* make your own edible eyes!

Lunch Lady Blog - issue 13 - edible eyes

Royal icing is used to make cute, edible decorations for biscuits or cupcakes, and to glue together gingerbread houses. Once it’s dry, it sets hard, which means it makes a great adhesive. This also means that you can keep any decorations you make for a year or two. Royal icing is quick and easy to whip up, and you can make almost any fun shape you can think of, like eyes! It takes a little while to dry, though, so make sure you start a day or two ahead of when you want to use the final product.

ROYAL EYES 

You can pick up gel food colour online, from specialist cake-decorating shops or some supermarkets. The gel gives an intense colour without thinning your icing.

Whether you choose to make your own royal icing using egg whites and icing sugar or use a packet from the supermarket, the method is the same. Going with a packet mix means you don’t have any leftover egg yolks (although, you could plan to use these up in something yummy like lemon curd or custard). It also takes any guesswork out of the measuring, because there’s no variation in the size of the egg whites. Piping bag kits can be bought from the supermarket and usually contain a couple of piping bags and piping nozzles in a few different shapes and sizes.

Use leftover royal icing to stick your eyes wherever you want them—just keep a little aside in the fridge, in an airtight container, for a day or two so it doesn’t dry out. You could also try using a
dab of thick honey, but this won’t give you as firm a hold. 

Make your own royal icing:

• 4 large free-range egg whites
• 900g / 31.75oz pure icing sugar, or a little more if required
• black gel food colour
• a little water for thinning, if required

To use packet royal icing:

• 1 packet royal icing mix, mixed with water according to the packet instructions
• black gel food colour
• a little water for thinning, if required

1. Pop the egg whites and icing sugar, or the royal icing mix and water, into the bowl of a stand mixer.

2. Mix on slow until the icing sugar (or packet mix) is incorporated. Turn the mixer up to medium–high and beat for around 5 minutes, or until it is thick (like toothpaste), glossy and really white.

3. Use a spoon to test how thick the icing is. To make the eyes, you want the consistency to be somewhere between ‘line’ and ‘flood’ icing, so use a little teaspoon to drop some of the mixture onto a baking paper–lined tray and see what the icing does. Too thick and it won’t smooth out to make a nice circle. Too runny and it will run all over the place. Using your judgement, add water, a tablespoon at a time, to the entire batch of icing, or a little more icing sugar if the icing is too runny. Stir well until you think it is just right. Aim for something just a little runnier than toothpaste, such as the consistency of thick dollop cream.

4. Divide the icing into two, pouring 2/3 of the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a medium-sized round nozzle. This will be for the whites of your eyes. Pour the remaining 1/3 into a bowl. 

5. Add a tiny bit of the black food colour (it’s strong stuff!) to the bowl of icing, and stir it in until the colour is uniform. Add a little more colour if the icing isn’t dark enough. 

6. Cover the bowl of black icing with plastic wrap to prevent it from drying out, or pour the icing into a piping bag and tie a knot in the top. Place this black icing into the fridge for later.

7. Using your white icing, pipe circles onto a baking tray lined with baking paper. 

8. Pop the whites of the eyes somewhere safe to dry (the inside of an oven that’s turned off is a good place.) Allow the whites to dry until you can touch them with your finger and your finger doesn’t leave a mark. This will take several hours, and maybe even overnight. If you’d like to speed up the process, you can turn the oven on to the lowest setting and prop the door open with a wooden spoon to allow any moisture to escape.

9. Once the whites have hardened and are completely dry, you can pipe on the pupils of your eyes.

10. Give the bowl of black icing a good stir. Attach a smaller round nozzle to the end of a piping bag, and then fill the bag with the black icing.

11. Pipe the pupils onto the whites of the eyes, making them the size and shape you like.

12. Allow the pupils to dry in the same way as the whites, until the eyes are hardened and completely dry.

13. Once the eyes are totally dry and hard, you can transfer them to an airtight container and store them in the cupboard for a year—or more! ///