So this post is a little late considering Valentine’s Day is almost a month past. For some reason this year Valentine’s Day was a little more appealing to me than usual. I’m going to chalk that up to being far from home and thus being sentimental. Or perhaps it was because my dear friend from Canada was coming to visit me and so I was in a cheery mood, but whatever it was, I decided to celebrate Valentine’s Day through food (of course). Thus came the Valentine’s Day sugar cookies. They are really very easy to make, the hardest part being having a steady hand for writing. I would normally cut these out in the shape of hearts, but being new to the city I couldn’t find a cookie cutter at the last minute, and thus had to settle for round cookies.
The method is simple. Make sugar cookies. Cut out in desired shape. Make royal icing (either from meringue power or egg white) and then use a flooding technique to ice the cookies before writing sweet messages on them. I themed my messages after ones written on candy hearts – you know ‘be mine’ ‘You+Me’ ‘Love Bug’. For a haphazard attempt at icing without an icing bag or any tips they turned out pretty well. Finding a makeshift icing bag proved difficult do to the flimsy nature of the plastic bags we own.
For sugar cookies my standard recipe is the Martha Stewart one. Here it is!
Martha Stewart’s Sugar Cookies
- 4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- Sift flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl.
- Put butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Mix in eggs and vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Gradually mix in flour mixture. Divide dough in half; flatten each half into a disk. Wrap each in plastic. Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour or overnight.
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees with racks in upper and lower thirds. Let one disk of dough stand at room temperature just until soft enough to roll, about 10 minutes. Roll out dough between two pieces of plastic wrap to 1/4 inch thick. Remove top layer of plastic wrap. Cut out cookies with a 4-inch one-piece-shaped cookie cutter. To make an ornament, cut out a hole from the center of the neck about 1/4-inch from the edge using a straw. Transfer cookie dough on plastic wrap to a baking sheet. Transfer baking sheet to freezer, freeze until very firm, about 15 minutes. Remove baking sheet from freezer and transfer shapes to baking sheets lined with nonstick baking mats. Roll out scraps, and repeat. Repeat with remaining disk of dough.
- Bake, switching positions of sheets and rotating halfway through, until edges turn golden, 15 to 18 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks.
Let the cookies cool completely. Make the Royal Icing to a stiff consistency, so that it can be piped. Colour if desired and then pipe along the outline of the cookie. Let the border set (usually by the time you finish edging all the cookies the first ones will be set). Then add water a few drops at the time until the icing is pourable. When you let it drizzle back into the bowl the stream should disappear in twenty seconds. Then add about a teaspoon to each cookie and use a knife or toothpick to spread the icing. Let harden (overnight preferably). Now you can decorate however you wish!
Makes about 3 cups
- 3 tablespoons Meringue Powder
- 4 cups (about 1 lb.) confectioners’ sugar
- 5-6 tablespoons warm water
- Beat all ingredients until icing forms peaks (7-10 minutes at low speed with a heavy-duty mixer, 10-12 minutes at high speed with a hand-held mixer). Will dry quickly, so cover with a damp towel and use quickly.