The solution to all your Royal Icing Issues...or at least to some of them!

 **Fair Warning-- This post is a little wordy and full of numbers and zero actual cookies.**

Remember last spring when over TWO THOUSAND of you poured your icing covered hearts out to me in an icing issues survey? I promise I didn't forget! I wasn't keeping it a secret. I *may* have lost my notebook for a few weeks this summer...but here is what I've been up to -- 

First -- I compiled all the numbers and made a bunch of charts and mathed things out in percentages looking for patterns and possible theories that might solve all of our icing problems.

Second -- I asked for volunteers to help test those theories (and was overwhelmed by the very generous lot of you that said yes!!) I sent out different ingredients with varying methods of mixing, storing, and coloring icing. All my volunteers tested those ingredients and methods and reported back.

Third -- I put all *that* information together in more charts with lots more scribbles. Some of my theories were completely off base and some of them were right on. I put together new theories based of this first set of experiments and .... went for another round of experiments! (It's a good thing my husband loves me just the way I am! Even *I* am starting to worry about myself.)

Fourth -- I spent months and months trying to figure out butter-bleed (THE DREADED BLOTCH) and came up very nearly empty-handed. I still have a few things I'm working on, but decided that I've waited long enough. And I'm just going to tell you everything we've figured out together so far. And some day (hopefully soon) when I figure out the ol' blotching issues.... I'll let you know about that too!


MERINGUE POWDER VS. POWDERED EGG WHITES: I was actually pretty convinced going into this that powdered egg whites would prove superior to meringue powder. As it turns out... I was super wrong. Whether you use meringue powder or powdered egg whites -- we've all got the same royal icing issues!

BRAND OF ICING: There was no noticeable difference between brands of icing and the royal icing issues that were experienced by decorators with one exception. Wilton had substantially more issues than the other brands. At first I thought we were on to something...until I realized that most new decorators use Wilton. When experienced decorators were sent Wilton meringue powder instead of their regular MP...the only noticeable difference was that 17% of them experienced harder icing than they do with their regular brand.

METHOD OF DRYING: Using ANY type of fan (dehydrator, heater fan, or a regular fan) reduced the occurrence of craters but only a regular fan substantially reduced the occurrence of color bleed. (by 65%) Both heater fans and dehydrators slightly reduced the occurrence of color bleed. (by 43% and 27% respectively) And all three of them slightly reduced the frequency of craters and denting.

AMOUNT OF TIME BETWEEN BAKING AND DECORATING: There was absolutely no correlation between how long the cookies sat between baking and decorating on ANY of the icing issues the survey addressed. Not even blotching. And for those that freeze your cookies first -- also
no change.

THICKNESS OF ICING (ICING CONSISTENCY): I was really excited when I saw the results of the survey. All of the issues seemed to happen at the same frequency - no matter what consistency of icing was used -- except BLOTCHING! Blotching occurred 24% less for people that used one consistency of icing (on the survey) than for people who used a thick outline and a flood icing to decorate their cookies. Unfortunately, this didn't hold up as well under the experiments. Don't worry... I won't stop until I figure this one out!

MERINGUE POWDER TO POWDERED SUGAR RATIO: And now we get to the surprises. I kind of thought that everyone pretty much used the same ratio of meringue powder to powdered sugar. You don't. I simplified all the recipes so that I could see how many tablespoons of meringue powder were used for 2 pounds of powdered sugar. 5-6 tablespoons for every 2 pounds of powdered sugar is pretty average. Some people use as much as 10 tablespoons and some people use as little as 1 or 2 tablespoons of meringue powder. Those on the lowest end of the spectrum seemed to have the most problems with color bleed...but definitely had no problems with hard icing! Using more meringue powder reduced the likelihood of color bleed, but didn't solve the issue entirely. Using more meringue powder, of course, also increased the occurrence of brittle icing. (So if you live somewhere humid and/or have major color bleed problems, consider experimenting by adding 1 or 2 tablespoons more meringue powder to the recipe you currently use. Try to find that sweet spot where the additional meringue powder reduces color bleed without making your icing too hard.)

METHOD OF MIXING ICING: And the biggest surprise of all goes to METHOD! Who knew it would make such a difference?! Are you guys ready for this? Mix your meringue powder with the water and beat until it reaches soft or stiff peak. (Stiff peak is ideal, but not all meringue powders can get there because of other ingredients.) Then add your powdered sugar and flavorings. Get this -- only 6.5% of the people who mix their icing this way have craters occurring more than once a month.

So... in summary...

Seriously... I LOVE you all for asking questions and answering questions and accepting my invitation to test out my theories! We'll keep working on this together and find even more answers and probably even more questions...and somewhere in there we'll make cookies! THANK YOU!!!!!!

And if I've learned anything from this icing issues madness... it is that some things will work for one person and they won't work for another person. If you have a system that's working for you -- keep on using it! But if you want to make some changes...hopefully this information will point you in a direction that will help you find joy and success in decorating!

You can find MY icing recipe HERE. If you have questions, please email me or leave a comment below! I will do my best to answer them all. 

Rock Candy Cookies

There are two things that every cookie decorator asks me.

The first -- what do you DO with all the cookies you make? The answer -- All sorts of stuff. I let my kids eat them. I let the neighbor kids eat them. I give them to everyone who will take them. I surprise teachers and coaches with them. Sometimes I throw them away when it's actually taken me 3 weeks to get myself on track and actually finish the cookies. And sometimes I give them to my friend because she likes to make magnets out of them.

