Royal Icing That Doesn't Dry Rock Hard

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There is one thing every cookier needs in their arsenal… a favorite royal icing recipe. The royal icing recipe that I’m sharing with you today is my favorite because it is not only yummy (of course!) but it is the perfect texture. There is a not-so-secret ingredient that allows the icing to harden enough for stacking and shipping while remaining soft on the inside. No more biting into a beautifully decorated cookie and cringing because the icing is rock hard!
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Step 1:

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Begin by using a whisk to mix 5 tablespoons of meringue powder and 3/4 teaspoon of cream of tartar with 3/4 cup of warm water. Mix it for about 30 seconds, making sure that you get rid of all lumps.

If you are not familiar with meringue powder, it is used in royal icing as a substitute for raw eggs whites. Look, Mom, no Salmonella! It also helps to stabilize the icing and give it a nice texture. You can find it at your local craft store in the baking section or online. I started out using Wilton brand meringue powder, but have found that I prefer the taste of CK.

Step 2:

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Now, get ready for a vicious arm workout! In a separate large bowl, sift two pounds of powdered sugar. I always make a mess doing this, so if you figure out how to do this without getting sugar everywhere, you’re a superstar in my eyes! Pssst… I heard an unconfirmed rumor that you can skip the sifting as long as you’re not doing piping with a really small tip.
klixtopher1 year ago
Great instructable. In step 3 you mention "1/4 butter" as a flavouring. is that butter or butter flavouring and how much 1/4 tsp? Tbsp? I hope to get to use this soon. Thanks. (author)  klixtopher1 year ago
Sorry about that. It's 1/4 tsp butter flavoring.
topcat51 year ago
I have a couple of tips for no mess sifting. First empty the bag of confectioners sugar into a container that you can store it in and more importantly dip out with either a measuring cup or large spoon.

Second use an old fashioned sifter. This is the kind with a crank on the side. Fill it over your sugar container, move it to your mixing bowl and slowly turn the crank. You won't have any mess.

Thanks for the nice instructable. (author)  topcat51 year ago
Thanks! Those tips totally make sense. I will give them a try.
I use a sieve, about 4" across, to sift ingredients when I bake.

Great recipe!
Meringue powder already has the cream of tartar in it so I don't think you need to add more.
Beekeeper1 year ago
That's an interesting product though a bit synthetic for my taste. One question, does the addition of milk tend to make it go bad eventually, especially if it is stored for any length of time in the fridge? When I was young it was traditional to have a multi-tired wedding cake that would be covered in royal icing. The bottom tier was cut and eaten at the wedding and the upper tiers were saved for the christenings of any future children, possibly three or four years later. The cake and icing survived the wait without refrigeration. Some of the wedding cake and the smaller christening cake(s) were cut up and put into little boxes and sent in the mail to family and friends who were unable to come to the wedding or christening. I don't think this is done anymore which is a pity.
Anything with milk in it will eventually spoil and go rancid. Milk has fat in it which is what goes rancid. I make it a habit to always use water or corn syrup to thin any kind of icing because any icing that has milk in it has to be refrigerated or it will spoil. Not to mention that many people, including me, are lactose intolerant. Adding milk to the icing would send us running for the bathroom. I think the idea with milk is its creamyness and people want creamy icing too.
Putting glycerin in royal icing is a very old trick and it could be that is what the wedding cakes of old had in them to keep them. Those cakes must have been wrapped up in something air tight otherwise the cake would have dried out after all those years. Now you've got me curious... (author)  Beekeeper1 year ago
Yes, I think that the addition of milk would cause this icing to have an expiration date. I have always thinned it by adding water so it lasts pretty much forever.
shroomgirl1 year ago
Looks great! One suggestion? Maybe put a list of ingredients on the first page. I like to know what I need before I start and it is easy to miss things when you have to read through the recipe to find them. :)
JustBlend1 year ago
that looks soooo good :-) (author)  JustBlend1 year ago
Thank you!
Put a large piece of parchment paper under the bowl. Then you can pour all the spilled sugar back into the bowl when you're done sifting. :) (author)  lisadesigns1 year ago
Good thinking! I do that with sprinkles but never thought about it for sugar.
Hauntedzoo1 year ago
That blue icing is gorgeous! (author)  Hauntedzoo1 year ago
Thank you! I love how bright the yellow came out too!