Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Valentine's Day Massacre: Heart-Shaped Sugar Cookies

I (This Cookie) baking manly things.
Despite baking a ridiculously unhealthy amount of Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cupcakes and chocolate truffles (coming soon), I knew Valentine's Day would be a complete failure if I didn't make something in the shape of a heart (I mean it's the one day of the year I can do this without getting funny looks no matter how special I try to make Kevin's birthday). One of my favorite generic food staples at any gathering (especially those of grad school where the free food helps keep you alive) are the sugar cookies with rich frosting slabbered on that begins decaying the teeth of anyone within a 5 foot radius. And thus, I knew what tasty treat I had to make to complete my trifecta of desserty decadence.

Heart-Shaped Sugar Cookies
Servings: 7-8 enlarged hearts that a doctor should check out
Time: 30 minutes

2 sticks of butter
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cream of tarter
1 tsp baking soda
1 egg
Pink frosting (recipe follows)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. Cream the butter and powdered sugar together in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. 
  3. Add in the flour, vanilla, cream of tarter, baking soda and egg and mix together over slow speed until just combined.
  4. Pack the dough into plastic wrap and chill it in the fridge for 20 minutes.
  5. Place the dough on a floured board and roll out with a rolling pin (you should put flour on the rolling pin too so the dough doesn't lift off).
  6. Cut into magical heart shapes and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Make sure you leave 2-3 inches between cookies because they will spread.
  7. Bake for 6-8 minute (depending on how thinly you rolled them) or until the edges begin to lightly brown.
  8. Let cool on a wire rack then frost.
The shadow by the hearts looks a tad ominous.
Royal Icing
3 egg whites
4 cups of powdered sugar, sifted
Pink gel coloring

I get so much happiness out of seeing the absurd amount of powdered sugar I put into things. This was just 4 of the 9 total cups of powdered sugar I'd use that day (less popular is looking at all the butter I use).
  1. Whisk the egg whites over medium speed until practically frothy.
  2. Mix in the powdered sugar gradually and whisk on low until smooth. The end result should be thick and not runny. If it isn't, add more powdered sugar.
  3. Add the pink gel coloring and combine well.
  4. Spread into heart shapes over the top of the cookie. You can do this with a knife or with a piping bag for cleaner results. Let the frosting harden for at least 15 minutes.
The proper thickness of the frosting.
These cookies far exceeded my bargain grocery store hopes as the cookie and frosting achieved a perfect sugar-laden harmony. The cookie itself had just the right sugar cookie consistency. It had a gentle firmness from the light browning of the edges, but it broke apart beautifully without crumbling. Also, the use of powdered sugar instead of normal granulated sugar in the batter made for a far more delicious experience. But, of course, the true highlight of any sugar cookie experience is the glorious amount of icing. Using egg whites instead of milk, made for a dense and far more flavorful frosting than your typical glaze that was just what my heart desired. These were great fresh baked, but they achieved near legendary status upon chilling in the fridge (because really a chilly heart is what everyone wants on Valentine's Day) when the flavors (and proper icing thickness) really came together. I highly recommend finishing off a cupcake with a quarter of a piece of one of these (which will inevitable turn into an entire one because you have issues with self-restraint). The truly great thing about these cookies is that they are perfect for any occasion if molded into the right shape (I may have purchased some Portal themed cookie cutters that will soon give me great joy). Plus, it's pretty fun to walk around holding one of these to your chest and smiling creepily.

I really should have used a piping bag for cleaner heart frosting. Valentine's Day was practically ruined forever.

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