Monday, February 1, 2010

Troubleshooting . . .



OK...here it is, part 3 of our F.A.Q.'s. Let me stress that...these tips work for me, but they are not necessarily the "proper" fixes. I know there are a few cookie experts who read the blog, so I'm hoping they'll chime in with their tips in the comments. (You know who you are!)


My royal icing is staying "tacky" even after several hours and overnight...any ideas?

My experience is that this is due to flood icing that is thinned too much. When flooding cookies, if the icing runs quickly to fill the entire cookie with having to be spread with a toothpick, it's too thin. Pour your icing back into the bowl, sift in some powdered sugar and let sit again for several minutes.

Why is my royal icing pitted looking and still wet?

Same answer as above...it's happened to me before, too. I'm crying with you.

Help! My cookies dried overnight and now they have dark splotches all over them!

Yeah...you know how humidity is so lovely for your hair? It's just the same with cookies. Close the windows, run the A/C...do whatever you can to make your cookie drying area humidity-free. The good news is, the splotches will normally spread across the entire cookie to darken the icing to a consistent color.

See that horse cookie in the collage above? This is also known as "the day I almost divorced my husband." I kid, I kid! BUT, he did open the windows in the room where the cookies were drying, right after the sprinklers had run outside. Take my advice...have a heart-to-heart with hubby about humidity.

Why do my cookies have white splotches on them?

When stirring in water to flood the cookies, be sure to fully incorporate the water. Those white splotches are water. Also, if you are using a squeeze bottle, make sure it is completely dry before adding your flood icing. If a drop of water is in your bottle, it will come out on your cookie. If you notice a drop of water, grab a paper towel, blot it out and re-coat the area with icing. It will smooth out.

Why is my royal icing full of bubbles?

Two hints here...stir in the water for flooding gently with a rubber spatula, not a mixer. Two: once the water is incorporated, cover with a damp dish towel and let sit several minutes. Most of the bubbles will rise to the surface. Stir gently again and you're good to go. Any other stray bubbles can be popped with a toothpick or a pin.

I've tried royal frosting once and it hurt my hands so bad I swore never to do it again.

Try filling your icing bags only 1/2 full. I know it sounds strange, but it makes such a difference!

Why does my red or black icing taste terrible?

My guess is that you are using the food coloring brand sold in craft/grocery stores. While this company does a lot of things right....red and black food coloring are not those things. I strongly recommend AmeriColor Super Red and Super Black. You can find them here, in my Amazon shop, or in many online baking supply stores.

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. (Check the Royal Icing 102 post for more info.)

I can not write names or outline without the icing breaking.

This just takes practice...lots and lots of practice. Try getting used to your icing bag and printing on a plate or sheet of wax paper before going to your cookies. It's possible that your royal icing may be a little overbeaten. Check out the Royal Icing 102 post, too.

Why are my colors bleeding?

Well, that happens to me, too, sometimes. First, try to use AmeriColor food colorings. I had this problem a lot more when I used "the other guy's" food coloring. Second, when using a wet-on-wet technique for something like flat dots, let the base color sit for a few minutes before adding the dots. And sometimes, especially with the flat dots, it just happens. What helps me deal with it is to know that it WILL BE EATEN and there will be no evidence. People will just remember "cute cookie."


Please be sure to check out the previous two F.A.Q. installments...
  1. F.A.Q.'s
  2. Royal Icing 102, or 201, or whatever comes after 101
...I'll be updating these posts periodically with your questions.

{This post is also being linked to Works For Me Wednesday at We are THAT Family.}

31 comments:

  1. You have helped me so much thru the cookie world! thanks for all your guides!!!

    Kim
    http://frostmeblog.blogspot.com

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  2. SO why do my edible pens (even brand new) never work...on any edible surface? Have you had this problem?

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  3. Awesome tips. I learn something new from you every time I am here! Seriously.. people sometimes email me and ask me questions about this stuff, I cant tell you how many times I just give them a link to your blog!! lol (pretty sad huh!) You are THE expert! THE BEST!! THanks for all you do and all you share!

    Blessings-
    Amanda

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  4. Excellent info for someone like me - trying to get it right! Thanks,
    Susan

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  5. As always, so helpful! Thanks, Bridget!

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  6. Those are bang on - awesome, AWESOME tips! I agree with all of them and you've covered so many important points.

    A few more ideas might be;
    -for bubbles in the icing, after you've piped your cookie and popped bubbles with a pin, you can also lift the cookie and gently drop it on your work surface to try and pop bubbles you haven't noticed. (Can I say bubbles one more time?)

    -if your hand is hurting from squeezing the piping bag your icing might also be too thick

    -if you can't write names or outline without the icing breaking you might be stretching the icing too far and pulling it while you're piping. Try piping by starting near the cookie, then slowly lifting the tip (piping bag or squeeze bottle), away from the cookie at least an inch, and just let the icing FALL into place while you guide it.
    It's a bit hard to explain but I have a pic of it here:

    http://www.sweetopia.net/2009/09/how-to-decorate-cookies-with-royal-icing-top-10-tips/

    By the way Bridget, I think the horse looks great with the splotches in this case... it looks natural! ;-)

    Thanks for the great post!!

