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Hi everyone,

This is my first post to this forum.  I love Christmastime and I love making cookies.  In my family I have THREE birthdays on Christmas…so things are very hectic and can get expensive.  To keep gift costs down, and my sanity high, I make a lot of gingerbread cookies every year.  Each year I try and improve.  The cookies taste great and I load them with spices but I usually use Betty Crocker icing to decorate until I became dissatisfied with constant air bubbles.

so, a couple of years ago, I found Julia on YouTube and decided to try her royal icing recipe, but I find that I am getting spots of discoloration, lightened spots, speckled all throughout the icing.  This happens if the icing is colored or blank!  I use some vanilla extract to flavor, but that is about it.  I put 12 tablespoons of egg whites in the icing.

i also find that it takes forever for the icing to dry, or that it never really fully dries if it is a flooded area.  Should I try putting only 9 or 10 tablespoons of egg whites?

would love anyone’s advice.  I really want the cookies to come out perfect this year.  I want to improve my icing.  Any ideas on what I am doing wrong?

Last edited by Julia M. Usher
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Just realized that I should clarify that everything about the icing looks fine while It is wet.  This only happens after it “dries.” I use domino’s powdered sugar, premium cane.  

oddly, the red and blue colors seem to be much less affected by this.  This is like a forensic files mystery!

@James Moniz posted:

Just realized that I should clarify that everything about the icing looks fine while It is wet.  This only happens after it “dries.” I use domino’s powdered sugar, premium cane.  

oddly, the red and blue colors seem to be much less affected by this.  This is like a forensic files mystery!

Not knowing exactly how you're drying your icing or what coloring you're using makes it hard to diagnose what's going wrong. However, your egg white measurement does seem to be off. My recipe ( calls for 5 oz or 5 large egg whites, which is more like 10 tablespoons (though I really would advise that you weigh and don't measure). This recipe mixes to a very thick consistency, suitable for gluing, not flooding. I usually tint the icing when it is thick, just off the mixer, as I find the coloring sets most stably this way, for some reason; then I thin gradually to the consistency I want by adding water in small increments (see the recommended consistency adjustments at the end of my recipe). If your icing is never setting, then one of two things (or both) is likely happening: (1) you are adding too much water to get to your flooding consistency and/or (2) you are drying under too-humid ambient conditions. As a frame of reference, if I follow my own recipe exactly as written, my icing has never not dried overnight. But I work in climate-controlled conditions and often speed-dry my cookies in front of an open dehydrator. The spotting/migrating of color could be an artifact of your icing taking too long to dry, because of the two reasons already noted. I rarely have coloring issues like you mentioned, but again I mix my icing and dry it as noted above, very consistently. Hope this helps.

Thanks Julia,

I will use 10 teaspoons instead of 12 from now on. I make sure to color it while it is glue. I take one small container and put about one cup of glue and color it with Betty Crocker food coloring.  Then I store all of the mixed colors in Tupperware in my fridge. The next day I put a bit of water for different consistency and put them in icing bags.  

going forward I will put only ten teaspoons of egg whites in the frosting, but I should also note that I have no mixer or machines.  I make the gingerbread dough and icing, everything by hand and with a wooden spoon.  I mean, if it worked in Central Europe during the 1600s…!!

maybe this additional information will jump out at you?

should I put the iced cookies in the convection oven at 100 degrees for a couple minutes? Some have said that works to help set the icing???

thanks so much,


I have no experience with Better Crocker coloring, but my guess is it may not be as stable as more concentrated gel colorings specifically used for iced cookies, like AmeriColor or Chefmaster. I also ice my cookies with icing mixed (with coloring) fresh that day; again, the coloring seems to set more stably if used right away and not refrigerated overnight. 100F may be too hot for cookies; I put mine IN FRONT of a dehydrator set at 90-95F, so the temperature they feel is a lot less that 100F. You'll have to watch your cookies like a hawk in the oven to make sure the icing doesn't overheat, over-inflate, and then crack. A heat fan or dehydrator with lower temperature settings are far better options. Got to run - as on major deadlines - but I hope this info helps take your cookies over this top this holiday season!

P.S. I don't know how you're able to mix my icing well by hand; it's thick to start and I could never bring it properly together without a stand mixer. It really needs a stand mixer to properly homogenize it to start.

I love baking too, but more than cookies, I am a cake enthusiast. It usually happens because the icing is overheated. If you love baking, try to get your hands on an edible printer using the Icing Images promo code which is a great option, if you love to decorate your creations.

Last edited by OliviaErin

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