Decorating cookies in the summer can be a nightmare if you don’t know some key tips!
Have you ever spent hours making your cookies and lovingly decorating them, only to find, hours later, that the cookies have splotches or spots on the icing?
I’ve received numerous emails from you, imploring for help with this ‘mysterious’ issue. While it has rarely happened to me (and I’ll explain why in a minute), many of you have shared your photos with me, and we’ve worked together to try and resolve the issue.
So, I’m writing today to hopefully help prevent it from happening to you, or if it has happened to you, to share with you how to avoid it again.
Why are there spots on the icing?
I mentioned that this issue rarely happens to me… Well, I’ve figured out that it rarely happens because I live in area which only experiences real humidity during the months of June – August. It does seems to be humidity which is the real culprit.
I’m no scientist, and would love to hear from you if you have more theories and/or information, but it seems like somehow the fat from the cookie (i.e. butter), seeps into the royal icing. I’m guessing that it happens more when the cookies are drying in a warm/humid area because the butter isn’t as solid, and ‘melts’ up into the icing.
Take for example, these owl cookies I made in early May. Although we were experiencing a warm spell here, I decided not to buy a new de-humidifier (more on that coming later), to make these cookies.
My de-humidifier broke at the end of last summer, and I guess I just hoped the cookies would be fine. Well, even though it was early May, it was humid, and the base of little guys ended up getting spots.
As soon as I noticed ‘splotches’ on a few cookies, I was off to Walmart to buy a dehumidifier, so only the base layer ended up getting the spots.
I decided that the brown kind of looked textured with spots (well, hoped really!), as I didn’t have time to start them over. (Oh terrible confession! Jenn and her mom seemed to love them though).
Before I shared with you what I did to prevent this from happening again, I wanted to test the “theory” out.
I picked the colours which are most likely to get spots and to bleed (darks such as red & navy and very light colours, such as white and pale yellow), and made summer cookies.
So, what exactly do you do to prevent this from happening to you?
How to Avoid Getting Spots on Your Cookies
1. De-humidifier and Air-Conditioner
The most important solution; work in a room with a dehumidifier and air-conditioner. I work in a room with the windows and doors shut, and with the de-humidifier and and air conditioner on. Even though the air-conditioner has a de-humidify function on it, our summers are so humid here, that I find I need an extra de-humidifier as well.
Here’s a pic of the ‘pretty’ dehumidifier I have. 😉
If you’re not able to purchase an air-conditioner or de-humidifier, there are a few things which will help:
2. Colour your white icing, white
It may seem redundant, but besides making the icing look whiter and fresher, it really seems to ‘hide’ small spots if they tend to appear.
3. Make your icing thicker
The consistency of the icing seems to make a difference. It seems the spots can ‘permeate’ through thinner icing easier. Watch a video tutorial on icing consistency here.
4. Cookie thickness
If you make your cookies on the thicker side, and it’s something you don’t mind changing, bake them so they’re approximately 1 cm or 1/3 of an inch thick.
5. Use a good royal icing recipe
I love Antonia74’s recipe. It’s ‘creamy’ and velvety. If you’d like to try it, you can find it here.
6. Let the icing on your cookies dry at room temperature
When you enclose your cookies in an air-tight container, the humidity/moisture in the container will affect the icing. Once the icing is dry, you can seal the cookies in tupperware, gift-bags etc.
7. Bake your cookies a little bit longer
If your cookies are bit underdone, or soft, the fat in your cookie seems to affect the icing with splotches more. If you do like your cookies soft though, solution #1 should work.
More to Discuss
That being said, there are questions which have stumped me when it comes to the ‘cookie-spotting’ issue. For example, Pamela of Adventures in Biscuits, wanted to know why only her purple poodle cookie got the spots.
Could it be that the type/brand of food gel coloring makes a difference?
I personally really like using Americolor because they have easy to dispense squeeze bottles, and I find the colours bleed less. Pamela has since emailed me and mentioned she found the spots happened less with the Wilton brand.
There are so many variables; what has been your experience?
Do you have any favorite decorating tips for working in a warm or humid environment?
Happy ‘spot-less’ decorating!
p.s. ***Some of the summer-themed cookies, for example the flip-flops and shorts, are copied from Martha Stewart Crafts stickers. I noticed on facebook that there were requests on how I made them. I will do them again and take pictures but for now:
How to Make the Flip Flop Cookies:
a) Pipe outline of flip flop base (I used a projector, but you might not need to), and fill in right away. For the dotted ones, pipe the dots right away (wet-on-wet technique).
b) Once the base is dry, pipe the white straps.
d) Once the flower is dry, pipe a little yellow dot for the center, and adhere it to the flip flop with a little royal icing.
p.s.s. Tried making two versions of the sand castle cookies; one with brown sugar on top, and one just royal icing. If you end up making these, know that the flag breaks off very easily. 😉
p.s.s.s. If you’d like to never miss a post, and/or receive more tips on cookie decorating, click on this purple RSS button at the top right of the site.
Thank you to all my lovely readers here, on facebook, twitter… I am so blessed to receive your sweet comments, emails, facebook comments and tweets. You make blogging fun!