Sweet Hope’s FrankenFrosting: The Best Cookie Icing Ever!

Date February 21, 2014

I know I know I know. Get it out of your system. I’ll wait.

The best cookie icing ever?! Really!!!!
How dare you say that!!!
Who do you think you are?!?!
Arrogant and Deluded,  Party of Two, your table is ready.

Feel better? Can I continue?

Before I get to THE BEST COOKIE ICING EVER! let me give you a little of the back story. If you’ve calmed down enough to hear me out, that is.

As you know, assuming that you read all my posts and take notes so as not to forget a single detail of my life, I’ve been a glaze purist since the early beginnings of my cookie life. So what do I like about glaze?

Glaze only requires four ingredients.
Glaze is stable. It never separates as can happen with royal icing.
Glaze can be stored indefinitely in the fridge or freezer.
Glaze has a perfectly sweet flavor that compliments the cookie.
Glaze has a soft bite and a shiny finish.

There are also a couple well-documented challenges with glaze. With the viscosity of thick honey glaze requires multiple layers of wet on dry application to add dimension to areas of a design and while it’s possible to do fine detail and writing with glaze, the strand of icing coming out of the piping tip will always flatten on itself. Try as hard as it might glaze is unable to hold the raised tubular shape of piped royal icing. Here are a couple examples where you can see that while the writing is clean, even using the smallest tip size, the line of icing goes flat and rounds out the lettering. The word “ballerina” is a prime example.

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The other major issue with glaze is the slow drying time, especially when it includes layer on layer for dimension. Typically a glazed cookie requires up to 24 hours to air dry before it can be sealed into a cellophane bag but even then glaze can become slightly damp again once sealed, perhaps from absorbing moisture from the baked cookie, which creates tacky points of contact between the glaze surface and the cellophane bag.

Enough already! Just get to the point! What do you mean you have THE BEST COOKIE ICING EVER?

You’ve always had a hard time living with unresolved tension, haven’t you? Okay then,  I’m going to get to the point and end your suffering.

A couple months ago I had a cookie order that involved a lot of writing and I wanted the writing to be super clean with some height,  the kind of writing I knew I could get with royal icing. Royal icing. I love the puffy dimensions, the super fine detailing, and the quick drying time of royal icing but the hard crunch, the dull finish, and especially the taste have always been major turn-offs for me.

So the brain gears started turning. . .what would happen if I took a big scoop of royal icing and stirred it into a big scoop of glaze?  And so I did because that’s the kind of risk-taker I am. One day I’m combining icings, the next I’m free jumping off tall buildings. And what happened with tossing all caution to the wind is that I ended up with an icing that offered the best of glaze (soft bite, slight shine, and sweet taste) and the best of royal icing (shorter drying time, fine details, and puffy dimension).  And no wonder because it IS glaze and it IS royal icing.

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Another advantage I’ve noticed from adding royal icing into glaze is that the finish is slightly less slick and more rough, a result of less corn syrup I’m guessing, which produces much better results with airbrushing, stenciling, and stamping on the surface of the icing.

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While I can achieve the puffy dimensional look with multiple layers of pure glaze as previously mentioned and no doubt already jotted down in your “Another Brilliant Thing Anita Said” notebook, the amount of dense glaze that ends up layered on the cookie can overwhelm the baked cookie underneath, leaving a bite that’s almost too sweet. If there exists such a thing.

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The one immediately obvious downside to combining royal icing and glaze is that it requires double the time in preparing two separate icings and so that’s why for the past couple weeks I’ve exchanged my apron for a lab coat and locked myself away in my culinary laboratory, only emerging  long enough to consult and compare notes with some of the finest icing researchers to hold a piping bag including the one, the only, you know her and you love her, Jill. After tweaking through a half dozen different “royal glaze” recipes I’ve come up with a number of variations that gave me finished results similar to the original combo version with one single notable exception. When I combine the two separate icings the airy puffiness of the whipped royal icing lightens the dense, compact quality of glaze and I end up with icing in my bowl that looks and behaves like royal icing. It’s fluffy and still able to form loose, soft peaks. However, when I mix all the ingredients together in one bowl, no matter what the order I add them or the quantities of each ingredient, the finished icing looks and behaves like glaze. It’s dense and smooths back into itself. I suppose I could have continued my experiments until I found that one magic recipe and filled up yet another freezer shelf with plastic buckets of icing but instead, I decided to stop the insanity and stay with Anita’s FrankenFrosting, named by everyone’s favorite retro sheek, Arty McGoo.

