Lori’s Favorite Royal Icing Recipe

When I first started making sugar cookies and royal icing, I used a recipe that called for meringue powder. My icing never was perfectly smooth, it had a lot of clumps and would dry spongy. Eek! One day, or should I say days, it didn’t dry at all!

That’s when I started searching the trusty Internet for a new recipe. I read several articles and watch many a YouTube video about what royal icing recipe people really liked. Then as the experimenter that I am, I tried several and found a favorite. I’ve been using this recipe for six months now, and after refining it a little bit to make it more economical (ca-ching!) we have a bonafide winner!

Print Recipe
Lori's Favorite Royal Icing Recipe
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 5 minutes
Servings
cookies
Ingredients
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 5 minutes
Servings
cookies
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Place powdered sugar into mixing bowl of a stand mixer. Mixing beater and a bowl would also work, but a stand mixer is more convenient.
  2. Add egg whites and water to bowl.
  3. Using a whisk attachment on your stand mixer, start the speed on low and whisk until the ingredients come together.
  4. Once the ingredients are a mixture, turn the speed to high/medium high and let whisk for two minutes.
  5. After two minutes, your icing should be whipped and thick. This is a good basic royal icing. This thickness would be a good glue for gingerbread houses. If you are using this royal icing to decorate cookies, scoop some out into a smaller bowl to work with and cover this main bowl with a damp towel. (You need both the cover and the moisture to prevent drying out.)
  6. For Cookies: Once you've scooped out a bit into a smaller bowl, add your food coloring. We like the liquid gel coloring. ( You can buy Wilton, Hobby Lobby brand or Americolor)
  7. Color your icing (noting that the color will deeping with time!) We usually make and color our icing the day before we want to use it, as the color changes quite a bit over night.
  8. If you make your icing the day before, you'll want to wrap it up in plastic wrap overnight. If you make it more day in advance, make sure that you double wrap it, as only one wrapping isn't enough to prevent leaking (trust us, we know!)
  9. Once you've achieved the right color, you can then thin out the icing with water to outline, dimension or flood consistency.
  10. We'll make a video and add pictures soon on consistency and such to help you even more. Good luck and post a picture if you've used this recipe. We'd love to see your results and if you love it as much as we do!

Make Your Own Cookie Cutter

Once you start making sugar cookies, you might find that you never have enough cookie cutters. You might even find that it’s midnight and you need a tooth cookie cutter and you can’t wait the two days for Amazon to ship it to you. Or, you may want a custom cookie cutter that doesn’t exist — like one for our local LDS temple. What’s a girl to do? Why, make your own, of course! Making your own cookie cutter is a fun project that allows you flexibility of getting the shape you want on your own time frame. Join us as we learn how to easily make our own custom cookie cutters. 

What You'll Need

– Aluminum flashing (from a hardware store, like Home Depot. Make sure it isn’t coated with any chemicals. If it’s shiny, it usually doesn’t have a coating. Ask a worker if you have questions. There are shorter pieces of flashing, but non are this thin. The thicker kind makes it harder to bend smoothly.)

– Needle nose pliers, jewelry-sized (the ones I’m using are smaller ones from the jewelry section of the craft store. This set has an extra long nose.)

– template, drawing or photo, or use the bird template I used

– scotch tape

– craft scissors

– ruler

– twine or string

Directions

1. Flatten the flashing with your hands. 

2. Then, line up your ruler with the edge, and trace it down the entire length.  

3. Using craft scissors, cut all the way down the flashing. This may be a little tricky, but it’s totally doable. CAUTION: The edges — especially the edge you cut — can be sharp. Please be careful.

4. Once you finish cutting the strip, inspect it for any rough edges, and trim accordingly. 

5. Next, use the twine to measure around the perimeter of the template. You’ll do this to determine the amount of aluminum strip you’ll need. Then take the twine and measure it against the strip. I always allow for a little bit more…just in case. Note, you’ll need it to be a little bit longer than the actual perimeter because you’ll need to overlap the strip when you secure it.  

6. Now it’s time to mold the strip around the template. Find the edge that you cut and make sure it’s facing down towards the paper. It will be sharper than the commercially-cut edge and you don’t want to cut yourself when you make cookies. 

7. First find the straightest edge of the perimeter. You’ll want to do this because when you finish your cookie cutter and have to overlap the ends, it’s easier to do so on a straight piece. 

8. Hold the strip to the edge of the template and slowly bend it as you go. Make sure to keep checking your strip against the template to ensure you’re keeping the right shape. 

