Royal Icing 101

December 10, 2012


How to make Royal Icing - Leslie Anne Tarabella

I know my weaknesses.  (I’ll not bore you.)

And I know my strengths. (Have a seat.)

One of my shining accomplishments is that I make a perfect Royal Icing.  I’m the Walter White of Royal Icing.  Chemistry class at its finest.

Not too thin, not too chunky.  Smooth, beautiful, sugary perfection.  Just today, I finished using four pounds of confectioner’s sugar, so I know what I’m talking about.

How to make Royal Icing - Leslie Anne Tarabella
Stiff peaks have to form before it’s ready – but just before you put Royal Icing on a cookie,
thin it out with a few drops of water. If you are using it for a gingerbread house, 

keep it nice and thick, and don’t add extra water.

All this being said, if it’s humid outside . . . forget it.  Royal Icing and big pretty hairstyles are both at the mercy of Southern weather. If there is even the hint of rain, take my advice and go buy your cookies at the Piggly Wiggly Bakery.

I’ve been baking cookies with my Mom since I was little, and can remember her making Royal Icing with egg whites. It was much trickier then, because each egg was a slightly different size.

How to make Royal Icing - Leslie Anne Tarabella
Don’t call the police!  This is what the icing should look like when
you dip your knife in – not too runny, but just drizzly. I guess I should have demonstrated with blue.

Then, along came meringue powder which made it so much easier. The trick is to get just the right amount of water in the icing, then whip the heck out of it.  I mean, put it in your mixer, turn it on and walk off and leave it going. Touch up your lipstick, straighten your apron, and then it’s ready.

How to make Royal Icing - Leslie Anne Tarabella
One of the best inventions ever in the history of kitchens.

You can always add more powdered sugar or water to even out the thickness.

Good Royal Icing will hold real bricks to a house and survive a hurricane, much less a measly old gingerbread house.  The stuff has to be scraped off the counter with a chisel if you let it dry.  It’s that strong.

But on a homemade cookie . . . it’s the ultimate sweet touch.

Here’s the official recipe from Wilton.

3 Tablespoons Meringue Powder
4 cups (1 pound) of confectioners sugar
6 Tablespoons of warm water

Beat all ingredients until the icing forms peaks (7-10 minutes) on high speed with an electric mixer.  I use Wilton paste colorings.

My tip: practice, practice, practice.

And remember, gloppy or runny icing tastes just as good as the pretty stuff, so mistakes are fun to eat.

  • […] – gobble!” To read my previous story on how to make the perfect Royal Icing, click here.  Baking cookies for these fine blogs: Coastal Charm, The Dedicated House, Cozy Little House, Cedar […]

  • Lisa Freeman says:

    I think you need to give lessons!!!

    • Just do it 10 million times and you’ll get the hang of it! I’ve made icing like this since I had to stand at the counter in a chair with my great grandmother!

  • I should give it a try. However, I’ve never seen meringue powder. What’s confectioner’s sugar? How can I substitute if all I can get is Kristallzucker und Puderzucker? I’m glad I have an electrical mixer (Kenwood) 😉
    As you said, practice, practice, practice.

  • I don’t think I’ve ever attempted royal icing. If I notice a brick loose on my house though, I’m not calling a mason…I’m making your recipe. 😉 Seriously, I’ve never had the nerve to attempt a gingerbread house from scratch. I keep seeing the kits and have been very tempted, but always come to my senses before it lands in my shopping basket. 🙂 Thanks for the tips on the meringue powder!

  • I just love reading your blogs. This one especially made me laugh, you’re a Wordsmith Extraordinare. I used to bake everything from gingerbread men to cakes that took an entire day…now I just collect recipes. Your Royal Icing will go into my one-day-soon To-Do folder!

  • I have never heard of meringue powder before! You are right about Royal Icing. A gingerbread house made with that will never die.

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