If you're making gingerbread men, you need a royal icing recipe. Not that gingerbread isn't delicious on its own... but a bit of icing adds just the right touch of sweetness, and the cookies are so much prettier when they're decorated.
Besides, decorating gingerbread cookies is half the fun!
Different cookies need different types of cookie icing. Gingerbread cookies work well with royal icing because the flavors blend well, and because royal icing is great as a "glue". If you're making a gingerbread house, or you want your gingerbread men to have gumdrop buttons, a drop of royal icing will help it stick.
So here it is, a royal icing recipe for pretty and delicious cookies!
In a small bowl, beat the egg white, confectioners' sugar and lemon juice until it's smooth and well-blended.
Add a few drops of food coloring and stir, until you have the color you want. If needed, separate the cookie icing in batches to make different colors.
Decorate your cookies using a piping set, or a Ziploc bag with a corner snipped off.
This cookie icing recipe uses raw egg whites. If you're concerned about salmonella, you can use pasteurized egg whites instead.
You may need more than one batch to decorate your cookies, but it's so fast to make, you may as well use up one batch before making another. That way, there's less waste, and your icing won't harden.
The icing hardens fast, so cover any icing you're not using right away with plastic wrap.
If the icing is too runny, you can add some extra sugar till it's just right. If it's too stiff, try adding another egg white.
The icing will get hard pretty quickly, but it still takes a while for it to set completely. It won't run off the cookies, but if you pile cookies one on top of the other, the icing might get crushed. Waiting a few hours before stacking cookies will solve that problem.