9. Now we’re getting to our first angle. Holding the strip against the template, mark it where the end of the bird starts to angle upwards. I like using this thin sharpie because its writes well on the aluminum. This is what it looks like when you mark it. Pay attention to which direction you are going to bend it. These strips are pretty thin, making it easy to get the shape you want, but it doesn’t like to be bent back and forth more than once —  It tends to break. 

10. Grab our needle nose pliers and clamp along the line you just made. I’ve found the best way to bend these strips is fast and hard — it creates the best angles. Don’t be shy, just bend it. If you make a mistake, it’s not a huge deal, since the flashing is so inexpensive. If you want, you can practice making angles on scrap pieces before you start making your first cookie cutter.

11. Once you’ve made your angle, check your cutter with your template and see if you need to make that angle wider or narrower. Here we need to make it a bit more narrow. After you get it to the right angle, you may want to crimp it a little bit to get it just right. 

12. Measure your cutter against your template again and start curving the strip up the bird’s back. Continue on till you finish the its head.

13. Once you finish the bird’s head, you’re coming up to another sharp angle for the beak. Like the first angle, make sure to mark the cutter with a marker.

14. Place the needle nose pliers again at the marking and make a nice, sharp bend. Compare it again to your template and make any adjustments. 

15. You’ll make another two angles to finish the beak. You can always fine tune the shape later, but try to get it pretty close. Now that you’re close to finishing, it begins to be a little tricky to get your cutter to match up in all parts of the template. Don’t worry, once you’ve completed your template, you’ll be able to fine tune it. 

16. When you’ve completely gone around your template, you’re almost done. Make sure to continue past the beginning about a quarter of an inch. 

17. Fastening your cookie cutter is pretty easy. All you need to do is line up the edges and place a piece of scotch tape around the seam. I remember when I first heard that you seal your cookie cutter with scotch tape. I didn’t think it would be permanent enough. A lot of experts swear it’s a long-term option and that it’s even washable. Since I’ve been making these for a few months, I haven’t had any problems. Besides, if you ever do need to replace the tape, well, that’s an easy fix.

 

18. And there you have it. A cookie cutter you made all by yourself. Practice does make perfect. You’ll love being able to create any cookie cutter you want on a whim. See how far your imagination takes you!.

Tooth & Braces Sugar Cookies

When you need to say “I’m Sorry” to your Orthodontist because you completely forgot about an appointment, and you’re working on your sugar-cookie game, then really, there’s only one thing you can do…make sugar cookies in the shape of teeth!

The braces were a bit of a struggle as I wasn’t sure how exactly to do them, but I found a smaller tip #1 and doing both the mouth and the braces in gray helped it look cuter.

I also tried edible dusting powder from Sugarbelle for the first time. My local craft store only had “rose gold,” instead of pink, giving the blushing cheeks more of a orangish-color. It wasn’t my first choice, but the other craft store is sooooooo far away, so “rose gold” won. I think I went a bit heavy on the dusting powder. You mix it with flavoring extract so that it will adhere to the cookie. I tried to use just a drop, but I think next time I will use less.

Another new thing — I made this tooth cookie cutter! Yes, I finally mastered cookie cutter-making, and it’s pretty darn simple! I found the materials to make them at my local hardware store too, and it only cost pennies! Stay tuned for a new tutorial coming soon on how to make your own. 

I hope you enjoy these cookies, and yes, I get the irony of getting a dental office sugar 🙂

Hearts & Roses Sugar Cookies

A little Valentine’s Day sugar cookie inspiration from Lori Garcia Studios.

I grew up calling hearts Valentine’s. I’m not sure why, but this is what my cute, southern-mama Linda called them. So even though I labeled this post “Hearts & Roses Sugar Cookies,” in my head I’m calling them “Valentines & Roses Sugar Cookies.”

These are this year’s sugar cookies I made my family for Valentine’s Day, designing these cookies to look like the heart-shaped chocolate boxes I remember from my childhood.

I’ve been working on making my own cookie cutters — after last year’s fail — and I have some promising results. In fact, the rose cookies I made this year, are actually from cookie cutters I made myself! If you told me it would work out after last year’s fail, I don’t think I would believe you…but as the old adage goes, “If you first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” Mama Linda was right, hard work does payoff!

Bakery-Style Buttercream Frosting: Your New Go-to Recipe

This bakery-style frosting is light, creaming and full of flavor. It doesn’t taste like it came from a tub from the store…it’s so much better!

With just a few ingredients, it’s easy to make and so versatile it will become your go-to frosting recipe. The best part, people will swear it comes from a bakery!

