Would it really be Valentine’s Day without those adorable little iced heart shaped cookies? I think not. Even in kindergarten I thought these cookies were swell. We never had this kind of stuff at home so it was without a doubt the best treat ever. Until the boy with the giant black tie-up shoes stomped on my cookie and smashed it to bits in his haste to beat the rush hour mayhem at the cubbies. The only thing left was a tiny wax bag of festive looking crumbs.
Sadly, it was a one-cookie-to-a-kid-deal so I was totally out of luck. I made a tiny little notation in my brain that when I got to be a grown-up I’d have spare back-up iced cookies in the cookie jar, just in case.
I had no idea back then that one day I’d be baking more cookies than my 5 year-old self could ever imagine. Not only do I have cookies in a jar most of the time, but dough in the freezer, just in case. Like dough for these simple sugar cookies.
These are quick and easy cookies to prepare. Make them ahead of time so the dough can rest in the refrigerator for a few hours or even a day or two which not only helps improve the flavor but helps make the dough more manageable. Wrapped well, the dough can be frozen for a few months.
The cookies can be frosted after cooling or they can be left overnight on the counter on a rack. Even the freshly iced cookies can stand a little alone time to help the royal icing do a good job drying with a hard finish. This is precisely why I love this cookie – there’s no rush and each step can fit into a busy schedule.
The kid with the cookie crumbs? She wasn’t sad for long. Stay tuned.
|Valentine Sugar Cookie Bites, Gluten Free|| |
- 260 grams AP GF flour (2 cups)
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 150 grams superfine or granulated sugar (3/4 cup)
- 172 grams unsalted butter, chilled room temperature (12 tablespoons)
- 1 extra-large egg
- 1 extra-large egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon pure orange or lemon flavoring
- 330 grams powdered sugar sifted (3 cups)
- 3 tablespoons meringue powder or Deb-El just whites
- 100-125 grams warm water (about ½ to ¾ cups)
- ½ teaspoon almond extract
- 1-3 drops red food gel or coloring or ½ teaspoon red jam (no seeds)
- colored sugar or sprinkles of choice
- In the bowl of a food processor pulse flour, salt and sugar until combined. Cube butter and add to the processor bowl and pulse until mixture looks like coarse crumbs. In a small bowl mix together egg, yolk, vanilla and orange flavoring. Add to processor and pulse until dough forms a ragged ball. The dough will be very squishy and soft at this point – don’t add more flour! It will transform itself into a respectable rolling dough after it chills out in the refrigerator. Remove to plastic wrap. Carefully remove blade. Smoosh (yes, a technical term) dough together, wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least three hours and overnight is best. The dough freezes well if you wish to make a half-recipe and save half for later.
- Preheat oven to 350 F and line 2-3 baking sheets with parchment.
- Unwrap and place dough between two sheets of plastic wrap. Using a rolling-pin, hit the dough to loosen it up – if you begin rolling it will crack – but if you hit the dough a bit it gets slightly loosened up enough to roll. Roll dough a generous ⅛ inch thick. If the dough is warm or too pliable, slide the dough on the plastic onto a baking sheet and freeze for about 10 minutes or refrigerate for 20 minutes. Once the dough is quite chilled, make your cut-outs and using a small offset spatula lift the cut-outs onto a baking sheet lined with parchment about ½ inch apart. If the dough starts to get too warm, just give it a few minutes in the freezer again. Once the baking sheet is full, place it in the freezer or refrigerator for 15 minutes to chill the cut-out dough before baking.
- Bake about 5 minutes and rotate pan. Bake about 4-6 minutes more or just until the cookie is barely turning color on the edges. The bottoms should be golden but the edges should be less golden. Cool and then remove to a rack and cool completely. Be very gentle – they are very fragile at this stage. But fear not. They will get more robust as they are cooled.
- Tip: Leave cookies out on the rack overnight for best handling before adding icing.
- Using an electric mixer on low, stir the sifted powdered sugar with the meringue powder or Deb-El Just Whites until mixed together – about 15 seconds. Add the warm water slowly and mix on low and stop adding water the second the mixture begins to look like a thick glaze – like toothpaste. You will have extra water – I promise. Now add the flavoring and color or jam. Mix on medium speed and then turn the mixer up to medium high and beat for about 3-4 minutes. You want the icing to be thick, but also flow- like a thick custard falling off a spoon. Any thinner and it will run off the cookie and more thick – it will just blob on the surface of the cookie.
- Use a small offset spatula to apply icing to each cookie. Add colored sugar or sprinkles after half a dozen cookies have been iced. Any more time than that and the icing will start to set up and the decoration won't adhere.
- Once done, let the cookies sit on the cooling rack so the royal icing can set for at least 2-3 hours.