Makes about 6 cups (1 1/2 quarts)

How to Make It

Step 1

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Beat with an electric mixer at low speed until combined. Beat on high 8 to 10 minutes or until stiff peaks form.

Step 2

*Meringue powder is available at specialty food shops, cake decorator supply houses, crafts stores, and some supermarkets.

Step 3

Royal icing tips:

Step 4

Store icing in a glass or metal container; it will break down in plastic.

Step 5

Reserve a set of pastry bags, couplers, and tips exclusively for royal icing. (Your old cake-decorating bags may not be grease-free.) Disposable pastry bags or parchment triangles rolled into cones will work. Store filled pastry bag tip-down in mug with damp paper towels in bottom. Seal top with twist-tie or rubber band, and drape with plastic wrap.

Step 6

Keep bowl of icing covered with damp paper towels and plastic wrap at all times. Uncovered, it will harden like concrete.

Step 7

More decorating ideas:

Step 8

Chimneys: Chocolate rock candy; gum paste for stonework; nuts of varying size, shape, and color.

Step 9

Lakes, ponds, and streams: Melted, crushed hard blue candy. Technique: Place crushed candy on foil, and bake at 275° for 3 to 4 minutes. (Watch carefully!) Let cool, and peel off foil.

Step 10

Lampposts: Stick candy; candy canes (for Christmas).

Step 11

Lawns: Flaked or shredded coconut tinted green and "planted" in green royal icing.

Step 12

Paths and walkways: Brown or raw sugar (for sandy paths); couscous; nonpareils; crushed chocolate jimmies; broken brown or gray Necco wafers; gingerbread shaped into cobblestones.

Step 13

Roofing: Sliced almonds; pecan halves; chewing gum cut into "shingles"; graham crackers; mini shredded whole wheat cereal pieces (for thatch); crispy wheat cereal squares; jelly beans, candy-coated chocolate pieces, red cinnamon candies, silver dragées, licorice laces.

Step 14

Shutters: Chewing gum, licorice sticks.

Step 15

Window panes: Sheet gelatin (for clear windows); crushed colored hard candies (for stained glass). Technique: Fill window cut-outs in half-baked gingerbread pieces with crushed candy; return to oven, and bake at 350° for 7 to 8 minutes until melted. Let cool to room temperature.

Step 16

Woodpiles: Tootsie Rolls, pretzel sticks, breadsticks.

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