Ingredients:

1/2 cup softened butter

1/2 cup vegetable shortening

1 lb (about half a bag) of powdered sugar

2-4 Tb hot water (although could be more if you like a looser frosting)

1 t vanilla extract

 

Directions:

1. Cream together the butter and shortening with an electric mixer until smooth and incorporated. You can use either the paddle or whip attachment, if you are using a stand mixer.

2. With your mixer on low, slowly add the powdered sugar. Continue to higher speeds after the sugar is well-combined. Continue to mix until fluffy.

3. Add vanilla flavoring (or really any flavoring you would like) and continue to mix.

4. Add hot water (the hottest you can get from the tap) one tablespoon at a time to the frosting, as it beats on low.

5. Use right away. If you do need to store it, it should keep in the refrigerator for a week. When you remove it from the fridge it will be a bit stiff. Place the frosting back in the mixing bowl and follow step 4 again. This will help the frosting become fluffy and absolutely perfect again!

Groundhog Day Cupcakes

If you have a few minutes you can make these Groundhog Day cupcakes. Whether you make them completely from scratch, or use store-bought items, these adorable cupcakes are a lot of reward for a little effort.

Groundhog Day Cupcakes

What you’ll need…

– Cupcakes (make your own or buy them, we won’t tell!)

– Chocolate frosting (some for frosting the cupcakes, some in a pastry tube or plastic ziptop bag for decorating the groundhog face)

– Oreos, or other chocolate sandwich cookies, chocolate graham crackers or other chocolate crackers

– Nilla Wafers

– Sliced Almonds

Instructions

1.Make or buy cupcakes and frost them lightly with chocolate frosting. Set aside.

2. If you’re using Oreos, take cookies apart and scrape cream filling off cookies and discard (aka eat later when no one is looking :p) (If you’re using chocolate graham crackers or other chocolate crackers, skip this step).

3. Place cookies/crackers in plastic zip top bag and seal the bag. Using a rolling pin, roll over the cookies/crackers to smash them into crumbs.

4. Sprinkle the crumbs on top of the frosting on the cupcakes. These crumbs are the “dirt” for the groundhogs.

5. Holding the Nilla Wafer vertically, push it into the middle of the cupcake, creating the groundhog’s face.

6. Put the remainder of the chocolate frosting in a pastry bag with a small, round tip (like Wilton’s #1 or #2), or a ziptop bag if you don’t have or don’t want to fuss with a pastry bag. If using a ziptop bag, cut a small hole at the top for the detailed piping work.

7. Using the bagged frosting, pipe two dots for eyes and a heart for the nose. Attach two sliced almonds for the ears.

To package, place the cupcakes back in the store-bought cupcake container and trim with Easter-basket grass and ribbon/raffia. You can also place a cupcake individually into a disposable, plastic drinking glass. Wrap in a plastic bag and tie with a ribbon or raffia.

A cupcake wrapped in a cup are great for a lunchbox treat, as they won’t be damaged in travel.

I hope you enjoyed this little tutorial. Now, I’m off for a healthy breakfast (only if cupcakes count as “healthy!”

Sugar Cookies, Part 2 – How to Decorate the Perfect Cookie, the Easy Way!

In this article….

Find out the absolutely easiest way to decorate sugar cookies, from this self-proclaimed Lazy Girl.

Sugar cookies are one of my current, favorite projects — it’s food that is art! This is part two in our series, where I show you how to decorate professional-looking sugar cookies with royal icing. Watch the video or follow the step-by-step blog post, complete with pictures. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do! Let me know if you have any questions, I’d love to help. Also, I’d love to see your sugar-cookie results. Share them with me in the comments below!

Check out the video and see how simple it is to decorate the perfect sugar cookie, the easy way:


Perfect Sugar Cookies, Part 2 – Decorate the Perfect Cookie, the Easy Way!

Royal Icing Recipe

Ingredients:

1/2 cup water

4 tablespoons meringue powder*

1 teaspoon clear almond extract (optional)

1 lb (about 4 cups) powdered sugar


Directions:

1. Add water and then meringue powder to your mixing bowl and beat on slow speed  until just combined.

2. Add the almond extract. This is optional, but it really makes the cookies taste sooooo good! Make sure it is clear, though, as we want the icing to be as white as possible. Mix on low till combined.

3. Add 1 lb or about 4 cups of powdered sugar to your mixing bowl. (A lot of recipes call for sifting the powdered sugar first, to help prevent clumps, but honestly, after doing both ways for more than a year now, I haven’t noticed a difference. Since I’m always looking for ways to help make life simpler, I just skip it. But this is just my experience. If you love to sift, then sift away 🙂 Also note, that 1 lb of sugar is usually half a bag, as they tend to come in 2-lb bags.)

