Small One and I both have friends and family, who are very near and dear to our hearts, that are currently or have previously served our country in the Navy. Today is the 237th birthday of the US Navy so I wanted to make a festive treat as a token of our thanks.
Cookie decorating has never really been my thing. My mom makes beautiful sugar cookies every year for Christmas, but I never had the patience to sit laboriously over each individual cookie, slowly piping on the design. Not to mention, I have absolutely ZERO artistic ability so my designs rarely came out the way I had imagined. The runny frosting, the messy food coloring, the hand cramps. Ugh, it just never seemed worth it. I’ll let other bakers do all the work, and I’ll just reap the benefits.
Then I read this incredible tutorial from one of my all time favorite food blogs Annie’s Eats, so I decided to give sugar cookies with royal frosting one more attempt. Do you know what I learned? With the right recipe, the right tools, and just a little bit of patience, decorating with royal frosting is fun and easy! And even better, it turns out that artistic ability is not needed to achieve great results!
I chose 4 basic designs for my cookies, all of which required simple straight lines, and I loved the results. The Summer Whites uniform was my favorite, although a certain Naval Officer who shall remain nameless, began pointing out uniform inaccuracies in my design. I snapped at him that if he didn’t like it, then he could give it to a civilian who wouldn’t know the difference. He quietly walked away and ate his cookie. I, on the other hand, should probably work on accepting constructive criticism. Whatever. Everyone agreed they tasted great!
I’m sharing Annie’s exact royal frosting recipe. I also recommend reading her tutorial and checking out my helpful hints below. Next thing you know you will be on your way to (almost) perfect sugar cookies!
- 4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
- 2 Tbs meringue powder (found in the baking section of craft stores)
- 5 Tbs water
- Piping bags
- #2 piping tips (optional)
- Food coloring (I suggest gel food coloring, but liquid also works)
To make the frosting, combine all of the ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fit with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed for about 7-10 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl a few times to make sure everything is incorporated. The ingredients will come together into a very thick frosting. You will know it is ready when it has lost its shine and developed a matte finish.
At this point, the icing is too thick to work with, so slowly mix in a little more water until it is thin enough to pipe or flood your cookies. In her tutorial, Annie explains the consistencies needed for each of these steps. Separate the frosting into individual bowls and use food coloring the reach your desired hues. I like the gel food coloring because it creates very vibrant colors without changing the consistency of the frosting. If you plan to use liquid food coloring, just keep in mind that it will thin the frosting out a bit more.
1. I like to make the cookies and the frosting ahead of time so when I’m ready to decorate I can get down to business. The frosting will store well (unrefrigerated) as long as you keep it in air tight containers. I make and color my frosting the night before I plan to decorate. I load each color into a piping bag (without a frosting tip) and seal the bag tightly at the top. The next morning I simply snip the tip off of the bag and the frosting is ready to pipe.
2. I only using a frosting tip when I need to pay very close attention to detail. Otherwise a just snip the tip off of the bag. It is way easier and requires much less clean up at the end of the day.
3. Give yourself plenty of time. It is very important that the frosting had dried completely before going on to the next step. I only ever make these cookies when I know I’ll be home all day. After completing a step, I’ll work on something else around my apartment for an hour or two before going back to work on my cookies. Each decorating step can be completed in 15-20 minutes, it is just very important to allow ample time between steps.
4. Practice your designs on a flat surface before working on the cookie itself. I usually do some trial runs right on the kitchen counter before I start decorating.
5. Keep frosting in an airtight container when not working with it as it will start to dry very quickly. Dip the tip of a piping bag in water when not working with it to avoid any clogs.
6. Always always always make sure your cookies are COMPLETELY dry before stacking them to store them in an airtight container. If you stack the cookies before the icing has dried, you will ruin them.
7. Have fun, be creative, and surprise yourself!!
8. Oh… and I hope you like cleaning, because your counter is going to be a huge mess! No way around it.
Annie’s Eats AWESOME royal icing tutorial.
A very big Spatularette THANK YOU to all the men and women who serve our country!!