Great for frosting cookies, or making monogram letters, shapes or designs to decorate cakes.
There are a variety of different recipes for royal icing, depending on what type of ingredients you prefer...
1 lb icing sugar (confectioners sugar)
2 Tbsp meringue powder (or egg white powder)
5 Tbsp water
Combine all ingredients and beat at medium-high speed until soft peaks form. Makes about 2 1/4 cups
1 1/2 cups icing sugar
1 egg white (use pasteurized eggs if concerned)
1 Tbsp lemon juice
Beat icing sugar and egg white on medium speed for about 2 minutes until smooth and thick. Add lemon juice and beat on high for another minute, until smooth and glossy. Makes about 1 cup
You can also add 1/2 tsp vanilla (almond, or any other flavor extract ) and a pinch of salt to either recipe to help balance out the sweetness.
For Vegan Royal Icing:
1 cup icing sugar, sifted
2 tsp milk alternative or water
2 tsp light corn syrup
1/4 tsp flavor extract (ie. vanilla, almond, etc)
Sift icing sugar into a bowl and stir in milk substitute until smooth. Beat in remaining ingredients until smooth, about a minute.
Once blended, the icing will be of a 'stiff' consistency (although depending on the size of eggs used, you may need to add a bit more icing sugar to thicken it up so when you pipe it, it stays its shape). This is what you can use for piping outlines and designs directly onto cakes or onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Allow to dry completely - this may take up to 24 hours depending on thickness and humidity.
For more information on the different types (consistencies) of royal icing and decorating tips, check out Royal Icing Techniques.
To frost cookies with royal icing, first outline their shape with the stiff icing. Then place some of the icing into a small dish and thin it out with a few drops of water until it has the consistency of syrup, this is your 'flood' consistency. Make sure its not too thin, or air bubbles will readily form. The goal is to get the mixture just thick enough so that the air bubbles won't have time to get to the surface before the icing hardens. If you made the icing too thin, stir in some of the stiff icing - do not add more icing sugar as it will affect the texture at this point.
Carefully spoon the icing into the center of the cookie, then use a small offset spatula to push the icing around to fill in the entire shape. Taking care not to break the outline (or the icing will pour out). Use a toothpick to pop any air bubbles that form. Allow to dry at room temperature until the surface is dry and hardened.
Save any left over icing in a sealed container, placing a piece of plastic wrap over the surface of the icing, and keep in the fridge for up to 3 days.
For some unique and beautiful ideas on how to decorate using royal icing, see our Royal Icing Techniques.