Each December in our homeschool craft co-op we get together to make candy houses, which we put together using graham crackers and royal icing. Once the houses are built, it’s best to wait 5-10 minutes before adding candy– regular frosting works fine for that — but royal icing is essential for making strong structures on which to place all that candy. Here’s the recipe I use to make royal icing, just in case you’re interested in a similar Christmas craft with your own children.
- 3 egg whites, at room temperature
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
- In the clean, dry bowl of a stand mixer, place egg whites, powdered sugar, and cream of tartar. Using the whisk attachment, beat all together on low speed until combined.
- Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl, then beat for 7-10 more minutes, until the icing is very thick, shiny, stiff and white. If icing doesn't look stiff enough, add a little more powdered sugar at this point and whip a little longer.
- If you want colored icing, divide it among several bowls, adding drops of food coloring to each bowl to get the colors you want. Usually we just make ours white, but red and green would be fun too.
- Scoop the icing into heavy ziplock bags, squeezing all air out of the bags before zipping them shut. At this point I also usually double-seal the top of each bag with a strip of clear packing tape, to keep bags from bursting open while they are squeezed. Icing will last several days, refrigerated, sealed in ziplocks.
- When you're ready to use the bags, just snip a TINY corner off each bag so that when squeezed, the icing comes out in a thin line.
- Royal icing dries to a very hard consistency, and sets quickly once exposed to air. It will be hard within 15-30 minutes of application.
Note: This type of icing is great for glue, but potentially not great to eat, since it contains raw eggs. We've never had issues, but be aware of the risk, especially with young children and immune-compromised folks. For those people you may want to skip the eggs and instead use meringue powder. Happy building!