Saturday, February 2, 2013

Valentine Cookies...And An "AHA" Moment

Ever since I first started dabbling in cookie decorating a couple years ago, royal icing has mystified me.  I look at my "cookie idols" work, and wonder what it is that they do to make their royal icing so perfect.
I get bubbles, air pockets, cracks...too thick, too thin, too fluffy.
And then just when I think I have it down, I'll flood my cookies and wake up the next day to check the drying process, and they are all funky looking!
I've been told over-mixing, humidity, all kinds of things can contribute to bad royal icing experiences.
Another thing that has always troubled me about royal icing, is the taste.
I have tried many recipes, and I've never found one I truly loved.
I've experimented with a variety of flavor extracts as well...vanilla, almond, butter, etc.
But I've never found a really YUMMY royal icing.
I decided it was time to make a change.

Inspired by the lovely Pam over at Cookie Crazy , I decided I would take a leap of faith and try glaze.  If you are not a cookie decorator, you must know, that most cookiers either decorate with glaze OR royal icing, not both.  Most cookiers are LOYAL to an extreme of one or the other.  If their medium is royal icing, they stick with it...if their medium is glaze, they stick with it.  Decorating with the other is foreign ground!
There are a FEW, and ONLY a few, who do both.
Well, I made up a batch of glaze and flooded some cookies.  My husband tasted the glazed cookies and declared them to be SUPERIOR to royal icing.  Well, after I flooded those first glazed cookies, I attempted some detail work (piping some writing and designs).  Let me tell you, this was NOT a success.  For me, glaze is VERY difficult to pipe with for intricate details.
So, I got to thinking.  I loved the taste of glaze.  I loved how it wasn't as "crunchy" as royal icing.  I loved the shine and sheen of glaze.  But I could NOT pipe intricate details with it.  It just wasn't happening for me.
So, I thought, why not use both!
Glaze AND royal icing!
By flooding the cookies with glaze, we'd get the yummy taste and softer texture.
By using royal icing for the detail work, like lettering and small designs, I could get the "control" I needed with a stiff batch of it.
And so, that is what I now do.
I flood with glaze...thus giving me the great taste, softer texture, shine, and sheen.
And most of all glaze gives me the SAME CONSISTENCY EVERY SINGLE TIME!
I don't have to wonder, will there be air bubbles, will it crack...
And then I do my intricate details with royal icing!
By using royal icing JUST for intricate details I only have to make one consistency.
I always use the original stiff icing, and it gives me great control when piping letters, flowers, and any other small detail work.
Since I started doing this, I have been a much happier cookier!
No more worries about flooded royal icing cookies.
Glaze brings a smooth, sheen every single time!
And with piping my detail work in royal icing, I know I'll have the control I need with my pastry bag.
I hope you enjoy these Valentine cookies.
I did these with this method.
Flooded with glaze and piped the details with royal.
I am enjoying combining the two means of icing on all of my cookies now!
It has made me a lot less stressed out!
I hope you have a very Happy Valentine's Day!

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