Monday 6 February 2012

Experiments in Sugar Cookies

Valentine's Day is only 8 days away, people!

And whether you're spending it with your sweetie or revelling in the freedom of singlehood, who doesn't love a cookie? I love a cookie. I love lots of cookies.

I decided to start my Valentine baking with some sugar cookies. I happened to have some dough hanging out in the freezer already so I just let that thaw in the fridge overnight and got rollin'.

You could use store-bought dough or whatever sugar cookie recipe you like here.

I have a ridiculous amount of cookie cutters. Double hearts, big hearts, small hearts, hearts-with-arrows-through-them, triangles, tennis racquets, school buses, and on and on. Not that tennis racquets and school buses have much to do with Valentine's Day, but uh, I have a lot of cookie cutters.

In any case, I wanted to just experiment with simple shapes this time around so I picked out a 3-inch cutter, a 2-inch, and a tiny little 1-inch cutter all in heart shapes, and played around to see what I could do with them.

I overlapped some large and medium cookie shapes to make double hearts. After pulling up the dough of the larger heart, I cut out another smaller one and nestled it into the outline left by the smaller cutter. I kind of wish I'd taken more photos of that because it's hard to put it into words properly.

Darn it, Jim, I'm a baker, not a wordsmith!

Once all my shapes were cut I laid them out on my cookie sheet. It's best to use parchment paper here, if you have it, for easy cookie removal and clean-up. I, however, ran out and forgot to by more, so naked pans it is.

When I was first cutting these out I wasn't sure what I was going to do with them, but as they baked I remembered a conversation I'd had with a coworker, Deon. I was mentioning that I was working on some new cookie recipes and he interjected, "You should make cookies with JAM in them!"

So now you know where this is going.

I got some super-fancy little jars of jam for Christmas and was saving them for just such an occasion. I put a dollop of jam in a little glass bowl and let it sit on the hot oven to warm a bit so I could spread it nice and thin. (You could microwave it if you want but hey, the hot oven was right there.)

Once you've got a nice thin layer of jam - or a bit thicker if you're a big jam fan - simply pop the cookie with the cutout centre on top.

Just for the sake of fanciness I dusted them with a bit of powdered sugar. I have more cookies to show you, that frankly took much more effort, but you know what? These little jam-filled guys are my favourite. So simple, elegant and oh-my-god-I-can't-believe-it's-this-delicious! Hubby and I devoured them straight away.

So, Deon, if you ever read this: awesome idea, dude. Awesome.

Speaking of ideas, I always thought those little message heart candies were so, so cute, but also so, so unpleasant to eat. Chalky texture, you know. So I thought, why not make tiny message heart cookies?

So I did. These are the itty-bitty 1-inch heart cookies. I outlined the hearts with tinted royal icing, then thinned the rest of the icing and pooled it in the center of each cookie, using a toothpick to spread it out to the edges.

I was going to take some cool in-process photos of that so you could all try it, too, but you know what? The camera died and had to recharge. I couldn't leave the icing sitting out while I waited so I had to just go ahead without pictures.

There's always next time.

Just so you can see how tiny these are! It was very difficult to fit the messages on them, let me tell you! I used a #2 round icing tip for the lettering.

The 2-inch cookies were just big enough to fit a short, sweet name on them. These aren't anyone I know, just names I like. A couple of them might be names of characters from things I watch and read. Maybe.

The 3-inch cookies gave ample room for more detailed messages. These are all pretty cliché but I was just kind of playing around and practising my icing penmanship, which as you may notice, can still use some work.

If you want to be snarky, these are also just the right size for messages like "V-Day Sucks" or "I Love Me" or whatever.

Getting back into more romantic messages, when I looked at my baked double heart cookies I suddenly thought of all those cliché movie and TV scenes where they carve their initials into trees or fences with hearts, so after flooding them with classic Valentine's Day colours, I threw on some initials.

I really like these. I think they'd be cute for engagement parties or anniversaries, and not just for V-Day. 

But nothing tops those ones with the jam. It's tempting to go into the kitchen right now and make another batch! I'll resist though, because I promised someone there'd be cupcakes this week. So brace yourselves - cupcakes are coming!

Until next time!


  1. Firefly, Star Wars...Redwall? Or the creepy little Gelfling from Dark Crystal...

    And for some reason, the first names that popped into my head for the initials on the last cookie were Archie and Reggie...which just opens a whole new can o' worms

    Cliche or not, the little message cookies are SO cute, and probably taste a whole lot better than the candies!

    Also, do you offer personalized message-cookies year-round, or just for V-Day and such? I think they're a super-cute idea

    1. Yes! Zoe from Firefly, Luke actually could be from Star Wars OR Redwall, and Jen - well, Jen just fit nicely on the cookie, lol.

      The A & R... I'll just leave that for people to guess, heh heh.

      I definitely would make personalized cookies for any occasion. I have a ridiculous amount of cookie cutters and I'm really getting into this royal icing decorating. I'll be doing more posts on this kind of thing in the future for sure!