Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Beautiful Heart Cookies


Baking special cookies for a loved one always takes a bit of planning, the best ingredients and some artistic flair in order for them to be memorable.  Heart-shaped cookies made from a rich chocolate dough and iced with a flawless royal icing in beautiful, whimsical designs, are just the thing this Valentine’s Day for your loved one(s).  It’s no secret that I adore my niece and nephews to no end, so for the holiday I thought I’d make a batch of my  Chocolate Cookies to send to them.  I know they’re going to love what I’ve created.  

Valentine's Day Cookies

With my little ones having completely different personalities (likes and dislikes, etc.), I thought I’d make them cookies that were each unique little works or art.  As I’ve said before, decorating cookies with royal icing is always fun, because one gets to experiment with colors, designs and techniques each & every time.  I’m a traditionalist when it comes to decorating with royal icing, meaning, I reach for my pastry bags, plain icing tips, a variety of colors and a reliable royal icing recipe.  To be honest, though, plain royal icing isn’t always that tasty to me, but with the addition of Meyer lemon juice one can achieve a palatable medium with which to ice any type of cookie.  It makes a big difference, trust me.


Delicious Heart Cookies

Hearts!  Lots of hearts!  That was the theme when I created these cookies for my niece and nephews.  Every single one was iced in different shades and styles, with no two being exactly alike.  I didn’t have a design in mind before I started icing the cookies below, so I relied on instinct and artistic liberties.  Go through these Valentine’s Day cookies and get ideas for your next baking project.  Make a batch or two of my delicious cookie dough, and then gather your equipment for decorating.  Take a moment over the weekend to create, ice and package a few treats for the special ones in your life.

If you want to review my list of royal icing equipment, click"here".

Note: To decorate the cookies below, I used 12" piping bags, couplers and Ateco #3 plain icing tips.


Here I am getting my royal icing ingredients together.  I like to use meringue powder instead of egg whites if I'm giving these to kids or the elderly (raw eggs should never be consumed by people with compromised immune systems).  If you use freshly squeezed lemon juice in part with water when making your royal icing, you have something that is a little more special.  Try it the next time you make some.

A good royal icing should be thick and glossy.  It's good to have more than you actually need.

Do you see how it pours?  This is the consistency you want to have in order to pipe borders which will hold your flood work.

One of the good things about royal icing made with meringue powder is that it can be made days in advance and be kept at room temperature, as long as it's in a resealable plastic bag which has had all of the air taken out.  Royal icing will dry out quickly if left exposed.  

This quartet is ready to be packaged and shipped out. 


Icing Techniques

Two-Toned Heart of Hearts

For this special heart, pipe a border of brown royal icing around the perimeter of the cookie and then flood it; let dry.  Using pink royal icing, pipe evenly spaced dots about 1 mm from the edge of the brown-colored iced heart.  Let the first set of dots firm up, then go back and pipe in the gaps with more dots, creating an undulating beaded border; let these firm up.  Flood the beaded heart with the same pink royal icing and while still wet, pipe evenly spaced dots in brown royal icing in a heart shape.  Quickly run the tip of a toothpick, dragging it through each dot, to create bleeding heart shapes; run the toothpick in one direction on one side and in the other direction for the other side.  Let dry completely.


Dot-bordered Heart
Pipe a border of pink royal icing and flood it with the same color; let it dry.  Pipe chocolate brown dots around the perimeter and let them set.  Easy.


Sparkly Brown & Pink Heart
Pipe a brown border around the entire heart and a curved border down the center of the heart; let it dry.  Flood one side of the heart with brown icing and the other with pink icing.  While the icing is still wet, flock with fine sanding sugar and let it set.  Shake off any excess sugar when completely dry.


Snow White Heart
This cookie looks as if it was made from freshly fallen snow.  Pipe a border of white icing around the heart and let it set.  Flood it with the same white royal icing and flock it with fine sanding sugar while it is still wet.  When dry, shake off any excess sugar


Sugar Dots Heart  
Dots are perhaps the simplest of designs.  Pipe evenly spaced white dots around the edge of the cookie and then do a set of pink dots in the same fashion, on the inside.  While dots are still wet, flock them with coarse sanding sugar.  


Swirled Bleeding Hearts 
I love this heart!  Pipe a border of peach-hued pink royal icing around the cookie and flood it.  While still wet, pipe chocolate-colored dots haphazardly throughout the cookie.  Quickly drag the tip of a toothpick through each dot in whatever direction you want.  Let dry completely.  Pure whimsy!


Fancy Two-Toned Heart
This lovely heart is perfect for any sweet angel.  Pipe a border of peach-hued pink royal icing around the cookie and flood it; let it dry completely.  Pipe a chocolate-colored heart in the same fashion, about 1 mm in from the the first iced heart.  While still wet, pipe evenly spaced dots of the peach-hued pink royal icing right on the inside of the chocolate heart.  Immediately drag a clean toothpick through each dot, starting from the top and working your way down one side, creating bleeding hearts.  Use the same technique on the other side for a mirror design.  Gorgeous!


Hearts within Hearts 

Simple as can be.  Pipe a chocolate brown border around the cookie and then a pink colored border just on the inside of that one.  In the middle, use the same brown royal icing to trace & flood another heart.  Quickly flock with fine sanding sugar while still wet.  Let dry and shake off excess sugar.  Sophisticated!

Sparkly.  Fancy. Beautiful.


Hearts made with lots of love.


I hope many of you attempt some cookies soon.  Keep these techniques and design ideas  in mind for any type of celebration that calls for a bit of whimsy & sophistication.  A wedding, an anniversary, a graduation or a birthday party can certainly have several dozen heart cookies for guests.  Make them unique, make them beautiful and make them your own.  The pleasure of cookie baking and decorating is in the trying.  I find that if you try and not worry about perfection (good icing takes lots of practice and a steady hand--my friend Janet is a real pro when it comes to decorating, just look at her blog!), you can achieve delicious art no matter what they end up looking like.                

Enjoy creating some cookies!

David

4 comments:

  1. Your niece and nephew are very lucky to have you as their uncle, David!

    Your chocolate cookie recipe is NEXT on my list of to-do's but I doubt that I will ever achieve the level of your decorating skills. Honestly! The delicate pink color you used for these hearts is truly spectacular! You have such a gift!

    xo

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  2. Janet, you have no idea what that means to me coming from you. I consider YOU the cookie decorating expert! Thank you for the kind words regarding my little ones. Lots of love to you & yours!!

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  3. The both of you make such yummy decorated cookies. Thanks for the tip David on making the little dot hearts. I'm going to try that soon. Thank you both!

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  4. Thank YOU Teresa! Those piped dots are so simple to do and so elegant at the same time. Have fun decorating.

    David

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