Edible markers look and work the same as regular markers, but they are filled with food coloring so you can write or draw detailed designs on your baked goods. The edible markers work best on hard surfaces such as hard royal icing or smooth surfaces such as rolled fondant. Buttercream frosting isn't the best surface for using edible markers, but you can achieve decent results under some circumstances.
Buttercream frosting made with only butter as the fat ingredient is not suitable for use with edible markers. The butter makes the frosting soft and doesn't harden on the surface. Vegetable shortening stays solid at much higher temperatures than butter, so substitute all or part of the butter in buttercream frosting for shortening. This type of frosting forms a hard crust within about 30 minutes. While the frosting beneath stays soft and creamy, the thin layer is just enough to allow you to write on the cake with edible markers.
Smooth the Frosting
No matter how much time you spend smoothing frosting with an icing spatula, you'll still have some slight peaks and ridges in the frosting. This makes it difficult to draw straight lines with the markers and can cause you to break through the thin crust and drag the frosting. You can make a frosted cake as smooth as rolled fondant, providing a surface that is better suited for writing with edible markers. Allow the crusting buttercream frosting to develop a good crust on all sides of the cake. Place a non-textured, cloth-like paper towel over the frosting and rub your hand over it gently to smooth out the ridges. Wait another 10 to 20 minutes for the crust to firm up before writing with markers.
Even with a smooth, hard crust on the frosting, you can easily push the tip of the marker through the crust and drag the fluffy frosting layer below if you press too hard with the marker. As you write or draw, barely graze the surface of the cake with the marker tips, applying no pressure at all to the cake. Go over each line multiple times to make the lines bolder. Think of this as similar to drawing faintly with a pen on paper. If you barely touch the paper, you can make a faint line. But if you continue to go over the same line lightly, the multiple faint marks with each pass develop into a bolder line.
You don't have to worry about pushing through the frosting if the frosting is frozen solid on the cake. Allow the frosting to form a crust and place it in the freezer for two to four hours to harden completely. Although the risk of messing up the frosting is lowered, avoid applying hard pressure with the markers. The main problem with this approach is avoiding ink bleeding when the frosting thaws. Cake frosting often sweats a bit as it thaws and condensation builds up on the surface. You can reduce sweating by thawing the cake on the counter in a well-ventilated room, but there is no way to guarantee that moisture won’t accumulate on the surface and cause the ink to bleed.
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