4. Mix on low until combined, then move the speed up to high. We’re looking to take our meringues to the stiff peak stage.

5. After a few minutes, take a look. Here, mine are not quite stiff enough. I’m going to beat them for a few more minutes.

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6. And this is what we are looking for….nice stiff peaks. Another way you can tell if you’ve reached this stage is that the beater gets filled with the icing.

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7. Next remove the beater and place a towel over your bowl to keep the icing from drying out.

8. Scoop some of your icing into a smaller bowl (like a cereal bowl) and add food coloring. I like to use gel food coloring from Wilton* or AmeriColor. Here I’m adding twice as much green drops as yellow. It’s always surprising to me how much food coloring it takes to color icing. I wound up adding more to get just the right shade of Christmas-tree green.

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9. Now that we have the right color, we need to find the right consistency.

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10. Decorating sugar cookies — and making them look professional — is all about the consistency of the royal icing. A lot of sugar-cookie bakers like to make a three different consistencies of icing for their cookies, but I’ve found a lot easier way to make them! I found a way that let’s me only make two different kinds of icing, and it helps with lots of other issues!

Royal Icing #1 – For outlining and flood cookies

Royal Icing #2 – Thicker for little details and decorations

My technique for icing sugar cookies…

  • virtually ELIMINATES air bubbles in your icing
  • saves time — you only have to make two different types and there’s no waiting for the outline to dry!
  • almost mistake-free! Outlining can be tricky….move your hand in the wrong direction, and your outline (and therefore your sugar cookie) is ruined! This way of decorating them, it is EASY TO CORRECT MISTAKES!

11. We’re going to make the 1st type of icing: for outlining and flooding. (I think the consistency resembles running peanut butter.)

12. Add small amounts of water to thin out your icing until it has the runny-peanut-butter look. I use 1/2 teaspoon of water at a time. It’s easy to add more water, but harder to make it thicker, if you’ve made it too thin.

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13. This is what we’re looking for. When I drizzle it with a spoon, it slowly loses its shape, and to me this resembles runny peanut butter. You can always try it out on a sample cookie or parchment, and if it doesn’t self-level, you can always squeeze your icing back into the bowl and add a bit more water to it. After a while it will be easy to spot if it’s the right consistency.

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14. Add your icing to a tip-less bag. I absolutely LOVE these Yueton bags that I found on Amazon. They are relatively cheap and make icing sugar cookies a dream. Because they don’t use a tip, there’s nothing to clean — no tip or coupler. They were definitely a game-changer.

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15. Once the bag is filled, make sure to run your fingers on the tip a couple of times. This helps prevent the bag from sticking to itself.

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16. Another bonus of the tip-less bags, is that you choose the size of hole you need. Just trim it to your desired size. Here’s I’m snipping it pretty small (similar to a size 1 or 2 size tip)

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17. Now it’s time for the fun part….decorating the cookies! First you’re going to outline the cookies. You want to hold the bag and apply medium pressure so that the icing flows out of the tip. Note that the tip doesn’t ever touch the cookie, but the icing floats down to where you want it to go. If the icing is breaking, try applying a little more pressure. Just float above the cookie, letting the icing fall onto it. After you practice a couple of times, it will get easier. You’ll know how to balance the amount of pressure with the speed you travel with your hand. Practice makes perfect. If you notice that your outline is breaking, and doesn’t seem to want to go where you want it too, the icing may be too stiff. You may want to thin it out some more.

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18. If you should accidentally make a mistake with your outline, no worries! Because of this method of outlining and flooding at the same time, you can easily re-draw your mistakes. Since we’re filling the outline in right away, you won’t see it. This epiphany took my sugar cookies from amateur to awesome.

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19. Once the outline is done, increase the pressure that you’re squeezing the bag and fill in the middle of the cookie. This is called flooding. Go along the edge and move around the cookie lightly moving the icing as you go. Remember, by using this same icing consistency to outline and flood the cookie, you are saving time, preventing air bubbles and are able to easily fix outlining mistakes.
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20. Next, we use the same consistency icing for the trunk of our Christmas tree.
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21. Now we’re making our second type of icing — the thicker consistency I use for the decorations. How do you know if you got it right? I usually test on some parchment paper, but it was too hard to see on camera, so I’m using a test cookie. I know the icing is thick enough because it holds it shape as a ball, but yet not too thick, as it were, it would have little spikes in the middle of the ball. Really, it’s all about trial and error and knowing what you’re looking for.
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22. We’ll make little Christmas lights on this tree to give it some decoration. The green part of our tree is not completely dry yet, but dry enough that the white christmas lights float above it.
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23. And there you have it….our finished cookie……made at home, but it looks like it came from a bakery. With a little practice you too, will be making these delightful treats just in time for the holidays.
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I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. Don’t forget to pin it and share it with friends on social media.
Until next time, I’m Lori and this is Lori Garcia Studios.

