Royal Icing – Consistencies and Troubleshooting Tips

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What is royal icing? Royal icing is made from confectioners sugar, water, egg white and flavorings and it’s the only icing that I use to decorate my cookies. The egg white is what allows it to dry hard, which is what makes royal icing so versatile. I make my royal icing with meringue powder, which consists of dry powdered egg white and stabilizers (you can read more on the different forms of egg white below). I use 10 tablespoons* of meringue powder per 2 pounds of confectioners sugar (yes, that’s a lot of meringue powder. More on that later in this post). A video on how to make royal icing is available in my tutorial shop. You can learn more about decorating cookies with royal icing in my online class on Craftsy.

Royal Icing Consistencies
Icing Consistencies: There are three different consistencies of royal icing that I use most often when decorating cookies: Stiff consistency, medium consistency and flood consistency. 

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How To Make A Tufted Cookie Using Royal Icing

I created these cookies using the fancy square from CopperGifts.com. It’s one of my favorite cutters. Check out LilaLoa’s Flickr group to see more cookie ideas using the fancy square!
For products used in this and other tutorials, visit the recommended products page.
To see this technique in action, visit my shop for a video on the Tufting Technique.
First, draw a guide on the cookie using a ruler and an edible ink marker. These squares are about 1-1/4″x1-1/4″.
Then, fill in every other square in every other row using medium consistency royal icing and a tip 2. Let the the icing dry for about 10 minutes in front of a fan.
Fill in the rest of the squares in each row. Let these dry for about an hour in front of a fan.
After those squares have dried for an hour, fill in the rest of the squares.
Let the icing dry 8-12 hours before adding more decoration.
I’ve added a bead border, gold painted beads and a fondant button with a royal icing thread.
Visit my shop to purchase and download video tutorials.

How To Make Gold Royal Icing

It takes some time and a little patience to decorate cookies or cakes with gold royal icing, but the technique itself is actually very simple. This is the same process that is used for painting on royal icing with gel paste food coloring.
For products used in this and other tutorials, visit the recommended products page.Gold 8
Start out by piping your designs in brown icing. I like to use brown icing because, not only does it help the gold to stand out, but it’s less noticeable if you miss a spot. Let the icing dry completely, about 30 minutes to an hour. For this filigree design, I used stiff royal icing and a round tip 2.
Gold 5
I prefer to use Crystal Colors edible gold dusts for this method. Antique Gold and Old Gold are my favorites. You can find these dusts on Amazon or at Sugarpaste.com.
Fill a small container with about a half teaspoon of pearl dust.
Gold 1
Mix the pearl dust with a few drops of alcohol or flavored extract, such as vanilla, lemon or almond. Alcohol and flavored extracts are used for painting on royal icing because they evaporate very quickly, which means that the liquid won’t dissolve the icing as you are applying the gold. My favorite alcohol to use for this process is Bacardi 151 because of its high alcohol content. If you are looking for alternatives to alcohol, read about my experiments with different liquids to use when painting with gold.
Gold 2
Add just enough alcohol, a few drops at a time, so that you achieve the consistency of paint. If you add to much liquid, it will run off of the decoration and create a mess. If you add too little, your paint will be chunky. As I mentioned before, the alcohol evaporates very quickly, so you’ll need to add more drops as you work to maintain the correct consistency.
Gold 3
Very carefully paint the icing with a tiny brush. I like to use a size 2/0 liner.
Gold 6
Let the paint dry for about 20-30 minutes before handling the cookie.
Gold 8
Here are some more cookie projects that use gold royal icing:      wood grain icing
Visit my shop for cookie decorating video tutorials.

Ombre Cookie Tutorial

While creating this ombre cookie, I tried a few different techniques and found that brush embroidery worked best for transitioning through these shades of blue. You can achieve this color by mixing blue with a touch of black.
To make different shades of the same color, I started by making the darkest shade first and mixed it with white icing to lighten it.
For products used in this and other tutorials, visit the recommended products page.
I gave my cookie a crumb coat, which is not something I’d tried before. While I did need a smooth surface on which to apply my brush embroidery, I did not want to flood the cookie and end up with two full layers of icing in the end. Also, the drying time for this thin coat was about 20 minutes in front of a fan, meaning I didn’t have to wait overnight to get started on the decorating.
I used medium consistency icing for the base.
Before the icing dried completely, I marked 1/2″ spaces using a ruler and a scribe (this cookie is 3×3″). A toothpick would also work for this step.
Once the icing is dry to the touch, you can start on the fun part. I have here a container of water, a square tip brush and a paper towel.
Begin by piping a line in a zigzag motion with a tip 2. This is stiff consistency royal icing.
Then, dip your square tip brush in the water, blot the excess on the paper towel and brush the icing inward in short, quick motions. There is a video with full instructions on brush embroidery available in my tutorial shop.
I was able to fit 3 rows of each color per 1/2″ section.
Pipe a bead border that matches the shade of each row with a tip 2. There’s a video in my tutorial shop with full instructions on how to pipe a bead border.
Click on the images below for more cookie decorating tutorials             

Piping Without a Kopykake Projector – NYC Cookies

If you’re like me and don’t own a Kopykake projector, you can use this tissue paper method to transfer almost any design onto a cookie.
For products used in this and other tutorials, visit the recommended products page.
Begin by tracing your image onto a piece of tissue paper using an edible ink marker. You can use Google images to find inspiration for your designs. Then, you can either print them out on a piece of paper or draw them yourself.
NYC 2
Place the tissue paper with the image over a cookie that has been flooded with royal icing and allowed to dry completely (8-12 hours drying time). This cookie was made using my Orange Vanilla Spice recipe, which is available in my tutorial shop. It measures 3×3″.
NYC 3
With the image placed over the cookie, go over it again with the edible ink marker. Use a little pressure to be sure that the image transfers onto the icing. The ink will bleed through the tissue paper, transferring your image onto the cookie.
NYC 4
You’ll have a rough outline to follow, like this:
NYC 5
Outline and fill in the image with a tip 1 and flood consistency royal icing.
NYC 6
Then, use a scribe tool or a toothpick to evenly distribute the icing and fix the edges.
NYC 7
Immediately fill in the lower section with flood consistency icing and a tip 1. I used gray for the lower section to give the impression that it is a reflection of the city skyline.
Pipe a border by outlining the edges of the cookie using the black flood consistency icing and tip 1.
NYC 10
Allow the icing to dry another 6-8 hours before handling the cookie.
 
I also used this tissue paper method to make these art deco cookies.
 Have you tried this method? Share photos of your work on my Facebook page!