My royal icing (stiff) seems to "melt" and doesnt hold it's shape. What am I doing wrong?
Stiffly beaten royal icing will
1. when you lift the spoon/beater straight up, the peak left behind will stand straight up - the tip of the peak will NOT bend/fold over
2. the spoon will be totally supported by the mixture and it will stand straight up.
Is this your mixture?
Have you made sure that everything you use to make your royal icing is grease free? ANY grease will make your icing runny and unstable. I use glass bowls because I know every bit of grease can be wiped away. And don't forget the tips. If you used them with buttercream before make sure they're clean. My Wilton cake decorating instructer told us not to use featherweight bags with our royal icing if we have used them with buttercream because it's hard to get the grease out of them. I don't know of any thing else that might cause you problems. Hope this helps.
Another tip is to wash any tips and bowls in hot water, soap and vinegar. Vinegar removes any grease that may be left behind.
I feel you did not use the right confectioner's sugar or eggwhite is too much check them.A little lemon liquid may give you a diferrence.I usually use them with good result.
As for washing your tips, boiling water with Dawn Dishwashing Liquid and a hint of vinegar does the trick. Place your tips in a larger sauce pan filled 1/2 way. Boil for 5 full minutes. Rinse thoroughly. You will have grease free tips and did not stand over the sink scrub each individual aggravating tip with your little tiny tip brush.
You may also do this in the microwave. As long as the tips are totally submerged in water, the metal does not effect the microwave at all. I do this in a larger glass measuring cup. It will boil over if it is too small.