Tag: Royal Icing

St. Patrick’s Day Cookies with Royal Icing Transfers

St. Patrick's Day St. Patrick’s Day Celebration!

Do you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day? Our family usually does and this year is no exception. I usually make the corned beef and cabbage but this year I’m bowing out for the meat and stepping in for the cookies… and the Irish soda bread which I’m buying from the store (Shhh! Don’t tell!)

I’ve never done St. Patrick’s Day cookies and was pretty excited at all the possibilities of green, rainbows, and pots of gold. The only problem is that I have a baby shower I’m making cookies for this week as well and really didn’t have a lot of time to put into these. I’m using these as a learning experience 🙂 (more…)

Royal Icing Problem Solving (and my recipe!)

Royal Icing

Royal Icing Problem Solving

Royal icing is what gives the WOW factor to decorated cookies. It gives depth, dimension, and color, and can transform a plain sugar cookie into a work of art. Royal icing is also one of the most tricky things to get right in the beginning.

There are so many different recipes out there that give vague terms and amounts that are open to your own interpretation. If you are making a recipe for the first time, like royal icing, how do you know when enough water has been added? When is it over mixed? Does it need to be mixed? When I try to make a recipe, I want to know exactly what to do to replicate what’s in the picture. That’s what we’ll tackle today, making a great royal icing the first time!

Royal icing consistency is a whole other blog post, so I won’t be going over that here. I will be adding my own recipe and instructions at the bottom of the post.

 

royal icing

What is Royal Icing?

Royal icing is an icing that gets hard as it dries. Its used in decorating cakes, cookies, and other confections.

Here are the basic ingredients that all Royal icing recipes include:

  • Confectioners Sugar
  • Meringue Powder or egg whites
  • Flavoring/Extract
  • Water

The ingredients all serve a different purpose in the recipe:

  • Confectioners sugar ( or powdered sugar) is the base of the recipe. It’s what gives the icing its sweetness and body.
  • Meringue powder or egg whites cause the icing to harden.
  • The extract gives the icing its flavor. You can use any flavor to change up your recipes, although vanilla is the most commonly used flavor.
  • Water combines all the ingredients together.
  • Food grade vegetable glycerin or corn syrup is also added to some recipes to keep the icing from getting too hard as it dries.

The recipe is a balancing act of ratios. Most recipes call for a 2 lb. bag of powdered sugar to 5-6 Tbsp. of meringue powder. Two to Three Tbsp. of extract is used for 2 lbs of sugar, and if you are using corn syrup or glycerin, it’s usually 1 Tbsp. per 1 lbs of sugar. I like to add 2 tbsp. per batch.

stiff royal icing

How to Mix:

There are several different ways you can mix up the icing.

  • Sift the sugar and meringue powder together, then add wet ingredients and mix
  • Combine the meringue powder and water until powder is dissolved, then add to the sugar and mix
  • Add the extract to the water, then in the mixing bowl, mix the sugar and meringue powder together, then combine them slowly together and mix.

I’ve tried all of them and I prefer to mix the meringue powder and water together until the meringue powder is dissolved. I don’t sift the powdered sugar because it dissolves so quickly in the water I’ve never had a problem with it being lumpy. Then I add the water mixture to the sugar, add the extract, and right before I turn up the mixer I add my corn syrup.

 Common Problems:

There is nothing more frustrating than making a recipe, messing it up, and not being able to figure out what went wrong. Here are some common royal icing problems and how to fix them.

Icing won’t harden

The easiest solution for this would be not enough meringue powder and there’s not much you can do about it at that point. The ratio of sugar to meringue powder has to stay in that 1 lb. to 3 Tbsp. range.

Icing didn’t become “stiff”

Stiff icing is a must for certain types of decorating techniques, and most recipes will give you an end result of stiff icing. It’s a lot easier to thin it out than to go the other way. I had this problem multiple times, and I was under mixing my icing.  The meringue powder has to be mixed on medium speed for about 4-5 minutes to get that stiff texture. When I was first making RI I was thinking it had to be like a glaze, where you just mix the liquid and sugar and it’s done. Royal icing has to be mixed for it to get stiff.  

