February 17, 2015
Every year, I try to make something homemade and meaningful to give to my male friends and colleagues for St. Valentine's Day. This year was a little difficult—I was so busy with work, getting home late, leaving early, that I really did not have time for an elaborate project. Nevertheless, I undertook the baking and decorating and packing of about 25 gifts of heart-shaped cookies. They are still being given out today because I did run out of time, but a gift late is better than none at all, and the thought goes a long, long way.
Please enjoy the blog and bake some cookies! And a HINT: substitute dark brown sugar for ½ of the granulated sugar in my classic sugar cookie recipe.
Sorry for the blog's absence the last few days. I have been so busy and looking for a helper to do the manual stuff that is required for a blog to be posted each and every day. So much to report!!!
1 I decided to bake and decorate Valentine's cookies to give to my nearest and dearest. I was in the office all week last week, and rolled and cut the dough, and baked the cookies right in the test kitchen. My dogs came to pay me a visit— Francesca, Ghenghis, and Sharkey love to watch baking.
2 Don't worry, the dogs sat on a stainless table, which was well washed when they left. Keeping them on the table keeps them from getting lost in my vast office.
3 I tried a new technique for these heart shaped cookies: I dipped them in royal icing instead of damming and flooding, which is a much more precise method. After coating the cookies, they were sprinkled with sanding sugar that I had colored using a fine-powdered food coloring.
4 The frosting is white, and the sugars can be white or any tint you choose.
5 To get a head start, I made the cookie doughs at home. I used our new recipe for brown-sugar sugar cookies, which will be published in our April issue of Martha Stewart Living. It is delectable!!!!!! I rolled and cut and baked at the test kitchen.
6 After the cookies were cut and placed on rigid baking sheets, I chilled them again before baking at 325 degrees until golden brown. The dough is quite hard, but once chilled, it rolls beautifully.
7 I then tinted a batch of the royal icing a pale pink and sprinkled the wet icing with white medium-coarse sanding sugar.
8 Here I am sprinkling sugar from a quart container right onto the wet frosting.
9 The frosting has to be the exactly the right consistency to dip the cookies satisfactorily. And the sugar must be applied immediately so it gets imbedded.
10 I had to take the sugared cookies home on Friday undecorated with "lace details" because I ran out of time. Sharkey and Francesca in my kitchen watching the decorating and putting into tins for gifts.
11 Just a little bit of frosting piped onto the sugared surfaces really dresses up the cookies and makes them more "romantic!"
12 I ran out of time and patience and left some cookies just sugared. The recipients did not seem to mind.
13 Even one dot of frosting was pretty.
14 I found a box of 24 cookie tins in the basement reorganization—they were perfect squares and the cookies, the largest was 5 3/4 inches wide, fit exactly in the boxes. Each box got a handful of nestling material (shredded paper) and three or four cookies. Which box do you want???
15 And then Alexis showed me what she had made for Valentine's Day. A giant two layer delicious cake—banana, coconut, with cream cheese frosting and hand-tinted organic shredded coconut!!