Sugar cookies are one of my current, favorite projects — it’s food that is art! This is part two in our series, where I show you how to decorate professional-looking sugar cookies with royal icing. Watch the video or follow the step-by-step blog post, complete with pictures. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do! Let me know if you have any questions, I’d love to help. Also, I’d love to see your sugar-cookie results. Share them with me in the comments below!
Check out the video and see how simple it is to decorate the perfect sugar cookie, the easy way:
Perfect Sugar Cookies, Part 2 – Decorate the Perfect Cookie, the Easy Way!
Royal Icing Recipe
1/2 cup water
4 tablespoons meringue powder*
1 teaspoon clear almond extract (optional)
1 lb (about 4 cups) powdered sugar
1. Add water and then meringue powder to your mixing bowl and beat on slow speed until just combined.
2. Add the almond extract. This is optional, but it really makes the cookies taste sooooo good! Make sure it is clear, though, as we want the icing to be as white as possible. Mix on low till combined.
3. Add 1 lb or about 4 cups of powdered sugar to your mixing bowl. (A lot of recipes call for sifting the powdered sugar first, to help prevent clumps, but honestly, after doing both ways for more than a year now, I haven’t noticed a difference. Since I’m always looking for ways to help make life simpler, I just skip it. But this is just my experience. If you love to sift, then sift away 🙂 Also note, that 1 lb of sugar is usually half a bag, as they tend to come in 2-lb bags.)
4. Mix on low until combined, then move the speed up to high. We’re looking to take our meringues to the stiff peak stage.
5. After a few minutes, take a look. Here, mine are not quite stiff enough. I’m going to beat them for a few more minutes.
6. And this is what we are looking for….nice stiff peaks. Another way you can tell if you’ve reached this stage is that the beater gets filled with the icing.
7. Next remove the beater and place a towel over your bowl to keep the icing from drying out.
8. Scoop some of your icing into a smaller bowl (like a cereal bowl) and add food coloring. I like to use gel food coloring from Wilton* or AmeriColor. Here I’m adding twice as much green drops as yellow. It’s always surprising to me how much food coloring it takes to color icing. I wound up adding more to get just the right shade of Christmas-tree green.
9. Now that we have the right color, we need to find the right consistency.
10. Decorating sugar cookies — and making them look professional — is all about the consistency of the royal icing. A lot of sugar-cookie bakers like to make a three different consistencies of icing for their cookies, but I’ve found a lot easier way to make them! I found a way that let’s me only make two different kinds of icing, and it helps with lots of other issues!
Royal Icing #1 – For outlining and flood cookies
Royal Icing #2 – Thicker for little details and decorations
My technique for icing sugar cookies…
- virtually ELIMINATES air bubbles in your icing
- saves time — you only have to make two different types and there’s no waiting for the outline to dry!
- almost mistake-free! Outlining can be tricky….move your hand in the wrong direction, and your outline (and therefore your sugar cookie) is ruined! This way of decorating them, it is EASY TO CORRECT MISTAKES!
11. We’re going to make the 1st type of icing: for outlining and flooding. (I think the consistency resembles running peanut butter.)
12. Add small amounts of water to thin out your icing until it has the runny-peanut-butter look. I use 1/2 teaspoon of water at a time. It’s easy to add more water, but harder to make it thicker, if you’ve made it too thin.
13. This is what we’re looking for. When I drizzle it with a spoon, it slowly loses its shape, and to me this resembles runny peanut butter. You can always try it out on a sample cookie or parchment, and if it doesn’t self-level, you can always squeeze your icing back into the bowl and add a bit more water to it. After a while it will be easy to spot if it’s the right consistency.
14. Add your icing to a tip-less bag. I absolutely LOVE these Yueton bags that I found on Amazon. They are relatively cheap and make icing sugar cookies a dream. Because they don’t use a tip, there’s nothing to clean — no tip or coupler. They were definitely a game-changer.
15. Once the bag is filled, make sure to run your fingers on the tip a couple of times. This helps prevent the bag from sticking to itself.
16. Another bonus of the tip-less bags, is that you choose the size of hole you need. Just trim it to your desired size. Here’s I’m snipping it pretty small (similar to a size 1 or 2 size tip)
17. Now it’s time for the fun part….decorating the cookies! First you’re going to outline the cookies. You want to hold the bag and apply medium pressure so that the icing flows out of the tip. Note that the tip doesn’t ever touch the cookie, but the icing floats down to where you want it to go. If the icing is breaking, try applying a little more pressure. Just float above the cookie, letting the icing fall onto it. After you practice a couple of times, it will get easier. You’ll know how to balance the amount of pressure with the speed you travel with your hand. Practice makes perfect. If you notice that your outline is breaking, and doesn’t seem to want to go where you want it too, the icing may be too stiff. You may want to thin it out some more.
18. If you should accidentally make a mistake with your outline, no worries! Because of this method of outlining and flooding at the same time, you can easily re-draw your mistakes. Since we’re filling the outline in right away, you won’t see it. This epiphany took my sugar cookies from amateur to awesome.
* (Tip: buy it at Michaels or Hobby Lobby using their 40% off coupon. I might just always have it available on my phone. And yes, Michaels will match competitor’s coupons!)