So if you’re looking for an icing that offers the best of both glaze and royal icing you might want to give FrankenFrosting a try. Here are the recipes that I use for my mad icing science!

Sugarbelles’ Royal Icing – A Tweaked Version

Ingredients:
2 pounds powdered sugar
2-3 tablespoons meringue powder
1/2 – 3/4 cup water
2-3 teaspoons oil-free extract or emulsion (More often than not I use a mix of vanilla and almond extracts)
1 tablespoon glycerin

Directions:
Follow Sugarbelle’s directions in her recent cookie icing post, adding the glycerin when adding in the flavorings.

Sweet Glaze Icing

Ingredients:
2 pounds powdered sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup
1/2 cup water
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon pure almond extract
(adjust your flavorings as desired)

Directions:
Add all the ingredients to your standing mixer in the order in which they’re listed and then, using the beater attachment, beat at low speed until the ingredients are just combined and then beat for another 2-3 minutes at medium high.

FrankenFrosting

The steps that go into making the actual FrankenFrosting are actually so complex and nuanced  that I thought it might be better to show you how to do it rather than tell you. Please don’t start the video until you have notebook and pen in hand.

I know. I put everything you look for in a highly educational and entertaining cookie tutorial. Banjo music, off-center framing, and tediously boring stirring of multiple bowls of icing by icing covered hands. It’s a beautiful thing. Step aside SweetAmbs, there’s a new girl in town!

The point of the video is simply to show you in the most B-rated form of video production a comparison of all the icings side by side. I would recommend Netflix or HuluPlus if you’re looking to be entertained.

Final Frankenfrosting thoughts:

  • I keep my “starter icings” thick and only thin the Frankenfrosting with water after adding coloring gel since different colors require more or less gel.
  • Even though Frankenfrosting has a soft bite because of the glaze, I still go ahead and add glycerin to the royal icing since I want the option of being able to use pure royal icing or pure glaze.
  • Frankenfrosting can be left on the counter in an airtight container (or piping bags/bottles) for a couple days (I’m of the small camp that avoids leaving reconstituted egg whites at room temperature for extended periods of time), and should keep in the freezer for several months.

BEST COOKIE ICING EVER. . . in my kitchen anyway!

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46 Responses to “Sweet Hope’s FrankenFrosting: The Best Cookie Icing Ever!”

  1. jillfcs said:

    Hahaha, "stop the insanity" … why mess with something that works!!! ♥

  2. UltimateGingerbread said:

    I share you same sentiments about RI and Glaze. Look forward to trying your Frankenfrosting! Love the banjo music!

  3. Kathy said:

    Love the video. Can't wait to try your FrankenFrosting.

  4. Lynda said:

    Dear sweet Anita,

    It has been a while since I have read one of your blogs…..and I now ask myself WHY? WHY are you depriving yourself of the antics of one of the funniest human beings ALIVE???!!!?????! I am anxious to try the newest icing in town!!!! And THANK YOU for adding such laughter to my day!!!

    Lynda

  5. Donna Rupinski said:

    I was a glaze gal when I first started making cookies but wanted the detail that RI provides. So, I started making both and used glaze for my flood and RI for details. This became very tedious because I often times needed to match the colors for flood and detail. So,I switched over to RI exclusively but I keep tweaking it to soften the bite. This recipe looks perfect! I have a question about how the hybrid icing performs. You said that when you add the RI to the glaze you get an icing that looks and behaves like RI but when you add both icings in bowl, no matter the order or quality, the finished icing looks and behaves like glaze. So I’m a bit confused, lol. I rarely use really stiff RI (like right out of the mixer) and the hybrid icing appears to have the consistency of outline or 20 second icing. Would that be correct?

    Thank you so much for the recipe and tutorial! Giving this a try today for some cookies I’m making for a fellow cookier.