Icing crumbled after it dried

This could be a result of over mixing. If you mix for more than 5 minutes your icing will probably be crumbly and fall off the cookie after it dries. Again, not a lot to be done at this point.

Air bubbles

This is a really common problem that all decorators deal with. It’s so frustrating to decorate a beautiful cookie and see an air bubble rising to the surface! The best way to deal with this is before it’s even put in the piping bag or bottle. Let the icing sit for a while, tap the container on a solid surface to bring those bubbles up, then pop them. I use a spatula to wipe the surface and pop as many as I can without creating more.

Icing too thin

If you started out with thick icing and thinned it too much for flooding, this is a pretty easy fix. The easiest way is to add more stiff icing. If your whole batch is too thin, you can add some powdered sugar but you have to be careful of your ratios. If you just add sugar your icing won’t harden. A good thing to keep on hand is a small bag of sugar/meringue powder mix. You can do 1/2 lb. of sugar with 1 1/2 tbsp. meringue powder. You can add this to thinned icing and not worry about your ratios being off.

The Simple Cookie’s Royal Icing Recipe

royal icing

Ingredients

  1. 2 lbs powdered sugar
  2. 6 tbsp. meringue powder
  3. 2-3 tsp vanilla extract
  4. 3/4 cup warm water
  5. 2 Tbsp corn syrup

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, combine the meringue powder and water. Wisk until combined.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, add the powdered sugar and water/meringue powder mixture.
  3. Turn mixer on low and combine.
  4. Add extract and combine until ingredients come together.
  5. While the mixer is still mixing on low, add the corn syrup.
  6. Turn mixer on medium and mix for 4-5 minutes. The icing will form stiff peaks when mixed enough. Do not mix for more than 5 minutes.

A few tips…

This royal icing recipe is easy to make! I’ve tried to take the guess work out of it for you.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with flavors and extracts, the sky is the limit!

This royal icing recipe will keep for about 3 weeks in the fridge. Place plastic wrap on the icing, pressing down to get out all the air bubbles, then cover with an air tight lid. This keeps the icing from drying out and crusting over.royal icing

Stir the royal icing after it has been stored, it will separate but is still good to use.

Let the royal icing come to room temperature before using or coloring.

I recommend Americolor food gel paste for coloring royal icing. You can find that here.

 

Will you try it?

I really hope I’ve inspired you to try this recipe! I’m a firm believer that you don’t have to own a bakery or have an art degree to create beautiful cookies.

Thanks for reading and I would love to know if you tried my recipe!

Leah

Valentine’s Cookie Pictures: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Valentine's Day Cookie Pictures

Valentine's Day Cookie Pictures

I finally finished and photographed my cookies I made and I’m ok with how they turned out. Royal icing can be tricky to get right and as a beginner, I’m still working on it. This batch was too thin for some of the things I wanted to do but it was great for flooding and wet on wet technique. I’ll be doing an upcoming blog post on Royal Icing and letting you know all my mistakes so hopefully you won’t make them too!
Back to the cookies!

So here is the good, the bad, and the ugly! That’s how we learn, right? If I don’t want to post ugly cookies on the blog then I’ll have to improve, or that’s my theory anyway. My goal was to have a plan for the cookies I was going to decorate, and of course that didn’t happen exactly how I thought it would. I also wanted to stick with 3 main colors. Again, didn’t quite stick with that. Does white count as a color? I don’t think it does, so I’ll say I only went over by 2 or 3. I worked with pinks, red, green, and white. My main goal was to make several identical cookies for photographing – NAILED IT! My good cookies had at least 3 of each, some more. I kept working on it until I got it right… or ran out of cookies.

The Good:

My new technique I worked on this time was wet on wet roses. I really love how they look painted on the cookie, very feminine and delicate. I think these were my favorite cookies out of the batch this time around. When I made these cookies I was a little disappointed how the actual cookies baked. It’s a large heart cutter with a smaller heart to cut out the center.valentine's day cookies When they baked the center heart lost a little of its shape. If you look closely at them the outlines aren’t so great and my flooding could use work. More cookie goals!

