Royal Icing for the Magical Cookie Forests

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2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 1/2 Tablespoons meringue powder
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar, optional-but I use it
1/4 cup warm water
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Make the icing:
        In a large bowl, using a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat all of the icing ingredients together on high speed for 4-5 minutes until stiff and glossy. Lift the whisk attachment up out of the icing.
        You've got the perfect consistency when the icing falls off and melts right back into the bowl of icing within about 5-10 seconds. If it's too thick, add a little more water a teaspoon at a time. If it's too thin, add a little more sifted confectioners' sugar. While using the icing, to keep it from hardening, cover the bowl with a damp towel.
        The icing will harden in about 3 hours at room temperature or leave to harden overnight. You can store any extra in an air tight container in fridge for 2 days. Bring back to room temperature, and stir well to reuse, thinning with a little water if necessary.

Makes 1 1/2 cups, and can easily be doubled.      YUM!

LESSONS Learned:
1. The canning jars and fairie lights are easy to find at lots of big box stores or online. I used Weck #743 3/4 liter jars and a 6-7 foot string of 20 fairie lights.
2. If you do make or frost your own cookies, which I highly recommend, you’ll have to plan ahead, because once they’re frosted, they’ll need to dry for a few hours or overnight.
3. Make sure the jars are sized small enough to support the cookies and keep them upright.
4. I like making royal icing with meringue powder instead of using raw egg whites, it also dries more quickly.
5. If you don't have a piping bag, put the icing in a ziploc bag and cut off a tiny piece of one of the corners. 6. Stand back and wait for the ooo’s and ahh’s.