  6. Anne said:

    I started out using glaze icing because I liked the taste but a few years ago, I changed over to royal. I am going to try your recipe, it looks like it's the best of both worlds!

  7. Cindy-CookieCheers said:

    Fantastic! What's the dry time?

  8. Kelly said:

    I have tweaked a couple of different RI recipes (Sugarbelle's and Sugardeaux's) to get something kind of like what you described. I use 2 lb. powdered sugar, 5 oz water, 5 tbsp. meringue powder, 3/4 tsp cream of tartar, 2 tbsp. of butter/vanilla emulsion, and 1/4 cup corn syrup. I ended up with a RI that stacks well but is dentable with a fingernail and tastes fantastic! I can't wait to watch your video and thank you for all your lovely tutorials, tips, and tricks!

  9. SWEETHOPE said:

    Donna,I don't think I explained that well. When I had royal icing and glaze together the icing is more like royal icing, but when I take all the ingredients of the two and attempted to mix them together as one recipe it always turned out more like glaze. My guess is the MP isn't able to develop the air with the weight/density of the corn syrup there.And yes, I make both glaze and royal icing super thick, by habit as much as for any other reason. I just prefer adding water to thin than adding more powdered sugar to thicken.I'd love to hear how combining the two icings worked for you….and be honest! I can take it!

  10. SWEETHOPE said:

    Lynda,Okay, that's one really sweet comment. Thank you! While I certainly wouldn't consider myself one of the funniest people alive, I think when it comes to snarkiness I might be in the general ballpark. So says those who know me.

  11. SWEETHOPE said:

    Oh Kathy….if you loved that video then I bet you were over the moon for “Snakes on the Plane.”Please…by all means, give me a good review at RottenTomato.com.

  12. SWEETHOPE said:

    Lynda,Okay, that's one really sweet comment. Thank you! While I certainly wouldn't consider myself one of the funniest people alive, I think when it comes to snarkiness I might be in the general ballpark. So says those who know me.

  13. SWEETHOPE said:

    Oh Kathy….if you loved that video then I bet you were over the moon for “Snakes on the Plane.”Please…by all means, give me a good review at RottenTomato.com.

  14. SWEETHOPE said:

    Anne, the last couple months it's been the best of both worlds for me that's for sure. I don't see any going back for this girl! Let me know what you think once you try it :)

  15. Pat Ruiz said:

    OMG! This is unbelievable, thanks so much for sharing this fabulous recipe for all of us to enjoy!

  16. SWEETHOPE said:

    Pat, I believe I might be over inflating my ego to call this a recipe given that it's just taking two existing recipes and plunking them together :)

  17. Sandy Dickson said:

    I don't see anywhere how much of each you combine to create the new Frankenfrosting. Are you combining ALL of both recipes or equal portions of each recipe to create the new Frankfrosting? This looks interesting and I'm anxious to try.

  18. SWEETHOPE said:

    Kelly,Sounds like you're on to something! Glad you found something that works really great for you! It seems being a cookie decorator involves being an explorer, scientist, and researcher as well :)

  19. SWEETHOPE said:

    Cindy, I haven't clocked it exactly but over the course of a day I can decorate a detailed cookie (including several color flooded areas, outlining, and wet on dry) within a day easily. With glaze, at least for me, to avoid any bleeding, I'd allow overnight for multiple applications with certain designs. With this hybrid I can do all the decorating on one day (in most cases) and then bag by early afternoon of the next day without any risk of there being that glaze tackiness to the inside of the bag.

  20. SWEETHOPE said:

    Anne, if you try it let me know if it works for you!

  21. SWEETHOPE said:

    Sandy,It was “dollop” for “dollop” meaning a 1:1 ratio. It's definitely not a precise measurement and it's flexible. For example, if I'm doing detailing I might mix 1 part glaze to 2 parts royal icing.

  22. NL Marrs said:

    Anita, You rock!!! I have been a GLAZE only girl because my family does not like the taste and hard finish of RI. I am not cookier, but love to make frosted cookies for my family and close friends and wondered if I could glaze and then add details with RI. I have never been adventurous enough to try it – so without you – people like me would just continue on our same icing path. But, not any longer ;o) Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge!!!! I cannot wait to try this new recipe.

