If you are a baker, you might know that pastry bags, also called piping bags, are vital to decorating cakes and cookies, making and filling eclairs and cream pastries, and topping desserts with whipped cream. But they can be expensive to buy -- upward of $30 or more -- for just that occasional use. What else can you do with a pastry bag to make the investment worth it?
Once you've finished making your holiday desserts, this inexpensive tool has a few other purposes that could come in handy in your kitchen. Test out one of these 5 uncommon uses for pastry bags.
1. Stuffed canapes If you've ever had a salty-sweet goat cheese-stuffed date, or downed a martini garnished with a briny, creamy, blue cheese-stuffed olive, you know that these treats pack a burst of flavor in just one little bite. But without a pastry bag, these would be quite difficult to replicate at home. With one, they can easily become stars of your holiday party.
2. Pretty pasta Need a change from the same old spaghetti? With a pastry bag, stuffing shells, manicotti, or cannelloni becomes simple and plausible. Even better, use a pastry bag to stuff homemade ravioli -- you need not roll out your own pasta, you can use pre-packaged won ton wrappers. Try a fall-inspired butternut squash filling with warm spices.
3. Better breakfasts The pastry bag can be your best friend when it comes to making breakfast dishes fun for your family. Let kids (properly supervised, of course) use pastry bags filled with batter to create their own pancakes in letter or number shapes. I'd recommend making your batter slightly thicker for easier handling. While not suitable for kids, you could also use pastry bags to fry homemade doughnuts or make funnel cakes, if you're having State Fair withdrawal. You can even use pastry bags to make stuffed French toast more quickly and easily.
4. Stuff your own sausage If you're adventurous, you might want to experiment with making your own sausages. Before you shell out the cash for a pricey sausage stuffer, try using a pastry bag to stuff the casing. This way, you'll know if you like the process enough to invest in something that might otherwise become an expensive piece of clutter in your kitchen.
5. Layered treats This summer, a friend gave me one of my favorite kitchen gifts: Popsicle molds. I've put them to work making pudding pops that would make Bill Cosby weep. When I wanted to make vanilla/chocolate layered pops, a pastry bag made my frozen-pudding dream a reality. Similarly, you could use pastry bags to make parfaits or trifles. Not only will they save time, but you have much more control over the process and will make neater desserts.
Note: if you don't have pastry bags on hand, plastic freezer bags with one end snipped off will also work just fine, provided you don't need a fancy tip, which none of these suggestions require.
Image via topquark22/Flickr