’s post is by Rachael Teufel. Rachael is the owner of Intricate Icings, a cake design studio in Erie, CO.  Perhaps you’ve seen Rachael’s work on the Food Network’s Cake Challenge. Welcome, Rachael (and thanks for letting me eat the samples shown here – DELICIOUS!!)

Sugar has always been my stress reliever. Well making art with sugar that is, although I have been known to eat sugar in times of stress as well (not quite as healthy for you though). So I thought I’d share an easy way to make your cupcakes super cute in a quick and easy fashion, while hopefully releasing a little stress.

First bake some cupcakes and ice them with your favorite buttercream. If you’re not so much into the baking thing, it’s okay just buy some premade cupcakes and top them with your own edible flowers.

Here are the things you will need:

  • Flower shaped cookie cutters and a small round cutter or piping tip
  • A rolling pin
  • 2 colors of Fondant or modeling chocolate (Fondant can be found at your local craft store)
  • Paint brush
  • Water (in very small amounts!)

First start by rolling out one color of fondant on a smooth work surface lightly dusted with powdered sugar. You’ll want to roll the fondant as thin as you can, about 1/8 inch thick. Using your cookie cutters, cut out a large and a small blossom. Apply a small dab of water to the center of the blossom and using the tip of your finger; securely attach the small blossom to the center. Repeat this process until you have the desired number of flowers. You can cut multiple flowers at one time, just be sure to work quickly as fondant does dry out fairly fast.

Roll out your second color of fondant and using your piping tip or small round cutter, cut out the centers of your flowers. Apply a small dab of water to the center of the blossom and using the tip of your finger or the end of a paint brush; securely attach the center to the blossom. Then transfer your beautiful flower to the top of the iced cupcake and serve.

This most certainly is a very basic flower, but be creative and you can find other fun ways to embellish them. For instance… use a textured mat to imprint a design on the fondant before cutting out the blossoms. You can use a paint brush and gel food color to paint designs on the petals. Or you can form a lady bug, bumble bee or butterfly out of fondant and place them on the flower. The options are endless. Whatever you choose, just remember to have fun!

Stress Management: The Importance of Hobbies

I spend a large percentage of time helping people manage their stress more effectively.  And when I talk to the media, one of the first questions they typically ask is “What are some good ways to manage stress?”  My answer: Anything that’s healthy and works.  Sure, yoga’s great but so is just breathing, sitting quietly, reading, and walking.  I’ve admitted to reporters (I always let my guard down when they get me talking!) that some of my favorite stress management strategies include: watching House Hunters and tweeting John Mayer.  Embarrassing – yes, but also effective.  Given that @johncmayer no longer exists, I’m glad I have a few other stress management tools up my sleeve.

In our fast-paced, productive-every-moment, never-relax world, I think many of us have forgotten the importance of hobbies.  I had a supervisor on my internship in graduate school who told everyone who walked in his office that they should be spending more time on their “avocations,” i.e. hobbies.  I’m not sure I would go that far, but I do think the pleasure, stress relief, and change of pace that hobbies afford us are quite valuable.

One of my favorite hobbies? Baking.  Not only is it fun, your friends and family will likely encourage you to spend time doing it – the rewards are just too sweet to pass up!

Halloween cupcakes - Yum!