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  7. Marian!!! You are awesome!!! Thank you for adding your brilliant tips!

    And, it's so funny...my kiddo said (about the horse)...now it looks like a Palomino! ;)

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  8. I laughed at the collage at the top of this post...it was so funny and cute!!

    As always, great tips! You are the icing master! :)

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  9. As always, you hit the spot with this post... have you considered writing a book on COOKIES?... check out Cake Journal, she did a great e-book... and I LOVE your son!! He is so clever AND fun... my kind of people :D

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  10. Thanks for all your great tips. I can't wait to try out your recipes and tips. Thanks for sharing. Love & blessings from NC!

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  11. I am loving these FAQs. I haven't been brave enough to try royal icing/flooding cookies, but I will some day. :)

    I hear you made shoe cookies for my friend Crystal's daughter's 2nd birthday party. She is one of my good friends and was my roommate in college. Small world, huh?

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  12. Thanks so much for this entire series of posts :) And I must say, the horse looks amazing.. I was just about to ask you how you did that, and I realised you made a mistake!

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  13. Great tips Bridget! I have also encountered the breaking icing, and you're right about the over-whipping it. Also, I have found that if the icing is too thick it also breaks easier. Add a few drops of water to it and it makes it flow a little easier.
    Also the edible markers question-DO NOT BUY WILTON! Like Bridget said...they do a lot of things right, but this is also not one of them. I use Gourmet Writers by Americolor. They are a touch more expensive but so worth it, you will never have those problems again.

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  14. Now, this is really good information.

    I have often struggled with Royal icing and these are great tips.

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  15. GREAT tips! Thanks for posting these! You were such a big help the first time I tried royal icing!!

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  16. Im an avid cookie lover myself and all ur posts are super....jus worked with the icing bags today and i sure do kow what u mean by loads of practice.....

    LOVE IS IN D AIR WITH ALL THE ROMANCE AND WISH U LOADS OF IT @365

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  17. Bridget Bridget Bridget...my sweet friend whose name I can never ever say just once!!
    Biggest question of all...
    WHY isn't your BAKE @ 350 adorable Cookie Book in my kitchen!
    Would you please just tell me so I will HUSH already!!!!!
    I mean you do know that this blonde airy head can't retain all of this OH SO CRUCIAL info after reading!
    You do not want to know what I made on my ACT test...twice!!
    And of course I can't run turn on my computer when I'm in the baking...decorating cookie mood! What's a girl to do?
    All of these TIPS are exactly what I need in my efforts to perfect these delicasies! Oh what a delicase an iced sugar cookie is! I am rolling laughing about your hubby and the humidity!
    I had NO idea I had to pamper those iced sugar cookies like I do my hair when I'm headed out somewhere and want it to look good...and there is 100%+ humidity outside! I mean I have been known to drive somewhere in the dead of bitter cold winter with the airco on LOW and blowing at full force just to keep this hair looking descent!!!
    Oh I just adore you Bridget!
    Can't wait til your famous!
    And Greg keeps asking me...
    now when is Bridget going to NYC?
    It's a BIG deal in our house!;)
    XXOOXX

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  18. Of course I just realized I misspelled delicasy!!!
    Like I said...you do not want to know what this blonde made on her A.C.T!!!
    Oh... I need to email you a thought I had about adding the cornsyrup to the icing recipe.
    Need to see if I have your email address!
    XOOXX

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  19. Wow!! Thank you. This is very helpful - you have a generous spirit! I think I have some worse looking cookie-failures but they jumped down the disposal in disgrace before anyone could take a picture!!

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  20. You are SO awesome for doing these helpful posts!! I'm going to print all three and stick behind my royal icing and cookie recipes!!

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  21. Thank you so much for this. You've answered so many questions!

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  22. great tips! I learn so much about cookies from you and cant wait to get better with practice and your tips!!

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  23. Thanks, these and your other tips posts are very helpful!
    ~ingrid

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  24. Thanks! I am going to print your tips and put them in with my recipes!
    ~Nancy

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  25. Hi! Thanks for all these great posts on icing, they are so helpful!

    I have a quick question for Bridget or any of the experts out there. When I do my outlines/lettering, I can never get the ends to just... end - instead I end up having to stick the tip in to cut it off, leaving me with kind of a smooshed ball, or as I try to cut it off, it pulls up into a peak at the end of the line. Does anyone know what I am talking about, and have any suggestions? Thanks in advance!!

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  26. Finding your website has been like the best thing ever!

    As an aside - I made some royal icing (from the Cookie Craft book) and it would not dry/harden. I thought it was because I beat it too long - but your recipe looks like you beat it just as long?!

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  27. good one! i just made tons of different emo backgrounds for my blog
    http://www.emo-backgrounds.info

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  28. Bridget... I had a question on storing the cookie dough. How long can I store it in the fridge?

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    Replies
    1. Anu...I would store it in the fridge for only a couple of days. Any longer and I'd go ahead and freeze it. :)

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  29. Bridget, Can you suggest a frosting(for cupcakes) that isn't runny? Every time I make a recipe or use a can frosting, it turns out runny. Thanks!

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