Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Royal Icing 102 . . . or 201 . . . or whatever comes after 101

If you've been reading the blog for a while, you might have seen my post titled "Royal Icing 101." This is how I made royal icing for years...and it worked well...most of the time.
Royal Icing 101 + answers to every royal icing question you've ever wanted to ask
Sometimes, though, I had problems with my icing. Some days it looked dull; sometimes the piping cracked; sometimes the flood icing was filled with little holes.

So, I've done some reading and some experimenting and I've made some changes. Who knows...maybe in 6 months, I'll be doing a post called "Royal Icing 103" (or 301, or whatever), but here's what is working for me these days.

Royal Icing Recipe

(This will cover 2-3 dozen 3.5 inch cookies in 2 colors; I usually double this recipe.)

4 TBSP meringue powder
scant 1/2 c. water
1 lb. powdered sugar
1/2 - 1 tsp light corn syrup
few drops clear extract (optional)

Combine the meringue powder and water. With the paddle attachment of an electric mixer, beat until combined and foamy.

Sift in the powdered sugar and beat on low to combine. (Do NOT skip the sifting!)

Add in the corn syrup and extract if desired. ( I think the corn syrup helps keep the icing shiny.)

Increase speed to med-high/high and beat for about 5 minutes, just until the icing is glossy and stiff peaks form.

(You should be able to remove the beater from the mixer and hold up and jiggle without the peak falling.) Do not overbeat.
Cover with plastic wrap touching the icing or divide and color using gel paste food colorings.

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 teaspoon at a time, stirring with a rubber spatula, until it is the consistency of syrup. This technique of filling a cookie with thinned icing is called "flooding."


Royal Icing FAQ and troubleshooting: 



{Be sure to check last week's post with cookies f.a.q.'s...I will be updating that post periodically...and check back for next week's troubleshooting post.}

Do you ever add anything to your royal icing to improve the taste (lemon juice, almond extract....?).

Yes, I typically use a few drops of pure almond extract when I am making my vanilla-almond sugar cookies. Just keep in mind that any colored extract, such as vanilla, will tint the icing.

What is a "scant" cup?

It's a measuring cup not filled all the way up to the top. Take a look at the picture above....I took it just for you!

Why does my piped icing...you know...the outline...or maybe just some piping done on gingerbread men...well...why does it dry up and just fall off in little bits.

I think this is from overbeating. It's happened to me, too. Try to beat it until it's glossy and just coming to a stiff peak. Also, use the paddle attachment of your mixer. (This is a really common question...I'll put it in the troubleshooting post as well.)

How do you know the perfect consistency for icing when flooding?

Once your colors are mixed, add water a teaspoon at a time to thin it for flooding. Stir the water in with a rubber spatula, rather than beating it. Hold your rubber spatula over the bowl and let some icing fall back into the bowl. The ribbon of icing should disappear into the rest of the icing in about 2-3 seconds, counting "one-one thousand, two-one thousand."

When decorating wet on wet, how do you do it so the colors don't bleed into one another?

I typically work about 6-8 cookies at a time. I flood all the cookies in the base coat, then go back and add the dots. This gives them a minute or so to rest. It seems to stop the bleeding. Sometimes, it still happens and that's when I have to remind myself not to stress and that it's "just a cookie." (Sometimes a glass of wine helps.)

How exactly do you mix your icing colors when you need several colors and piping and flood?

I divide my icing into how many colors I'll need, whether it's for piping or flooding. (IE...if I need red for outlining and flooding, I make one big container of red.) Then, I tint them with food coloring. If I need a color for both piping and flooding, I go ahead and fill a piping bag before adding the water for flooding. Here's a link with more details on icing prep.

If you make your icing ahead of time, do you separate into flood and piping then or wait until it's time to decorate?

I wait until it's time to decorate.

How do you get your writing to look so even and not slanted?

Practice....lots and lots of practice! And sometimes, it's still crooked! ;) Try practicing on a plate or a piece of wax paper before trying it on your cookies.

Do you have any suggestions for folks like me with not a lot of room to spread out the cookies to dry?

Try stacking your cookie sheets with the drying cookies on top of each other...like some horizontally and some on top vertically allowing some space for air circulation. Does that make sense? The sides of the cookie sheets will support the second layer. You may have to add some drying time here. I've been known to have cookie sheets on every flat surface of my house, including the guest room bed!

I've always wondered...if the cookie is left out overnight, won't it get stale?

Nope, the royal icing needs that overnight time to dry thoroughly and the icing kind of "seals" the cookie from getting stale.

Does royal icing taste as good as cream cheese frosting?

Nope...not in a million years. Cream cheese icing I would eat with a spoon, royal icing not so much. It can taste good, especially if you use Williams-Sonoma, Ateco or AmeriColor meringue powder, but it will never compare to frosting. Make sure you use a sugar cookie recipe that you like. The cookie is the real star here.

Where can I buy meringue powder?

Meringue powder can be found in craft stores and even in the WalMart craft section. The brands that I recommend are normally only found in baking supply stores or online. I recommend Williams-Sonoma, Ateco and AmeriColor. These 3 are vastly superior to the craft store brand in taste and performance.

How do you get the same color, when you made less icing than you needed?

I always try to make more than I need to avoid that problem....otherwise, I really just cross my fingers.

When you make your icing beforehand, do you refrigerate it or leave it out?

