Royal Icing Not Setting

I'm following a fast-setting royal icing (RI) recipe. First time was great! Last three were disasters. It's shiny and opaque, so I thought I didn't clean well enough. Today, the fourth attempt, it won't mix past a four-second consistency. I've followed the recipe to a tee. Setting timers and everything. It's heavy to stir, not like you'd expect a four-second constency to be. I have researched here and followed cleaning instructions. Have carefully washed all utensils, and today used a RI mixer-only that I cleaned prior to use. I got a mixer, bowl, beaters, etc. to use strictly for RI. I cleaned in a clean sink with fresh sponges. I switched to this mixer today and it turned out identical to the last two. It doesn't set and I have no idea what's wrong. Is it possible for meringue powder (MP) to go bad? The first batch was not CK. I ordered CK off Amazon and used it for the last three attempts. I usually use MP from a local decorating store. I drizzle a bit on a RI-only silicone mat or parchment paper to see how it sets up. It doesn't. I'm stumped!

I included a photo of a cookie out of the last attempt. Two days later, and the pen sank in with minimal pressure. The batch in the bowl I just made . . . I don't have two to four days for it to set up.  

Thanks for any help!

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Homemade for Heroes posted:

I must be doing it wrong. I washed/rinsed with HOT soapy water followed by a vinegar rinse. Final rinse with hot water. Should I be doing it differently. Sorry. I'm just stumped. Over 6,000 cookies and this is now plaguing me. I'm so stumped and a bit deflated. 

Are you washing everything touching the ingredients and use a fresh towel.

Oh the humiliation. I figured it out. It wasn't MP. It was royal icing mix. No wonder it's not working!  I called a friend and we were trying to figure it out. I asked her to look at her almond extract ingredients to check for oil. Then I looked at the CK bag...it's RI mix. Oh my!! Well off to the store for MP. Then perhaps a stiff drink!!! Thanks for trying to help this bumbling dummy lol. 

I use CK royal icing mix from time to time, and it definitely sets hard and pretty fast, as long as you follow the directions on the package (just add 5 Tbsp water and mix). So, I hate to say it, but I doubt the fact that it's royal icing mix (in general) is the issue. Perhaps that particular bag was a bad formulation, but I've never had trouble with CK royal icing mix. I also don't think a smidge of oil on your utensils is going to disrupt setting that much . . . a smidge of oil will deflate a meringue (which is why people tell you to clean bowls when making meringue), but all that bowl-cleaning is overkill, in my opinion, when making royal icing. I use my mixer for many things and never do a vinegar-clean of it before making royal icing. So, my guess is you just got a bad batch of mix or added too much oil-based flavoring to your icing. One reason I prefer to make my royal icing from scratch, starting with raw eggs or pure albumen, is because you always know what you are putting into your icing, and that means more consistent results.

200 cookies iced and drying...finally!!! Thank you for the input. I was pulling my hair out and going way overboard trying to figure it out! In the past I had one batch of RI not set. I've mostly used one mixer for all. I've been careful about cleaning after I heard tiny traces of contaminants would ruin RI. The uber overkill cleaning started after the RI started not setting up not knowing I had ordered RI mix instead of MP. I about drove myself nuts trying to figure it out. 

I like MP for the ease. I dislike eggs and wasting the volume of yolk I would throw away is the main reason I use MP. If I could make cookies with yolk only, I'd try the egg white way. I just can't bring myself to waste that much of the egg. 

I'm off for that stiff drink while these cookies dry. Long day of drawing tomorrow. Since I lost an entire day and they are for local Airmen, I'm drawing and dusting with powdered sugar. 

Homemade for Heroes posted:

200 cookies iced and drying...finally!!! Thank you for the input. I was pulling my hair out and going way overboard trying to figure it out! In the past I had one batch of RI not set. I've mostly used one mixer for all. I've been careful about cleaning after I heard tiny traces of contaminants would ruin RI. The uber overkill cleaning started after the RI started not setting up not knowing I had ordered RI mix instead of MP. I about drove myself nuts trying to figure it out. 

I like MP for the ease. I dislike eggs and wasting the volume of yolk I would throw away is the main reason I use MP. If I could make cookies with yolk only, I'd try the egg white way. I just can't bring myself to waste that much of the egg. 

I'm off for that stiff drink while these cookies dry. Long day of drawing tomorrow. Since I lost an entire day and they are for local Airmen, I'm drawing and dusting with powdered sugar. 

But you can use pasteurized whites or albumen powder (pure dehydrated whites) and waste nothing, while also guarding against salmonella and always knowing what you're getting. Both are super easy, and cheaper than MP, too! Best of luck!

Julia's pasturised egg white recipie works for me.  Admittedly, I havent used another RI recipe since hers is just right, you know, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it".   Happy that everything worked out!

PS. Thanks for sending your cookies overseas. They'll be greatfully received and your art work on the cookies will make a big impression.  You spent a lot of time to brighten their day and that will touch their hearts. 

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pipRosanna
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