Sweet Hope Icing is a hybrid of royal icing and glaze, the two most common icings used for decorating cookies. The list of ingredients for both icings are similar with the exception of two key ingredients. While both icings contain powdered sugar, water, and flavorings, what sets them apart is that royal icing contains meringue powder while the main ingredient for glaze is corn syrup. It’s these two ingredients, meringue powder and corn syrup that make these two icings as distant from one another as cousins three times removed but when married together make the most perfect combination. Cousins three times removed, not so much. Getting married I mean.
Future video: A side by side demo showing the viscosity of royal icing and glaze. Overlay text listing the best and worst of each icing.
It was after a couple years of using glaze exclusively, all the while secretly harboring resentment at the sharp piping lines and quick drying time of royal icing that I began to wonder what magic might happen if I took a big scoop of royal icing and stirred it into a big scoop of glaze. And so I did and the result was an icing that offered the best of glaze (soft bite, nice shine, sweet taste, durability in storage life and lack of separation) with the best of royal icing (shorter drying time, fine piped details, a surface that’s more amenable to airbrushing and painting, and a puffy heightened covering).
The one downside to Sweet Hope Icing is that it requires double the time to make since you’re literally making two icings instead of one and then combining them together. This is why the number one question of cookie decorators is “Why don’t you just combine all the ingredients into one recipe and make it all in one bowl at one time?” Some decorators do just that so give it a try and see if it works for you, but for me, I’ve found that when I mix all the ingredients together, no matter what order I add them in or how I tweak the measurements, the finished icing looks and behaves more like glaze with a more dense, compact weight. My opinion is that the meringue powder needs to be given the opportunity free of the liquid weight of the corn syrup to develop that desirable airy light lift found in royal icing. By making them separately and then mixing the finished royal icing into the glaze enough of the developed air structure remains that the final icing looks and behaves more like royal icing, forming light fluffy peaks.
Here are a few random snippets of info before you pull out the mixing bowls.
- Dried royal icing tends to have a hard snap. This hard bite is most noticeable and occasionally unpleasant when cookies have been decorated with layers of royal icing embellishments and transfers. Corn syrup and glycerin function in similar ways. They both create a more tender bite while adding shine to the finish. If the royal icing is to be combined with the glaze in making Sweet Hope Icing, the addition of glycerin isn’t necessary. Glycerin has only been included as an optional ingredient for those who might want to hold back some of the royal icing to use separately.
- Glaze by itself tends to have a translucent, faintly grayish appearance which is eliminated with a small amount of white coloring. As with the glycerin in royal icing, the white coloring has been included if the glaze is going to be used on its own since it tends to lose it’s translucency when when combined with the royal icing.
- Following these recipes should result in an extremely thick icing I refer to as condensed icing. By adding flavoring and coloring gel you’ll have the approximate consistency desired for fine details, piping words, attaching dimensional creations such as gingerbread houses, or making roses and other transfer embellishments. Add additional water to thin to consistencies used for outlining and flooding.
- Sweet Hope Icing can be left on the counter in an air-tight container for 2-3 days or stored in the refrigerator for up to 7-10 days. It can be kept in the freezer indefinitely. When using frozen or refrigerated icing be sure to allow the icing to thaw completely since it needs to reach room temperature to get a true gauge on the icing consistency. Should you notice any separation in the icing just hand stir until the liquid is incorporated back in.
- A word of caution. While the dried egg white powder in the meringue has been treated against salmonella and made shelf safe for an indefinite amount of time, once it’s re-hydrated with water, it should be treated with the same care as liquid egg whites because it’s still capable of developing other bacteria while in a liquid state.