Refrigerate it.  (Icing that has been thinned for flooding must be used the same day.)

How long can you keep royal icing in the fridge before you need to toss it?

I've heard up to one week, but I am never that organized to have it made that early.

In what type of container do you store it (pastry bags or Tupperware or ??)

I put it in Tupperware type containers with plastic wrap pressed down onto the icing to keep it from drying, then with the lid on top of that.

I've always wanted to ask - "the consistency of syrup" - do you mean cheap syrup or real maple syrup? Seriously, I have both and they are so different. Stop laughing at me. I have consistency issues. Stop laughing!

I love this question, Brigid! The consistency of the good stuff. :) (See the question a few above on consistency.)

How do you know for sure when the frosting is dry enough to put more raised-style frosting on top?

I usually wait at least an hour.

How do I make red icing?

AmeriColor Super Red food coloring!!! Here's more info on red icing.

How do I make black icing?

AmeriColor Super Black food coloring (noticing a trend?). Here's more info on black icing.

Why does my royal icing sometimes dry with a dull finish? 

Royal icing can dry to a dull finish...or with just a slight sheen.  Try drying cookies using an oscillating fan or a dehydrator.  More details on this post.  


I'll try to update this list as questions come in, so please check back! Thanks, guys, for the questions...I hope this helps! If you have any Royal Icing tips, please share!!! I'd love to hear them!

{Visit Works For Me Wednesday for more tips at We Are THAT Family.}

Related posts:

266 comments:

  1. THAT was long ;D But totally informative.

    I want to frame the picture of the peak. Seriously.

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    1. 3 years later, I find this post and have the same thought. I want to hang that picture in my kitchen!!

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  2. WOW, thanks for class! Super detail! Appreciate it!

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  3. Ok beautiful...talk to me real slow with small words. What do you mean by clear extract??

    And how will I know whether or not it's clear, if it comes in brown bottles?

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    1. The bottle should say clear on it and typically come in a clear bottle. It is made so not to discolor your frostings.

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  5. Sorry for that deleted post earlier~
    Your Royal Icing 102...201..whatever ~ was wonderful. Great questions, great answers. I love the part about the wine :) As always, I feel I learned something (especially about the meringue powder). Thanks Bridget.
    Renee of kudoskookies.com

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  6. AWESOME!! I'm making more cookies in the next few days....this helps!!

    YOU ROCK!!

    ~TidyMom

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  7. Thank you for taking the time to do this ;) You are totally inspiring me!!!!

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  8. Muthering Heights...great question! You'll want to use almond, lemon, peppermint, even coconut, depending on the flavor of your cookie. You could even use no extract at all. I'd stay away from vanilla, butter, rum, etc. Here's a great link with pictures of extracts in the bottle...
    http://www.adamsextract.com/display.asp?DepartmentID=541&page=1

    I would also steer clear of "clear vanilla." I don't trust it. ;)

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  9. great bridget! You just helped a lot of us :)

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  10. Great post on Royal Icing. Thanks for sharing.

    Keith (@LastBite)

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  11. This post is AWESOME! Thank you for all the great pictures of "stiff peak" and "not ready yet"... That is the point where I had troubles! :)

    Clear instructions...
    Great pictures...

    Wonderful Job Bridget!

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  12. Thanks for another post loaded with info, Bridget!
    ~ingrid

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  13. Fantastic post (as usual!)

    Your hints and tips never fail me... Thank you so much!

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  14. Thank you so much for the tips and tricks! I will definitely have to try the updated icing recipe.

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  15. oh bridget...
    these tutorials are SO FABULOUS!! they make such sense & give me the motivation to work & better my techniques...
    THANK YOU! THANK YOU!

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  16. Another post to bookmark! Thank you, thank you, thank you for all the wonderful tips!

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  17. Thank you for posting all these Q&A's - I think I encountered all of those problems the last time I decorated!

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  18. SO glad you posted this, I attempted to ice some cookies for the first time yesterday. It was not pretty in the least.
    Thank you. I will take this and frame it :) (or at least print it)

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  19. Excellent tips, thank you so very much!
    Now just to get up the nerve to try. :)

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  20. Thank you for posting this! I've had issues with royal icing for a while now. Too watery, too thick, cracks, etc. This will have to be my go-to recipe!

    Christie Bishop
    PardonMyCrumbs.com

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  21. Awesome "Royal Icing 102" tips and lessons! I'm with you on all of them and so wish I would have had access to all this (your) great information when I began decorating cookies!

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  22. Hi. So nice to "meet" you. We seriously all need to do a play date or something. I never knew that I had fellow bloggers that lived so close to me. :) Oh, and I am sending this post to my mother-n-law. She is amazing at making and decorating cookies. She would love all of this information. If you go back through some of my children's b-day posts, you can see all of these cookies that she has made. Hope to meet you soon!

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  23. Yep, you are awesome! Thanks so much for taking the time to offer all of us such invaluable information! I am going to try some of the superior meringue powder from the sources you mentioned:) Thanks again!!!

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  24. cool :D

    stopping in from WFMW :D

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  25. Great information. Thank You.
    Mimi

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  26. AWESOME!! Thank you so much for sharing these tips!

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  27. Once again, you are my hero. Love you!