Valentine's Day Cookie pictures

 

 

The small hearts received roses also and some wet on wet patterns. Those were some of my favorites.

 

Valentine's Day cookie pictures                                                                                              How could I forget kissy cookies for Valentine’s Day! I love doing these and  I’m still working on getting them to look just right. I liked the pink, but do prefer red for the lips.

 

 

Valentine's Day Cookie PicturesValentine's Day Cookie PicturesLOVE these arrows! They are very simple and I didn’t flood them like the rest, but I’m happy with how they turned out. It took me several tries to figure out exactly what I wanted on these. Remember I said I was going to show the good, the bad, and the ugly? Well, prepare for the bad and ugly part!

Valentine's Day Cookie Pictures
Sad Arrow Attempts 🙁

The Bad and The Ugly:

Yes, here are the very ugly and sad arrow cookies. I’m sad it took me that many tries to figure out what I wanted! They still taste great of course, just ugly. You have to close your eyes when you eat them 🙂

Valentine's Day Cookie Pictures
Sad Brush Embroidery 🙁

 

 

 

 

Here is another mishap for this batch. I talked about brush embroidery in the quick post from yesterday. I was planning on doing several cookies in this style but because my royal icing didn’t turn out, my brush embroidery didn’t turn out. You need stiff icing for it and mine was just too runny. Oh well, there’s always next batch.

Ok, One more good one…

Valentine's Day Cookie PicturesOn a brighter note, I tried some filigree and liked it. I really enjoy the flowing lines and curves of filigree and it’s another goal of mine to become proficient at this. For these, I looked at a stencil as I decorated. Eventually I would like to be doing this freehand but I’m not holding my breath on that one.

 

 

 

Things I learned from these cookies:

  1. Plan ahead! I knew I needed a plan of how I wanted to decorate the cookies and didn’t make one.
  2. Follow the recipe for Royal Icing exactly! Usually my icing is ok, this time it was not and I know what I did wrong. I added my water all at once instead of a little at a time like I was supposed to.
  3. Don’t get discouraged if something doesn’t turn out the first time. Keep trying to get better!

 

Any big plans to make Valentine’s Day cookies? I’ve got a couple of orders and I’ll not only be making a plan on how to decorate them but actually using it!

Valentine’s Day Cookies: Take 2! Check out what I’m learning this week…

Valentine’s Day Cookies: Take 2!

I love the look of Valentine’s Day cookies with hearts and red, pink, and white. It’s probably the #2 holiday for decorated cookies, right after Christmas (of course!). I’ve been checking out Pinterest for some non-traditional colors for cookies and I found some beautifully decorated cookies in black and grey, blues, and teals. They are all stunning. Cookie goals!

I’ve decided to try to keep my cookies to 3 main colors. After all, I am The Simple Cookie! I love simplicity and see beauty in clean lines. My first batch of cookies for Valentine’s Day were red, pink, and white with some black accents. I really liked how most of them came out and tried out some new techniques. I’m always so hard on myself when it comes to how my cookies turn out, especially when I’m trying something I haven’t done before. I want it to be perfect the first time! Anyone else like me? I may have to do it a few times to get it right but there is usually some improvement by the end of the batch.

Brush embroidery was the new technique for the first batch and I really enjoyed the end result after a few tries. I’ve seen a lot of cookies decorated with this style and it’s so pretty. It’s something I want to continue to work on and improve. I received the brush set I used for Christmas from my Hubby, the Wilton set made specifically for decorating. I was really happy with them and excited to use them again! You can find them here.

Valentine's Day Cookies
Part of my first batch of Valentine’s Cookies.

For the new batch, the goal is to make at least 3 identically decorated cookies for photographing. When I decorate, I usually never make the same identical cookie. I get so excited about the potential of the next cookie I don’t want to do the same one twice. I also want to try all the cool things I’ve seen other bloggers do and end up jumping from one thing to the next. This time the plan is to actually make a plan and figure out what colors and icing consistencies to make before I start. Then I’m going to stick to my plan! I’m sure there will be a few extras I can experiment with at the end.

I’ll be posting pictures of the fruits of my labor tomorrow so come back and see how I did!