  23. Sandy Dickson said:

    OK! That helps. Just thought I'd missed something. I'm anxious to try this!

  24. Michelle (Sweet P's) said:

    Interesting way to do it Anita! When I created my Royal Glaze recipe, I never would have thought to make both and combine them! I wonder if you added more glaze than royal, would it be better for, say, wet-on-wet? I have always loved how the glycerin gives a softer bite to royal. And combined with glaze, well, I haven't done it any other way for almost 4 years! Loved the video, too!!! Thanks for sharing!

  25. Jen Rowe said:

    I need to follow up with you! I started out as a RI girl, then switched to Glaze because the flavor was so much better. But went back to RI because the stress of making sure I had enough time for the cookies to dry was too much for me.

    So!!! I tried your FrankenFrosting on my projects this week. I LOVE IT!!!!!!!! I cannot thank you ENOUGH for this post. Just like you said…the best of both worlds. I completely decorated a set of cookies, let them sit overnight for about 10 hours and they were ready to package. And soooooo yummy! Just enough firmness in the frosting to keep them from getting "dents" and still soft underneath.

    You have given me recipe that is perfect for me (no stress on drying time) and perfect for my clients (super yummy frosting). And I will use half the amount of meringue powder for each order! Win/Win/Win!

    Thank you again!!!

    Jen

  26. NikkiK said:

    Jiminy Christmas Anita! Is there no end to your over-active brain activity? I think between this FrankenFrosting and all your cookie variations, you need to be nominated for a Nobel Prize in Cookie Chemistry. For reals.

    Now I'm going to have to spend my weekend mixing up glaze and RI and to try this very interesting looking, bi-curious icing. Does it want to be glaze? Does it want to be royal? The best of both worlds for sure.

    I'm still doing it. I'm still bowing in your cyber presence.
    (And why in the french toast did I just today see this post? I'm slippin' in my old age.)
    Thank you for your dedication to the cookie world. Your loyal subjects adore you.

  27. Amanda Whitewood said:

    Thanks for sharing this and I will admit that it is very similar to my non traditional recipe as well. Can't wait to try Anita's as I have always loved her glaze. It's the reason I started dropping corn syrup into my royal.

  28. Terri said:

    This is a first time for me on your site (clicked over from Sugarbelle's icing post) and what a treat it has been! Thanks for this great post, can't wait for the time to give it try! I started with glaze, (but with milk not water for the liquid), loved it, very yummy, but took FOREver to dry since I live in a rainforesty climate. Then, like Donna, I, too used RI for piping and glaze for flood, but it was too hard to match the two icings since glaze takes color so much better. I've been slugging it out solely with RI amidst great frustration with the humidity–a fan AND a dehumidifier is the only way I can get my icing to set and even then it often collapses. So this idea might be the key to success for me! Thanks for all your insight and for sharing your mad scientist experiment turned miracle! :-)

  29. Tammy said:

    May I ask what the cream of tartar does in the tweaked RI sugabelle recipe? Very curious?

  30. connie said:

    I wonder…why couldn't you just add meringue powder, glycerin and cream of tartar to the Glaze Icing. Or just add Corn Syrup to royal icing. I believe it's the corn syrup that gives it the shine, better taste and would also create the softer bite. By combining the two into one icing, would be much easier than going to the trouble of making two separate icing.

  31. Robyn said:

    I use a similar recipe except I don't combine 2 different icings, I just add 1/2 cup of corn syrup to the royal icing after it is completely whipped and continue mixing on low speed for a few minutes. The result is a royal type icing that dries quickly but still is soft on the inside

  32. SWEETHOPE said:

    Robyn,I always love when a few people find the same solution different ways. While I'm happy with my version and don't mind making the double batches since I make mega-batches and freeze anyway, I'm going to have to try your way just to see how it works and compares. So glad you shared your idea!!!

  33. Annie said:

    Hey Anita – I'm so intrigued….I might just throw caution to the wind and try this on my Easter cookies. Why wait and try it right? One question – you freeze your icing….how to you unthaw it. Other than the obvious "set it on the counter, silly." Anything special that you put it in before freezing? Just a sealed plastic container?

