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A Royal Treat

This month, I decided to try out royal icing cookie decorating for Valentine’s Day. While I am no expert, I learned that consistency is key—icing consistency that is. Once I figured that out, my two daughters and I let our imaginations run wild and had a blast decorating cookies.

A Royal Treat

Royal Icing

Yields 3 cups
Royal Icing

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons meringue powder
  • 4 cups sifted powdered sugar 
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Gel food coloring
  • Disposable plastic piping bags

 

Directions

Combine meringue powder, powdered sugar and water in a mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment for 2 minutes. Check consistency. For “flooding” cookies, when the icing falls off the beater into the bowl, it should disappear within 5 to 8 seconds. If it “melts” into the rest of the icing faster than that, it is too thin; add more powdered sugar, a tablespoon at a time. If it takes longer than 8 seconds to disappear completely into the rest of the icing, add additional water, 1 tablespoon at a time. To color, separate icing into individual bowls and add a drop of food coloring; mix and add additional coloring as needed (icing will darken with time; black and red will require the most food coloring). Transfer icing to piping bags. An easy way to do this is to place the piping bag down into a drinking glass. Fold the top of the bag over the edge of the glass to open the bag. Spoon the icing down in. Close the open end of the piping bag with a rubber band or a twist tie. To eliminate air bubbles in the icing, hold the bag firmly and swing in a circular motion for 15 to 20 seconds. Cut the end of the piping bag off to create a very small opening. To ice cookies, pipe an outline around the outside of the cookie and fill in the inside with additional icing until it’s fully coated. This is called “flooding” the cookie. Use a toothpick to pop any air bubbles.




Cutout Cookies

Yields 2 to 3 dozen cookies, depending on size
Cutout Cookies

Ingredients

  • 2 cups room-temperature butter
  • 8 ounces room-temperature cream cheese 
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
  • 4 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

 

Directions

Place butter and cream cheese into a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat well with a mixer, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the sugar, egg yolks and vanilla and continue mixing for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the flour and salt and mix until just combined. Transfer the dough onto a large piece of plastic wrap, shape dough into a flat disc and wrap well. Chill dough in refrigerator for at least an hour, or overnight. To cut out cookies, remove dough from refrigerator and allow to stand at room temperature for 15 minutes. Line baking sheets with parchment or silicone baking mats. Use a rolling pin to roll dough out on a floured surface to 1/4-inch thickness. Dip cookie cutters in flour and cut out shapes. Place cutouts onto the prepared baking sheets, 1 1/2 inches apart. Bake at 350°F for approximately 10 minutes, or until cookies are firm to the touch but not browned. Allow them to cool completely before icing.




Decorating Suggestions

Before the flood icing dries, use a second color to pipe dots onto the cookie. Drag a toothpick from directly above a dot through the dots to create hearts. This technique can also be used to create a heart border: Pipe evenly spaced dots around the outside of a cookie and drag a toothpick through them while slowly rotating the cookie. For a zigzag pattern, pipe evenly space parallel lines across the cookie. Drag a toothpick across the cookie, perpendicular to the lines; alternate toothpick lines, some starting at the top of the cookie, and others starting at the bottom. To pipe words on a cookie, use a slightly thicker icing; wait until the initial icing coat sets up (about 2 hours) before piping words. Once cookies are dry (at least 4 hours), store in a sealed container for 4 to 5 days. Freeze leftover royal icing in a sealed container. Re-whip before using.

*Note: Find piping bags, gel food color and meringue powder in the cake decorating section of many grocery stores, craft stores and online. If meringue powder is not available, check out the recipe for royal icing in the December edition of Oklahoma Living and thin icing to flood consistency as described above by adding water, a little at a time.