Sunday, October 9, 2011

Royal Icing Ladybugs

If you follow me on Pinterest, you've probably picked up on the theme for The Girl's birthday this year.  Ladybugs.  Thankfully, after about two weeks of subliminal messages, I got her to drop the obsessive Barbie party dream she had goin'.  The promise of painting her fingernails to look like ladybugs on the day of, sealed the deal.

I decided I'd post things as I made them, rather than wait until the actual party takes place.  These royal icing ladybugs are the first thing I got done.  Before I go into all the details, can I just say, I can not believe I actually made these and that they actually turned out.  I usually have big visions when it comes to themed desserts and cakes, but they rarely turn out the way I see them in my head.  Or the picture I'm attempting to replicate.  But these were so fun to make and turned out SO DANG CUTE!

I first saw them on a blog that had posted a ladybug themed party, but there was no tutorial.  The more I looked, the more I saw.  Cupcakes, cookies, cakes, and so on.  You can see all the different uses for them on my Pinterest Board.  I Googled them and only came up with one tutorial.  I had never made royal icing before, let alone made critters with it, so I searched a lot of sites reading up on the icing itself, and then used the one ladybug tutorial I found as a starting point for what tips to use.  I did mine a little differently in the end, but I'll go into that more in a minute.

By the way, this is gonna be a really wordy post, but I decided since I did so much Googling and didn't really ever come up with anything, maybe I can help the next person out who's a beginner like me.  

First of all, I needed to make the royal icing.  I used the recipe that came with the powdered meringue that I bought.  It's Wilton brand.  So many sites refer to 10 and 20-second royal icing.  For someone who had no clue what that meant, I attempted to find out.  Only one site even mentioned it - unfortunately, I can't remember which one it was.  It may have been a video on YouTube.  I read and watched so many, they're all a blur at this point.  I finally learned that the "second" refers to how long it takes the icing to come back together after running a butter knife through the center of it when it's still in the bowl.  I also learned that it takes practice to get a feel for when your icing is the right consistency, based on what you'll be using it for.  Since, as I mentioned, this was my first time working with it, I just kinda guessed.

As it turned out, I think my icing may have been a little too thick.  Each time I tried to make the red body circle, when I would pull back, it left a little tip, like on a Hershey's kiss.  I ended up remedying that with a toothpick.  I would squeeze out about 20 red bodies at a time, then roll the tip under and back into the body with a toothpick.  Time consuming, yes, but it took care of the problem.  I did the same with the black heads.

Okay, so the details.  I used a #4 tip for the body and a #2 for the head.  I used Wilton gel food colorings.  "No Taste" Red and Black.  I didn't think my red was ever gonna get red.  I ended up removing some of the icing from my bowl and coloring a smaller amount than I had originally planned on.  Maybe 1/2 C or so.  It took the entire container of red dye.  I made about 1/3 C of black icing and it took a little less than half a container.

Here's how I did them.  Nowhere did I ever read what you're supposed to make them on, so I used parchment paper.  I made a ton of red bodies and then went back and did the heads.  I started out squeezing a small black circle onto one end, but found I liked it better when I inserted the tip of the black into the red and squeezed, pulling out just a bit at the end.  I liked the way it looked better.

Unfortunately, I don't have a good closeup of the first way I tried.  But you can see a few of them in the background in this picture:

The ones closest to the front were done by using the insertion method  (ha ha). 
You can also see how some of the black heads almost look like they have a little beak.
That's where I was getting the Hershey kiss syndrome.
Here's a closeup:

The tutorial I pinned instructed using the black icing to make dots.
I wanted a black line down the back as well.
Here's one I did that way:

Cute, but you need a seriously steady hand to make that happen a zillion times.
Plus, it was fine for the larger ones, but I had some super tiny ones and there was no way it was gonna work for those.
So I decided to go a different route.
Edible black marker.
BUT, you have to wait for them to harden.  
I waited two days and they were still kinda soft.
Must have something to do with the dye, because I made some white flowers that were rock hard in a few hours.
I was tired of waiting though, so I just went for it.

IMPORTANT:  Do not move them off your parchment before drawing on them.
They're stuck just enough so that they don't move around on you.
I moved a couple and it was really hard to draw the tiny lines and dots with them sliding all over the place.

Here they are with their markings drawn on:

You can see on some of them where the pen made an indentation from them still being soft.

Here are the white flowers I made while I had everything out.
The parts that look like the black is bleeding are the backsides:

Now I just need to commit to the dessert they'll go on.....


  1. Wow, I can't believe you made all those cute little bugs. I can't wait to see what you do with them. That's alot of work but your daughter will remember it. One year, I made an elaborate gingerbread house for my son's preschool Christmas party. Last year he told me he remembered it...every detail. This was 12 years later! Kids remember special things their parents do for them. They don't always bother to tell us 'thank you', lol. You're a good mommy :)

  2. Soo stinkin cute..and I did notice you have been going a little lady bug crazy! I figured it was for a bday theme :) Such a fun idea!!

    Cant wait to see all the other cute things you come up with for your daughters birthday!

  3. The edible marker was pure brilliance. It looked much nicer and didn't require the same dexterity,....brilliant. Love how these turned out. CAn't wait to see the rest.

  4. Wow!! These look great!!! I love them! I have never used Royal Icing fact I've never heard of it! When I made my cupcakes I started out with making fondant...and they looked like poop! Fondant and I are not friends! That is why I did a last minute (literally) run to the store to find anything red! That's when I did the little candy pieces and just piped black glitter frosting on them...I am so jealous of yours! They are just perfect! I am totally going to check out the RI when I'm at the store next!!!

  5. DOING this!! I'm planning a party for the kids in the congregation - I LOVE these!! So cute. Are they going on cupcakes? So curious now to see what else you have come up with!! Love the subliminal messages bout the Barbie dream party :) You crack me up...

  6. are you sure you have 2 kids and your PREGO?? seriously your my role model! I dont know how you can balance all that AND have time make all these cute meals and delicious food!!

    Happy Monday,

  7. What kinda vitamins are you on? :-) Seriously, I don't have a clue how you do everything! These are totally adorable and I can only imagine the time factor. Great job! Can't wait to see the rest.


  8. No Barbie birthday parties! Way to go on the subliminal messages..maybe you can come over and work on my kids with their whining issues lately

  9. Your flowers and ladybugs came out absolutely perfect! So glad I saw your link-up over at Milk & Cuddles!

    Jenn/Rook No. 17

  10. Use a damp fionger to smooth out the "Hershey Point" or the back of a spoon.


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