The Royal Treatment

Royal Icing is ideal for cookies – it dries hard and smooth. Here's how to use it.

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How To Make Basic Royal Icing: Whisk 1 pound confectioners’ sugar and 2 tablespoons meringue powder in a large bowl. Add 5 tablespoons water; beat with a mixer on medium-high speed until soft glossy peaks form. (See below for tips on consistency.) Tint with gel food coloring, if desired. Keep the bowl covered with a damp paper towel and plastic wrap until ready to use, to prevent the icing from drying out. (Makes about 2 1/4 cups.)

Let's "Flood": “Flooding” is a technique for covering a cookie with royal icing. You’ll need both "detail" and "flooding" icing.

Detail Icing: You’ll need a stiff icing for piping borders, writing or adding decorations. It should be the consistency of thick Greek yogurt. If the icing breaks when you pipe it, it’s too thick—beat in water, ¼ teaspoon at a time. If it’s too thin, beat in more confectioners’ sugar.

Flooding Icing: You’ll want a looser icing for covering cookies completely. This icing should be the consistency of runny yogurt. If it’s too thick, beat in water, ¼ teaspoon at a time. If it’s too thin, beat in more confectioners’ sugar.

Step One: Put some detail icing in a resealable plastic bag and snip a corner. Use this icing to pipe a thin border around the edge of each cookie. Let set for a few

Step Two: Place some flooding icing in a separate resealable plastic bag and snip a corner. Pipe a generous amount inside the border of each cookie.

Step Three: Using a small offset spatula or the back of a spoon, spread the icing to cover the cookie. (You can also tilt the cookie to distribute the icing.) Let harden at room temperature, at least 1 hour.

Drawing the Details: You can decorate on top of wet icing or dry icing—each creates a different look.

Decorating on Wet Icing: To get a design with a smooth surface, pipe the details on flooded cookies while they’re still wet.

Decorating on Dry Icing: If you want your design to be raised, flood the cookies and let them dry completely before adding details.

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