12 Nov How to Decorate Cookies using Royal Icing
If you are hosting a party and want to give fun party favors to your guests, decorated cookies are the perfect confection for the job.
Highly customizable, you can make cookies in all shapes, sizes, flavours and colours. They can also serve several functions: make holes in the tops before baking, and your cookies can now be ornaments or name tags. You could also use decorated cookies as place setting cards. All you really need to know is how to make Royal Icing.
Royal Icing is made by whipping egg whites and confectioners sugar until it becomes a thick paste-like mixture.
The most important thing to remember when working with Royal Icing is that it dries out almost immediately when exposed to air, so when you make a large batch, be sure to cover your bowl with saran wrap, or immediately transfer to an airtight container.
If you ever make a mistake when the icing is in its thick form, fear not, you can always just wait for it to dry, and simply scrape it off later.
To make from scratch, a standard recipe for this Royal Icing is 3 egg whites ( approximately 3 ounces) , and 1 lb icing sugar. You can also buy pre-made mixtures from Wilton, available at Bulk Barn, Walmart, Michaels and all cake decorating stores.
Here we go!
As with any egg white based confection, to make Royal Icing, you must first whip your egg whites on high until they become foamy. This will take a minute or two.
Once foamy, you can begin to add your confectioners sugar in batches ( don’t worry about sifting it; it all gets whipped smooth).
Switch your speed to low, and add your first batch of sugar. Mix just until the sugar is incorporated. Then repeat for the second and third batch.
When all your sugar has been added, turn the speed up to medium and mix for a few minutes until the sugar is very well incorporated. You will notice the icing will begin to get shiny and thick. Also at this stage, add a drop or two of lemon juice. This helps the icing to retain its white colour.
Once this stage has been achieved, now you can really whip the heck out of it. Turn your mixer on high and take a good 5 minute break because it’s going to take a few minutes for your icing to be ready.
You will know the icing is ready when you see it keep it’s form after a pass of the paddle. This is referred to as stiff peaks ( like in meringue). If you are using your icing right away, simply cover the bowl with saran wrap and use what you need as you need it. If you are making the icing ahead of time, transfer to a tupperware and store in the fridge.
You can make your Royal Icing a day or two in advance. In fact, you should start your entire cookie making/ decorating process a few days before you actually need them. I would advise applying at least a two day schedule: Day 1: Make and bake your cookies, then cover in plastic wrap; Day 2: Make your Royal Icing and decorate your cookies. They will have to dry for a few hours so it is best to have your cookies ready the day before your party or in the very least the morning of. If you do chose you make your icing the day before decorating, you may have to re-whip it to re-attain the stiff peaks.
Once your cookies are baked and cooled, you’re ready to decorate.
Step 1- Make your borders.
Before covering the entire cookie surface with icing, you first have to make a thicker icing border to keep the thinner icing from dripping all over the place.
For this, I use a No 4 piping tip from Wilton.
It’s important to have a steady fluid motion when piping your boarders; Since the icing dries extremely quickly, if you break your line, you will end up will little peaks at the breaking points. Not an unforgivable mistake, but it’s just nicer to have a smooth border.
Step 2: Thinning your icing.
In order to fill your cookie, you must thin out your icing. This is done by just adding a few drops of water to it. The final consistency should be like runny paint. If you are doing several colours, go colour by colour, first doing the border, then thinning out and flooding.
Step 3: Flooding.
The term flooding means to fill in the space within piped borders with thinned out Royal Icing.
You don’t need any fancy equipment to get your thinned icing from bowl to cookie; just a spoon is enough, though you may want to use a small offset spatula to move it about.
During the flooding process is when you can make nifty designs in your icing, for example: you could do your base flooding colour, then add dots of a second colour, then by running a toothpick through the dot you can make a heart. You could also swirl your second colour to create a marbled effect.
The flooded cookies need to dry completely dry so let them sit uncovered for a few hours.
Once dry, you can keep them covered in plastic or in a tupperware.
Whether for eating or using as decoration or as gifts, flooded cookies are fun to make, and can be a great activity to share with your kids. You don’t need any fancy expensive equipment; just your imagination, some eggs, sugar and a little dash of colour. And your guests will really appreciate it.
I hope you try them out.