Over the holidays, I made some festive-shaped gingerbread cookies. Noah and I decorated them together on Christmas Eve day. This is definitely an activity you should undertake with your child. It is so fun, it's guaranteed to bring out the kid in you!
Years ago, I made and decorated cookies to give to colleagues at Christmas time. I packaged each large cookie individually in a clear treat bag, and brought them to the school I worked at to hand them out with my Christmas cards. They didn't look so pretty by the time I handed them out, since the icing melted onto the bags. This time I was determined to correct this problem.
I looked online to find out how to dry icing. Apparently the only solution is something called "Royal Icing". It is the only icing that dries, or hardens. It is very simple to make. You can make it with raw egg whites, but this poses a very small risk of Salmonella (food poisoning). I did not wish to give the gift of Salmonella to anyone for Christmas, so I decided to do it the safer way, by substituting meringue powder.
By far, the most difficult part of making Royal Icing using meringue powder is....finding meringue powder. You won't find it at your local grocery store, since it is an item not commonly needed for baking. I've heard of some people ordering it online, but I decided to go to a specialty cake shop in Etobicoke called McCall's. (Here is their website, but be warned that it is not the easiest place to drive to. http://www.mccalls.ca/). The good news is, you can buy a tub of this stuff, and it will keep for about 2 years.
Royal Icing Recipe
- 2 and 1/4 cups of icing sugar
- 2 tbsp meringue powder
- 1/4 cup water
Mix these 3 ingredients together. I was too lazy to get the mixer out, and it still turned out great just using a spoon to mix it up. Just make sure you blend it well. If it's too runny, add some icing sugar. If it's too dry, add a bit of water.
Dip the front of a cookie into the icing bowl, making sure to cover the entire front in icing. (You can tilt the cookie, right-side up, after dipping it, so that the icing slowly runs to the edges that are not yet covered.)
Cover the icing with your favourite sprinkles.
You could also write, draw, or colour on the cookies using decorative icing tubes in different colours. If you do this, it's probably better to let the Royal Icing dry for a few hours first, if you really care about the aesthetics. Noah and I just couldn't wait!