I took a photography basics class this spring. What a wonder it is to realize that one can use flash in the day. Or how to capture the blurriness of motion in an action shot. Heck, moving on from the Auto setting to some others feels like a big accomplishment when a photo turns out better than you were expecting it to.
Not surprisingly, a lot of the times I completely ignored the given homework in lieu of cookie pictures that loosely followed class guidelines. It just so happened that this last month or so has been a busy baking season as well with lots of school-year-end/summer initiation events that I made cookies for. (I made these adorable summer themed watermelon, Popsicle and sun ones for my son’s second grade cookout.) So my poor classmates were exposed to way more cookie pictures — involuntarily — all of them inadvertently at the time of day when the morning munchies hit. (No? It’s just me? Ah.)
Anyway, folks, I use Royal Icing (RI) to frost all of my sugar cookies. This icing is soft and pliable when made but will dry hard enough to pack. There’s tons of info and great cookier blogs out there with variations of this type of icing Here’s the recipe that has worked for me so far. It is basically adapted from the master cookier Meaghan’s blog The Decorated Cookie, butI’ve tweaked it just a tiny bit to suit myself.
Royal Icing to decorate sugar cookies (Makes enough to fill ~3 12′ piping bags, which decorated about 25-30 medium sized cookies).
4 tbsp meringue powder (I use Americolor now but Wilton gave great results for a long time, available at Michaels)
scant 1/2 cup water
6-7 cups confectioners sugar
2 tbsp Crisco
2 tsp vanilla
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine meringue powder and water until mixed and slightly frothy. Add sugar one cup at a time and continue beating. After sugar is mixed in add shortening and vanilla. Mix everything on medium-high speed for 5-6 minutes. (It will seem like a long time but let it.) Empty icing out into an airtight container.
Note: I would highly encourage watching a few Youtube videos re the consistency of this icing. If it’s too thick it won’t spread too well; too runny and it’ll slide off your cookie. Many cookiers prepare RI in varying consistencies for outlining and flooding purposes. I’ve done both but to save time and energy will go with a 12-second icing most times.