Monday, October 5, 2015

Autumn Sugar Cookies - My First Royal Icing Experience

I have a weakness for the Seasonal/Promotional section at Smith's. It's a problem. Thank heavens we moved away and now I only have a Target Dollar Spot at my disposal ;) I usually only buy things that I would consider a deal and so the majority of any of our holiday decor (which is pretty scant) was probably purchased there.

To that point, something I purchased in the Seasonal section a few years back was a pack of Halloween/Fall cookie cutters (I include fall because honestly, pumpkins are in from mid-September until Thanksgiving, not just Halloween...right? Sounds right to me.).

Even though I've had the cutters for some time now, I hadn't really used them much. I love pumpkin shaped cookies though, so I was determined to get some use out of them this year.

My goal to use them and my desire to try out new things combined and were manifested in my first royal icing experience.

I've been seeing all sorts of things on Facebook and YouTube about royal icing, and though they looked beautiful, I could always hear my mom in my head telling me, "Sure they look beautiful, but that stuff tastes terrible." So I adopted the reasoning and never thought I'd need to play with the decorating medium.

Then the other day I wanted to make sugar cookies so badly (I occasionally get in a baking mood), and so for your reading and viewing pleasure and for my husband and eldest's delight, I decided to take the plunge and try out royal icing.

I didn't want to go into it blindly so I prepared myself with some technique guidance first.

The recipe I chose was one from Sally's Baking Addiction found here.
True to her post, these cookies held their shape amazingly well - as long as the dough was chilled and kept chilled prior to baking. Also, like the post described, the cookies had just the right crispiness on the outside and softness on the inside. I will definitely be making them again in the future.

I also took her advice and used the Cookie Icing recipe she recommended found here.
I could have used a 'real' royal icing recipe with eggs or meringue powder but I only had a few eggs left that I wanted to save for breakfasts, and I wasn't, originally, going to buy any extra ingredients. I liked the recipe but wished I would have added some flavor of some sort to it, as to my inner-head-moms-voice, it wasn't that tasty (though on the cookies it did not taste bad. They were really yummy, actually).

I also wanted some tips and tricks so I watched Julia M Usher's videos on How to Make Royal Icing (used this link more for tips on consistency and coloring), How to Make and Handle Parchment Cones, and Top-Coat, Outlining, and Flooding. I found all three extremely insightful and attempted to apply all of her tips and tricks.

My work space. I hope you will all be patient as I learn about how to take more beautiful pictures :)

What I Needed That I Didn't Have
  • Parchment Paper - I thought I could get away with Wax Paper, and I did, until I ran out of Wax Paper.
  • Black Icing Color - I needed this but could not find it at Target, which is the closest store to me and once I started roaming I left myself with no time to look at other stores.
  • A turkey poker dealio - I don't know what it's called exactly because my brain wouldn't let me hear what she was saying in the video each time she brought it up, but I just used a toothpick.
I eventually decided to fill in the cats with white (ghost cats??). You can see that one poor
kitty needed to have surgery.

What I thought about Royally Icing cookies
Honestly, at the beginning I really enjoyed this whole process. Like I mentioned, I was really in the mood to bake, so this was the perfect fix for me. I'm also a perfectionist so having the ability to make the barrier of thicker icing and flood the rest of the cookie and have it be perfectly smooth was insanely satisfying for me. Also, the handful of people who saw the cookies all oohed-and-aahed at them and that was also satisfying.
BUT by the last several cookies I was OVER it. I was tired, done, sick of being sticky, and licking the icing off the parchment so I didn't have to rinse my wipe-rag for a 1000th time.

Would I try it again? Definitely!
Would I do it frequently or try to be a professional royal ice-r (we're making that a word...)? Absolutely not.

Overall I was extremely pleased at how the cookies turned out and really excited to share them with others. I enjoyed the process to a point and was proud of myself for making great, beautiful cookies.

Who knew that Morgan was a cookie ice-r?
These little guys were too Halloween-y for the original shoot, as I made them in September.


  1. These turned out so darling! I'm impressed!

    1. Thanks so much MaKenna! They definitely took patience, but were worth it! :)

  2. Yay so happy for your blog. Such cute cookies love you!!!!!

    1. Thanks Chelsea!! I should really stop being so excited and sending you sneak peeks!