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  28. What a great tutorial. It's very helpful. I've tried royal frosting once and it hurt my hands so bad I swore never to do it again. I think I might have had my frosting too thick while I was trying to pipe it? Then the flood icing was too thin I think. I had major consistency issues...

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  29. What great pictures! Thanks for all the tips!
    ~Liz

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  30. LOVE (love love love) your icing tips. Between you and Gail (One Tough Cookie), I may actually be able to successfully decorate some cookies for Valentine's Day. Interesting that you use the beater blade on your mixer... For some reason, I always used the whisk.

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  31. Wow you amaze me everytime I read this blog~

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  32. I needed this! I have been wanting to try making this type of icing and you have everything covered. Thanks for explaining it in so much detail!

    SkippingSkones.blogspot.com

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  33. Ooooooh...good tips! I used your recipes for both the Vanilla-almond cookies and the royal icing for Christmas cookies this year...YUM! Everyone loved them. I didn't do so great at the piping, though. I need to practice that more. I just used a spoon to smooth the icing to the edges and it worked quite well. Thanks for the great tips. Now, if I could only find vanilla bean paste around here somewhere, I'd be all set! ;)

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    1. there's a good recipe for vanilla bean frosting on cookingclassy.com, as well as the author's go-to source for purchasing excellent quality vanilla beans for cheap.

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  34. Bridget, you are a saint for posting this!!! I have been terrified to make royal icing and now I must give it a try, YEAH, thank you :)

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  35. Yes, GREAT tips. Now, I have another question. When I learned to decorate cakes, many years ago now, & learned about royal icing, I was told that there could not be a trace of oil ANYwhere or the icing would separate. For that class I spent lots of time boiling hot water for my anything I was going to use with royal icing (spoons, spatulas, tips, mixing bowl & whisk). Is this really necessary? What do you do? Thanks!

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    1. Just wipe everything before use with clear (distilled) vinegar. I've never had my icing separate.

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  36. Fantastic info girl! I read and re-read every single one!

    Blessings-
    Amanda

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  37. Thank you so much for the lesson, I am going to try creating Royal Icing this weekend using your step by step process. You make it look so easy! :)

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  38. Thanks so much for this. I am just getting into this and have been scared to start Royal Icing (as my first batch of cookies I had even trouble rolling but I'm going to try your stick butter instead of softened butter tip - thanks :)). Anyways, I don't have a stand up mixer - just the little cheapo. I don't want to buy a mixer until I really get into the cookie thing. Can I use those little hand mixers or do I need a stand alone mixer for royal icing? Thank you in advance. I greatly appreciate it.

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  39. Thanks for the tips, but is it possible to get these results without a kitchenaide mixer and paddle attachment?

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  40. so cool! finally i know how to pimp my cookies and will be able to make use of my girly high-heel and dress cookie cutters! too bad we cant get any nice sprinkles etc where i live...

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  41. You are my new baking god/guru! I love all the tips you have. I have been too chicken to do royal icing but I swear you have given me the confidence needed to try! Wish me luck! and FYI those chocolate cannoli's look to die for good!

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  42. I just discovered your site today and already LOVE it!! I have caught the baking bug since making a bunch of treats for my husbands co-workers this Christmas. I have been doing some royal icing but it has stayed "tacky" even after several hours...any ideas? I used vanilla (clear) in some and lemon juice in another batch...the lemon batch was WAY worse...Help!

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  43. finally trying this variation this weekend! Hoping the corn syrup helps with shine. However - I ALWAYS skip the sifting, always...and I don't have any problems with lumps...is there another reason to sift?

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  44. GREAT tips - thank you!

    What number decorating tips do you use for writing and outlining, and what number decorating tips do you use for filling?

    THANKS!

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  45. Hi Sally...

    I usually use #2 or #3 tips of outlining and I use squeeze bottles for filling (no tips).

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  46. Bridget - thank you! Such a speedy response - I really appreciate it.

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  47. Love your site! I always have trouble using a tip #1 for little details, it always clogs! If it clogs it interrupts the line of whatever I'm piping and it comes out a mess. If I thin it too much it will be runny and won't keep the detail that I'm looking for. I've seen some pretty small lacy things done on cookies so I know its possible but I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong.

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  48. Hey Sthrnbelle...a few ideas:
    1. be sure to sift your powdered sugar
    2. and, beat the meringue powder and water first
    3. try no beat the icing *just until* it comes to a peak to keep it from getting too stiff
    4. I recommend Ateco, Williams-Sonoma or AmeriColor meringue powder. Try to avoid the one from craft stores. It seems to clump.

    Hope that helps!

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  49. I've been having some fun with royal icing lately...thank you for sharing your recipe and tips!!!

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  50. thanks I have always wanted to make this icing

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  51. I am just loving your site--I took a cookie decorating class once and that instructor used a couple drops of glycerin to add shine to the icing.

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  52. You've inspired me to give my failed previous attempts another try! :) I only hope they turn out as good as TidyMoms first attempts! She raves about you! ;) Thanks for writing up such a great detailed post. FINGERS CROSSED! :) I'll keep you posted. -Shelley@HowDoesShe

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  53. Thanks so much for such an informative lesson! I tried this recipe last night and let my cookies dry overnight. By 5 pm this evening the icing still hasn't hardened. I am thinking I live in San Diego and it was too humid to harden? If this is the case- what can I do? It was still tasty- but a was hoping to write on the cookies and won't get the chance.
    Any ideas? (I followed your recipe to the letter)...

