Thursday, February 2, 2012

Valentine's Sugar Cookies and Royal Icing

January sort of gave me a sugar cookie break, but now it is February and we have two birthdays within 3 days, a cake auction the day after, two Valentine's Day classroom parties a few days later, and then a combined classroom birthday party 3 days after the Valentine's party.  I've got to get a jump on it all.  
Cookies in the oven.  Sugar Cookie recipe here.  Sugar cookies are my thing.
Cookie Bottom Perfection.  Don't let them brown and they'll stay soft.  
Now, I'll be stepping out of my comfort zone....
Royal Icing.  I've been wanting to dip into royal icing since I began following Sugarbelle, Lilaloa, Ali Bee, Arty McGoo, FlourBox, and the likes.  I make royal icing for the traditional gingerbread house and I used the remaining icing this year to decorate a few snowflake cookies, but other than that, it's a new medium for me.  While I prefer the softness, creaminess, flavor, texture, and dimension of frosted sugar cookies, you can't get that smooth & flawless royal icing surface using buttercream.  Here's to trying new things!

Upon popping the top off the brand new container of Meringue Powder, I wondered...where's the rest?  I paid for the whole thing.
Anyone else do this?  I stand in front of the spices at the grocery store and can't remember the spice I needed.  It wasn't Cream of Tartar.
Add 3T Meringue Powder, 1/2 t Cream of Tartar and 1lb (or 3 1/2 to 4 c) powdered sugar to your mixing bowl.
Slowly mix in 3.5 oz...or 7T...or two 1/4 c + 1T...or 1/2c + 1T of boiling hot water.  See, math comes in handy and so does Google.  Wet royal icing is shiny.  Dry royal icing is dull.  Drizzle a T of corn syrup for a bit of sheen.  Mix on high for 7-10 minutes, until stiff.  Place a damp cloth over the top of the bowl to keep the royal icing from hardening.  Store any extra icing in an airtight container at room temperature.
Prepping your decorating bag with coupler and tip:  1.  Place the coupler inside the empty decorator bag and push it all the way to the bottom (point) of the bag.  From the top of the coupler, measure about 1/4" and snip the edge to mark where you will cut the bag all the way across.  2.  Move the coupler up the bag enough that you can cut the point of the bag off at the place you marked.   Push the coupler back down to the bottom of the bag.  3.  Place your decorating tip over the ends of the decorator bag, on top of the coupler.  4.  Twist the coupler ring on top of the tip to secure.
Here's the lineup:  squeeze bottles for flooding the icing, decorator bag with #4 tip for piping the outlines (#4 is probably too big but good for a first timer), food coloring for mixing colors, wet cloth over the icing, and a container full of blank cookie canvases.
Use a squirt bottle of water to thin the icing to desired consistency.  You want thicker for piping, thinner for flooding.  As others I follow say, it's mostly trial and error.  I think I watched a tutorial at some point but I forgot what to look for with the consistency and I didn't feel like trying to figure out where/whom I watched.  It seems my flood consistency reminded me of a tad bit thicker Elmer's glue.
Trial and error was also involved in the very unforgiving step of piping the outline.  My first attempt pretty much sucked.  I even scraped the outside edge of a couple of wobbly hearts.
Flooding seemed like the scary part, but it is actually the fun part and this is where the kids jumped in to fill in any empty spots or pop any air bubbles with toothpicks.
If you want to sink any embellishments, do it while the icing is still wet:
The white collection:
A touch of red:

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