• Every year for each and every holiday I make decorated sugar cookies. I make them for Christmas, I make them for Valentines Day and even birthdays. My kids even give them to their teachers for end of year gifts. They are super easy to make, but for some reason they come across as elegant and special. The reason is just the use of royal icing. The trick to royal icing is ensuring the proper consistency, and proper flavoring.

    When I make my cookies I make sure that I bake them at least one day before I decorate them. You want them slightly dried out. That way the moisture in the cookies doesn’t interfere with your awesome decorations.

    On to the icing. Mine is basic, and a variation of the Wilton recipe you will find online.

    You will need:
    1 2 pound bag of powdered sugar
    1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon of meringue powder
    3/4 cup warm water
    2-4 tablespoons extract (make sure it’s oil free extract) I often use almond, vanilla, or orange extract.

    Throw all of it into your stand mixer and mix until stiff peaks form. It will take close to ten minutes before it is ready.

    Now that your frosting is ready you can divide it and color it as you choose. For most of my cookies I keep it to one or two colors. I find that the more simple my design the better. At least for me.

    When your frosting is tinted to your liking its time to thin it out. Add warm water one drip at a time until you get to the consistency of thick pancake batter. This is what we call piping consistency. Fill your piping bag and outline your cookies. (I use a number 2 tip). After you have piped about three cookies you will want to “flood” your cookies with more icing. To make flood icing you need to thin it out some more, one drop of water at a time. You know you’ve got the right texture when it resembles a thin gravy. You can put your flood icing into another bag or just spoon it on the cookie. Use the back of the spoon to carefully spread the icing. You don’t have to completely spread it, the flood icing is thin enough that it will spread a bit if allowed to sit for a few minutes.

    Once you finish all your cookies this way you need to let them sit for a few hours. After that you can build on your base layer and get as complicated as you wish. For me, I usually just grab that piping icing I had left over and allow the kids to pipe on some swirls. It’s elegant and so easy. Plus the kids will always volunteer to help you lick the utensils clean!