How to Do Brush Embroidery with Royal Icing

One of the most fun things about learning to make sugar cookies is learning all the cool things that royal icing can do.  This stuff really is a versatile little guy– you can make anything from 3D gazebos to those cool little “dot” candies on a sheet of paper.  Yes. You really can.  Making your own candy . . . the world is about to get dangerous. 

Well, today I’m going to show you something awesome that royal icing can do– it can become a painting medium and turn your ordinary cookies into stunning masterpieces.  Painting with icing is not super hard, either– and I guarantee you that, if you master this technique, you will hear lots of “ooohs!” and “ahhhs!” the next time you bring cookies to a get together.

What are we waiting for?  Let’s do this!

Start out by baking some cookies in the shape of your choice.  See a step by step tutorial on baking sugar cookies here.  I’m using hearts, today.  Another great shape is a scalloped circle.  These make adorable and dainty tea cookies.

Next, mix your icing into the color of your choice, to a flood consistency. More on that, here.  I’m going with pink– the great thing about this technique is that you can match it to any party/wedding/baby shower décor.  Just choose a base color to match your color scheme, and the rest is easy peasy!

Outline and flood your cookies.  More on that here.  Today, I’m assuming that you have more than basic cookie decorating skills and want to learn a more complicated technique, so I’m not focusing too much on this basic stuff.  But the tutorials are linked in case you need a refresher.
Now, to get to the good stuff– decorating!  You want to make sure your base coats on the cookies are completely dry before you start decorating.  This drying stage takes roughly 3-4 hours.  If you have time, allow the cookies to dry overnight to make sure that they are perfectly dry.
As far as equipment, this is pretty basic.  Get a small bowl with a little bit of water.  I got myself a pink bowl to match.  Isn’t that cute? 😉  Ha.  Also, you need a flat brush.  You can get these at Walmart in a brush pack for around $5.  It’s nice to have a variety of brushes, because, as I will show you later, the different shapes can be used for different things.
You also need some white icing for an outline (of fairly thick) consistency.  More on that here.

Start out by piping a petal outline.  The petals don’t have to be separate from each other (although, you can do that, if you want to).  Try to picture the silhouette of a flower.  You’re just going to outline the outer edge of it, to start.

Now, we start the “brush embroidery.”  To do this, lightly wet your brush in the water.  Wipe it off on a paper towel so that it is just damp– not wet.  You start to realize how damp you want the brush to be the more you do this.  For now, just try to dip the brush in water, and then blot on a paper towel.  Gently “brush” the icing down with your damp paintbrush.  You don’t have to cover the entire space under the icing outline– we will do that with the next set of petals.  Brush all the way around the flower.  If you get too much icing on your brush, go ahead and wipe it off on the paper towel, but try not to re-wet the brush.

This is what it will look like if you make the brush too wet, rather than just dampening it.  A wet brush makes the icing kind of bleed together instead of making defined “petals.”

This is what you want the petals to look like– smooth and damp, but still with defined lines.

Go ahead and make several flowers on various sides of your hearts.  There is really no right or wrong way to do this.  On a medium size cookie, I try to do 2-3 flowers.  You don’t want to overwhelm the cookie– just accent it with white.

After your first layer has dried (I usually do my entire cookie sheet of “first layers,” and by the time I finish my last cookie, the first ones are dry enough to continue), go ahead and go through these steps again, with a second petal layer.  Do the exact same thing as you did for the first layer– draw your petal outline, dampen your brush, and “brush” the icing down.

After the second layers are done, go ahead and make a third layer.  Usually, the third one is more a half circle, rather than a series of petals.

Once your petal outlines are dry, go ahead and add some decoration.  You can add a few dots to the center of your “flower,” and some simple piping/dot details, if you want.  There really is no right or wrong way to do this– just kind of embellish and play around with your design until you find something that you like.
If piping details are not your thing, a little series of dots looks really pretty, too.
You can put some dots around the edges, too, if you want.  Or put some dots on the edges, and leave some plain.  They are pretty either way.
Go ahead.  Make these for your next event– I guarantee you’ll be the hit of the party!  🙂  Or just make them for yourself . . . because, with a cup of tea and one of these cookies, you’ll feel downright pampered.
And don’t we all deserve a little pampering now and then?
You did it.  And I’m just so proud of you.



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