Coloring Tips for Royal Icing
The key to making these beautiful cookies is in the colorful royal icing tinted with professional-quality food colorings. Royal icing is made from confectioners' sugar and egg whites, but meringue powder is often substituted for the raw egg whites. Although you can use a concentrated gel paste or a powdered food color, bakers and decorators usually prefer liquid paste for its consistent and brilliant color.
1. For dark colors such as black and orange, start light and work toward a deeper color. Add color with a toothpick, a tipful at a time, mixing thoroughly with each addition.
2. The color will fully develop as it sets, so wait about 1 hour to observe the end result.
3. Mix in daylight so that you can see the true color of the icing.
4. Always use clean toothpicks with each new addition of food coloring. Food coloring has a long shelf life, but any contamination with perishable ingredients will hasten spoilage.
5. Cover each bowl of icing with a damp towel to prevent it from hardening or forming a "skin."
6. Work with clean piping tips to ensure application of the right color.
7. Place a damp paper towel in the bottom of a juice glass to hold icing bags. Keeping tips damp when not in use will prevent the icing from drying out and clogging the tip opening.
Used for coverage. Use a # 2 or #3 tip held 1/4 inch above the cookie. Follow the outline of cookie, leaving space along the edge for spillage, then fill in the outline with icing. To close empty spaces, push icing in place with clean toothpick.
For a three-dimensional effect, dry the flooding layer for at least 2 hours, then pipe on top of dried icing.
Sanding sugar is sugar that has been processed into small, round grains four to six times larger than grains of granulated sugar. The result is a sparkling effect. To apply, place cookie on waxed paper, and sprinkle sugar over the top of cookie. Let cookie sit for about 15 minutes, then tip the cookie upside down to remove excess sugar.