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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.


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  1. sarahjay RE: hala 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 RE: sarahjay 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 RE: hala 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 RE: sarahjay 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.

      3. todao RE: hala 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. hala RE: hala Nov 26, 2010 07:08 PM

          Thank you to both of you!

          1. Caroline1 RE: hala 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 RE: Caroline1 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 RE: hala 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 RE: Caroline1 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 RE: hala 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. e
              Erika L RE: hala 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 RE: Erika L 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 RE: hala Dec 13, 2010 07:36 PM

                  I have heard of people using glycerin.

                  1. re: twodales
                    twodales RE: 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

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