Royal Icing

Royal icing is a white, hard icing that can be used to decorate candies, cookies, cakes, and glue gingerbread houses and pastillage products. Royal icing dries into a very stiff consistency making it not the ideal texture to have a cake frosted with. Reserved it to make the small decorative touches and flowers on cakes if needed. For cookies and candies decorations, it is another story,..... it is the best frosting for these treats!

Royal Icing I (Version II at the bottom)

This icing has the appearance like merengue, but it is thicker. Once it's ready you can add some drops of color. I use soft gel paste food colors. The steps to make this icing are few and easy, but I decided to include more information to cover some important points and hopefully answer any question you may have.

Ingredients to make the traditional royal icing :
3 egg whites, at room temperature
3 ½ - 4 cups (1 lb) softed powdered sugar/ confectioner's sugar (450 -520g)
½ teaspoon cream of tartar (optional)
1 teaspoon of lemon juice or vanilla
food coloring (optional)

1. Egg whites should be at room temperature.

2. In a stand mixer, using the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until foamy ( about 1 minute).  Add powdered sugar and lemon juice or extract, beat on low speed until combined. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Restart the mixer on medium- high speed until you get a very thick, shiny and strong peaked white icing. This should take about 7-10 minutes. I leave mine for 10 minutes. You can use a hand mixer if you desire, but it will take longer for the icing to reach the right consistency. If you are working in humid or rainy weather you'll need more sugar (see note b).

3. Check the texture to ensure that it is suitable for your needs. If you require a stiffer icing, add a little more powdered sugar at this point.

4. If you want to dye your icing just one color, you can add a few drops of food coloring into the bowl and mix it for a few seconds until the coloring is evenly distributed. If you want to make several different colors, divide the icing into several different bowls and stir in the food coloring by hand.

a) All the utensils and mixing bowl must be completely free of grease.
b) After you measure four cups of sugar, you should sift before mixing it with the egg whites. On humid or rainy days yo may need 1-2 more cups of sugar for your icing to get it to dry in a reasonable time (see note e).
c) Maintain the icing covered with a damp cloth at all time to prevent it from crusting and drying.
d) Royal dries to a tough consistency and it will begin to dry as soon it is done. To avoid it harden before using it, you should cover with a damp cloth or closed container so that it is not dry. If you're using a pastry bag you should cover the tip with a wet towel when not in use, to prevent icing from drying in the tip.
e) Drying time varies depending on the temperature, humidity and the amount of glaze used. It must harden within 15-60 minutes after application, but as I said, moisture influences greatly in drying  time and it may require a full day to completely dry. In humid or rainy days you need to add more sugar to the icing to help it dry quicker. Products decorated with royal icing should not be refrigerated because condensation and cool temperature will cause the icing to get soft and sticky. Store decorations and decorated dry cookies in a dry area and in a covered container.

Clear eggs whites with cream of tartar, beat until this until soft peaks, add icing sugar and beat until a  strong and glossy peaks are formed.

For decorated cookies


-To decorate Sugar Cookies, you can put any extract you wish to match cookie dough.

-Place in decorating pastry bag with a no.2 tip and outline the cookie. Let dry and then add a few drops of water to make icing more fluid and fill the cookies. Let dry several hours, time depends on the climate and temperature. Once dried, you can prepare more icing to give the finishing touches if needed.

 - The consistency that best works for me to outline and flood cookies is just adding enough water to just make the icing a little bit more thinner, it should look like white glue. To know if the consistency is right: using a spoon drop the icing by drops into a bowl of thinned icing and count 8-10 seconds before it disappears into the remaining icing in the bowl. An 8, 9 and 10 are all good, it depends on you and what works best for you.

Find the sugar cookie recipe to make decorated cookies, HERE.

Royal Icing II Made with meringue powder

3 tablespoons meringue powder
1 lb. (4 cups) powdered sugar (confectioner's sugar)
5 tablespoons lukewarm (mildly warm / tepid) water

Preparation: Beat all ingredients until the cream is strong peaks (7-10 minutes). 

Yields 3 cups.

All utensils and the mixing bowl must be completely free of any grease. The mixture should be kept covered with a damp cloth to prevent icing from drying. Same rules apply in notes for recipe I.


How long does royal icing last? How to store or keep royal icing? I recommend using it fresh each time that you can, because it has better taste and texture. But if you have left over or you need to finish the job of decorating the next day, follow these recommendations: the recipe of royal icing I made with egg whites could be kept in the refrigerator in an airtight container for two days and no more. Royal Icing made with meringue powder can be store for a week and perhaps two at room temperature in an airtight container.


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