Do you have a no-fail cookie frosting recipe?
January 31, 2017 1:10 PM   Subscribe

I want to make frosted decorated cookies as favors for my baby's first birthday. I need a frosting recipe that will dry on the cookies so that I can package them in cellophane favor bags and the frosting won't smear. My dream cookie is a cut-out number one with a smooth frosting in one color and a piped border in another color. I don't have time to experiment (it's not like I knew he'd be turning one next month) so I'm hoping someone here has a no-fail, foolproof go-to recipe.
posted by erloteiel to Food & Drink (11 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
To do this with ultra-neatness and absolute unsmearability, I would roll out thin fondant in color #1, use a round cookie cutter slightly smaller than the cookie, and affix it with a light brush or dotting of corn syrup or piping gel. Then thinly roll fondant color #2. cut out the "1" with a cookie cutter, and afix that to the top with lightly brushed syrup or gel. You can even add a border on top of the circle in a 3rd color.

Upside: fast and easy and looks absolutely perfect.

Downside: Fondant tastes like fondant.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:16 PM on January 31, 2017 [2 favorites]

In my experience, if you want the icing to form a hard crust and not smear, you need to avoid icing with butter. We always iced cookies using a mix of powdered sugar, milk and little vanilla, plus food coloring. Adjust consistency as needed. It's not super tasty, but it works.

I haven't personally tried this recipe, but I trust King Arthur flour and the reviews are positive. It sounds like exactly what you're looking for and would probably have a better consistency for piping.

On preview, fondant would absolutely work, too.
posted by thejanna at 1:18 PM on January 31, 2017 [2 favorites]

I can vouch for the King Arthur Flour recipe that thejanna links above. We use it every year for Christmas cookies and when the icing hardens, it is unsmearable. We package cookies in cellophane bags and the icing doesn't smear.
posted by spamloaf at 1:20 PM on January 31, 2017 [1 favorite]

Downside: Fondant tastes like fondant.
Re. this ^ marshmallow fondant is easier to work with and tastes like marshmallow.

But for your original plan, you want royal icing. I iced these cookies with royal icing, let them fully dry, then unceremoniously stacked them on top of each other on a plate and covered them in plastic wrap and drove them for 20 minutes in the passenger seat of my car. They emerged just fine.

I believe I've used this recipe in the past, but royal icing is pretty much royal icing.
posted by phunniemee at 1:22 PM on January 31, 2017 [6 favorites]

I haven't tried it (I know, I'm sorry) but the type of icing you want is called royal icing... here's a Serious Eats tutorial.
posted by fingersandtoes at 1:22 PM on January 31, 2017 [2 favorites]

You want "Royal Icing" which is effectively egghwhites, powdered sugar, and lemon juice (for taste) and food coloring. It sets up in about an hour, and I use it every Christmas on our gingerbread cookies to great effect.

I don't mess around with piping bags, I just dump the icing into sandwich sized ziplocs and snip a corner. this also lets you stop mid way, and cram the opened/started Ziploc into a second Ziploc for storage.

the lemon juice OR vanilla makes the frosting tasty. don't skip!
posted by larthegreat at 1:24 PM on January 31, 2017 [3 favorites]

I've used this royal icing recipe a few times before and it turned out great.

TL;DR: Basically I use 1 cup of powdered sugar for every 1 TBS of meringue powder with warm water mixed SLOWLY mixed in until desired consistency.

She goes into the differences between outline icing and flood icing too.
posted by kimberussell at 1:25 PM on January 31, 2017 [6 favorites]

For the smooth center, I just use this Wilson cookie icing from my local craft store. It works great and you can get several colors. I love the ease of it being already in a bottle. You heat it up a bit first, so it comes out runny. Then flood inside your piping, if you're using it. When I pipe, I pipe with a thick version of royal icing which many people have linked to above.
posted by Knowyournuts at 3:05 PM on January 31, 2017 [1 favorite]

We host a big gingerbread cookie decorating party and use the other Martha royal icing recipe which uses meringue powder. (The Martha one linked above uses raw egg whites).

Both recipes work fine.
posted by 26.2 at 8:40 PM on January 31, 2017

I had a side business selling decorated sugar cookies for 3 years. Meringue powder is the key.

This is basically the recipe I used.

Gel food coloring is also super important. The grocery store liquid food coloring will not give you strong color.

Filing the icing bags was always a pain in the butt, until I found this tip, which changed my life.
posted by elvissa at 7:16 AM on February 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

I don't have an icing recipe, but a tip for frosting, especially if you have kids helping you. I use the syringes that you get at the drug store for administering medicine to infants (they also have them at petsmart for feeding birds). Use a spoon or the tip of a knife to put a few globs of frosting in it; let the kids squeeze it out the tip. Get a few so you have easily have several colors of frosting ready to go at the same time. Wash them in the dishwasher using one of those baskets to hold baby bottle parts.
posted by CathyG at 10:37 AM on February 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

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