I find the taste of royal icing cloyingly sweet. I used to make my RI with meringue powder and it tasted good, but now that I cannot get that meringue powder anymore (without ridiculous shipping costs), I'm stuck making it with fresh egg whites. Here is the recipe i use:
Redpath royal icing:
1 kg bag of Redpath Icing Sugar
4 large egg whites
1 tsp (5 mL) cream of tartar
I added a tsp of lemon extract to it to give it a hint of flavor and it was alright but I'd like to find something better.
Try adding 1 teaspoon of CLEAR vanilla extract (Wilton's brand has a good flavour) or 1 teaspoon of NATURAL almond essence is another option. As both of these are clear flavourings, won't change icing colour - if you want to keep it white.
The addition of cream of tartar and lemon juice - both help to STABILISE the icing. Use Pasteurised egg whites which are safer. Make up a small amount of your RI recipe as above - adding the lemon juice, but without the cream of tartar - and compare taste.
Hope this helps!
I do use pasteurized egg whites - I will try the lemon without the cream of tartar and see if it tastes better!
i add a good quality vanilla to ri,,,but if you want super white you have to use clear vanilla. I don't think fake vanilla tastes as good as real so I live with an off white royal icing.
If you can't find meringue powder, try using powdered egg whites such as Deb-El which can be found in most supermarkets.