Spicy, warm, aromatic gingerbread cookies are my favorite to bake over Christmas. Not only are these delicious, but they’re fun to decorate too. Whenever I make gingerbread, I cut out several shapes for my kids to decorate. They love squirting icing and sticking candy to personify their gingerbread men. Then, I stamp out a few for myself to decorate with more refined designs.
I use “royal” icing to inspire my pretty cookie decorations. It’s easy to make and use, long-lasting, dries hard, and is a sweet complement to the tangy spice of gingerbread. Here’s my foolproof recipe for royal icing.
3 tablespoons meringue powder
4 cups powdered sugar
5 tablespoons warm water
*IMPORTANT* Use only glass or metal containers and utensils while making this icing. The slightest bit of grease will break down this icing so avoid plastic spatulas that are difficult to keep grease-free, and wash everything you use in hot, soapy water first.
1. Place meringue powder in the bowl of a large, heavy-duty mixer.
2. Add powdered sugar to the bowl. (I always use 10x powdered sugar, which is very fine.)
3. Add 4 tablespoons of warm water at once and do a little mixing. If your icing is dry or crumbly, add another 1-2 tablespoons of water, slowly. Don’t dump in all the water at once because it’s difficult to fix the consistency if it gets too watery. It’s much easier to add the water a little at a time until it’s smooth.
4. Combine ingredients and add enough water to make a nice, smooth consistency while blending on low.
5. As soon as the dry ingredients are incorporated, turn the mixer up to high and let it go for about 5-7 minutes. Scrape down the bowl a couple times with a metal spatula during mixing. When done, your icing should be the consistency of a stiff meringue.
Now for the fun part! You get to use the icing to decorate your cookies. I’ll show you how to make cookies with brushed embroidery, needlepoint designs, and Cornelli lace. These are so fancy looking that no one will ever guess you made them from scratch.