OK, so the shortbread cookies are really delicious. But when you have them cut into cute little shapes, it seems such a shame to let them go undecorated. A sad, serious shame.
The best way to decorate a cookie is with Royal Icing. It sounds so important, it must be good. In fact, when I went to buy some bits at The Cake Decorating Company in Nottingham, the owner told me that she was signed up for a Royal Icing Workshop. Royal Icing is so important, it has it’s own workshop. Cool. Only problem is that the mainstream way of thinking is that all official Royal Icing involves egg whites. Phooey, I say.
In fact if you look around, you will find several different versions of Royal Icing. The one I chose is the one that uses syrup. Golden syrup is delicious, and it’s an amazing shame that it’s not better known in the US. Caro syrup is a poor cousin, in my opinion. Find and use Golden Syrup (Lyle’s is the classic), and you’ll never turn back. And yes, it’s completely animal free (yeah!).
As with many recipes I share, this one is a ‘see as you go’ version. The amount of powdered sugar that you need will depend on what consistency of Royal Icing you’re trying to end up with. The general idea is that you use thicker icing to outline and thinner icing to ‘flood’ the area and fill it in. I use ‘toothpaste’ (for outlines) versus ‘shampoo’ (for flooding) categories in my head when mixing, and it honestly serves me very well. If adjusting along the way, more sugar will get you a thicker frosting, and more syrup will get you a softer frosting – with little drops of water in between as needed. Experiment and get to know what you’re looking for. I know it sounds like a wooly explanation, but it really is the only way to make sure you’ve got the frosting you need for what you’re doing.
Start with 1 1/4 cup powdered sugar (This one’s easy – just use unprocessed and blend in food processor until powdered if you can’t find it ready made)
Add 6 teaspoons water + 2 teaspoons golden syrup (or light corn syrup if it’s all you can find)
Mix together, adding a bit more corn syrup and water as you go (carefully!) until you get the right consistency. Add your colouring and there you have it, Bob’s your uncle!