Tuesday 15 May 2012

A Big THANK YOU! Also a Royal Icing Tutorial

So, I've been meaning to share with you all how to make the kind of royal icing I use for cookies like these, and these, and especially these, but there's something very important I have to say first:


Thank you to everyone who clicked a link and came to say hi, thank you to everyone who liked the webcomic cookies or the flower pot cupcakes and decided to stay around, thank you to everyone who saw something they liked here and shared it with their friends and internet buddies.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

I've been absolutely overwhelmed with the pageviews and feedback, and being featured in places like Comics Alliance and Webcomic Overlook and even the front page of a popular Cheezburger Network site! And how could I forget all the kind webcomic creators, artists and writers who shared my TCAF cookies post? (By the way, if you haven't looked at that post yet, and you have any love for comics at all, go look at it and click every dang link. You're welcome.) Of course, I must mention my super-supportive co-workers, friends, and family members who demand I bake on a regular basis. Y'all know who you are, and y'all know I love you!

I'm sure I'm missing someone, and whoever it is: thank you!

So, yeah, the English language is sorely lacking in ways to express gratitude, is what I'm finding here.


Now, to get back to sharing recipes and techniques: Royal icing!

A lot of people think that making royal icing is really hard. I was once one of those people. It's true that it can be a cruel mistress - too hot or humid out, and it may refuse to come together at all, a drop of fat in your bowl or stuck to your beater, and it may never stiffen.

So, uh, it's really not so much that it's hard to make, it's just that the correct conditions can be tough to achieve.

It's best not to make this on a hot, humid day. Make sure your beaters, bowl, spatula, and anything that will touch the icing is 100% clean. It's best to use glass or metal bowls and instruments since plastic tends to bond to fat and hold onto it more.

I, uh... I still used plastic. Gotta work with what you've got, you know.

So on the left, we have meringue powder and cream of tartar, and on the right, slightly warm water. I very precisely measured and weighed these ingredients, because another thing about royal icing is you need to follow the recipe pretty dang exactly.

Step one is simply to mix the meringue powder, cream of tartar and water together with a whisk, until foamy.

Like so. Then start adding your powdered sugar, a bit at a time until it's all in there, mixing all the while with your hand mixer (or if you're one of the lucky ones, your stand mixer) until the sugar is all incorporated.

Scrape the sides down with a spatula to make sure you don't miss any of the sugar. Once it's all combined, keep mixing for 5-7 minutes, until the icing becomes rather firm and loses some of its shine.

You'll know you're done if you pull your beaters out of the icing and they do something like this:

Those are stiff peaks, and the icing is hardly shiny at all. You're ready to add your favourite colours and start decorating your cookies! Have fun!

See? That wasn't really so hard. Though if, like me, you had to use a hand-mixer, you may need to massage your wrists a little. That's a marathon of mixing, isn't it?

If you want to try it out and decorate your own unique cookies, here's the recipe:

Royal Icing
Recipe & instructions adapted from McCall's School of Cake Decorating

40 g meringue powder
5 g cream of tartar
190 g warm water
1000 g icing sugar

Note: Yes, it's all in weights. You do need a decent kitchen scale for this, sorry. Due to the nature of the powdery ingredients, volumetric measurements just aren't good enough here.

Mix first 3 ingredients with hand whisk until foamy. Using stand or hand mixer on low, beat in sugar about a cup at a time until well-combined. Continue to beat for another 5-7 minutes on low or until icing is firm.

It's a good idea to cover your bowl with a damp cloth or towel and let it sit for 10-15 minutes before using, then give it a gentle stir with a spatula to remove any large air bubbles. Then you're good to go!

Be sure to keep any royal icing covered with a damp cloth while not using to keep it from going rock-hard when you don't want it to. To learn more about how I outline and fill cookies, refer to the Send-Off Cookies Post.


Thanks (yet again) for reading. I'll be sure to fill y'all in on what I baked up for my own Mom on Mother's Day later this week, so keep an eye out for that.

Until next time!

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