As we all (both haters and not) know, it’s almost Valentine’s Day. So even if you think the holiday is lame sauce or plan to be a sourpuss all day in protest, you might still want to make some cookies. And you might want to decorate them with heart, if only to be ironic. Or, you might want to say “I love you” with a sugar cookie. Either way, you’ve come to the right place.
Vanilla Buttercream Icing
- 3 cups of powdered sugar
- 3 Tbs of unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 Tbs light corn syrup
- 2 tsp vanilla extract or syrup
- A few tablespoons of water (amount varies depending on the thickness you want)
- Red food coloring
1. Whisk powdered sugar, butter, corn syrup and vanilla extract to combine. Slowly add water until the mixture comes together. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to free any clinging powdered sugar. Continue whipping for a few minutes. You want to achieve a thick consistency that will hold shape after being piped onto a sheet tray. A good way to tell if your icing is thick enough is to let it sit for ten minutes and then press your finger lightly on the top. If a shell has started to form, it is the right consistency. If it sticks to your finger, add some powdered sugar and blend until smooth.
And with this icing, here’s how you make the “I Heart Cookies”.
1. Reserve half of the icing that you have made in a separate bowl and use it to ice the cookies first.
2. Add red food coloring, drop by drop, until you reach color that you like. I stopped once and reserved a cup or so of the pink color and then continued to add dye to make a darker red.
3. Locate a pastry bag, or a ziplock bag, or fold some wax paper (like this) to make one. I have a metal tip attachment, but if you don’t your hearts will be just as lovely. To fill, insert the tip of the bag into a cup and pull the ends down around the sides.
Use the side of the cup as resistance to scrape some of the icing off of your spatula and into the bag. Once you have a good squeezable amount in the bag, slowly squeeze and twist the icing towards the tip and cut it.
4. Practice on a sheet of parchment paper (or foil) by squeezing a few lines and, eventually, work your way up to a heart shape. I started with an outline that I then filled in with a few mimicking strokes. You want the heart to be thick and to hold its shape. If the icing does not, you will need to go back to the beginning and add more powdered sugar. And if you use all of the icing and end up with a mess, just scrape it back off the parchment and try again. There are many different techniques, so just have fun with it and figure out what works best for you.
5. Put the icing hearts into the freezer for at least 30 minutes. Once they are frozen into shape, use a thin spatula to scrape them from the parchment and place them in the center of each cookie.