How to Make Royal Icing
Before we get started on making royal icing let’s talk about what it is and how you can use it in your baking.
Royal icing is a white icing used on decorated sugar cookies. This icing dries to a firm and glossy finish and can be embellished with sprinkles, piping techniques, painted effects and more.
Once you become comfortable working with it you will have fun making decorative cookies for your loved ones; you can even use it on your cakes, muffins, candies and more.
You don’t have to be a pastry chef, cake artist or cookie artist to be successful with royal icing. You just need a good recipe and some tips and tricks for working with this sugar medium. Read on to see my step-by-step guide for making this delicious and easy-to-make icing.
Tools You Will Need:
Glass or Stainless-Steel bowl (4-5-quart size bowl, not plastic)
Stand or hand mixer
Carlton’s Cakes Royal Icing Recipe
Yield= 4 cups of Royal Icing. Enough royal icing to cover 40 3” cookies.
2 lbs ( 907g) 10X Confectioner’s Sugar (sifted)
½ (70g) cup warm water
1 tsp vanilla extract (I prefer Nielsen-Massey extracts, but you may use any.)
1 cup of water (228g)
Lemon oil or Peppermint oil (I prefer LorAnn Oils)
Combine the meringue powder and ½ cup warm water in your mixing bowl. With a hand whisk, combine these two ingredients until the mixture is frothy and bubbly. This will only take a few minutes. Be sure to dig down to the bottom of the bowl with your whisk in case some of the meringue powder has stuck to the base of the bowl.
Sift the 10x sugar to break up any lumps and add 1/3 of the sugar to the meringue/water mixture.
If you are using a stand mixer, attach the paddle attachment to your mixer and set the speed to 1 or 2 as you slowly begin to combine the ingredients together. Note: Powdered sugar goes EVERYWHERE if your mixer is on high. Save yourself the hassle of cleaning up a big mess by placing a hand towel over the top of the mixing bowl and hold it in place with both hands while the mixer is doing the work. The towel will keep the sugar from flying all over your workspace- and you!
If you are using a hand mixer the steps are the same except to use the beater attachments. Set your hand mixer on a low speed as you move the beaters around the bowl to incorporate the ingredients.
Continue adding more 10X sugar by stopping the mixer and adding more sugar to the bowl. The speed should still be on a low setting. As you add more sugar you will find that the icing will thicken significantly. Add water as necessary in 1 Tbsp increments to thin it as needed. At this point, the mixture should be thick but not so thick that your mixer is overheating or struggling. (We don’t want to kill your mixer! I’ve ruined mixers with thick confections, such as chocolate ganache.) Please don’t let the icing get so thick that the mixer is overheating. Keep adding 1 Tbsp increments of water to thin the icing as needed. The goal is to have a medium thickness icing.
Continue mixing the icing on low until all the sugar is wet and well incorporated. Add vanilla extract if you like (note this will slightly change the color of the icing to beige). You may opt for a clear vanilla extract; however, these products are synthetics and have a chemical taste. I never use these products. When I want my royal icing to be a bright white, I often don’t use vanilla extract and instead add 1 drop of lemon oil OR 1 drop of peppermint oil. Peppermint oil is especially nice to use during the holidays as it adds a lovely peppermint flavor, as well as aroma, to your cookies.
Quick Tip: Oils are much more potent than extracts.
When using flavored oils use a dropper to add ONE drop at a time. Adding a teaspoon, or even 2 drops, of flavored oil could ruin the entire icing batch. I use LorAnn Oils and these products are sold in very small bottles. Don’t let the size fool you though; the bottle will last you a long time.
Change the speed on the mixer (stand mixer or handheld) to a medium level (4-6) and beat the icing for another 7 minutes. This is an important stage to develop the structure of the icing, and it’s also where using a hand-held mixer gets difficult because it’s hard to hold the mixer this long. Continue to add small increments of water to the icing if it becomes too thick for your mixer to handle.
Important: Protect the icing immediately after making it by covering the bowl with a damp hand towel.
You did it! Your icing should be glossy and bright white. It should also be a medium consistency and you can use it on cookies or other baked goods right away.
Storing Royal Icing
Royal icing dries very quickly in an uncovered bowl. It will keep at room temperature for several days if you don’t allow the icing to crust and dry out. Protect the icing immediately after making it by covering the bowl with a damp hand towel. Be sure to keep the towel wet, and over the bowl, when not using the icing.
I’ll post more articles on working with royal icing over the next few weeks. Be sure to check back for more tips on working with this sugar medium.
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I hope you enjoy making this recipe and please tag me on your creations! I would love to see your projects.