bonniebakes Posted 12 Jun 2010 , 2:40pm
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As some of you know, I've been curious about using glace on cookies for a while now because I see such wonderful cookie creatiosn by some of you who use glace and I've been exclusively a royal icng user on my cookies. So, this week I conducted an experiment to compare glace icing and royal icing. During the experiment, I tried to control for things that might affect the outcome, such as the amount/types of coloring, extract, mixing process, piping process, set time, etc.

The recipes I used were glace (GI) icing from GeminiRJ and royal (RI) icing (my modified version of Antonia74s RI recipe, replacing about ¼ of the water with corn syrup). If anyone wants more specifics about the recipes, Id be happy to share. thank you Susan and Helen for sharing your recipes!!!!

I attempted to compare the consistency, the usability, appearance, ingredients, drying time/hardness and pack-ability, taste, and pitfalls (specifically air bubbles, splotchiness, bleeding, and craters).

Remember, this was my first time using glace, and Im sure there is a learning curve. But, heres what I found

  the consistencies are very different between the 2 types of icing - .the GI was much, much thicker than the RI
  although GI was thicker, it has a lower count until it is reabsorbed
  GI more runny/flowed more into itself
  I used one consistency of each type of icing for everything (outline and flood) however, the counts for re-absorption were not the same between the 2 types of icing.

  both RI and GI worked well for getting close to edges
  GI held its place better on the outline. Didnt move as much when pushed by next line of icing (not sure I liked that for all purposes)
  GI took much more effort to pipe
  RI worked better for holding its shape in designs (like the bites on the watermelon)
  The GI was pretty think; Im not sure Id be able to pipe it out if I had made it much thicker, so I dont think it has the flexibility of use to be able to pipe shapes that will hold their shape or have texture.

Appearance (color, shine) :
  Colors are different, even with the same coloring amounts used
  GI is more translucent, so it seems more glossy (and feels slightly glossier when dry), but I dont think its really shinier. I specifically compared the pinks on the watermelons - they seemed no different after 24 hours in terms of shine, but GI had a glossier, more translucent appearance
  Both shiny when wet
  Both less shiny when dry
  GI great for a more translucent effect (like membranes on limes or glass)
  I really liked that the colors and appearance were different, even using the same ratios of icing to coloring. It gives me many more choices for the future.

Ingredient comparison:
  the batch of RI is bigger (enough for me to do between ½ and a full batch of NFSC cookies, depending on the colors and details needed)
  GI is a simple ration, that can be made in small or large batches as desired
  GI had no meringue powder or cream of tartar
  GI has more corn syrup

drying time, hardness and pack-ability :
  GI took more time to crust over, so it was more forgiving when you needed to fix something, pop bubbles, do wet-on-wet, etc.
  GI slightly longer to dry (after 4 hours RI dry to touch, but GI still tacky), but by 24 hours both dry enough to bag or stack
  I dont have any reason to think that the GI covered cookies will fair less well during shipping, but I kept a few of each aside and will experiment with a mock shipping experience later this week.


  personally I find icing of any kind too sweet and I dont ever eat the cookies I make once they are iced. But, I did a taste test and didnt think there was a noticeable difference between the two.
  I had several people do blind taste tests comparing the two both on and off of a plain cookie. Though there was some preference (nothing significant) there was no clear winner and most people could NOT tell the difference between the two, they just randomly chose one.

pitfalls (specifically air bubbles, splotchiness, bleeding, and craters).

  Splotchiness: I had no problems with blotchiness, even when comparing white icing (both with and without the brite white added) in either RI or GI. IT has been cool for June here (in the 70s) the last few days. It rained all day today, so the air is a bit humid (Im in Maryland), but the house is a comfortable temperature
  Air bubbles: I didnt have much problem with air bubbles in either RI or GI - no noticeable difference between the two. I let my icings rest overnight after adding the color to them, which helps I think. It was easier to see the air bubbles (when wet) in the RI than in the GI. One important note in my pink GI the air bubbles I did have seem to look like small white spots when the icing is completely dry.
  Bleeding: I did some wet on wet and some side by side colors and had no problem with color bleeding with RI or GI. I used black RI on pink RI and pink GI with no noticeable difference between the two. It was easier to do the wet-on-wet with the GI base, though (I think because it has a longer time until it crusted, so I had more time to do the wet-on-wet and have it meld). I also had no trouble with darker colors and white in either RI or GI or a combination of the two. I think the consistency and letting the colors set overnight really help with that a lot.
  Craters: I had crater issues only with RI during this experiment, but to be honest, I think its because those particular colors were too thin a user error, Im afraid, and one I sort of expected.

