You know, there is something about a long vacation away from everything that gives me this strong, entitled urge to do nothing. No work + no school = no “should”s. Shoulds are those nagging pests that don’t actually exist but end up on our to-do lists anyway. I made absolutely no room for them during this winter break, because I justified it as being my Last Official Winter Break EVER (I graduate college this June). Therefore, I deserved to be self-righteously lazy and shoulds were to be avoided at all costs (which made all of the sense at the time). This blog turned into one of those shoulds that I escaped. Not to say that this is something I don’t enjoy doing, but compared to sleeping in, browsing netflix, reading blogs, and eating the consistently delicious food my parents make instead of making it for myself, it did start to feel like something I should do rather than something I wanted to do. Now that I’m about to be thrust back into the world of non-hobby, no nonsense shoulds, I’m starting to cling to this blog as one of my “want”s again. Such is life. But my blog doesn’t mind. Whether I’m too busy for it or not busy enough, it will always be here for me right where I left it. Even if I’m making a Christmas-related post 4 days into the new year. My blog is not here to judge. Though I can’t really say the same for you, dear reader, I suggest you take a look at my sweet pics (pun intended) and reconsider.
So actually, this post is more about me showing off than about me giving you new and ingenious recipes. I tried my hand at my very first royal icing coated sugar cookies attempt, and I am pretty damn proud of the results.
So much so, that these were the only Christmas gifts I gave away this year. This also had to do with how little money I had and how surprisingly inexpensive these little cuties are to make, but still.
In the spirit of it still being my winter break, I am lazily giving you the links to the sugar cookies and royal icing I used instead of writing them out, because well, I didn’t change a damn thing.
Festive stick person posing with the tree
Making these cookies took a lot of research and Youtubing, because royal icing is tricky. It’s easier to know what to do after you’ve watched someone else do it, so I recommend going on Youtube and looking up as many tutorial videos as you can. Test it on scratch paper before you go in for the real deal. As far as working with this icing for the first times goes, I will give you a few notes that I thought were crucial.
- I chose the recipe that calls for egg whites. It is less expensive than buying meringue powder.
- To my knowledge, this icing can only really be made with an electric or hand mixer in order to achieve the even consistency.
- The consistency to this icing is key. It needs to be thick enough to set but thin enough for a glossy, fluid finish. The trick is to beat it until smooth, then run a knife through the center. The line made by the knife should stay in the icing for about 10 seconds before disappearing. If it stays longer, it is too thick and you should gradually add drops of water until you get the desired consistency. If the line stays in the icing fewer than 10 seconds, it is too thin and you should add small amounts of powdered sugar until you get the desired consistency. It was a constant battle of thin and thick for me, but I started to get more familiar with the consistency with the more colors I made.
- With almost every cookie, I had to make an outline icing (which should be slightly thicker) and a filling icing (which should be a little thinner). Towards the end though I started to use the same icing for both the outline and filling and it turned out fine, as long as I waited for the outline to set before filling in the shape.
- Coloring these cookies takes planning. In order to layer colors over others, the first color needs to set. It is because of this that you need to have post its handy so you can make a sort of check list of colors for each type of cookie along the way. Or maybe that’s just me, BUT HEY, it helped.
- This icing hardens relatively fast, so there are a few things you want to do before it does. First, to get rid of any air bubbles that might be hiding under the filling of the icing, gently tap the cookie on a hard surface after icing to ensure a super smooth finish. If you’re planning on adding sprinkles, throw those suckers on there immediately after icing the cookie- DO NOT ice all the cookies first and then go back for sprinkles, because the cookies will have set by then and you missed your chance, game over, YOU BLEW IT.
- Other than that, just have fun with it!
The best thing about this classic recipe is that it can be tailored to fit any occasion by a matter of which cookie cutters fit the bill. I had a lot of fun with this Christmas theme, but I can just picture all of the holidays, bake sales, and occasions of the future filled with different versions of these guys.
Now you’re like, “OK fine they’re cute, but do they taste good???” Well of course they do. Though I gotta warn you, if you do choose to give them away to your friends and loved ones, know that they might not eat them right away… at least not until they’re done taking pictures of them first.