I have been know for being overly adventurous in the kitchen. At 14 my Mother came home to me covered in flour-sad, crumbly piles of dough everywhere, and furious at pie crust because I had decided I was going to make pie. From Scratch. BY.MYSELF. Soon after we had our first child my husband was woken up by the fire alarms going off in our small townhome because I had started a small stove fire. I decided I was going to get it done and double the toffee recipe…which is highly flammable when it cooks over. Yesteday, I attempted to frost my cookies with royal icing.
I’m a buttercream girl. That’s how I was raised to be. Other people would bring sugar cookies with the hard icing on top to events and church socials and my Mother would say “Ours tastes better, it’s buttercream.” And I believed her and made buttercream sugar cookies all of my life.
Then pinterest happened. And all of these images of perfectly decorated sugar cookies crept into my life. Sure buttercream tastes better but the things you can do with royal icing! The detail! The layers!! The cuteness!! I fell hard and fast for the idea of royal icing.
I was warned by a friend. She told me not to. She tried to explain spending an entire Halloween on cookies that just weren’t worth it, but I didn’t listen. I was Martha. I was going to make and conquer royal icing and I wasn’t afraid to try.
In years past I have made a certain commitment. I vow every January that I will only make sugar cookies for 1 holiday a year-Valentines, Halloween, or Christmas. This year I broke that rule. I made them at Halloween. I endured all of the help in the kitchen-the continual pleas from my children “Let me do that! I want to do that! Can I eat more frosting? Give me the food coloring! I want to do that!”, the forethought to make the dough ahead of time (my awesome recipe requires refrigeration for at least an hour), and the disastrous sprinkles/frosting mess afterward. Making cookies again for Christmas 100% broke my rule. But ROYAL icing!!
I woke up early yesterday morning and made my dough so it could be refrigerated. I cruised pinterest looking at all the fun royal icing ideas. I dug out the cookie cutters-happily sorting the Christmas ones and thinking what a delightful wedding gift these cookie cutters were. I’m so homemade, I thought.
I rolled out all of my cookies. This should have been my first warning sign for disaster. My usually easy going dough recipe decided to flop on me and was super dry! I had doubled the recipe and in my doubling
might have screwed it up. My mixer could barely handle the amount of dough so I think that had something to do with it. Stella insisted on helping and was everywhere at once. My oven is the size of an easy bake oven (circa 1970 original stainless steel, came with the house) so I can only do mini-cookie sheets, one at a time making the process extra drawn out. But I endured. I baked all of the cookies and went to pick up Paisley from school.
I returned and made my royal icing. I followed all of the instructions exactly-my children both foaming at the mouth to get their hands in all of it. My advice to you? DO THIS AT NIGHT WHEN YOUR KIDS ARE TOO ASLEEP TO HEAR YOUR MIXER AND YOU FEEL LIKE PULLING AN ALL-NIGHTER. They desperately wanted to stick their little child fingers in every.thing. I sent them away and proceeded to set up shop at my kitchen table. I even grabbed my tablet and found a show to watch. I stacked up all of my cookies and filled all of my frosting bags-leaving extra frosting for thinning covered in wet paper towels.
3 HOURS LATER I found myself halfway done, neck fully cramped and stress radiating. These are COOKIES. We are going to EAT them. They are 100% not worth all of this effort. You have to pipe frosting around the edges of everything and then let it dry. Then you come back and flood the insides with thinner frosting-using a toothpick or pointy tool to spread and perfect the frosting. THEN you come back after that has dried (overnight!) and you decorate AGAIN with details. I have no patience for this. I cannot spend 8+ hours of my life on cookies.
My husband went ahead and let my kitten inside. She promptly jumped up on the table.
These are cool. And still absolutely not worth the effort. Also, still not perfect which drives me crazy!!
There is ZERO forgiveness with royal icing. I need forgiveness in my cooking.
Personal favorite. I made the edges too thick and waited too long to flood AND should have used a toothpick to meticulously spread and even the top. Ug.
Problem solved! Sprinkles!
I hearby swear to you this day that I am going back to my original rule. One holiday a year. No royal icing.
Oh, and buttercream tastes better.