Cookies are bountiful during the holiday season. There are sugar cookies, thumbprint cookies, pinwheel cookies, shortbread cookies, you name it. But at the end of the day: gingerbread cookies always seem to come out on top for us. We recently shared our love for gingerbread cookies and a recipe for the Best Vegan Gingerbread Cookies. But what we also need to talk about is cookie icing.
Typically, gingerbread cookies are decorated with a hard white icing, known as royal icing. As pretty as it is, royal icing does taste simply like straight sugar, and a traditional royal icing requires egg whites (or meringue powder). Lately, we’ve been going for a more adventurous - and dare we say more delicious - route with our icing. We flavor ours with fresh orange juice and zest. The result is an orange-scented pipeable icing that has so much going on than the traditional stuff. The hint of citrus pairs perfectly with the spices in the gingerbread cookies. It truly is a match made in heaven. Give it a try and you just might never go back!
Some notes about this recipe:
- What if my icing is too runny?: Mix in more icing sugar, in small increments, until it is the consistency you want.
- What if my icing is too thick?: Mix in more orange juice, in small increments, until it is the consistency you want.
- How do I store extra icing?: Store the icing in the fridge, fully covered. We typically transfer our icing to an airtight container, then lay a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the icing (to prevent it from drying out), before putting the lid onto the container. You could also keep the icing in a Ziplock bag, or similar. When it comes time to decorate again, let the icing come up to room temperature to make it easier to pipe.
- How do I make different flavors of icing?: You could substitute the orange juice and zest for different citrus fruits instead, like grapefruit, lemon, or lime.
How to use this orange cookie icing:
- Decorate gingerbread cookies: Our favorite gingerbread recipe is the Best Vegan Gingerbread Cookies
- Decorate sugar cookies: These sugar cookies are extra tender thanks to the addition of sour cream. You can skip the white chocolate icing, and instead use this orange icing on top of the cookies. And, you could swap the dried raspberries for a sprinkle of cinnamon on top!
- Other ways to use Orange Cookie icing: You could use this icing to drizzle on top of chocolate cookies as well. Dark and milk chocolate pair would pair well with orange. You could also use it to drizzle on top of shortbread cookies, or even dip mini shortbread cookies into the icing directly (Dunkaroos-style!)
- 1¾ to 2 cups powdered sugar
- ½ to ¾ teaspoons lightly packed orange zest
- 2 to 3 tablespoons fresh orange juice
- Mix icing: Add 1¾ cup of the powdered sugar, ½ teaspoon of the orange zest, and 2 tablespoons of the orange juice to a medium bowl. Whisk until smooth. Taste and check consistency. Adjust as needed (more icing sugar to thicken, more orange juice to thin, and/or more orange zest for more citrus flavor).
- Decorate: Transfer icing to a piping bag - or use a small spatula, spoon, or butter knife to spread on the icing. Icing will firm up on the cookies as it dries. Cover and refrigerate extras (see note 1).
- Storage tips: Store extra icing in a small bowl or airtight container. Place a small piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the icing, to prevent the top layer from hardening. Let icing soften at room temperature before piping it onto cookies.
- Yield: Makes ¾ cup icing. Nutritional estimate assumes 1 to 1½ teaspoons icing per cookie (serving).