Iced Heart Cookies
February 7 2021
What is it about iced sugar cookies? For me, they are reminiscent of a lovely little bakery about a mile from my home when I was growing up in Toronto. As a little one, I would love to peer at the storefront windows that were filled with puffy pastel-colored meringues, chocolate-glazed donuts and of course, fantastical iced cookies. They were so pretty, and each holiday or season would be featured by different cookie designs and decorations. I particularly loved the Valentine's Day cookies...so pretty and sweet, so romantic.
As an homage to this delightful bakery, I love to feature iced sugar cookies for most holidays. Valentine's Day can not be excluded! Pink, red, white...for me, the colors of love. Cinnamon and sugar...the spicy and sweet flavors of love.
This cookie dough is a very easy dough to pull together. It gets a quick rest in the freezer and then rolls out very easily. Bake them up, let them cool, and ice them. Either sprinkle them immediately or let them harden and "paint" them with food coloring. Either way, these pretty confections are sure to delight your special love!
Iced Heart Cookies
Makes: 30 cookies
Prep Time: 1 hour Bake Time: 36 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 36 minutes
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp Kosher salt
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 3/4 cups confectioners' sugar
1 large egg white, or 2 1/2 tablespoons meringue powder
Gel food color (optional)
In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Beat butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Reduce speed to low and gradually add flour mixture; beat until combined. Divide dough in half; flatten into disks. Wrap each in plastic and freeze until firm, about 20 minutes.
Preheat oven to 325°F. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment. Remove 1 disk of dough; let stand 5 to 10 minutes. Roll out 1/4-inch thick between two sheets of floured parchment, dusting with flour as needed. Cut shapes with 2 1/2-inch heart-shaped cookie cutters. Using a spatula, transfer to prepared baking sheets (if dough gets too soft, refrigerate 10 minutes). Re-roll scraps and cut more shapes. Repeat with remaining disk of dough.
Bake cookies, rotating sheets halfway through, until edges are golden, about 12 minutes. (If bubbles form, tap baking sheet firmly against oven rack a few times during baking.) Let cool completely on wire racks. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container up to 1 week.
In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine confectioners' sugar and egg white on low speed. Add a scant 1/4 cup water, then increase speed to medium-high and mix until icing holds a ribbon-like trail on surface for 3 seconds when you raise paddle, about 10 minutes. Reduce speed to low and mix 1 minute more to eliminate air bubbles. If icing is too thick, add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time. If icing is too thin, add more confectioner's sugar, 1-2 tablespoons at a time.
Dip the top side of each cooled cookie into the royal icing. Tilt the cookie so that excess icing drips off back into the bowl. Place the iced cookie on a rack set inside a baking pan or over aluminum foil (for easy cleanup). If you are using sprinkles, spread over the top of the iced cookies now. If you are making the paint-stroke cookies, let cookies sit until the icing is hard, at least 2 hours.
Paint Stroke Finish:
Use a few drops of pink gel coloring in a small bowl of water to color the water to the depth that you prefer. Using a paint brush, dip the brush in the pink water and then "paint" over the cookies. For the cookies that I am featuring, I set the iced cookies in alternate positions next to each other. I then dragged the brush on a diagonal across the cookies. Repeat that until the cookies are painted. Let sit until dry.
If you're decorating cookies for children, pregnant women, or anyone with a compromised immune system, use meringue powder instead of egg whites.
If you have egg white powder, you can add 1 tablespoon along with 2 tablespoons of water instead of the egg white or meringue powder. You still will need to add the 1/4 cup water.
Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart