Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Royal Icing 1 0 1 . . . .Works For Me Wednesday


For cookie decorating, I use Royal Icing. I've seen cookies decorated with fondant and just recently heard of rolled buttercream, but Royal Icing works for me.

Royal Icing is an icing that dries hard and opaque, so cookies can be stacked and icing stays pretty when cookies are packaged. It's easy, too...it only takes 3 ingredients: meringue powder, water and sugar (flavoring is optional).
To start, you'll need meringue powder. Ateco and Williams-Sonoma are my favorites...I think I've tried them all. :) Ateco is a little hard to find, so any meringue powder will work. Follow the instructions for Royal Icing that come with your meringue powder. Here's a recipe to try with any meringue powder:

Royal Icing
(this will cover approximately 3 dozen 3.5 inch cookies)

1 pound powdered sugar
5 TBSP meringue powder
scant 1/2 c. water
a few drops of extract (optional)

Combine the meringue powder and water with a whisk attachment using an electric mixer. Beat until peaks begin to form. Sift in the powdered sugar and beat on low to combine. Increase speed to high and beat until stiff peaks form. (You should be able to remove the beater from the mixer and hold up and jiggle without the peak falling.) If using an extract, add it then beat for a few more seconds to incorporate.
Cover with plastic wrap touching the icing or divide and color using gel paste food colorings.

{The most important step: sift the powdered sugar! Believe me, I've tried to shortcut this step...it doesn't work. My favorite powdered sugars are Domino and C & H, but as you can see from the picture, any will do. Imperial is easier to find in the 1 pound boxes.}

This "stiff" icing is perfect for outlining and even for building gingerbread houses and monogramming. To fill in your cookies, add water to your icing a little at a time until it is the consistency of syrup. This technique of filling a cookie with thinned icing is called "flooding." Click here for more details.
Happy cookie decorating!

Be sure to check out all of the Works for Me Wednesday ideas at We are THAT Family.

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39 comments:

  1. I put a teaspoon of cream of tartar in my royal icing. Gives it just a little more body. Love your pics.

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  2. Wow -- I've never sifted the confectioners sugar, but I'm going to try it this weekend. One thing I'd love to know is how to get the icing to dry more quickly. I always leave the cookies out to harden for 8 hours. Is there a shortcut?

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  3. I wondered how you made it (figured it wasn't from a can ;D)

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  4. I've always wanted to try that, but I never have. Thanks for the nudge!

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  5. Your icing always looks perfect. I found Ateco meringue powder at amazon.com. Easy shopping option. :)

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  6. Thanks for such great tips! A few questions, does your icing ever separate when you make it ahead of time? Mine seems to always do that. How far in advance can you decorate cookies and they still taste fresh? Also, have you ever frozen decorated cookies, and if so how do they turn out?

    I have to bake and decorate about 50 next week and the more I can do ahead of time the better!

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  7. I'll try this recipe... mine calls for 3 Tbs MP, so I guess the extra 2 Tbs is what makes your RI super shiny... Thank you for sharing your secrets, Bridget! :)

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  8. Your cookies are so beautiful. I always really appreciate your tips!

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  9. I DIDN'T REALIZE THIS ICING WAS SO SIMPLE ;) THANK YOU FOR THE TIP

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  10. Thanks for your icing tips!!!! I love how easy it is, and hope that with practice my cookie decorating can look as perfect as yours!!!!

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  11. About your "wrong" post..we must be having a similar day, I'm so tired I actually drove to the wrong dentist office today! Oh my goodness...

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  12. Those are so cute! Thanks for all the great tips!

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  13. amyk8gapgirl...in my experience, the icing will separate if left overnight at room temperature. Keeping it refrigerated seems to work for me.

    I think the cookies taste their best within a week of baking. They freeze perfectly, iced or not, so that is an option for making ahead of time. Just don't put them in the fridge.

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  14. Who knew there was more than one recipe for royal icing? I use a different proportion of meringue powder and water per pound of 10x.
    AND I use the paddle, not the whisk. Maybe I'll try the whisk.
    One tip from me though, instead of plastic wrap, dampen a clean hand towel and lay it over your bowl. No crusties EVER!!

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  15. Great tip, Laura...thank you! :)

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  16. OK, I'm sure this is an old post... but I'm at a loss! At Christmas time I've made royal icing per the directions on the meringue container and it came out perfect!

    This week I've made 3 batches and they've all come out fluffy... like, full of bubbles that will not dissipate (I still have a batch in the fridge seeing if it will relax by tomorrow)

    it is absolutely driving me nuts and not working at all for my cookie project. Any suggestions?

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  17. Tori...feel free to email me directly. Is this the thinned icing or piping icing? What meringue powder are you using?

