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I live in the tropics and every icing that I've used melts on the cake if it is not refrigerated. Is there any icing at all that will stay stiff once I ice the cake with it? I would like to be able to pipe borders, etc without the icing just melting off the cake. Traditional butter-cream and royal icings just don't work.

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Similar to What Kind of Frosting Doesn't Need To Be Refrigerated - have you tried icings based on vegetable shortening and still found that to melt due to the climate? –  Aaronut Feb 16 '11 at 4:11
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3 Answers

The ingredients that make icing creamy and give it the bulk for piped decorations, tend to be items that will go softer in heat (butter, shortening, egg whites, whipped cream). A glaze might set up if you made it sufficiently thick, but it wouldn't allow you to do anything like pipe borders.

While I know it's not really a solution to what you want, your best options are probably to decorate with non-icing items like fruit or candy. Probably the closest imitation would be to try using marzipan, which can be molded and coloured and I think would probably hold its shape better under heat.

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This is just a guess but how well would fondant work in the heat? It may hold up better than traditional icing. It could still melt probably but may last longer before melting.

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My guess is that fondant would work fairly well if it had time to set up before being exposed to the heat, since it's a common choice for wedding cakes (though I would have thought this true of royal icing too and it sounds like @Malika didn't have much luck with it). If fondant works, then much like my suggestion of marzipan, you couldn't pipe it, but you could probably mold some decorative touches with the fondant. I think most rolled fondant contains gelatin, and that's another ingredient that can go melty in heat, so I'm just guessing here. –  Allison Feb 16 '11 at 14:28
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You can use a creme, or icing custard. A chocolate one:

  • 2 cups milk
  • 4 yolks
  • 1/2 cup sugar (feel free to reduce, I do)
  • 20g cornflour
  • 1/3 cup plain flour
  • 250g coverture chocolate (but I use dark cooking chocolate)

    1. Bring milk to the boil over a med heat.

    2. Beat yolks and sugar until pale and think. Sift in the cornflour and flour and combine. Add 1/3 of the boiling milk whisking until the mixture is smooth. Pour into remaining milk and cook over low heat. Continue whisking, until the custard starts to thicken.

    3. When custard comes to the boil, remove from heat and stir in the chocolate.

    4. Beat for 10 mintues or until mixture is at room temperature and is thick & shiny. Frankly I usually just wait for thick and shiny. It is possible to do by hand, but a mixer is much easy.

This recipe is originally from "My Vue" by Shannon Bennett. It's used to decorate a chocolate sponge. http://www.amazon.com/My-Vue-Modern-French-Cookery/dp/0731813219

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