White glaze/icing that dries firm and shiny but not hard?

This seems like it should be the easiest thing in the world, but I have never been able to make a glaze/icing of the sort you get on a bakery cinnamon roll - white, opaque, glossy and firm but not hard like royal icing. Internet searches reveal a million “recipes” for a basic powdered sugar/milk glaze, but I have never gotten the results I am looking for with those two ingredients - my glazes always ends up semi-translucent and sticky. So, what’s the secret? Melted butter? Shortening? Corn syrup? Thanks in advance for your help, bakers!

Depending on the bakery and the style of rolls, some cinnamon roll icing contains cream cheese. But it’s often rather gooey, so I’m not sure whether it’s what you’re after.

No, as much as I love the cream cheese variety of this icing, it stays gooey, which is not what I want for the specific application I have in mind. The icing I want dries with a smooth, shiny surface that is firm enough to touch gently without getting icing on your fingers, but not rock hard like royal icing. If you were to press your finger into it the thin, dry surface layer would break and the icing underneath would still be soft.


Just made this and the glaze is not white but does dry to a soft consistency.
Seems easy to switch fats and syrups to get a paler version.

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Interesting - that recipe incorporates both fat AND liquid sugar. I wonder if a bit of melted shortening or butter and a touch of corn syrup would work the same way. Worth a shot!

I was going to suggest corn syrup …

It’s partially a matter of ratio, you need very little liquid to a fair amount of powdered sugar. Powdered sugar glaze will eventually crystallize like royal icing, so you’re right to think of adding fat or liquid sugar, as those will interfere with crystallization.

American buttercream (butter beaten w/ powdered sugar & flavor plus a little liquid) should form a crust but stay soft. You could add more milk to make it a looser, more glaze-like consistency if you want to slather it over cinnamon rolls (rather than needing it stiff enough to stay on the sides of a cake)

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If you like coconut, coconut butter will be glazey but not drippy.
Butter def gives the icing stiffer body.
But when I use the powdered sugar/milk version I trickle in tiny amount of milk because the powdered sugar soaks up the liquid so easily.

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