Valentine Sugar Cookies
Bake Time - 10 minutes
Prep Time - 1 to 2 hours
Decorating time - variable
For the Sugar Cookies:
1/2 cup of butter (salted or unsalted)
1 1/2 cups of flour
1/2 cup of sugar
1 egg lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 to 1 tablespoon water or milk (optional)
Heart shaped cookie cutter
For the royal icing:
3 large egg whites
4 cups icing sugar
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
Red Food coloring
Make the Sugar Cookies:
1. Combine the dry ingredients for the sugar cookies and mix with a whisk to combine them.
2. In a bowl, mix the butter and sugar for a few minutes till they are combined, using a hand or stand mixer. Add the lightly beaten egg and vanilla extract. Continue to mix.
3. Add the dry ingredients from step one and combine. You may use a ladle at this point.
4. When all the ingredients are combined, mold into a ball. If the mixture is overly dry or crumbly, add 1/2 tablespoon of water. You can repeat this if needed but try not to.
5. Wrap the dough ball in plastic wrap and chill for at least an hour before baking. The longer you chill the better. Chilling overnight makes the best cookies but there are still pretty great with even just 1 hour of chilling.
6. When you are ready to bake, take out the dough and let it sit at room temperature for 10 minutes. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
8. Roll out the cookie dough on a lightly floured surface and cut using the cookie cutter. Transfer to the baking sheets.
9. Bake for about 10 minutes, one tray at a time. You know your cookies are done when the edges are slightly brown.
10. Take them out, let rest on the cookie sheet for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack. Let them completely cool before frosting.
Make the royal icing:
12. Continue until your mixture has a glossy texture and forms soft peaks.
13. Add red food coloring. Be generous to get a good dark color.
Note: Royal icing dries hard so make sure to keep covered while you are not actively using.
14. Transfer 1/4 portion of the red icing to a piping bag. Fit the bag with the smallest circular piping tip you have. Test that you have the correct consistency for piping - it should come out of the bag easily but not too runny. If it is too runny add more powdered sugar and if it is too hard, add a few drops of water.
15. Transfer the rest of the red icing to a condiment bottle or piping bag fitted with a larger tip than that used in the previous step. The icing for this step needs to be a bit runnier than that in the piping bag, for easy spread.
16. Outline the edge of a cookie with the red icing from step #14. This step is called damming and prevents the icing from spilling over the edge of your cookie when you cover its surface in the next step. Go to step # 17 immediately, for each cookie, before the damming line dries.
17. Apply some icing from step #15 over your cookie. Drizzle some in the middle and watch it spread by tilting the cookie. It should blend with your damming line. Repeat this for all the cookies.
18. Let them dry (it may take a few hours) and enjoy!