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  54. Hey mermegan...it sounds like your flood icing was a little too thin (I've learned this the hard way). Hope you'll try again! :)

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  55. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this post. I just about almost very nearly kinda have gotten the nerve up to try my own hand at cookies. ;)
    I'm totally bookmarking this post to come back to when I feel brave enough. =P

    Amber

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  56. Question: I've used this recipe from you a few times, each time the icing gets the stiff peak long before the 5 minutes of mixing. Should I mix about 5 minutes anyways? or just stop when I notice it gets stiff peaks?

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  57. Hey Renee...go ahead and stop as soon as you get those stiff peaks. :)

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  58. I flooded some cookies and some of them dried and some of them are still tacky. They have been drying for over 24 hours now. Do you know what might be wrong? Thanks so much!

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  59. Trisha...my guess is that your flood icing was a little too thin. Try this post and see if it helps, too:
    http://bakeat350.blogspot.com/2010/02/troubleshooting.html

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  60. Do you always purchase your powdered sugar in 1# boxes? I always purchase mine in 4# bags from a wholesale club, and wasn't sure how to safely and correctly divide this evenly for this recipe.... Any tips?

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  61. Mom of 2 cuties....I normally buy powdered sugar in the 2 pound bags because I'm usually doubling the recipe. You can divide it up. I think powdered sugar is hard to measure correctly since it's so "fluffy", but you can do it. You may just have to adjust your water if it's too stiff.

    That didn't help at all, did it? ;)

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  62. Thank you for your response Bridget. I swear I am spending more time in the "planning" of tackling this recipe... I think I'll check out a 2# bag as you suggested until I get the knack of it.... LOVE LOVE your blog. Thank you for sharing your talents with us.

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  63. Hi Bridget... Thanks for the info regarding the powdered sugar. I think I'll scale back to the 2#bag/box to start with.

    Thank you so so much for sharing your talent with us all... LOVE your site....

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  64. I have been using your icing recipe for about a month now. I do use the karo syrup hoping it will give my icing shine after they dry. But they have been drying very dull. Any advice?

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  65. I have been using your icing recipe for about a month now. But by morning when my cookies are dry, the icing is very 'dull' looking. I use Karo Syrup (thinking this would make them shiny) but it doesn't seem to help. Any advice?

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  66. jkpina...they are not going to dry super-duper shiny, but one thing that helps is to beat the royal icing just until stiff peaks form, not any longer. Over on www.universityofcookie , Amanda from i am baker vlogs a different cookie decorating icing that dries really shiny. You might try that one. :) Happy decorating!

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  67. ¡Oh! My friend, I´m very happy because I find your recipe.


    Thank you very much.

    I like your blogs very, very much.

    Un besote, mi solete.

    Vamosalculete.

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  68. I tried your royal icing recipe...I made & needed white icing and it looked GORGEOUS!! But, it never dried...even after sitting overnight, they were still "tacky"??? I suspect I over-beat it because it crumbled when I used it for piping. Also, it seemed to almost be a little "fizzy" to taste???

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  69. karastock....sounds like you had a bit too much water in your flood icing. I've been there. So sorry!

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  70. Why do some royal recipes require cream of tartar... And what the difference if you do or dont use it?

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  71. Hi Bridget. I have been making royal icing for some time now but yesterday ran into a problem. I normally sift the powdered sugar and use a whisk attachment. For some reason, maybe the humidity, my frosting seemed really fluffy and very lumpy when I put it on the cookies. According to your post on royal icing, should I use the paddle attachment the whole entire time I am making the icing? Also, should I sift the sugar into the combined water/meringue powder mixture or is it okay to sift it beforehand and then add it a little at a time? That is what I have usually done before. Thanks so much.

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  72. I just stumbled upon your website today, and I absolutely LOVE IT!!! Thanks for all your AWESOME and helpful tips. I'll be here pretty often.

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  73. Hi Bridget... your blog is fantastic!!! I like baking, but now I'm totally inspired to decorate my cookies. I went and bought a whole bunch of colours, and meringue powder too. I got Wilton.
    My problem is, I don't have a professional mixer, so no paddle attachment. I do everything by hand, and beat my meringue with a hand-held beater.
    The royal icing looked great! I tinted it successfully and outlined my cookies. Felt like a pro until I started thinning the icing. Added water 1 tsp at a time and did the 'one-one thousand, two-two thousand' count. But when I was filling my bottles, noticed that the icing had fallen apart? The fluffy bit floated on top and water stayed on the bottom. I stirred it up and tried flooding my cookies but it just looked like foam on my cookies. What do you think could have gone wrong?
    Is it because I used the whisk attachment and not the paddle one? My icing did not look like syrup at all... not smooth like your beautiful cookies :(

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  74. Hi Bridget... your blog is fantastic!!! I like baking, but now I'm totally inspired to decorate my cookies. I went and bought a whole bunch of colours, and meringue powder too. Americolor colours and Wilton meringue.
    My problem is, I don't have a professional mixer, so no paddle attachment. I do everything by hand, and beat my meringue with a hand-held beater.
    The royal icing looked great! I tinted it successfully and outlined my cookies. Felt like a pro until I started thinning the icing. Added water 1 tsp at a time and did the 'one-one thousand, two-two thousand' count. But when I was filling my bottles, noticed that the icing had fallen apart? The fluffy bit floated on top and water stayed on the bottom. I stirred it up and tried flooding my cookies but it just looked like foam on my cookies. What do you think could have gone wrong?
    Is it because I used the whisk attachment and not the paddle one? I thought my icing looked like syrup but the foam kept separating... like beer!