All in all, Im glad I did the experiment, because I think I will certainly have times when I want to use glace instead of royal because of a final appearance that I want to achieve. But, the Glace was so much harder to pipe, that Ill probably stick with my Royal recipe 95% of the time.

Thanks for putting up with my rambling, long-winded results!! I hope this information is helpful to someone!!

50 replies
bonniebakes Posted 12 Jun 2010 , 2:50pm
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I forgot to add some comparison pictures to the post... here they are.... in all pictures the coloring/icing ratio is exactly the same. GI is on the left and RI is on the right.

Melvira Posted 12 Jun 2010 , 3:14pm
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Wow, those are some HUGE details there, awesome! It sounds like for all your hard work, you kind of learned that the two icings are pretty fairly matched for workability and results? Would that be an accurate assumption? The cookies you made look fantastic, but I have some specific questions.

Looking at the sun cookies for example (absolutely adorable by the way) did you use the SAME colors in the two different types of icing, or just the same AMOUNTS of the colors you used? Obviously the colors are very different and I was curious if the two types of icings took the same color THAT much differently, or if you had actually used different colors, perhaps in an effort to be able to tell them apart in case you moved the bowls, etc. I like the vibrant color difference in the RI... the lighter yellow sun with the significantly darker details.

Thank you for including pictures to really illustrate the efforts. It's nice to see them side by side, but again, would love to know about my question above. Great work!

bbmom Posted 12 Jun 2010 , 3:51pm
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Wow, great info. I used glace once and didnt like it. It was really thick and harder for me to pipe. I always use antonia's ri but so many people use glace I keep wondering if I should give it another try. All in all I'm very happy with the ri

Melvira Posted 12 Jun 2010 , 3:54pm
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I just realized the difference in the colors might just be because the RI is a 'whiter' base... is that the case? Thank again!

luvbakin Posted 12 Jun 2010 , 4:16pm
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I used to use royal all the time, but now use Toba's glace. Glace is more translucent, so I always add some whitener to it. That could have something to do with your color difference.

I don't think one is harder to pipe than the other, so maybe that is a consistancy issue. Not sure what you mean by that. Harder to control, or push out of the bag?

I do think that glace is more loose, but I make one consistancy for all the work, then just use a smaller tip (smaller than I would use for royal) to do the details.

I think like anything it takes practice working with it. For me the upside is the taste, but the downside is the drying time. 6 of one, half dozen of another.

sweet56pooh Posted 12 Jun 2010 , 5:02pm
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Thank you, thank you, thank you for doing this experiment! I couldn't decide which icing to use for my daughter's cookies. I think I will be going with the RI. But there are some points that I like about the GI, like how it doesn't separate if stored for couple days and you can easily make big or small batches. Hmmm... which one to use?? Ok, maybe I still haven't decided...
Thanks again for taking the time to do the experiment and posting this!!

GeminiRJ Posted 12 Jun 2010 , 5:38pm
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Bonnie, so great of you to do this comparison! Which icing to use is such a personal preference. I love the ease of mixing the icing that I get with glace, as well as the ability to play with the amounts to match my project. The RI is way ahead in the ability to pipe shells and such. You've given everyone some wonderful information with this thread!

bonniebakes Posted 12 Jun 2010 , 6:34pm
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Melvira -- the color difference is, I think, because of the ration of glace to water in the recipes. I used the same weight of mixed icing of each kind and colored it with the same amounts of the same colors of coloring. The color difference was one of the things that surprised me the most, actually.

If I added brite white to the glace, I added the same amount to the royal (to the same amount of icing). If I didn't add white to the glace, when I made the same color of royal, I also didn't add the white.

