Solutions for Common Sugar Cookie Icing Problems

As anyone who has ever tried to decorate sugar cookies for a special occasion will tell you, the hardest part is the icing. Most bakers like to use royal icing to create their edible masterpieces because it dries more quickly and is less prone to spreading than other icing types. Royal icing is finicky, though, occasionally making it a royal pain to work with.

Don't worry, though: there is hope. Here are 10 common sugar cookie icing problems and their solutions.

1. Crooked

Problem: Icing that streams out of the piping tip at weird angles can ruin an otherwise perfect string or outline.

Solution: Some tips have seams along the side that causes the icing to pipe out crookedly. Inspect your tips before using them to make sure they don't have the seams.

2. Air Bubbles

Problem: An air bubble in your piping bag or tip can pop up and create an icing break at the most inopportune moments--like when you're in the middle of some intricate string work. Your icing is likely too dry.

Solution: For starters, do not overmix your icing as that will pump more air into it and potentially cause bubbles. Rest the icing in a bowl with a damp cloth over it for 15 minutes before using. If you see air bubbles on your cookies already, pop the bubbles with a toothpick and re-spread the icing.

3. Lumps

Problem: Clumps of icing can clog your piping tips and cause the icing to spurt out unevenly, leaving a gloppy mess behind.

Solution: Make sure to thoroughly sift the confectioner's sugar for your icing. You can also try using a pair of (new) nylon pantyhose to strain your icing before adding it to the piping bag.

4. Stiff

Problem: Piping out your icing is an exercise in grip strength, making decorating nearly impossible--especially when the icing bursts out in a huge explosion.

Solution: Stir a tiny amount of room temperature water into the icing.

5. Dull

Problem: No, your cookies aren't boring--they're just not as shiny as they were when you had finished icing them.

Solution: Add a tiny amount of light corn syrup to your icing. Confectioner's glaze, also known as shellac, can also be sprayed onto your cookies once the icing has set.

6. Spotting

Problem: Discolored spots are typically caused by butter bleed. In warm temperatures, butter from the cookie melts slightly, seeping into the icing and making it look blotchy.

Solution: Working in a cool kitchen helps prevent butter bleed, as does using a de-humidifier. Tweaks to your icing--making it thicker--and/or your cookies--using extra flour or baking a bit longer--can help, too. If you've already applied your icing and developed stains, your options are pretty much limited to cover-ups.

7. Bleeding

Problem: Different colored sections run together after the icing is applied, especially when using dark colors like red or black.

Solution: Dry your cookies with a fan or ice your cookies with just the dark colored icing first, letting them set for about 24 hours before adding icings in lighter colors.

8. Cracking

Problem: If your icing cracks after it dries, it's likely not the heat--it's the humidity.

Solution: Let your iced cookies set in a cool, dry room, away from open windows.

9. Runny

Problem: Your icing fails to harden and is still tacky after a considerable amount of time has already passed.

Solution: Add more confectioner's sugar in small increments.

10. Hard

Problem: Your sugar cookie designs look terrific, but your icing is a bit too crunchy for your--or anyone's--taste.

Solution: There's too much meringue powder in your icing, or your icing is too thick. Try dragging a butter knife across the surface of your icing; if the streak takes longer than 10 seconds to disappear, your icing is too think. Add water.


Still having issues with your icing? Fear not--Cookies By Design can help with same-day hand-delivery of delicious, perfectly decorated cookies!

BIRTHDAY GIFTS FOR HIM

SHOP NOW