And the second question -- How do you keep from eating them ALL THE TIME?! The answer to that is surprisingly simple. I don't like baked goods. Cakes, muffins, cookies, pastries all have a near zero appeal to me. I would consider myself the luckiest girl in the whole wide world if I didn't know my deep secret. I LOVE CANDY. All kinds of candy except the kind that are just chocolate and nuts. I only merely like those kind. But if it's brightly colored -- I'm in love. I'll buy it a ring and take it home to meet my parents. Then I'll hold it tightly and think fond thoughts before stuffing it all in my face before spending hours wallowing in regret and wishful thinking.

So imagine my supreme happiness when Dylan's Candy Bar offered to send me some candy to use making cookies. Sour candy button gumball machines?! Yes please!! AND, AND they sent me some candy and some candy jewelry and lip gloss to GIVE TO YOU too!!! I actually asked for the lip gloss specifically.'s candy! Everyone needs candy lip gloss! Stick with me for the cookies (I'll make it quick) and then I'll tell you how to win the goodies!

1. Use a popsicle cutter to cut out some dough. Use a plaque cutter to cut into the sides to reveal an asymmetrically wobbly looking thing. Bake as you normally would.
2. Use thick white icing and a #9 tip to pipe a vertical line for the stick.
3. This is the important step. Pipe a blob of pink with THICK pink icing.
4. Immediately cover with Pop Rocks! If you didn't listen to me and used medium-thick icing or even flood consistency icing your Pop Rocks will start popping all over the place and will...randomly... be a bubbly mess by morning. (Seriously though... I cannot wait to use this newfound knowledge making Halloween cookies!!) Once dried, do not store in a covered container for the same reason.

Okay... back to the stuff you really want to hear about. All you've got to do is jump over to Dylan's Candy Bar and come back and tell me YOUR weakness in a comment below. Is it fashion? Jewelry? Candy??!! (Tell me I'm not alone!) Leave your comment (on the blog OR through the widget) and enter through this rafflecopter widget by midnight on Monday August 31, 2015.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Grab the popsicle cutter, the plaque cutter or the gumball machine cutter.  And because I know you're going to ask... I used a regular ol' candy cane cutter for the gummy worms. Just bend them around a bit before baking.

Callye over at Sweet Sugarbelle has a fantastic Gumball Machine Tutorial.

 And these swirled lollipops are so dreamy! Find out how to make them at Miss Cuit.

And quite possibly my favorite candy cookies of all time -- SOUR PATCH candy cookies HERE!!

Decorated Ocean Wave Cookies

Can we talk about paper for a minute? More specifically -- the pages of a book. I know I'm a blogger and this pretty much goes against everything internetty that ever was... but I just adore books. I like the weight of them. And the smooth smooth paper. And I like that things stay in the same place. If that one recipe you love and adore more than your first glitter nail polish is on the bottom of the left's always going to be on the bottom of the left page. You can ACTUALLY book mark it and it will always be right where you left it. And you can flip back and forth between two pages for as long as you like. You don't have to click on something to make it bigger. It's already bigger. And it doesn't have to load. You don't have to charge it. And if you accidentally spill your drink on a book (who does that???!)... it's probably still going to be okay. Maybe a little wrinkled or wavy...but still totally functional.
And in all of my love of books...COOKIE BOOKS get a special place in my heart. Right next to ice cream. And naps. As soon as I saw the cover for Autumn's new Creature Cookies book -- I was in love. I couldn't wait to hold it in my own hot little hands. And let me just tell you --- it did NOT disappoint!!! It's got bright colors, step-by-step photos and instructions and a ton of fun new techniques. (Which is not a surprise since this is the girl that gave the world The Complete Photo Guide to Cookie Decorating.)

And I mean -- just LOOK at these adorable little things!!!! I want to squish them!!! And then make some myself!!! Except.... you know I can't ever just leave well enough alone. So I had to put snorkels on them and all. And make giant waves to go with them. Want to make some waves? (Ha! I've never said that before!)

1. Outline and fill a circle cookie with white icing. Let it dry overnight.
2. Use a sunburst stencil and yellow airbrush spray to make a sun at the top of the circle.
3. (First -- let's just acknowledge the awkward weirdness that is the sun and sun rays in this picture. I forgot to take a picture of this step and then tried to re-create it without actually getting my airbrush out again. Lazy, party of one right here.) Outline the wave section with thick blue icing. Fill in the wave with thin consistency light blue icing. Add a few more lines with medium consistency white icing and the thick blue icing.
4. Use a toothpick or scriber to scribble back and forth through the lines real quick. Don't over do it. Just mish-mash it up real quick and let it go. Ta da! Ocean wave.

And guess what?! Not only am *I* obsessed with this book -- one of YOU gets to be obsessed with it to!!! Autumn wants to give away a copy of Creature Cookies AND a set of interchangeable animal cutters she used to create so many adorable cookies from the book!!! (I promise I won't squish the cutters before sending them on to you!)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Just leave me a comment down below telling me your favorite animal to cookie! Then come back up and enter using the rafflecopter widget. Giveaway ends Tuesday, August 25th at midnight. 

Don't want to wait? You can buy a copy HERE. And in case you are wondering... I used THIS CUTTER for the penguin.