Thursday, July 18, 2013

Perfect Royal Icing

In order for anyone to ice picture-perfect cookies, one needs to have a reliable recipe for royal icing that gives great results.  I’ve tried several recipes from the back of meringue powder containers and some from trusted sources, but I always end up a bit disappointed with them.  For me, it’s the flavoring or lack thereof.  For some reason plain royal icing has never had a pleasant flavor to me (think soap), so I always end up using lemon juice in the mix to make it palatable.  I’ve shown you before, when I created my niece's Heart Cookies, and have mentioned that I feel it’s essential to add lemon juice for extra special royal icing.  

Leave it to my good friend Janet, to come up with a marvelous recipe for lemony royal icing that is wonderful to work with and easy to mix together.  After discussing the whys & hows of royal icing with her, and exchanging what we like & dislike about it, she said to me that she would come up with a tasty version to complement a wonderful cookie.  I left her to it knowing full well that her method would be exacting and that her recipe would be as simple as possible.  As someone who’s been baking for a long time and has gone through batch after batch or royal icing, I can undoubtedly say that I agree with her recipe and method 100%.

What I love about Janet’s particular post is that she is thorough with descriptions and tips for us.  It’s something I do here on Good Things by David, because I don’t like to assume that everyone knows everything I’m talking about.  Going through a step, a recipe or an idea in a thorough fashion and as succinctly as possible is key.  

Bakers and cookie decorators, take note.

Perfect Royal Icing by Janet.    

Royal Icing Ingredients

  • 8 cups {785 g.} sifted confectioners’ sugar
  • 7 tablespoons {60 g.} meringue powder
  • 9 tablespoons {135 ml.} hot water
  • 3 tablespoons {45 ml.} freshly squeezed, strained lemon juice

Yield: approximately 1 1/4 quarts or 5 cups royal icing.  Enough for two dozen 5” cookies.

  1. Make sure to sift plenty of confectioners’ sugar into a large bowl using a fine mesh sieve.  Dip a measuring cup and sweep off the excess, measuring 8 cups confectioners’ sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer.  Add the meringue powder and whisk to combine thoroughly.

  2. Add the hot water & lemon juice to the bowl and attach it to the stand mixer, along with the paddle attachment.
  3. Start mixing the icing on low speed until it begins to come together.  Slowly increase the speed to medium and beat for approximately 4-5 minutes, no longer.  Set a timer to keep track.  Stop and scrape down the bowl and paddle at least once during this process to mix evenly.
  4. The royal icing is done when it has thickened and taken on a shiny quality.  It’s important not to over beat the icing as it can break down and get brittle.  
  5. Royal icing can now be transferred to small bowls to be tinted with food coloring.  Work quickly and get it into a pastry bag or bottle applicator so that it doesn’t dry out.
  6. If you’re storing the icing, remove it from the mixer bowl and place it into a grease-free plastic container, or a stainless steel or glass bowl; tap the bowl on the counter to remove any air bubbles.  Place a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the icing to prevent it from drying out.  Cover the entire top of the bowl or container with another piece of plastic wrap so that it’s airtight.
  7. Royal icing can also be kept for up to 2 days stored in the refrigerator.  Janet doesn’t find it necessary to bring it to room temperature before decorating, but do stir it well before proceeding.
Take a look at these gorgeous cookies that were iced by Janet a few days ago.  She used her Perfect Royal Icing and my Heirloom Sugar Cookies.

Janet loves to use a squeeze bottle with a plain icing tip to pipe her royal icing.  She tells me there is more control this way.  One needs only a single hand to decorate in this manner.

Her "Ooodles of Poodles"!  Don't you just love these cutie pies?  Using her collectible cookie cutters from Martha by Mail, Janet made a whole batch of doggie cookies for a dear friend.

Cookies by Janet.  


Amy at love made my home said...

Hi David

I have already left a comment for Janet on how wonderful her cookies are, but I wanted to tell you how great your step by step pictures are and how clear it makes the instructions!

Keep up the "good" work.

David P. said...

Thank You SO much Amy! I try to be as clear as possible when explaining things, so I'm glad you recognize it. Yes, Janet's cookies are marvelous, aren't they?


Kenn said...

This post has perfect timing! I have to decorate 1.5 dozen "fish" cookies tonight.. Thanks for the great step-by-step. With previous royal icing creations, I never beat the icing for 4-5 minutes.. could have been an issue! Thanks so much, David (and Janet!)

Anonymous said...

Hi David, I just made a batch of you Sugar Cookie recipe...and I have to say it is so good. I love the fact that it is easy to work with, keeps it shape and tastes so sinful. Jan N

David P. said...

Anonymous, I'm SO THRILLED that you had success with that sugar cookie recipe! It's a keeper for sure!

Enjoy creating tasty & beautiful cookies!

David P. said...

Kenn, PLEASE, pretty please send me images of your finished cookies so that I can do a post with them.

Have fun decorating your little treats & have a great weekend!

Jayne said...

The cookies are just beautiful and I'm sure they taste amazing! I'm going to give this a try, thanks for the wonderful and detailed tutorial :)

David P. said...

Jayne, although I didn't try Janet's cookies from the pictures, I KNOW for a fact that they're delicious.

I hope you have fun making this icing and decoraring cookies!!


Anonymous said...

Can this recipe use on cakes too?

David P. said...

Technically, royal icing is not meant to be used on cakes, as it dries to a hard, candy-like shell. However, the icing can be used to make filigree lace patterns on wedding cakes that are either covered in fondant or buttercreams.

For cookies, it's a completely different matter. Gingerbread cookies wouldn't be complete without some during the holidays!


Anonymous said...

I admire a well written and descripted recipe. Decorating halloween and thanksgiving cookies in the next few days and cannot wait to try this royal icing.
Thank you much

David P. said...

Have fun creating your Halloween cookies!!

I'm making some sugar cookies this weekend decorated with this icing.

cdziuba said...

Just adore your blog and the user-friendly step by step instructions.

David P. said...

You're very welcome! I try to be thorough with my instructions. :)