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  75. Hi Irma!

    No, that shouldn't be happening....even with a hand mixer. Are you stirring in the water by hand? That is how I make the flood icing, gently stirring the water in by hand.

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  76. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this!! As a newly graduate of Wilton course 1 and 2, I have done a 180 from cakes. ALL I want to decorate now is cookies. Made Halloween cookies for son's class and used the extra outline icing on a cake (It IS Royal anyway). Oh, and I don't recommend mixing w/ hand mixer after aerobics class....ouch.

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  77. Have had so many problems with my icing, but now I know what I'm doing wrong. perfect timing for me to find you, I was making a batch of leaf cookies this weekend...def know what to do now instead. Thank you for posting this.

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  78. Could you be any more perfect for me? So I have always LOVED LOVED LOVED baking but for some reason never really got into it on the pretense of I can't do diddly without one of those Kitchenaid mixers. Boy was I right because I just FINALLY got one and I have been using it non stop ever since. Not so great with trying to lose weight, but it is a sacrifice. In any case, last night was my first endeavor with Royal Icing. I wish I would have read this BEFORE I flipped that mixer on, but it was a learning experience to stay the least. I am a permanent fixture on your site and link you in my blog. Your brilliance and talent is something I wanted to share with my friends and family =) I have 1 follower on my blog (a cousin I have never even met) but gotta start somewhere right?

    THANK YOU FOR BEING SO AWESOME. Seriously. Fantabulous!

    ~Jocelyn

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  79. Help!! I have made 40 Gingerbread houses and am trying to get the icing made ahead and bagged. How long will it keep in bags and what do I do if it separates? Thanks

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  80. Can I use egg white instead of this powder? You can't buy it in Germany :((

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  81. My icing is still tacky two days later? I was pretty sure I followed the recipe lol. Thanks!

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  82. I live on an Army base in Japan and our grocery store on base is ALL SOLD OUT of meringue powder!!!! Please tell me you have an egg whites recipe you can recommend until I can get some meringue powder shipped here!!!

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  83. Thanks for the wonderful instruction! I cannot believe I found meringue powder at my small-town Wal-Mart! Look for it in the cake decorating part of the craft section (not where the boxed cake mixes are). Of course, it isn't the good stuff as mentioned here. But when you live an hour from the nearest craft store, you take what you can get! :)

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  84. I used this recipe to make cookies this weekend. I used the royal icing 102 and flood icing. My flood icing never hardened completely. For instance, I put a cookie in a ziplock bag for my son to take to his teacher and the bag stuck to the flood icing and pulled the icing away if I tried to pull the bag off. Did I do something wrong? or is this normal?

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  85. What if you don't have a fancy mixer with a paddle attachment?

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  86. I'm so crushed. I swear- the flood icing was not too thin. It had to be pushed around to fill the spaces. I added water teeny weeny bits at a time until a ribbon of it sank back down on a 0ne-one thousand two-one thousand count. And almost 24 hours later they are still somewhat tacky. :( Beautiful- but tacky. The ONLY thing I can think of that I did wrong was use the W brand of meringue powder because, well, when it's the week before Christmas and you decide to make cookies you use what you can get.

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  87. Bridget, I just want to say thank you soooooo very much for your blog with all the tips, recipes, techniques, and inspiration.

    I tried your vanilla-almond cookie recipe and then this royal icing recipe and decorated cookies (like you) for the first time ever!

    I was nervous, but I followed your directions to the letter and they turned out AWESOME!!! They look great and they taste fantastic! Now I'm excited to try something more advanced than just wet on wet dots on a circle cookie!

    THANK YOU!!!!

    By the way, have you considered writing a book with all this great information in one place? I would DEFINITELY buy it!

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  88. I love baking, but I've only just begun my adventures with royal icing. Thanks so much for your detailed instructions! I really appreciate it :)

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  89. this is fantastic. thanks so much!

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  90. Thank you so much for your recipe and instructions. I tried it out last night for the first time with great results!

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  91. I am brand new to decorating and stumbled across your blog today. It is absolutely just what I was looking for! The instructions and photos are so helpful - gives me hope that my cookies can look beautiful too. I'm impatient now to use up the Wilton meringue powder so I can look for some of the better stuff.

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  92. Hi! I am fairly new to using royal icing and am having a problem with the oil/ butter from the cookie seeping up through the icing. The royal icing darkens in areas as a result. Have you ever had this happen and do you have any tips? Thanks so much, love your blog!

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  93. I made this icing recipe and i have never made royal icing before. After it dried on the cookie, mine turned out sort of fluffly, almost the texture of marshmallow fluff. I was just wondering if that was how it is supposed to be or if it should have dried completely hard. it piped fine and tasted alright but im no sure what the extures supposed to be like after it dries. thanks!

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  94. Hi: I follow yours tutorial and made your vanilla-almond sugar cookies and royal icing recipe, and really are the best recipes and don't have any problems! My question are, what is the difference that other persons use warm water in the royal icing? Thanks!

