I learned this Royal Icing from a professional! This recipe is easy and totally foolproof.
A few years ago, I took a whole class from a professional cookie decorator about how to make proper royal icing, and make beautiful cookies. It turns out, professional decorators make three different consistencies of icing for their cookies – detail, flood, and hybrid.
Detail – really thick, like a toothpaste consistency. This is used for around the edges of the cookie, and holds in the icing like walls of a hockey rink if you fill the rest of your cookie with icing. It can also be used for things like letters.
Flood – What fills the center of the cookie, if you want the whole thing covered. If you pulled a spoonful of it out of the bowl and let it drip back in off the spoon, it would take 15-20 seconds for it to all flatten in to one smooth puddle again.
Hybrid – Used for things like filling in letter outlines. It is a consistency somewhere between the thickness of detail icing, and the runniness of the flood icing. If you drizzled it off a spoon, it should take 20-25 seconds to become a flat smooth puddle again.
If you want to keep things simple, just make the hybrid icing. Bake the cookies and let them cool, then ice your cookies, and dunk the iced bits in to bowls of colourful Christmas sprinkles when the icing is wet! I like to ice little boots or toques on my gingerbread men, dunk them in red sprinkles, and then ice on little buttons, eyes and smiley faces :)
Royal Icing for Cookie Decorating
Servings: Makes 15-20 medium sized cookies
Prep time: 20 minutes
4 cups/440g icing sugar, sifted to remove clumps
3 tbsp meringue powder
¼ + ¼ cup warm water (the second ¼ cup is used later for thinning consistency)
1 tbsp clear corn syrup (optional)
2 tsp flavour of choice. I like a bit of vanilla extract, or lemon or maple extract depending on the cookie
Pinch of salt
If you want to beautifully decorate your cookies, it's really easy and only takes an additional 5 minutes to make the different types of icing, as opposed to just one. Please check out my description of the three different consistencies used for professional icing here. If you want to keep things simple, just make the hybrid icing. Bake the cookies and let them cool, then ice your cookies, and dunk the iced bits in to bowls of colourful Christmas sprinkles when the icing is wet! I like to ice little boots or toques on my gingerbread men, dunk them in red sprinkles, and then ice on little buttons, eyes and smiley faces :)
Whisk your meringue powder and ¼ cup of water until the meringue is dissolved. Then, add your icing sugar in, along with the optional corn syrup and flavouring, and salt. This will be a really thick clump at first, but keep mixing! Use your extra water to thin it ½ tsp at a time until it reaches the toothpaste consistency of detail icing. Careful with adding the water! Trust me, a little goes a long way when it comes to thinning icing, so trust me when I say just add ½ tsp at a time.
Divide your icing evenly in to three separate bowls (if you're keeping it simple, just follow the steps below for "the second bowl"). One bowl will remain just as it is, and that’s your detail icing. To the second bowl (hybrid icing, or the "If you want to keep things simple" icing), continue to add ½ tsp of water at a time, until you achieve the hybrid icing consistency, where it takes 20-25 seconds for peaks to turn back in to a smooth icing puddle again. To the third bowl, add ½ tsp of water at a time until you achieve your flood icing consistency. You’ll have to add just a bit more water than you did to your hybrid icing bowl, until it takes 10-15 seconds for any peaks to become a smooth flat icing puddle again.
Now, you can add any food colouring you want!
Transfer your three icings to three separate piping bags. You can also use sandwich sized ziplock bags if you don’t have piping bags… fill the bags, zip (or tie) them closed, and cut a TINY tip off the corner. I’m talking like 2mm. It’s easier to work with icing if you have a smaller hole in the bag, and you can always cut off more if you need to.
Icing will take 24 hours to fully harden and dry, but is completely edible before that ;) I did a little demo of making the icing, the different consistencies, and transferring them to piping bags in my Instagram stories. It will be saved in my Instagram story highlights (the little circles below my profile description) under Royal Icing, if you want to watch!
Now, you’re ready to ice cookies! If you want to freeze your icing, just squeeze it away from the tip, and put some tape over the piping bag tip. It will keep in the freezer for 6 months, or in the fridge for several weeks.