Cookie Art: Part 2
Welcome to Cookie Art Part 2! Last week, we made the vanilla almond sugar cookie recipe created by Bridget Edwards of Bake at 350 that I use when making iced sugar cookies. This week, we are going to tackle making the royal icing that you need to decorate your cookies. Royal icing is a mixture of meringue powder, water, 10x sugar, corn syrup and flavoring which dries very hard and opaque. One full batch of Bridget's royal icing will allow you to decorate about 3 to 6 dozen 4 inch cookies depending on the number of colors you intend to use. Half of the recipe will easily cover 2 to 3 dozen cookies using 3 different colors.
One thing I recommend when making iced sugar cookies is to have your cookie design planned in advance. Once you know how many colors you need, and how much piping icing and flood icing you need, you can determine whether half of the royal icing is sufficient. Here's the design plan for my Fourth of July Fireworks cookies. The border and fireworks design will be done in red and blue piping icing and the background will be white flood icing. I have just over two dozen cookies to decorate so half of the royal icing recipe will be sufficient. Okay, let's get to it.
To make a full batch of Bridget's royal icing you will need 1/2 cup of meringue powder, 1 scant cup of water, 2 pounds of 10x sugar, 2 teaspoons of light corn syrup and 1/2 teaspoon of clear extract for flavoring. I usually use almond extract. The photo to the right shows the ingredients that I used. Remember, I only made half a batch of icing. What does it mean when I say a scant cup (or 1/2 cup) of water? Well, you want just under the full amount. Using my OXO measuring cup, you will see in the photo below that the water level is just below the line.
Okay. Put your meringue powder and water in the bowl of your stand mixer. You want to use the paddle attachment to make your royal icing. Mix the meringue powder and the water together on medium speed to create a foamy mixture. Mixing at medium speed will also help to eliminate any lumps of meringue powder. This is what the meringue powder/water mixture will look like after mixing/beating.
At that point, add in the powdered sugar, the corn syrup and the almond extract ( or other flavoring) if you are using it. Beat this mixture on low until everything is incorporated. If you started on a higher speed, the powdered sugar would fly everywhere so keep it low at firstYou should stop the mixture and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl to be sure that everything is mixed in. Then increase the speed of the mixer to medium low (I use #3 on my KitchenAid stand mixer) and beat the icing for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, turn the speed up to medium high (I use #5 on my KitchenAid) and beat the icing until it holds a stiff peak. The icing will be glossy and will expand in volume as you beat it.
So how do you know if the icing will hold a stiff peak? You need to check the consistency. Stop the mixer and remove the paddle attachment. (NOTE: For safety, you should ALWAYS unplug the mixer before inserting or removing any attachment.) Hold the beater bottom side up and give it a gentle shake. If the point of the icing flops over, it needs more beating. If the icing holds the point, as it does in the first photo above, the icing is ready to be used.
At this point, the royal icing is at the proper consistency for piping. Piping consistency icing is used for borders to keep flood icing on the cookie. Piping icing can also be used for decorating. Flood icing is used for backgrounds and for wet-on-wet techniques. Flood icing is piping icing which has been thinned with a bit of water.
Now that our royal icing is ready, it is time to tint it then thin it for flooding. That is the next chapter in our story which we will address next week. Happy baking dear friends!