Adding Meringue Powder to Royal Icing to Speed Drying?

Okay, all . . . I was just sitting here with my mind wandering about icing, since I have a batch of cookies patiently waiting for me.

I use Julia's RI recipe with pasteurized egg whites. It always turns out just dandy for me, howeeevvveeerrr . . . I am wondering what would happen if I added say about 2 tablespoons or so of meringue powder. No water, just meringue powder. Since that's what makes the icing harden (I think), wouldn't it make it harden a bit faster?

Has anyone tried this yet, and what kind of results did you get?

Original Post

Teri, it's the protein in the egg whites that makes the icing dry and harden. (That's why glaze, or confectioner's icing, takes so long to dry, if it ever does, as it has no egg whites.)

Meringue powder is nothing but dried egg whites and sometimes the following: modified food starch, sugar, gum arabic, calcium sulfate, citric acid, cream of tartar, silicon dioxide, and artificial flavoring. That said, I suspect that adding the (relatively small) quantity of meringue powder you are suggesting will have little impact on drying time, as you're essentially just adding more of the same ingredients already in my recipe, barring the modified food starch, silicone dioxide, and fake flavoring, and not all meringue powder contains these things anyway. If the meringue powder has modified food starch or cornstarch in it, this could lead to faster drying, but again, I doubt in the quantities you mention. I say this because, I have also made 100-percent meringue powder-based royal icing before, and it dries at about the same rate as my icing made with real egg whites. Ambient humidity seems to be the larger variable in drying time.

But, when in doubt, I think the best thing to do is a controlled test! You may prove me wrong, and I would love to hear those results!

Julia, it's those extra egg white proteins that I'm thinking might make the icing dry faster. Most likely a lot harder too, if RI can get any harder than it already does after a few days.

I think I'll make a half batch of regular and a half batch of "suped up" RI and give it a go. I'll post the results back in a day or two. (Prob two)

To take some of that hardness out of the RI I add 1/3 cup of corn syrup per batch.  The cookies are very stackable but at their hardest have a 'give' to them.  What I mean is they will still dent if I accidentally get a fingernail in one. 

Thanks for that tip, Kelly. For this test though, the only variance I want is the meringue powder, but I'll sure try the light karo in the future.

Julia, mine usually get totally dry overnight too. Sometimes if I ice them early in the morning, they're dry by suppertime. Humidity stays between 30 - 35% in my house. (Unlike where I lived for 30 years in Florida, where it was always around 80%)

Ok, results are in using uncolored RI.  

I made Haniela's Fall leaves cookies. It was also my first attempt at transfers and airbrushing. (It went quite well, i think) It's a rainy day here, but the temp in my house stayed at 74 degrees with a 39% relative humidity all day.

I made a half batch of RI using Julia's recipe. The other half batch was the same except for one thing. I dissolved 2 Tablespoons of CK MERINGUE Powder in the pasteurized egg whites before adding to the sugar and cream of tartar. So, that would be 4 Tablespoons in a full batch using a 2 lb bag 10x powdered sugar.

After 1 hour the regular recipe dented quite easily, and seemed to have more sheen (indicating to me that it's wetter). The meringue icing took a tad bit more pressure to dent.

At 2 hours, it was still a pretty light touch that dented the regular icing, and it still had a bit more sheen. The meringue icing took at least double the pressure to dent. Remember, pressure is subjective since I don't have a pressure meter.

At 4 hours, the regular icing was still pretty soft, a titch harder to dent and the sheen was now about equal. The meringue icing is a lot harder. Even with three to four times the pressure it stayed firm

At 6 hours, the regular icing still dents with a crusty effect. I'm certain they'll need to sit over night to harden well enough. The meringue icing is ready to be packaged. They're taking a lot of force to dent. The icing is a LOT harder. (Done in my book)

EDIT:

I forgot to mention that the icing made with the added meringue powder seemed fluffier and softer, and seemed to yield more icing, even though I weighed out 1 lb of sugar for each bowl. 

I also ran this same test using red icing on some strawberry shaped cookies. So far, results are turning out the same. I haven't quite hit the 4 hour test yet. If they dry any differently,   I'll  post again. Since its the same so far, I don't expect the results to be any different.

Super - good to know! I wonder what causes the faster drying though - the added egg content or the other starch additives in meringue powder? Would be interesting to see if the same results are achieved with just pure powdered whites added.

Julia M. Usher posted:

Super - good to know! I wonder what causes the faster drying though - the added egg content or the other starch additives in meringue powder? Would be interesting to see if the same results are achieved with just pure powdered whites added.

Why not give it a shot? I suspect it's the EXTRA egg white protein. I'll be curious in the morning to take a bite of each and see if the icing with added meringue powder breaks my teeth.

TeriT posted:
Julia M. Usher posted:

Super - good to know! I wonder what causes the faster drying though - the added egg content or the other starch additives in meringue powder? Would be interesting to see if the same results are achieved with just pure powdered whites added.

Why not give it a shot? I suspect it's the EXTRA egg white protein. I'll be curious in the morning to take a bite of each and see if the icing with added meringue powder breaks my teeth.

No time to give it a try right now - off to Jakarta in five days to teach classes, and my workload is insane! Glad you tested this aspect though!

@Ms. K, So glad to hear this!  (P.S. - To be sure people, like me, see comments directed to them, use the tag feature by typing "@" followed by the person's username. I just stumbled upon your thank you, but if you had tagged me, I would have gotten an email alerting me to this comment.)

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