  34. SWEETHOPE said:

    Annie,No reason to wait…GO big or GO home! And I freeze my icing in quart and pint sized deli containers with the snap on lids. They can store that way for weeks on end and then to thaw I just “leave them on the counter Silly!' Just a reminder, make sure the icing is fully room temperature before using or you'll get an inaccurate read of how thick it is until it ends up thawing on the cookie :)

  35. artforthesoulwv said:

    OK…I'm goin' for it… I'm base-icing with Anita's FF…I've been using a version of Karen's Buttercream Meringue (with only 1 TAB of shortening to a double recipe) and only using RI when I need fine details or stand up details… but, I'm as big a risk-taker as you are, Anita, AND. I'M. GOING. TO. DO. IT. (I met you at CC'14, but I didn't get to REALLY talk to you…You're just too big, now…I'll have to be content with knowing you by reading your posts:). But I'll keep you updated on my results with AFF!

  36. artforthesoulwv said:

    Hi Anita, I commented a few days ago about trying your AFF…well, I did… and I LOVE IT!!!! I haven't been 100% satisfied with my icing…It's basically RI with a little shortening… More versatile than glaze…gosh, you glaze users must be patient…better eating consistency than RI,,, but…well, I wanted the things that RI can do … and you found it …I love everything about AFF…Thanks for experimenting, and thanks for sharing your discovery:) Linda

  37. SWEETHOPE said:

    Oh Yippee Linda!!!! I'm so glad to hear my little hybrid icing worked for you too! Thank you for trying it and then letting me know how it went for you. I continue to be really happy with the blend of icings and really, the only thing I miss that I was use to with glaze is the shine. There's still some shine with the hybrid but not as much, however if I dry the cookies in a food dehydrator for about 20 minutes I can achieve much of the same shine. Anyway, thank you again for checking in :)

  38. Rainee Walker said:

    can i substitute corn syrup for the glycerin? What does the glycerin do softness or shine or both? Does glycerin make it shinier the corn syrup? Just curious I've only used it to make the kids bubbles!

  39. SWEETHOPE said:

    Rainee, corn syrup adds shine to the finish while glycerin adds softness to the bite.Sent from my iPhone

  40. Deanna said:

    Thank you for sharing this recipe. I used it for my Easter cookies and really liked it. It dried shinier than my royal icing and softer too. I personally like the taste more too. I don't normally eat my cookies because I don't like sugar cookies; however, I like them more with this icing.

  41. Suzanne said:

    Anita – you are my hero!!!! I love this – and the video – brillant! You cook the same way I do – a scoop here and a scoop there!
    Thanks for sharing!!!
    Suzanne

  42. Laura S said:

    Oh. My. Gosh. Anita!!! You fixed everything I hate about RI and glaze in one fell swoop! I ❤️❤️❤️ Frankenfrosting. You are my hero!

  43. SWEETHOPE said:

    Laura,Aw, thank you! I can't even tell you how thrilling it is to me that I came up with anything that's helpful to other cookie decorators. I love it!

  44. Marilyn said:

    Anita, you've changed my cookie decorating life! I've tried my darndest to decorate with glaze but have never been able to try more complicated designs because of how it flattens out. Having tasted a cookie covered in RI and basically spitting it out, I've never even tried to make a batch of the stuff until your discovery. I too tried combining ingredients into one recipe but never could get it to behave like RI and look good. Thanks for letting me go crazy with the happy dance here after sucking it up and making two different batches of icing to accomplish one task. But it works wonderfully. Thanks for sharing your genius eureka moment.

  45. Annette Jimison said:

    Hi Tammy. I can't wait for her reply to this one, too. I wonder what it does?

  46. SWEETHOPE said:

    Tammy, Sorry for taking so long to reply to your question but cream of tartar is added occasionally to RI to help prevent the reconstituted egg whites (powdered) from causing the icing to separate after a certain period of time. I've found that when mixing RI with glaze it's not necessary to include the cream of tartar in my recipe and have changed it in the post.

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