It’s been slow in coming this year, but the first glimmer of the itch to begin my Christmas baking has finally hit. I’d gone to Williams-Sonoma several days ago and purchased a set of very pretty snowflake cookie cutters. In my mind I saw them iced with pure white icing and glistening with a combination of clear dusting sugar and metallic dragees.
Some of you may well be wondering, “What in the world is a dragee?” While the name might ring any bells you’re sure to remember them – those hard, silver balls so popular in Christmas cookie decoration, be they for the buttons of snowmen or the ringers of bells, or simply glistening tips on snowflakes and stars. I was confounded when I tried to find them, having opted not to purchase them at Williams-Sonoma. I found a single brand at my local grocery store and the jar was on the very top shelf, nestled between the boxes of specialty extracts and colored dusting sugars. The price alone nearly blew me out of the water at $10.99 a jar, but I was determined that I was going to make beautiful, magazine-picture worthy cookies and coupled with how hard we’d looked for them I just went ahead and bought them.
One can certainly imagine my confusion when I got home and turned the jar around to find a label warning “FOR DECORATION ONLY.” Of course they’re for decoration! What else is one going to do? Snort them? Shoot them out of pellet guns? The other side read “India Tree Silver Dragees add an elegant touch to cakes and cookies.” Well, duh. That’s why I bought them!
In a moment of naughty, nostalgic self-indulgence I cracked the jar open and pried out one of the precious metal balls (at this price, they’ve got to be made with real silver, right?!) and slid it between my teeth. A quiet crack, that first blush of sugary bliss and then…
. . .
. . . PLASTIC?
That’s right, folks. These “FOR DECORATION ONLY” dragees, the only I’ve been able to find on the shelf, which were stuck right-smack in the middle of the other edible decorations and ingredients are, literally, for decoration ONLY. While I’d assume that consuming one or two wouldn’t kill someone, I can’t imagine that they’ll do wonders for anyone’s teeth and the texture of hard plastic pellets does leave something to be desired. What in the world is one really to do with these things – decorate their cookies and then warn the recipients to remove them? Should my cookies be given wrapped in a brass spittoon? It is a general rule, last I checked, that anything non-edible on a plate should be clearly unmistakable as such. It’s why chefs go to such great pains to make sure that they don’t serve whole chunks of cinnamon bark, bay leaves, or star anise in their food!
Thankfully the local grocery manager was just as shocked as I was to learn that these things aren’t edible. She said she was going to look at some as soon as she hung up with me, and I have a feeling that they will be moved over with the candles and other inedible baking decor. She also stated that despite having opened my jar, I am free to return them for a full refund. While I may be out of pretty-as-a-magazine sparkle, at least I won’t be out $11.