Lessons in Royal Icing

I’m not sure when I decided that I needed to learn how to decorate cookies.  It may have been when I made gingerbread moose for my husband at Christmas and thought they should have eyes.  Perhaps it was when I made the sugar cookie snowflakes that my mother-in-law enjoys.  It may even have been because my friend Kay introduced me to www.foodgawkers.com because she thought I had nothing else to do with my time.  Based on the number of hours I have spent gawking there, perhaps I didn’t! 

In any case, I bought a simple heart cookie cutter and yesterday I made Sour Cream Sugar Cookies using a recipe I have in a Better Homes and Gardens magazine from 2004. The only change I made to the recipe was to substitute Greek-style yogurt for the sour cream.    When it came to the Royal Icing, I followed a tutorial that I found while blog surfing; I used it because it had a lot of how-to pictures and some good advice. 

The cookies turned out great!  The decorating was a bit more of a challenge even though the icing was a lovely texture. 

Here are the things that I learned: 

  • Royal Icing is used for cookie decorating because it (eventually) dries into a nice hard shell.  Another name for Royal Icing is Cement That Won’t Come Off Your KitchenAid. 
  • The process is simple.  Pipe the border with a fairly stiff icing. Thin the icing and use it to “flood” the cookie.  The border will stop the icing from overflowing, and the thin icing will go into all the nice scalloped edges you decided to pipe.  Of course, this is all a myth.  Flood icing can take a lot of coaxing to go into the corners.  Adding more icing will render the border completely useless, but will adhere the cookie to the countertop with no problem. 
  • There is barely enough red paste food colouring in a container to make a true ‘red’ icing.   This is why pink is a Valentine’s Day colour. 
  • Getting Royal Icing out of your hair isn’t as easy as you might think. 
  • Taking pictures of your cookies is a great idea, especially if someone that you truly love invites you to add them to her blog.  Of course, you might wish to wait until they are dry first.  The zoom mechanism on your camera will cease to work if you get Royal Icing on it.  Don’t ask me how I know. 

Here is the thing that matters: 
  • My husband, who will be surprised by the cookies, will love them in spite of their failings.   Well, he might not be crazy about pink, but the rest will delight him. He loves me in exactly the same way.  All is right with the world.  

Note from Angie:  Thank you, Crystal, for this wonderful adventure . . . and lesson.   The Lovin’ Oven would love to hear from more of you!  


  1. Kay Day

    This is so witty and charming. Thank you, Crystal. Made me laugh out loud.

  2. Mocha with Linda

    Cracked me up! So glad you invited her to share.


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