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  18. How long can you store the icing? Should you put it in the fridge or leave at room temp?

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  19. quick question and thanks for always responing so quick to them
    - what is this ?
    scant 1/2 c. water

    I am sorry and know it is a dumb question but I am really new to baking.
    Thanks

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  20. Hey busy mom...what I mean by that is not to fill up the measuring cup all the way, just a little under a 1/2 c measure. Hope that helps! :)

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  21. I have been asked to make 150 cookies in the shape of dollar signs for an Andy Warhol art collection opening this Saturday. I proably won't even receive the cutters until Thursday morning so time is of the essence. My question is, how long does the royal icing take to dry? If we decorate the cookies on Saturday morning, will they be dry and ready to stack by 4:00?

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  22. Anonymous...well, unless you have the cookies decorated by 8am, I would decorate them the day before. I have tried making cookies in the morning to be ready for afternoon and they were still wet underneath. they LOOKED dry, but stacking and bagging them didn't work. I'm sorry! Good luck with your decorating! :)

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  23. Thank you, thank you for posting this recipe. I tried it and it came out perfectly! Now, I just need to work on taking my time to outline. :)

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  24. I've never made or used royal icing form meringue powder. Always used egg whites and had it work perfectly. egg whites plus powdered sugar and a little water. I know lots of people are scared off by the raw eggs though.

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  25. My icing keeps separarting while the icing is drying on the cookie.

    I'm not sure what to do but I have cookies for an event tomorrow and need to make more cookies tonight.

    Any suggestions on how to keep the icing from separating while the cookies dry?

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  26. Hey kd....it sounds like maybe your flood icing is thinned too much. Hop on over to www.universityofcookie.com and watch the first vlog on thinning icing for flooding. That's my best guess.

    I wish I could pop over to your house and take a look.

    Good luck with your cookies!!!

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  27. I'm having trouble with my royal icing recipe. It called for 3 TBS meringue powder (I've made it with egg whites just fine, but i thought I'd try the meringue powder). The powerless was at least year old, but it didn't have an expiration date so I used it anyways and since I was icing shortbread I substituted lemon juice for water in the recipe. Problem: I made them last night and they haven't hardened! I need to bag and mail them today...is there anything I can do to speed up the process and do you think they'll ever harden?

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  28. Hi Maddie....well, I'm not sure. I don't know if you are referring to piped royal icing or your filled/thinned royal icing. If it is the thinned icing, my bet is that it was too thinned. I've never substituted lemon juice for water, so I'm not sure how that would affect it.

    It it's your piped icing, then I'm really stumped. My guess would be the lemon juice. I don't know about the shelf-life of meringue powder...I tend to go through it pretty quickly. I'm sorry.

    Keeping my fingers crossed for you. :)

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  29. Well I'm late to the conversation BUT- I'm a veteran cookier but have not had good luck storing leftover icing (in piping bags) in the fridge without it separating out. Especially the more vibrant colors. Any hints on how to improve the stability of the shelf life? I know when I've worked in professional bakeries we used a white icing that came in big buckets (forget what the brand was- we called it goo)that stuff never changed, tasted awful tho.

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  30. Ok so I'm coming REALLY late to this conversation but, I'm a veteran cookier but I have 3 kids now and they are into EVERYTHING so I'm trying to streamline the process. In the past when I've put leftover icing (in piping bags with tips and "lids" on) into the fridge they've separated out in just a few days. I'm wanting to make a big batch of white and just tint as I go. Any hints on how to keep it from separating?

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  31. Hi,
    We watched quite a few tutorial videos with my 5-year-old daughter, and we love them! We want to give them a try, but I am writing from Hungary. I don't think you can get meringue powder here. Do you ever make royal icing with egg whites? I tried to find a recipe of yours with egg white, but did not succeed. Can you help me, please? Thanks?

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  32. Thanks for this...

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  33. Hi, first of all thank you for your tutorials! I`ve learned a looot from you!!
    May I have a question here?
    So I want to use black RI for outlining. for the first sight it looks good, nice to work with them,but after it is dried (!) if I touch it, falling down the half of it.
    Why? Other colours never makes it after drying..
    Thanks for your help,
    Edit

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  34. is it possible to re-thicken royal icing that has been flooded?

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  35. Wow this is a really old post and sorry for the late comment but i have a quick question! Will refrigerating the icing help thicken it? I think I added a bit too much water and I'm out of powdered sugar. Do you have any suggestions? Thank you!

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  36. Wow this is a really old post and sorry for the late comment but i have a quick question! Will refrigerating the icing help thicken it? I think I added a bit too much water and I'm out of powdered sugar. Do you have any suggestions? Thank you!

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