‘Tis the season, ya’ll.
(I didn’t say that like Paula Deen, I swear. I said that like me.)
‘Tis the season for making more crap than you and your cousins can eat in two lifetimes, but you eat it anyway. ‘Tis the season for peppermint patties, homemade fudge, chocolate bark…and gingerbread cookies. But not just any gingerbread cookies – they need to be decorated.
Okay, maybe you aren’t going to be as anal retentive as I am when it comes time to decorate them. Perhaps you just want a drizzle or two of color. Maybe you want the kiddos to get involved. Maybe you’ve never TRIED full on multi color icing piping.
Well, now’s your chance.
Here is the absolute perfect royal icing recipe, and I do not say that lightly. Every cookie decorating scenario will benefit from this recipe – even if the kids are helping. Starting with a foolproof icing ensures great results no matter WHO is doing the piping. (However, I take no responsibility for your teenage son or husband adding gray icing or bloody appendages to your sweet little gingerbread men. I only provide the helpful recipe.)
makes enough for about 4 dozen cookies
- 1/2 cup Warm Water
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla (or other flavoring)
- 3 Tbsp. Meringue Powder
- 1/2 teaspoon Cream of Tartar
- 1 1/2 pounds Confectioner’s Sugar
In bowl of stand mixer, whisk warm water, vanilla and meringue together for about one minute. Add cream of tartar and whisk another minute. Add all of the sugar at once. Continue to whick on low speed for ten minutes, keeping mixer covered with damp kitchen towel.
Now, this recipe is going to give you a very stiff icing. NOT good for piping yet. Once you have it in this stage, divide it into separate bowls for each color you want to do. In my case, I did a pink, teal, lime, and white. Color the icing whatever hue you wish. Stir it up. Still thick, right? Right. So start adding a few drops of water at a time. And I do mean drops. Eventually, you want the icing to be a smooth, spreadable consistency. One test to see if it is right is to drag a knife through it. If the icing fills back in somewhere between 5 and 10 seconds later – you’re good to go. Any faster and you’ll have a runny mess. I like mine about 6/7 seconds. It works for me that way for both the piping of the lines as well as filling in, or “flooding” the cookie.
You can find lots of great cookie advice around the web, but my two favorite sites are Marian’s “Sweetopia”, and Gail’s One Tough Cookie Blog. I won’t pretend to know more than these two – it’s their business!!
Hopefully you’ll be a little adventurous this year and give cookie decorating a shot. It really is fun! And maybe, if you’re lucky, YOU will be able to pick all of the cookie cutters yourself, and not have to decorate cookies shaped like West Virginia and giraffes thanks to your three year old.
But then again, hillbillies like Christmas, too.
(I should know.)
PS – Need a great Gingerbread recipe? Try here.