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Pastillage, pronounced PAHS-tee-AHJ, is a type of sugar-based dough used to make edible decorations -- edible meaning that they can be eaten, not that you should try to eat them. All you need for an afternoon of grown-up Play-Doh fun is a pound of confectioner's sugar (must be 10x processed), 0.5 c plus 1.5 tb of cornstarch, 0.25 c of water, 0.25 tsp of cream of tartar, and 2.25 tsp (one packet) of gelatin.

Ingredients for Pastillage: Sugar, Confectioners Sugar and Corn Starch

Sifting Ingredients

First, sift together the sugar, cornstarch, and cream of tartar.

Gelatin Being Heated Gelatin Heated

Next stir the gelatin into the water, let it stand for 5 minutes, then heat until dissolved.

Putting Ingredients in the Mixer

Get your dough hook fitted on your mixer* and pour the gelatin mix into the bowl. Turn it on at low speed and add the sugar mixture as fast as it can be absorbed. (*If you don't have a standing mixer, what are you waiting for? Just get married already.)

Mixing the Ingredients

This will take a few minutes, as you want to keep it going until you have a smooth, thick paste.

Stretchy Doughy End Result

Scoop out all the dough and shape it into a lump.

Wrapping the Dough to Stay Wet

Wrap it up immediately -- pastillage begins to dry out in seconds. Keep the dough tightly wrapped at all times that you're not using it and remember to work quickly to avoid drying and cracking.

Choose Food Coloring

The dough will be white, but you can color it using powered food dye available at any serious cookery shop. Don't use water-based dye as it will ruin the consistency of the dough. You can use alcohol-based dye to paint the surface of the dough.

Set Up Working Area

Your play area will be best served by a Silpat or other silicone mat, lest you find yourself scraping dried dough off your table. Keep extra clingwrap handy as well as some cornstartch to add as necessary for kneading, water to use as a glue between pieces of dough, a towel to wipe your hands, and any tools you plan to use to sculpt, carve, or paint the dough.

Take Some Dough

Only take off the amount of dough that you will be shaping in your hand immediately.

Form the Dough

You can also roll out sheets of dough (quickly!) and punch out shapes with cookie cutters. This is a nice way to make tags or ornaments.

Mix in Food Coloring

Powdered dye is easy to use. Here we took a tiny amount and kneaded it into a golf ball-sized wad of dough. The color will go into the dough but won't stay on your hands.

Knead in Food Coloring

It takes a while to get used to working quickly with this delicate dough.

Finished Kneading Food Coloring into Dough

Forming Pastillage Items

Pastillage, Finished

Soon you'll have the most exciting cake decorations on the block. We made items ranging from holiday ornaments to a marbled pork chop and a grinning alligator.

Pastillage, The Next Morning


Deni's Pastillage Recipe

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