I have been playing around with royal icing for the last few days because I have been determined to make cute cookies for the super bowl. When I was in Portland, I came across a cooking store that was selling their cookie cutters for 50 cents apiece. I was able to pick up a football shaped one and a helmet shaped one for a dollar. Which is what sparked this idea.
I had heard that using royal icing was difficult, so rather than screwing up my cookies for the party, I thought I would do a test run earlier in the week with cookies that I had picked up from the supermarket. I stuck with white frosting because hey, the simpler for my first time, the better.
The cookies turned out better than expected, but not as well as I had hoped. The centers had pooled fairly well and had dried relatively smooth and matte. However, the piped edges were lumpy and hardly up to my standards. On the up side however, I managed not to leave any gaps which might have allowed frosting to escape after in floods the center of the cookie. So really, things could have been worse.
I felt much better prepared to ice the football themed cookies on Saturday. The royal icing was still difficult to work with, though I had read up more on royal icing and thought about my approach for the second batch of iced cookies. Over all though, I felt much more comfortable by the time I was finished with the football cookies.
This was partially because of how much more difficult these were than the first batch. The had lots of edges, a multitude of colors and the footballs even had laces piped on top of them! I am happy with how smooth and perfect the centers turned out to be, but I am still working on piping the outlines more consistently. The cookies turned out so cute though, that I am sure I will be making these again soon with a different theme. My only problem with these cookies is that as adorable as they look, they only taste ok. I'm not sure if making the royal icing with egg whites instead of meringue powder was make the taste more to my liking, but I may try that next time.
1 lb unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1½ tsp salt
5 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, vanilla, and salt; mix on medium-high speed until combined. With mixer on low speed, add flour in two batches, mixing until just incorporated.
Turn out dough onto a clean work surface. Divide in half, and pat into flattened rectangles; wrap each in plastic. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 1 week.
Preheat oven to 350°F., with rack in upper and lower thirds. Line large baking sheets with parchment paper. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out one rectangle of dough to a scant ¼-inch thickness. Using cookie cutters, cut out shapes. Using a small offset spatula, transfer shapes to prepared sheets, placing about 2 inches apart. Chill in freezer or refrigerator until firm, about 15 minutes. Set scraps aside. Repeat process with remaining rectangle of dough. Gather all the scraps, and roll out again. Chill 15 minutes; cut out more shapes, and place on sheets.
(source Martha Stewart)
For the royal icing
4 cups powdered sugar
3 tbsp meringue powder
5 tbsp water
Once the cookies have cooled, pipe the outline of each cookie. Then add a few teaspoons of water to the remaining frosting until it is of a pourable consistency, but is not too thin. The trick is to add the water a teaspoon at a time and check it by pouring a spoonful of icing back into the bowl. If it melds into the rest of the icing in about 10 seconds, it's thin enough.
Next pipe the thinned icing inside the outlines using a plastic bag with one corner snipped off. Use a toothpick to smooth it out the edges and drag the frosting to the edge and into all crevices. Don't worry if the surface doesn't look smooth at first. It smoothes out as it dries.
If desired, once the icing has dried, additional designs can be piped on top with the thicker version of the icing.
(source Jackie's Cooking Adventures)