Ever wonder how the pros create those smooth, intricate royal icing designs? Well we’ve got the secret! Below, Ileana Saldivia (sugarrealm) of Sugar Realm Bakery shares a helpful guide to the same “wet-on-wet” royal icing technique the professionals use, which she demonstrates on her gorgeous fall-inspired leaf cookies.
As a bonus, she’s even shared her very own tried-and-true royal icing recipe!
For more of Ileana’s work, check out her blog.
Ileana’s Royal Icing Recipe
Yield: icing to decorate approximately 4 dozen, 3-inch cookies
Store: airtight at room temperature for 1 day, up to 2 months refrigerated, up to 6 months frozen
2 pounds sifted confectioners’ sugar
10 Tablespoons meringue powder or dry egg whites
¾ cup room temperature boiled water
2 teaspoons vanilla extract or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract + 1 teaspoon of your favorite flavoring (liqueur or extract)
⅛ teaspoon table salt
Place all dry ingredients in a mixing bowl, and whisk until all ingredients are well combined. Add wet ingredients. Using a handheld or stand mixer with a paddle attachment, mix on slow speed for 4-5 minutes. Slow speed will prevent incorporating air into the icing.
To prevent royal icing from crusting, always store on an airtight container, with a layer of plastic film touching surface of icing. This recipe produces a medium to stiff icing consistency.
“Wet-On-Wet” Decorating Technique
Icing Consistency: Stiff, Medium and Flow
I always save a container with the icing consistency that comes out of the mixer, which is medium to stiff consistency. My preferred method to stiffen any fluid icing is to add a couple of tablespoons of stiff icing.
Alternatively, a simple and quick fix to stiffen the consistency of your icing is by adding a bit of confectioners’ sugar until desired consistency is achieved. Add water or any liquid flavoring of your liking to your icing to achieve a more fluid icing consistency.
Testing Icing Consistency
Appropriate icing consistency is critical to creating wet-on-wet, flooded icing cookies. To test the consistency of your icing, insert a toothpick into a small container with royal icing. Stiff consistency icing will hold toothpick vertically. Medium consistency icing will hold toothpick in place for a few seconds before it starts to fall to the sides of the container. Flow consistency icing will not hold toothpick in place.
Coloring Your Icing
To color icing, use gel coloring and with a toothpick, add small amounts of color until desired color is achieved. Keep in mind that some icing colors darken up to one shade when dry.
Creating an Icing “Dam”
Beginners: Using stiff consistency icing, start by piping a dam around the cookie. Let dry for 20 minutes before piping icing center.
Advanced: Pipe icing dam using flow consistency and immediately flood cookie with flood consistency icing. The benefit of doing this is that the icing dam will fuse with your center icing creating a seamless border.
Flooding Your Cookie
To create a background to your cookie, fill a piping bag or plastic bottle with flood consistency icing. Using a pastry tip #3, pipe icing over cookie, trying to slightly cover icing dam.
Creating Your Designs
With medium consistency icing, and while icing background is still wet, create your design by piping icing over wet background icing. Depending on the weather, you may have approximately 50 seconds to complete your designs. After 50 seconds, icing will start to crust.
Dry, Finish & Package Your Decorated Cookies
Flood icing cookies require 24 hours to fully dry. After cookies are completely dry, you may pipe a decorative border around them and even overpipe additional designs. All that’s left is to package, share and enjoy your gorgeous cookies!
Helpful Tip: Storage
Cookies decorated with royal icing, have a long shelf life, up to 6 weeks when properly stored in an airtight container. I have discovered that metal tins are the type of container that better preserve iced cookies. It is always a good idea to wrap decorated cookies in a cellophane bag.