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  95. I'm having a cookie emergency! Is it ok to use royal icing that has been refrigerated and yet still separated? I mixed up batches of white, red, and green on Saturday and they all separated that night! I'm semi-terrified to use them on the cookies and have the icing separate as it dries...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jessica...as long as the icing hasn't been thinned with water, you should be ok. Just stir it gently to incorporate.

      Delete
  96. You should make a note that this recipe is very temperamental if it is rainy and humid out then you will need a MIRACLE to get the royal icing to peak. Best i got after a few tries was to a fluff looking consistency :/ I just feel that a warning is necessary

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kphillips....well, I live where it is very humid and rains a lot. If you're having issues, make sure your windows are closed. :)

      Delete
  97. Bridget, I am so thankful I found your site and your videos are so informative! I have never done this before but am trying to save a little money with planning my wedding and I am going to try and master this to make starfish cookies for our favors! Again thank you so much your awesome for taking the time to share all this information :)

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  98. HELP! I keep trying to make this icing correct. I have followed your tutorial and Calleye's from SugarBelle. HOwever, I can't seem to get my icing thick enough. It never forms peaks. Should I keep mixing or add more sugar?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I use a kitchen aid stand mixer, but I will tell you that it takes a good 5 or more minutes to get the icing to the right consistency and to form a peak. If you are using a hand mixer you'll probably have to beat on high for quite a bit of time.
      I have followed her recipe exactly and so far (fingers crossed) have not had any issues. I will note that this recipe is a bit twitchy on humid days. I usually make sure I have the air conditioning on.

      Delete
    2. Yes, keep mixing...and maybe crank up the speed on your mixer. Sometimes it takes close to 8-10 minutes. To MaddieK's point...yes, if it's hot and humid, be sure your AC is on and windows closed. :)

      Delete
  99. I have the same measuring spoons and cups!

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  100. Hi - a friend sent me your link. I, too, make sugar cookies and have on occasion had problems with my icing. Not fun when you have an order to fulfill and you know the icing isn't going to dry. I've never tried corn syrup and I'm excited to try. Recently, I had to use royal icing from a specialty baking store and it worked great but had no sheen. Thanks for the recipe!

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  101. Once the icing is dry, can you write on it with the edible markers?

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  102. Hi there! I stumble upon your website from I Am Baker. Your cookies are stunning. I am a little confuse. Noted that you use the same icing consistency for both outlining and flooding. Is the recipe in this tutorial as suggested do that? Or how much more liquid do I add to have a single consistency for both? I am planning to bake a batch of baby shower cookies for my niece and a single piping bag for each colours sounds perfect to me. I've always done the two ways; 1 for outlining and the other for flooding. Appreciate your advise or you can always drop me an e-mail to joannatham@gmail.com.

    Thanks heaps! You really inspire me.. Cheers, Jo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No, I thin the icing for flooding. This is the recipe for both, but it does need to the thinned before filling in outlines. There is a post on it and I go over how to do it in each cookie tutorial.

      Thanks for reading!

      Delete
  103. Hi, I just checked the Williams-Sonoma web-site, and I can't seem to find their meringue powder, are you still getting it from them, or have you switched to one of your other favorites. Also, during a class on cake decorating that i took recently they suggested 1 tsp of piping get per cup or royal icing to improve the elasticity and flow when doing string work, could this help with cookie decorating as well?

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  104. Probably a stupid question BUT is the same recipe one would use when piping royal icing roses? Do I want it to be this stiff??

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  105. I wanted to pop in and thank you for sharing this recipe. The RI I was using was having some SERIOUS drying issues, so I tried using this last night for some piping practice. I woke up this morning to perfectly dried flowers and lettering - my flooding practice is a bit tacky still but I think that's due to the a/c being to high in my house.

    Many, MANY, thanks for sharing your tips, and your beautiful work!

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  106. hi Bridget. Love your website. what temperature should the water be?

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  107. I can't wait to try this new recipe. I'm having serious breakage issues with my current recipe, so I'm hoping yours will do the trick! Thanks for sharing.

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  108. I am a fb fan, but just found your blog. I am already hooked! You have so much info available, thank you, thank you, thank you! My biggest dilemma is the writing. your pointers help and can't wait to try. Did I read that right...you wait one hour before writing on your cookies after flooding? thanks again for sharing your expertise!

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  109. Great blog! Both this and UOC! Just facing a wee bit of trouble... I live in Egypt, so we don't have any meringue powder here. What's your recipe for egg white-based royal icing, if it's not too much trouble :)

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  110. I've read all your directions and I'm crossing my fingers. I made some unicorns for my nieces and wanted to give royal icing a try. I could only find the Wilton brand meringue powder, but I will order one of the others for next time. Can't wait! Thanks for such great directions.
    -Gina-

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  111. You've answered so many questions I've had in the past, but one thing that confuses me - the Ateco meringue says "just add granulated sugar and boiling water" - you use powdered sugar. I would think granulated would be, well, grainy. Thoughts?

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  112. Lissa....that sounds like the recipe for the meringue, not royal icing. :)

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  113. @bridget - hmm, you're probably right. I just noticed it said "granulated sugar" but I guess because I was in the royal icing frame of mind, I forgot that... duh, meringue powder would, of course, be used for meringues!


    Another question: How many batches of icing can you typically get from a tub of powder? I'm not sure if I should just get the 10oz or splurge on the 20oz. because I'm not sure how many 5T batches they'll make.

