Royal Icing is a pure white icing that dries to a smooth, hard, matte finish. Besides its lovely finish it also colors beautifully which makes it a favorite of professionals who use it not only for frosting cakes and cookies, but also for intricate piping of decorations (flowers, borders, and lettering).
There are two ways to make royal icing. My preference is to use one made from a mixture of confectioners sugar (powdered or icing), lemon juice, and raw egg whites.
However, because of the risk of salmonella when using raw egg whites, some may prefer the recipe I have included using meringue powder.
Meringue powder is a fine, white powder used to replace fresh egg whites and is made from dried egg whites, sugar, salt, vanillin and gum.
You can purchase it on line, in cake decorating stores or Michael’s or Joann’s.
Royal Icing Using Egg Whites:
2 large (60 grams) egg whites
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
3 cups (330 grams) confectioners (powdered or icing) sugar, sifted
Royal Icing Using Meringue Powder:
4 cups (440 grams) confectioners’ (powdered or icing) sugar
3 tablespoons (30 grams) meringue powder
1/2 teaspoon extract (vanilla, lemon, almond)
1/2 – 3/4 cup (120 – 180 ml) warm water
For Royal Icing with Egg Whites: In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the egg whites with the lemon juice until combined. Add the sifted powdered sugar and beat on low speed until combined and smooth. (The right consistency to cover or “flood” sugar cookies is when you lift the beater, the ribbon of icing that falls back into the bowl remains on the surface for a few seconds before disappearing. Another test is to take a cookie and place a small amount of icing in the center of the cookie. Using a small knife, push the icing to the edge of the cookie. If the icing runs off the edge, thicken the icing by adding a little more confectioners sugar. Conversely, if the icing is too thick, add a little water.) The icing needs to be used immediately or transferred to an airtight container as royal icing hardens when exposed to air. Cover with plastic wrap when not in use.
For Royal Icing with Meringue Powder: In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the confectioners’ sugar and meringue powder until combined. Add the water and beat on medium to high speed until very glossy and stiff peaks form (5 to 7 minutes). If necessary, to get the right consistency, add more powdered sugar or water. To cover or ‘flood’ the entire surface of the cookie with icing, the proper consistency is when you lift the beater, the ribbon of icing that falls back into the bowl remains on the surface of the icing for a few seconds before disappearing.
The icing needs to be used immediately or transferred to an airtight container as royal icing hardens when exposed to air. Cover with plastic wrap when not in use.