Yes, I would say that the icings are fairly well matched in a lot of ways related to workability and results. Only the slight differences in ability to pipe details and have them stay "stiff" and the color differences (translucency) would really make me choose one over the other for certain projects.

luvbakin -- I meant that at the consistencies that I used - thick enough that it didn't fall off the edges of the cookies, and thin enough that I could still flood with it - it took more pressure to get the glace out of the bag than the royal.

bonniebakes Posted 12 Jun 2010 , 6:37pm
Originally Posted by GeminiRJ

Bonnie, so great of you to do this comparison! Which icing to use is such a personal preference. I love the ease of mixing the icing that I get with glace, as well as the ability to play with the amounts to match my project. The RI is way ahead in the ability to pipe shells and such. You've given everyone some wonderful information with this thread!

Thanks! I hope people can use the information! It was a fun experiment and I do think it's totally a matter of preference. Actually, my results weren't what I expected. I thought I'd really prefer the flavor of the glace and significantly prefer the workability of the royal... but that wasn't really the case at all.

Melvira Posted 12 Jun 2010 , 8:11pm

Thank you Bonniebakes. That is quite a shocking difference in colors! You'd have never guessed they came from the same bottle! But I agree that I can see a benefit to both variation depending on the look you're trying to acheive. Excellent!

tanyad68 Posted 12 Jun 2010 , 8:44pm

Where do I find a good GI recipe? On another note, is there anything I can use on cookies that tastes more like a cookie frosting then what royal icing tastes like?

KHalstead Posted 12 Jun 2010 , 8:48pm

So in ALL those photos the Glace is on the left and the Royal is on the right??? I would have thought the royal would have appeared darker in color than the Glace.......VERY interesting!!

bonniebakes Posted 12 Jun 2010 , 9:03pm

Thanks, Melvira! I'm glad I could contribute something helpful to others, especially since I've gotten so much help her eon CC!

KHalstead - yes, I would have thought the same thing. And yes, in each of those pictures the glace covered cookie in on the left and the royal is on the right.

tanyad68 - I know that Toba Garrett has a glace recipe (I believe it's in the recipe section here). I used the glace recipe that was generously provided by GeminiRJ. The ration is 1 cup powdered sugar : 1 tablespoon water or milk : 1 tablespoon corn syrup (and flavoring and 5 drops of brite white if desired). Also, I think that Karen of uses a butter cream icing on her cookies. I haven't tried it yet, but her creations look amazing!

On another note - I didn't for this particular experiment, because I wanted to control extraneous factors that might effect the results, but most of the time I flavor my icing when I make cookies. I use natural flavorings from Spices Etc. and I can achieve a wide variety of yummy flavors for the icing! Thanks to TracyLH for reminding me that the company exists and has natural flavorings! I always use their clear vanilla, and I really like their amaretto, cherry, raspberry, pumpkin spice, caramel, and toffee. yum!

luv2bake6 Posted 13 Jun 2010 , 7:01pm

Thank you so much, bonnie, for sharing your experiment.
My favorite thing about using glace is that i can make a big batch and store it in the fridge for quite some time. That way, i can go to it for larger or smaller jobs and just put away the rest. It stays well in squeeze bottles and decorating bags as well. When i was using RI, i often had to either remix or throw it away.
I also like the feel of the cookie once the icing has dried (it's quite smooth), as well as the softness when biting into the cookie.
The negative thing about the icing is what you already said, it's hard to pipe formed shapes or borders which i like to do with ei's.

I'm a little conflicted right now because people are saying that the icing on my cookies is too sweet (i use gemini's recipe but triple it). I happen to have a terrible sweet tooth so i love it, however i can see why some would say this and i need to figure out what to do in order to make it less sweet. One thing i have tried is making thicker cookies so the icing won't overpower much but it doesn't seem to help. Would love some ideas from you experts. Thanks so much.

