As you will see from my next post I generally don't go all-out on Valentines Day, however I've decided this year to share the love (of course purely for the sake of my blog) and do a little more than I normally would.
Both the cupcakes and cookies are so easy to make and of course all of the fun is in the decorating. Ideal for making with children if you have willing participants around looking for something to do, or in my case a fun and relaxed evening in the kitchen alone!
The recipe I use for my sugar cookies is taken from Peggy Porschen's book, Pretty Party Cakes. They make delicious, crisp cookies that taste wonderful but also provide a nice smooth top perfect for icing and decorating as you please. For these particular cookies I used the zest of a lemon to make them lemon cookies as it was a beautiful sunny day when I made them, however you could use the seeds from a vanilla pod or the zest from a orange or lime.
200g unsalted butter
200g caster or berry sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
1 large egg
400g plain or all-purpose flour
12g / 1 heaped tbsp dried egg white powder (meringue powder)
500g icing sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
5-6 tbsp water
Pink & red food colouring
Edible red & pink glitter (my glitter is from Edible Glitter)
Cream together the butter, sugar and lemon zest (or other flavouring of your choice) using an electric mixer. Be careful not to over mix as this can cause the mixture to spread during baking. Lightly beat the egg then mix into the creamed sugar until well mixed. With the mixer on low gradually add the flour until a dough forms. Take the dough out and form it into a large disc then wrap in cling film and chill for at least 1 hour.
Line a baking tray with baking parchment or greaseproof paper.
Sprinkle some flour on a large chopping board or your work surface. I tend to cut the dough in half and work on one half at a time. Put the dough onto the floured surface and knead slightly before rolling out to roughly ¼ inch in thickness. Using cookie cutters of your choice (obviously since these are Valentines cookies hearts were the shape of my choice!) cut out the shapes and carefully place onto the lined baking tray. Once they are all cut out chill the cookies for another 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350F/ 180C/ GM 4. Bake the cookies for 8-12 minutes, depending on the size of cookie, until they have just turned golden-brown at the edges. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack.
While the cookies are cooling make up your icing. Sift the dried egg white (meringue powder) and icing sugar into the bowl of a free-standing mixture or large bowl, then add the lemon juice and 5 tbsp of water. Starting on a very low setting mix everything together then increase the speed and mix until well combined, glossy and smooth. In order to pipe the outlines you want the icing to be fairly thick so don't be tempted to thin it too much. Divide the icing into bowls depending on how many colours you want to make, then add a little food colouring to each bowl (I use gel paste food colouring so it doesn't thin the icing anymore and use a cocktail stick to add the colouring – a little goes a long way!). Put a little of each icing into a piping bag – I use sandwich bags then cut the very corner off so you just have a small hole. Carefully pipe the outline of the cookies. Once they have all been done you can add a little extra water to each icing to thin it slightly. Spoon some icing into the centre of each cookie and carefully let it flood to the edges, helping it with the back of the spoon or a small spatula. Once the cookie is evenly covered set aside and repeat using up all of that colour. Once you are finished sprinkle over the edible glitter if using then let dry completely. Repeat with all of the cookies then sit back and admire your handy work!