Monday, January 30, 2012

Making and Using Homemade Royal Icing (Chemical Free) to Decorate Cookies

We just had a lovely party in honor of our baby, Anneliese, on Saturday. (We don't do baby showers- we welcome babies into the world only after they arrive all the way.)

I wanted to make some cute cookies, girly themed (after 2 boys, I'm bringing out the pink full force) to serve at the party. Only, I didn't want to serve any chemicals or anything like that, so I made my own homemade food coloring. And I didn't want to spend a bunch of money on paying some fancy cookie maker to make these cookies for our party, so despite never having learned "officially" to cake/cookie decorate, I decided to make my own cookies... and looking at the results, they were a smashing success. There were various bits and bobs left over from the party we threw, but not a single cookie left- people even asked if they could take cookies home for family members that couldn't make it, they loved the cookies that much.

I have a cookie cutter in the shape of a girl that I bought a few years back. (I own exactly 2 cookie cutters, a boy and a girl. That's it.)
I used this recipe from allrecipes.com- I couldn't taste it, but everyone who ate them said they tasted really delicious, so I highly recommend it. After making a bunch of those cookies and letting them fully cool, I made my homemade food coloring and then decorated the cookies with homemade royal icing. I wanted royal icing specifically because royal icing dries hard, so you don't have to worry about the frosting rubbing off the cookie and getting everything dirty.
Now usually royal icing calls for meringue powder, and you know me, I don't like using any specialty ingredients because they're usually a fortune, and something like meringue powder is probably processed enough that it isn't healthy. So here's how I made and used royal icing using only what was in the house.

Homemade Frugal (and Chemical Free) Royal Icing

1 egg white
300 grams powdered sugar (approximately 2.5 cups)
Homemade beet food coloring
Water to thin

1. Separate your egg and beat the egg white until it forms stiff peaks. (I used my yolk to make homemade mayonnaise.)

2. Add your powdered sugar. You can make your own powdered sugar by blending regular sugar in a coffee grinder until you get a powder. It'll be pretty thick at this point.

3. Add some food coloring. Add more for a darker color, less for a lighter color. Depending on how much food coloring you use, it'll be thicker or thinner. Add water, a little bit at a time, to thin down until you get a nice workable consistency (approximately like thicker mashed potatoes- too runny and it'll not work out well.) If you don't don't care about the chemicals and are using regular store bought food coloring, the color will be more concentrated than the beet coloring, so you'll need to add more water to get the right consistency.

This can be used right away or stored in a sealed container in the fridge for a few days until used.

Frosting with Royal Icing with No Decorating Equipment:

1. Put your icing in a little sandwich bag, remove as much air as possible, then tie the bag shut.

2. Cut a teeny, tiny hole in the very corner of the bag. Start off with a teeny tiny hole- if you see you want a thicker line of royal icing, you can always make the hole bigger, but you can't make it smaller again.

3. Hold the bag in your hand and squeeze out your icing onto your cookies, working slowly and methodically so the line is an even line. You want the tip of the bag just above the cookie, but not touching. Decorate the cookie as you see fit.

4. I started off making little dresses on the girls. But the dresses weren't perfect. Some lines weren't exact, etc... So I improvised and made polka dots or stripes or other decorations on the dresses to hide the imperfections. (I used the original flaw as part of the decoration.)

5. I then added a face and bows to the girls' hair.

6. One perk of using royal icing is that once dry, the frosting doesn't push- it dries completely, completely solid. But it needs to dry for 12 hours, otherwise the frosting will mush and you'll need to decorate again to fix the mistakes. (Not that I'd know... :-D)

So, there you have it- how I made these cute little girly cookies with no chemicals, no special equipment, and no experience whatsoever with cake or cookie decorating.

They were such a hit that I had a few people requesting these as baby presents for when they throw a party in honor of their daughters' births.

P.S. I know these cookies weren't perfect. But they were made with soul, and they were cheap, and they were yummy, so that's what really counts after all.

Have you ever learned how to cake/cookie decorate? Have you ever made royal icing? What did you make with it?
Would you serve something homemade and less than perfect looking at a party, or would you insist on professionalism, because anything less "wouldn't fly" in your community?

Linking up to the Hearth and Soul Blog Hop 

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