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I'm going to lead a workshop for kids about decorating gingerbread cookies with royal icing. It will take place at a cafe, so I need the icing to be as dry as possible as fast as possible, otherwise the kids will not be able to take the cookies home or the icing might get broken on the way.

The problem is that I have very limited space and resources, for example, the cafe doesn't have an oven, so I can't dry the icing like meringues. There is a microwave, but I haven't got one at home, so I don't know if it will work or how to set it. I could bring a fan, but will a fan be enough? Nobody I know has a dehydrator, so this option is also out of question.

I plan on making the icing as stiff as possible while keeping it liquid enough for the kids to pipe on the cookies, but my experience says it will still need 2-3 hours before it's hard enough to be carried home more-or-less intact. Is there anything more I could do?

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I'd think less about trying to dry the icing super fast and more about packaging. A standard shirt box would hold maybe 6 cookies in a single layer with plenty of protected space above. Even shoe-box lids would give the cookies some protection as the kids ride home with the cookies on their laps. –  Jolenealaska Dec 4 '13 at 20:11
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A hair dryer? Warning, this is just a wild idea from my head, not something I've tested. Try it first at home. –  rumtscho Dec 5 '13 at 15:41
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Substitute some of the water with vodka...? In theory it should work but you could end up with some residual alcohol, which probably wouldn't make the parents very happy. –  Didgeridrew Dec 5 '13 at 17:11
    
And I just threw away all of my kids' old shoe boxes a week ago... A really nice idea! I'll try to find something like that. –  jkadlubowska Dec 6 '13 at 11:34
    
Do you have a toaster oven? It seems to me it ought to work faster than a fan. (A convection toaster oven would be ideal, but those tend to be (a) huge, and (b) expensive.) –  Marti Dec 16 '13 at 18:26

2 Answers 2

up vote 1 down vote accepted

To expand on Jolene's box idea, I'd recommend :

  • shirt boxes (talk to a local department store if you're not planning on buying a bunch of shirts)
  • pizza boxes (again, talk to a local store about getting some ... likely get the smallest ones you can, such as if they have ones for a few leftover slices as opposed to for a whole pie)
  • restaurant takeout containers (depending on the size of the cookies ... talk to a local chinese carryout or similar)

Some cake and candy supply stores will sell a variety of box sizes as well.

I'd also agree with irwinners in recommending a fan -- I can't quantify the exact speedup, as it's affected by ambient humidity, temperature, airspeed and such, but a box fan near the cookies (I use it to suck air over the cookies, not blow, as I don't have a good way to dust the inside of the fan without disassembling it each time) will help to crust up the icing to make it a little more sturdy.

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This is what we finally used. Though in my funny country there aren't any shirt boxes easily available ;) –  jkadlubowska Jan 25 at 19:39
    
@jkadlubowska : ah ... that will slow you down, then. I assume pizza boxes are more universal, then. –  Joe Jan 27 at 2:25

The Sweet Adventures of Sugarbelle outline using a fan and says that is speeds up the process and gives the cookies a nice sheen:

http://www.sweetsugarbelle.com/2011/04/my-1-fan-wfmw/

Hope that helps!

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The article doesn't mention anything about how much it speeds drying time. –  SAJ14SAJ Dec 16 '13 at 17:56
    
This (one one similar) article is where I got the idea. Anyway, when I read about it, I infered I would still need about two hours. Faster, yes, but not enough for that setting. –  jkadlubowska Jan 25 at 19:37

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