Royal icing is nice because it dries nicely. Another recipe I have which I have used is thinner and less effective for piping has a nice glossy finish. I'd love a great recipe for a nice icing that can be worked for decorating and dries well so cookies can be stacked--email it to me!
Till then, here's the cookie and icing recipe.
1 1/2 cups butter, softened
3 cups white sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
5 cups all-purpose flour (I use Eagle Mills' White/Ultragrain blend)
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
Mix together butter and sugar; beat in eggs and vanilla.
Stir together dry ingredients and then incorporate into sugar/butter mixture. Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour---but if you let it stay overnight it can get tough to work with.
Roll out cookies to about 1/4-1/2 in thickness (I use 3-4 inch cookie cutters) and bake at 400 for about 7=8 minutes. Allow to cool completely before decorating.
Chocolate Royal Icing
1 lb powdered sugar
1/3 cup cocoa (Hershey's)
7 T. warm water
3 T powdered egg whites (like Just Whites)
mix powdered sugar, cocoa and egg whites. Slowly add water until you get the consistency you want. It's important to remember that with royal icing, you sometimes have to beat the mixture up to 8 minutes with a mixer to get the whipped, workable texture you want.
For the colors on these cookies, leave out the cocoa to make white icing and then use the colors of your choice. If you want natural coloring, you can try blueberry juice, cherry juice, beet juice, or some other vegetable/fruit colorings