Chocolate Royal Icing

This recipe has been on my to-do list for a long time, but like all recipes, it was a little bit of a journey to get to where I wanted to be.  This is my story.

I started out with THIS RECIPE.  It was okay, but right off the bat I noticed a few things.  First of all, the recipe was pretty vague.  Then, to make matters worse, there were zero pictures for me to refer to in the absence of good instruction.  Despite the less than helpful recipe, I made it anyway.

I ended up with this.

The icing was very different than what I am accustomed to working with. First of all, it was very thick, and handled more like glaze {corn syrup icing} than royal icing.  It was also way darker than I would have liked.  Worst of of all, it took FOREVER to dry.  F-O-R-E-V-E-R!  Even after TWO days, it was still soft to the touch. In a way, it seemed like royal icing that gets contaminated with oil, which makes perfect sense, since cocoa powder does contain natural oils.

So, I took what I learned, and tried again.  I pretty much changed the whole recipe.  This time I was MUCH happier!

I began by mixing my dry ingredients with my whisk attachment to evenly distribute them and break up any lumps.

Next, I added the wet ingredients.  All told, it is the equivalent of about a cup of liquid. including the vanilla.

Now, I feel like I should mention this.  Once upon a time, an old cake decorator told me that hard and soft water have different effects on icing.  I haven’t been around enough soft water to draw any conclusions on that, but I will say this.  She didn’t make a habit of saying things for nothing, so, I assume there is some truth to this observation, even though I don’t have the facts to back it up.

That said, the whole water thing can be iffy {which is why I take pictures} so I would suggest mixing the vanilla with HALF of the water, add that, and then add more, little by little, until you reach the right consistency.

Notice how dark it is when the water is first added?  I was a little surprised at the difference two minutes of mixing could make could make.

In hindsight, I think that the first recipe might have worked a bit better if I had whipped it longer, but with such vague instructions, how would I have ever known that?

Anyway, it all worked out in the end!  Isn’t it beautiful?  It tastes good too.This batch performed just as I expected.  I outlined and flooded my cookies as usual with no major incident besides underthinning my piping icing.

My version of chocolate royal icing dried much better than the original, and I was pleased with the lighter color.

It also dried prettier.  Here’s a comparison of the two.

Here are a few helpful tips I learned along the way:

  • different colored cocoa powders make different colored icing
  • If the icing is lighter than you’d like, add a tiny bit of color to darken it a bit
  • Try not to over mix.  The icing is already slightly unstable because of the cocoa powder, and after THIS EXPERIENCE I lean toward the belief that over mixing exaggerates this.
  • For that perfect finish, try the FAN TRICK.  I swear this is the secret to that beautiful sheen.
  • For those of you who cannot do eggs, try this CHOCOLATE GLAZE RECIPE from Created by Diane

It only took six or seven pounds of sugar, but I finally figured it out.  One bust, one fix, then one batch for tweaking.  Now to figure out what to do with all of it.  Ideas anyone?!

Sweet Sugar Belle's Chocolate Royal Icing

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Sweet Sugar Belle's Chocolate Royal Icing


  • 8 cups {one bag} confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder {I like Hershey’s Special Dark}
  • 1/2 cup meringue powder
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla
  • 3/4 cup+2 Tbsp warm water


  1. Add dry ingredients to the bowl and mix lightly before adding the liquid. Mix half the water with the flavoring and add to the dry ingredients and mix on low adding the remaining liquid little by little until the mixture reaches the consistency of molasses. At this point, turn the mixer to high and whip for approximately two minutes until the icing is light and fluffy like meringue.