I'm trying to make some Royal Icing flowers, (luckily I'm just trying to practice so I'm not rushed for time right now!) but my royal icing is very....goopy. It's not stiff/hard enough to keep it's shape. It stiffens in the fridge but when I take it out it melts again.
My house is not air conditioned, and is fairly warm since it's summer. The recipe I used called for 2 egg whites, 1/2 tsp lemon extract and 3 cups of icing sugar.
Would it be better to use buttercream icing to make the flowers with instead? Or should I just stick with royal and try to figure our what's stopping it from hardening?
If there is the tiniest bit of grease in the bowl or on the beaters when you make the RI, it will not form correctly.
Try making a new batch, but first, wash the bowl and beaters in very hot water with Dawn. Then wipe them down with a paper towel moistened with white vinegar.
I prefer to make RI with meringue powder, because I find fresh egg whites can be finicky. If you decide to stick with the fresh egg whites, let them come to room temp before you start to whip them. Also, add 1/8 tsp of cream of tartar per egg white before you start whipping.
Storing RI in the fridge can cause it to break down, too, because of the moisture in the fridge.
Also, if you are storing the RI in containers other than what you made it in that could be the source of the grease contamination. If they are plastic and have had something other than RI stored in them chances are they have some kind of grease residue (no matter how hard you cleaned them, how much soap you used or how hot the water was).
I have some containers that I only use for RI and I wrote all over the outsides of them (tops too!) with permanent marker "Royal Icing Only". My family knows not to use them for ANYTHING!
I agree with the grease. In the future try storing royal icing in glass containers, or brand spanking new plastic ones. Plastic attracts fat molecules and holds onto them, so even if you think that your container is "clean" it could still have some fat or grease stuck on it you can't even see.
Maybe you could try a new recipe. I know everyone may cringe at this, but try the wilton recipe. 1 lb of powdered sugar, 3 TB meringue powder, and 5-6 tablespoons hot water. Sure, it doesn't taste the very best, but it does work well.
Hope that helped.