Melvira Posted 13 Jun 2010 , 7:08pm

I'm always a little perplexed when people say some dessert-related item is too sweet. Um... this is not liver, this is sugar and water. icon_lol.gif I mean, I understand what they mean, but isn't frosting supposed to be sweet? You're not going to eat a huge bowl of it... just a bit. icon_rolleyes.gif

luv2bake6 Posted 13 Jun 2010 , 7:16pm

I completely agree, especially with icing since it's pretty much ps with a liquid...........and that's why i like to use the nfsc recipe because it's not that sweet and complements the sweet icing. The truth is thought, that i've noticed the icing being more sweet than before and i'm wondering if maybe the flavorings i used could give the illusion of them being more sweet. I've added clear vanilla to one batch, marshmallow to another, butter to yet another. It's a mystery to me why it seems sweeter than before.
Hmmm, is it possible for the PS from different manufacturers to be sweeter? I used to always get 10X but recenty started buying from a restaurant supply place that only has 6X. Is that where i've gone sweeter?

Melvira Posted 13 Jun 2010 , 7:24pm

I wonder if that IS the reason. Granulated sugar is sweeter to me than powdered, so perhaps the finer PS is less sweet? Hmmm... anyone care to weigh in?

I agree that I like a slightly less sweet cookie with the icing to compliment each other. My sugar cookies are almost a not-sweet shortbread tasting cookie, then the icing makes it perfectly sweet. "Just right"! icon_lol.gif

luv2bake6 Posted 13 Jun 2010 , 7:35pm

Now that i think about it, i think it's after i started buying the 6X that i got the complaints that the icing was too sweet.
Could it be that the 10X has more cornstarch which would make it less sweeter than the 6X?

Melvira Posted 13 Jun 2010 , 7:54pm

Well, it SOUNDS reasonable. Anyone know for sure? Or are we just making stuff up here? Hehehe, not that there is anything wrong with that! Just ask my hubby... if he doesn't know the answer he makes something up that sounds believable! icon_rolleyes.gif

luv2bake6 Posted 13 Jun 2010 , 7:58pm

OMG, mine does too!! I always tell him that it's ok to just say he doesn't know the answer, but noooooooo, he'll come up with something! tsk tsk

GeminiRJ Posted 13 Jun 2010 , 10:03pm

Another recent thread about icing gave the hint that to make the icing less sweet, add a pinch of salt. Sorry to the decorator who gave this hint, as I can't find the thread and I'm rushed for time!

luv2bake6 Posted 14 Jun 2010 , 2:31am

Thank you gemini, i'll try that with my next batch.

crystalina1977 Posted 14 Jun 2010 , 6:13pm

thanks for letting us know the results of your experiment! i have only used royal but have been curious to try the glace...

crystalina1977 Posted 14 Jun 2010 , 6:20pm

thanks for letting us know the results of your experiment! i have only used royal but have been curious to try the glace...

TracyLH Posted 19 Jun 2010 , 11:38am

Wow, Bonnie! icon_surprised.gif This is very extensive and great information! How wonderful of you to take the time to type it all up and document with photographs too in order to share it with all of us! That took A LOT of time! Thank you for thinking of all of us! icon_biggrin.gif

bonniebakes Posted 19 Jun 2010 , 1:50pm

no problem - I'm glad it was helpful!

No more cookie-making for me for a while, I'm afraid... I got a big ol' nasty gouge on my index finger (of my right hand, of course - and I'm right handed) from a fight with a mandolin (it won, obviously) and I don't think I'll be able to pipe for a while. ... It only happened 5 days ago and I'm going into withdrawal already!

bobwonderbuns Posted 19 Jun 2010 , 2:07pm

I may have missed this, but did anyone find that royal icing dries much harder than glace icing and did that have any effect on the testing?

GeminiRJ Posted 19 Jun 2010 , 3:24pm
Originally Posted by bonniebakes

no problem - I'm glad it was helpful!

No more cookie-making for me for a while, I'm afraid... I got a big ol' nasty gouge on my index finger (of my right hand, of course - and I'm right handed) from a fight with a mandolin (it won, obviously) and I don't think I'll be able to pipe for a while. ... It only happened 5 days ago and I'm going into withdrawal already!

Oh, Bonnie! I'm so sorry to hear about your hand! Ouch! I hope you taught that mandolin a thing or two! Good luck with your recovery.

bonniebakes Posted 19 Jun 2010 , 5:09pm

Thanks, Susan.... unfortunately, the mandolin was the clear winner. Though I learned to always use the guard!

Bob - with the 2 recipes I used there was no difference in drying time or hardness., However, the glace took a little longer to "set" and form a crust on the top.

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