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  114. I have one question - what if I don't have a stand mixer or a paddle attachment? All I have is a hand held mixer - will it still work?

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  115. Hi. Ive been making sugar cookies for a long time but after reading this post, I decided to try it your way and it was awful. The outline looked terrible, the icing dried dull and matted (no shine at all), the icing sunk in and didn't lay flush with the outline and the colors bled horribly. What am I doing wrong? I Experience color bleeding quite often so that's why I decided I try your method. I followed everything to a T.

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  116. This is a question instead of comment and I hope you can answer. Everyone talks of freezing cookies for icing....can you also freeze the cookies that are already flooded with royal icing?? If so, about how long?Thanks for the help..

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  117. Hi Bridget! I had to stop by and tell you how much I love this recipe. I've been using another recipe that was good, but there was such a fine line with what worked and what didn't. This recipe turns out great every time and dries so nicely! Thanks SO much for sharing!!

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  118. This recipe was SO wonderful! My best friend and I made your almond vanilla cookies with this on top and it was perfect.
    I have always wanted to work with royal icing, but was always scared until I read your blog.
    Great pictures and instructions!

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  119. But, I do have 1 small question. Mine turned out to be a really dull, matte color. Is there anyway to preserve the shiny color that was there when I was decorating?
    Would that have to do with the clear extract (I didn't add any)?
    Any suggestions or comments would help! Thanks.

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  120. Thanks for the detailed instructions!

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  121. Thank you so much for this information. You are one talented "cookie"

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  122. I am having trouble with the butter in the cookie bleeding through and discolouring the icing, particularly strong colours like red. Any tips please?

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  123. After pouring over tutorials (including yours) for weeks, this morning I attempted my first practice batch of royal-iced cookies. (In preparation for my starwars cookies for valentines day) I *think* they turned out awesome, but I'd only had them sit for a few hours before I was off to work. I'm SO EXCITED to see how they look when I get home and in the morning! Your tutorial made me think I could actually do it! Thanks!

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  124. I've been terrified of royal icing since NONE of my attempts ever worked. Our Best Bites posted your recipe and I gave it a try not expecting it to work-but it did! I've used it twice now (for small things) and they've worked out great! Thanks for the post!!! Now if you can help me with my fear of mimes...

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  125. Do you know where I can get William Sonoma's meringue powder from? I have gone to 3 and none of them seem to have it):

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  126. thank you so much for this. I now know what I have done wrong. And note to self cream of tarter is NOT the same thing as meringe powder lol. Dont know why I thought so. I have put you in my favorites. Im so glad I found you :D

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  127. I am trying to do as much in advance as possible for my son's bday party. Do frosted and decorated cookies freeze well? Any other suggestions?

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  128. to make the icing shiny and a little less sugary you can replace the corn syrup by yellow lemon juice it tastes very good :)

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  129. Question here: what does the scant 1/2c of water mean? what is a scant and what if i dont have one? the pic didnt answer my questions. help please. i want to make this but am confused of what that is? i am new to all this stuff.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Rosie!

      Sorry if that was unclear. What is picture is showing is a measuring cup not filled quite full. It's just under the full measurement. I hope that helps! :)

      Delete
  130. I've got a question about drying. Do you dry them in the refrigerator or on the counter? If it's on the counter, is it better to be in a cool area or have the air conditioning on? Would humidity make a difference in drying? Thanks.
    Sara

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  131. It says 1/2-1 teaspoon!!! Which is it? Please help I need eye balls! Anyone feel fee to email me Kalidreamzco@gmail.com

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  132. My royal icing had a "matte" finish look --- Did I do something wrong in the mixing, I thought it would have a little sheen to it.

    Thanks!!

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  133. I love the taste of Almond and would like to flavor my royal icing with it but will the oil in the almond extract ruin the it? I have looked at all my pure extracts and Vanilla is the only one without any oils. =( You have the best recipes. Thank you for sharing your wonderful talent.

    ReplyDelete
  134. Ok, I am attempting to make my first meringue frosting. (been making my favorite sugar cookie recipe for 20 years. =0) On your other blog post (royal Icing 1010 your recipe calls for 5Tbls and this one calls for 4Tbls. Which one should I be using....4 or 5 TBLS. meringue? thanks so much for your tutorials!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Either will work, but I would go with the updated recipe here.

      Delete
  135. thanks for the info.. i made a royal icing once but i never repeated making it bec the first time i made it it didnt dry out easly..i even used the oven just to dry it.what could be wrong with what i made? pls help.tnx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sounds like your icing was thinned with a bot too much water. Be sure to check out the troubleshooting guide. :)

      http://bakeat350.blogspot.com/2013/05/cookie-decorating-troubleshooting.html

      Delete
  136. HI! I just wanted to say that I used your recipe (along with your sugar cookie recipe) this weekend for my daughter's birthday and it turned out great. It was my first time making royal icing and I was nervous especially since I was using a hand mixer but it turned out great. The consistency was perfect and the cookies dried quickly. I can't wait to make cookies for the holidays! : )

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  137. Do you write with a pastry bag and tip, or a mini squeeze bottle?

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  138. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  139. Love all your tips on cookies. Now...I just need to come there and do it with you. I can never seem to force myself to do all the steps right when I sit down to do my own.

