For the longest time, I could not understand how people made cookies with royal icing and they turned out pretty. Mine looked like a 3 year old made them. Year after year, I would attempt to make pretty frosted cookies and every year they would be so ugly that I would toss them. And then the world of royal icing cookies opened up for me. I found some really good tutorials and learned some very valuable lessons.
The first being to find a good royal icing recipe. This is the one that I use. You also need a good sugar cookie recipe too.
4 cups sifted powdered sugar
2 Tablespoons meringue powder
5-7 Tablespoons water
Sift the sugar and meringue powder into the bowl of an electric mixer. Add 5 Tablespoons of water. Use the paddle and mix on medium for about 7 to 10 minutes. You want this to be fairly thick. This thick icing is going to be the outline of the cookies. If you need to, add a bit more water. Drops at a time. I know that sounds ridiculous, but it is amazing how royal icing can go from so close to runny in a matter of seconds. Go slowly.
Put some of the thick royal icing in a piping bag. Put the rest of the icing in an air tight container. We will use this later, but for now just make sure that it is sealed tightly so that it does not harden. We will use the thick icing again for the details like the eyes and the holly.
Outline the cookies with the thick icing. Let it dry completely before you go to the next step.
Add a few drops of water at a time until the icing runs from a spoon like above. Let the icing sit for a few minutes to let the air bubbles pop.
Put the royal icing in a piping bag.
Fill the outline of the cookie, and then pipe some icing into the middle. I use the tip without adding any more icing to the cookie to push the icing to cover the cookie. If you need more to fill it entirely, by all means, add more.
Using the thick icing, add the eyes and the wing details.
Go back and tint a bit of the icing green and red. Put them in piping bags fitted with small round tips. I used Ateco #2. Add the stems and leaves. Fill in the berries using the red icing.
Let these dry overnight before you package them. They will look dry, but I promise you, they are not.
Package these sweet little Christmas doves and give them to someone that you love.
Here are some good resources to also help you out:
Bake at 350 – tons of great ideas (my doves were inspired by her doves) and inspiration
Annie’s Eats – a really good tutorial on using royal icing
Bakerella – piping techniques