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.

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