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A softer Royal Icing

hala Nov 25, 2010 10:38 AM

Happy (American) Thanksgiving!

I am making gingerbread cookies for decorating my Christmas tree. Usually, I use Royal Icing to decorate the cookies but I was wondering if there is a way to make my icing less hard when it dries out? The recipe I have calls for water, powdered sugar and meringue powder. Is there another recipe that would dry out well and that I could use to make decorations but that could still be eaten? The recipe would also have to be color friendly, ie: any added color should not be messed up when the icing dries.


  1. e
    Erika L Nov 28, 2010 08:05 AM

    This is a recipe I use with Sally Ann cookies. I hardens like a royal icing into a shiny, smooth layer but stays soft underneath. Warning, I don't know how it pipes--I just cover the tops of cookies with it. It also takes color very well:

    1/2 c granulated sugar
    1 1/4 tsp gelatin (less than an envelope)
    1/2 c water
    2 c powdered sugar
    1/2 tsp vanilla

    Mix the sugar and gelatin in a saucepan, then add the water. Bring to a boil, then cook for 10 minutes on low.

    Sift the powdered sugar into a mixing bowl. Add the sugar/gelatin mixture and beat with a hand mixer on low till blended, then on high for about 10 minutes, till smooth and opaque. Add the vanilla.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Erika L
      hala Dec 13, 2010 07:12 PM

      Thank you Erika,

      I will try this recipe next year, or once I get my hands on some gelatin :)

      1. re: hala
        twodales Dec 13, 2010 07:36 PM

        I have heard of people using glycerin.

        1. re: twodales
          twodales Dec 28, 2010 07:24 AM

          Check out the Delia Smith recipe here: http://www.deliaonline.com/recipes/ty...

          Note: I use pasteurized eggs for this recipe

    2. Caroline1 Nov 26, 2010 07:15 PM

      For me the great advantage of royal icing is that it does get hard and therefore is more stable once dried. When my kids were little (and we lived in a desert!) I used to decorate the tree with gingerbread clowns, Nutcracker Suite characters, and big fat popcorn garland. In the arid climate of Las Vegas, I was able to store them from year to year. The very hard royal icing held up great!

      If your reason for wanting a softer royal icing is because you plan on some of them being eaten, why not make some for eating and some for the tree? If a gingerbread man with hard royal icing accidentally falls from the tree, my experience was that they didn't break or chip. A softer interior to the icing probably would.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Caroline1
        hala Nov 26, 2010 07:37 PM

        We have young children too and we also decorate our tree with cookies :) You are right, royal icing is perfect for the job as the cookies get pretty tough. However, this year we are expecting DH's entire extended family (30-40 people) over for New Year's Eve. There will be a LOT of very young children and I don't want to hide the tree. So, I thought it might be prudent to make sure that the cookies are tooth- safe in case some of the kids (or their grandparents) decide to eat them.

        1. re: hala
          Caroline1 Nov 26, 2010 08:40 PM

          Bless your very generous heart! And I hope the family is planning on coddling you all day New Years day. Breakfast in bed, a glass of bubbly with your bath, a massage, and someone besides you to clean house. Have a GREAT New Year's Eve!

          1. re: Caroline1
            hala Nov 27, 2010 09:44 AM

            Gosh, i guess i forgot to mention I am not cooking. It's a pot luck.

            Thank you for the sentiment, though. I will suggest breakfast in bed and bubbly to my husband:) Why did I not think of that on my own? But I cannot claim that I worked hard since everyone is bringing food and usually my inlaws will come early and leave late so that they can help with the clean up:) That is why I can easily have 40 people over: I never have to do all the work alone when family is here.

            1. re: hala
              Caroline1 Nov 27, 2010 01:31 PM

              Wow! Do you ever know how to pick a husband! I married twice, and both times had in-laws from hell. Good for you! And yay for your in-laws too!

      2. hala Nov 26, 2010 07:08 PM

        Thank you to both of you!

        1. todao Nov 26, 2010 02:08 PM

          You can thin your royal icing with a small amount of corn syrup to make it more spreadable and less brittle.

          1. sarahjay Nov 25, 2010 01:22 PM

            I use a royal icing recipe that calls for shortening that makes for much better eating. I also add almond extract

            The recipe is:
            4 T meringue powder
            1/2 cup water
            7 cups sifted powdered sugar
            1/2 cup shortening
            1 tsp almond extract (or clear vanilla)

            Beat the meringue powder and water until semi-stiff peaks form (5-7 minutes) . Add everything else and beat until smooth, starting on low speed and increasing as the powdered sugar is incorporated.

            3 Replies
            1. re: sarahjay
              hala Nov 26, 2010 10:56 AM

              Thank you very much!

              will this harden enough so I can use the cookies for decoration (to hang on a tree, for example)?

              1. re: hala
                sarahjay Nov 26, 2010 06:58 PM

                It will crust over and should stay softer inside, at least for a while. It's a very similar recipe to what I use at the bakery, just smaller

              2. re: sarahjay
                hala Dec 13, 2010 07:11 PM

                Thank you Sarahjay!

                Here is a picture of some of the cookies that I took to a church event. I burnt some of the cookies, but the icing was perfect.

                I wanted to make a batch of regular icing thinned out with maple syrup to compare, but I discovered that I had run out of syrup.

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