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Icing Recipes For Holiday Cookies
Three Icing Recipes
Cookie bakers often finish their creations with icing or frosting. It enhances both the appearance and the flavor of the cookies, and the process is fun! I've included recipes for two of the more common types: royal icing and buttercream, plus one variation.
Don't hesitate to play with all sorts of fun colors and toppings. You can add the usual colored sugars and sprinkles to the iced cookies, but also think about options such as small candies, shredded coconut, and finely chopped nuts. A basic icing bag and tip set can be a great addition to your tool kit.
I recommend investing in paste food colors. While a bit more expensive up-front, the little jars last a long time and give a much greater variety - and depth - than the liquid types. They're also less likely to change the texture of the icing. Just be careful to blend thoroughly and avoid the little lumps that can form around the lip of the coloring container.
Royal icing allows very precise lines and finishes. You see it used on a lot of those exquisitely detailed Christmas cookies in magazines.
Since it is naturally white, it also tints well with paste food colors. Royal icing will cure quite hard when made with this recipe (there is a variation that uses meringue powder that will remain workable longer).
Make sure your bowls and tools are grease-free, and keep the icing covered with a damp towel while working with it.
This recipe does use raw egg whites. Please exercise judgment relative to your situation.
Makes approximately 2 1/2 cups.
3 eggs whites, room temperature
4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon light corn syrup or glycerine
Beat the egg whites until foamy (a heavy duty stand mixer is recommended). Gradually add the powdered sugar, lemon juice, and corn syrup or glycerine while continuing to beat at high speed. Beat until soft peaks form. Use immediately.
Suggested Tools and Supplies
Decorating bags and tips are very handy.
These crank style sifters are easy to use.
Buttercream works beautifully and adds a lot of flavor to baked goods, but it is temperature sensitive. Avoid using it if the finished goods will be sitting out in warm weather for an extended period.
It keeps for about a week in the refrigerator. Buttercream is naturally a soft ivory, so colors will be subtly different from the results you get with royal icing.
Makes approximately 3 cups.
12 Tablespoons unsalted butter, slightly softened
4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2 Tablespoons milk, cream, or water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cream together the butter and half of the powdered sugar. Beat in the rest of the sugar and the liquids. Beat until smooth. Add colors if desired, blending well.
Store covered in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Cream Cheese Buttercream
This variation on the classic has a bit of tang to counteract the sweet. The texture is very similar to classic buttercream, and it should be handled the same way.
Allow plenty of blending time to work in all of the cream cheese, otherwise it tends to appear as tiny white lumps in the finished icing.
Makes approximately 3 1/2 cups.
8 Tablespoons unsalted butter, slightly softened
8 ounces cream cheese
2 3/4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2 teaspoons milk or vanilla extract
Beat the butter and cream cheese until fluffy. Gradually add the sugar and the liquids and beat until smooth. Add colors and blend thoroughly.
Try any of these icings with my Classic Cutout Sugar Cookies. The cream cheese buttercream adds a particularly nice contrast to the sugar cookies.