*  (Tip: buy it at Michaels or Hobby Lobby using their 40% off coupon. I might just always have it available on my phone. And yes, Michaels will match competitor’s coupons!)

Sugar Cookies, Part 1 – How to Make the Perfect Cookie

In this article….Find out to make sugar cookies that don’t lose their shape, and taste delicious!

Sugar cookies are one of my current, favorite projects — it’s food that is art. What’s not to love?! And since I dove head first into sugar-cookie making about a year ago, I have learned quite a bit, and found what works and what doesn’t. In this two-part series, I show you how to make professional-looking sugar cookies from start to finish. Watch the video or follow the step-by-step blog post, complete with pictures. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do! Let me know if you have any questions, I’d love to help. Also, I’d love to see your sugar-cookie results. Share them with me in the comments below!

Check out the video and see how simple it is to make the Perfect Sugar Cookie:


Perfect Sugar Cookies, Part 1 – Making the Cookies

Ingredients:

2 cups, or 4 sticks, of butter, softened

2 cups sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 teaspoons almond extract

5 cups flour


Directions:

1. Cream butter and sugar together until well combined. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the edges of the bowl.

2. Add eggs, salt and extract. It’s the almond extract that takes your cookies from dull to delicious! Trust me. It’s a game-changer.

3. Slowly add flour.

4. Continue to mix until well combined. Scrape the edges and bottom of the bowl a second time.

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5. Scoop about a cup of batter onto a cookie-sheet-sized piece of parchment paper. Place a second piece of parchment onto the dough.

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6. Use a rolling pin to roll out of the dough until its about 1/4″ thick.

7. Place the rolled-out dough onto a cookie sheet and place it all in the freezer for about 15-20 minutes until solid. This is a tip that will help your cookies be easier to cut out, and they won’t lose their shape!

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8. Remove from freezer, and take off the top piece of parchment paper.

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9. Use your cookie cutter to cut the dough.The dough should be like one solid piece, but you should still be able to get the cutter through. If it’s too frozen, you may have to let it thaw a bit before continuing.

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10. The cutout should come out of the dough along with the cookie cutter. Gently push the dough out of the cutter with your hands. Pay special attention to smaller areas, like the trunk in this case. Because the dough is frozen, it should keep its shape really well. If there are any stray pieces, use your fingers to smooth it.

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11. Place them on a baking sheet and bake at 350 for about 10 minutes, or until the edges are golden.

And there you go. The perfect sugar cookies, that taste divine and keep their shape. Join us for part two of the series, where we learn how to decorate sugar cookies like a pro. You’ll be making cookies for all your family and friends, and they’ll think they came from a bakery. That’s next time at Lori Garcia Studios.

Happy Homecoming Sugar Cookies!

Fall is by far my favorite time of year. The weather is cooler, the kids go back to school, hot cocoa abounds, the kids go back to school, there’s time for fun projects and did I mention the kids go back to school?! I do love my crazy kiddos, but it is nice to be able to complete a thought without getting interrupted.

My oldest plays football for the high school, and of course I found an excuse to hone in my sugar cookie decorating skills. I’m far, far — light years really — from perfect, but I feel like I’m getting a handle on what works, and what doesn’t when it comes to icing them. I started using almond extract in my cookies and the icing, and I really think it gives it something extra.

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So for these homecoming football-themed cookies, I made the footballs first, then the other cookies. The footballs were a bit over ambitious — who me? ambitious? so, so guilty — and so I decided to make a second batch that were a bit simpler. (This is where my husband would declare me crazy, if he weren’t away on business, and say that 9th grade boys would not care, but I cared darn it!) So I made a second batch of footballs, and you know what, they turned out worse. Yep. Should have stuck to the first batch. Oh well, as I read on the Internet the other day, “You win or you learn.” I may not have “won” the homecoming cookie game, but I definitely learned what not to do next time 🙂

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ABOVE: This is the first cookie. I “fixed” it, but I still wasn’t happy with it, so I made a different batch (as seen in the trio of cookies above). I think I like this one better, though. Lessons learned 🙂

Enjoy! Made any cookies lately, I’d love to see them!

Lori