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  140. Hi! I dont have access to meringue powder. What can I use instead?
    Thanks!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I would use a recipe that calls for egg whites instead.

      Delete
  141. thanks-what to do if no paddle attachment?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You can use a whisk attachment, just take care not to overbeat it.

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  142. Every year I go in search of the perfect sugar cookie with royal icing and I won't have to look anymore as I love your recipe for vanilla-almond sugar cookies and your royal icing. Amazing! Thanks so much!

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  143. This worked out great for me - thanks Bridget! I blogged about it here: http://hellojemma.com/journal/2012/12/17/let-them-eat-cookies-pretty-cookies

    ReplyDelete
  144. I make Italian cookies and they call for chocolate icing with anise and cocoa powder and they always look real dull when they dry. I would love to end up with a cookie that looks as good as it tastes, any suggestions on how to add the cocoa powder so the cookie is shiny?

    ReplyDelete
  145. Hi Bridget; thanks so much for all of this great information. I've been using your icing recipe for two years now. When I lived in Indiana it always worked PERFECTLY; I never had ANY issues. Since we've been living in Pennsylvania I've noticed that my outline icing, and stiff piping icing (in other words, no water added, just using it straight out of the mixer bowl) has air holes. I get them while I'm piping, and if I don't go back and touch them up with flood icing they turn into craters. What am I doing wrong?? My flood icing is still problem free. I have switched meringue powder brands (from William-sonoma to CK), do you think that's it? Maybe the weather? Help!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It sounds like your piped icing is a bit overbeaten. If it's beaten too long once it reaches a peak, it becomes dry and brittle. Try watching is really closely ad stop the mixer just as it comes to a peak. :) Hope that helps.

      Delete
    2. Thanks Bridget, I am making cookies with a group of kids Friday and will try again with less beating time. I'll let you know how it goes!

      Delete
    3. Just letting you know, I beat the icing for less time and had much fewer issues with it! Thanks for your help!

      Delete
  146. Yikes! I had no idea making royal icing was such an ordeal. I've been making it since I was a young woman (I'm now retired) and never had any serious problems with it.

    I don't think it matters whether you use meringue powder or egg whites, the cornstarch in icing sugar gives it an awful taste. Neither real lemon juice nor the best vanilla flavoring you can buy will mask that taste.

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  147. Does it matter if I used bleach or unbleached flour? And Why? :)

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  148. Can you use royal icing on chocolate dipped cookies? I'm making my version of a thin mint and want to decorate them cute for a shower. Looking for a stackable frosting for these if possible.

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  149. This is what I've learned about the piping the outline with royal icing, I add just a little piping gel to it once it is mixed and it is much less like to crumble.

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  150. Hi Bridget

    Can I just start by telling you what an inspiration you are. I think, over the years, I have read every post you've written (I'm hovering in the background here) and I hope that one day I can be half as creative as you are! Just love, love, love your site!

    Ok, question for you. I know that you advise it's ok to make royal icing in advance. I've never done that but need to do it now because I promised someone 4 dozen cookies and do not have the time (yes, I'm panicking. My question is this. Once I take it out of the fridge and bring it to room temp, do I need to stick it back on the stand mixer and bring it to a stiff peak again or am I gently mixing it back to life with a rubber spatula.

    Can you please let me know.

    Thank you again for teaching, inspiring, and helping so many of us out here in baking land

    Colleen

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Colleen. I did not have time to decorate all of my cookies in one day so I took the extra beaten icing and put it in a container. The next morning I took it out and simply stirred it up a little. I separated what I had and added color to it. I did not have any issues. I would not recommend rebeating it though as you could potentially make the icing too stiff and it would crumble.

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    2. I wish I could show you a picture of the cookies I just did. While I'm not a pro at it, I am improving, but these cookies came out better than any I have ever decorated before. I love your royal icing recipe and use it a lot. Thanks. :)

      Delete
    3. Hey Colleen! You can just stir it gently with a silicone spatula. :)

      Delete
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  156. Hi Bridget,

    Thank you for this great recipe. I have tried it a few times but the last time I tried it, once the icing dried it was a bit chalky on the cookies. When breaking the cookies the icing would break apart and normally this doesn't happen. Can you tell me what I did wrong please? Thanks so much!

    Nicole

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sounds like your icing was overbeaten. That can cause it to get dry and flaky. Be sure to check out the troubleshooting section....hope that helps! :)

      http://bakeat350.blogspot.com/2013/05/cookie-decorating-troubleshooting.html

      Delete
  157. Okay. Thank you for your reply. I appreciate it. BTW, your sugar cookie recipe is WONDERFUL!

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  165. what do i do if i dont have meringue powder?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You can use a recipe that calls for egg whites instead. :)

      Delete
  166. I'm having trouble with my royal icing. When it dries it looks grainy, porous, and not smooth. It has so many holes in it that I have to throw the cookie away. I'm using Wilton food coloring and when it's wet, it looks wonderful. What is the problem? I've made wedding shape cookies before and they turned out wonderfully. Is it the food coloring this time or what??? I'm frustrated.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I use AmeriColor gel paste colorings, but Wilton shouldn't make your icing grainy and porous. Sounds to me like it was overbeaten. Or, did you possible shake the thinned icing in the bottle? I get emails about that a lot. Check the post on troubleshooting linked at the end of this post :) Happy baking!

      Delete
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