Happy valentine vibes are starting to soar and hearts are starting to float into stores and online! It’s such a nice change from the dreary greyness that is January!
I was asked to make some super sweet heart cookies for a local organization who works with special needs adults to celebrate their support workers. And what’s more lovely than conversation hearts to tell someone you appreciate them?!
Conversation hearts are addictive little candy hearts with a cute little message to give to someone you appreciate (or yourself!) They look like they are just meant to be cookies!
To make these cookies, I used a standard sugar cookie recipe and royal icing recipe that I’ve used multiple times which always come out deliciously decadent! Decorating them is far easier than you’d think!
What You Need
1 cup sugar
1 3/4 sticks (200 grams) of unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups all purpose flour
pinch of salt
6 egg whites
4 cups (1 pound) icing sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
food colouring (I use gel based)
Cream the sugar and butter together until smooth. Mix in the egg and vanilla until combined.
Add in the flour and salt until fully incorporated, and the cookie dough will come together in a big dough ball. The dough will seem very, very crumby at first, but it will come together when you use your hands.
Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and flatten into your hands into a flat disk. Wrap it up in plastic wrap and put in fridge for 20 minutes (this makes it much easier to work with).
Preheat oven to 350°F and line your baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
Roll out your dough on a floured surface. Using a floured cookie cutter, cut out your shapes (1/4 inch thick) and carefully transfer them to the baking sheet.
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until golden brown and then let them completely cool.
To make the icing, add in the icing sugar, and then add in the egg whites and lemon juice and then blend with a hand or stand mixer on high until light and fluffy (5-10 minutes). Cover with a wet cloth or in an air tight container until ready to use (or it will harden!)
When ready to decorate, thin out your icing into flood consistency and separate your icing into separate bowls and colour as appropriate for your design. I used six colours based on conversation heart cookies: pink, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple.
Leave a little bit of excess icing in piping consistency in red (or whatever your want!) to do the writing and cover
I started off with piping each individual cookie, but as you can imagine filling piping bags, piping a border, and flooding 70+ cookies is time consuming! So I opted to DIP my cookies in the royal icing which was so much faster and I think looks pretty great!
Fill a low bowl with your icing at flood consistency and then pick up the cookies and DIP! I used a popsicle stick to remove the excess icing. It took a few goes to figure out how to remove the excess smoothly
Put the dipped cookies on a tray and let COMPLETELY dry (a couple of hours at least)
Once the cookies are dried, fill a piping bag and with a small round tip and pipe the lettering. Some ideas are: XOXO, You Rock, U.R.A. Q.T, Love, Sweet, Hug Me, Text Me, Cutie Pie, Be Mine… the sweet sayings are endless!
All of the colours look so pretty together, and would make a lovely personalized gift for the loves in your life!!
Let’s grab our passports today and see how the holiday’s are celebrated around the world! I opted to stop over quickly in Germany where my family is from for this around the world bake. Germany is well known for it’s holiday traditions: Christmas Market, Advent Calendars, and of course the FOOD!
One of my favourite Christmas memories is sneaking my Oma’s Spritzgebäck (which translates squirt cookie as they come out of a cookie press, or spritz because you know spritz!) from the table before dinner. Spritzgebäck is a very traditional German fluffy butter cookie which looks oh so fancy so I had to try my hand at it.
I found this recipe from Dinner at the Zoo. The recipe is very simple: only butter, flour, sugar, salt, vanilla, and an egg. You then take the mixture and put it in a cookie press, and squirt each one out onto a cookie sheet and bake. The recipe is for chocolate spritzes, but I ended up doing half in chocolate, and half without.
Unfortunately my cookie press (a 60+ year old thing that my Oma passed on to me in which you actually have to crank the press like a stuck jar of pickles to get the cookies to come out) wasn’t really a fan of this recipe. The dough tastes absolutely amazing, but might be too dry for this particular press (or maybe I need to work on my arm muscles!) So instead I opted to roll out the cookies and do cut outs – which worked spectacularly!
I then dipped half of each cookie in melted dark chocolate (the half dip is a very German thing) and added sprinkles – and wunderbar!
Christmas Treats Elsewhere!
I absolutely love seeing how people elsewhere celebrate! Here’s some of the goodies that come from around the world that I would love to try:
Don’t you look cute and festive today! 🙂 For No Bake day of the 25 Days of Christmas Baking Challenge, I’m getting all buttered up. Peanut buttered up that is!
My family lives and breathes peanut butter. We add it to absolutely everything and can clear a shelf of Reese’s Cups in a jiff. So when I found these Christmas No Bake Peanut Butter Balls from Emily Enchanted I knew I was dipping in right away.
These little balls are sticky, but super quick to make (I was able to squeeze them in before I left for work!) and the combination of chocolate and peanut butter will have the biggest Grinches at the party melt.
A little late getting this post up, but I was up into the wee hours of the night whipping up dozens and dozens of little treatsies yesterday and decided I should try and be a bit awake at work today! Day 2 of 25 Days of Christmas Baking was Shortbread! These buttery bites are a Christmas requirement for many.
I was flip-flopping all day long with what recipe I want to do, so the only answer in the end was… BOTH!
Shortbread Cut Out Cookies
First up was this recipe for Easy Christmas Shortbread Cookies from The Café Sucre Farine. They’re both butterylicious and beautiful, and can confirm that they ARE as easy as it says on the tin!
The recipe gives some decorating tips and calls for a peppermint glaze and buttercream piping. I opted for some lemon glaze and sprinkles instead and think they look pretty cute!
I also made Mini Chip Butter Crisps, which have been a family favourite since I was very young. I think the recipe came on the back of carton of butter way back in the day. This one is a whipped shortbread cookie, which is literally the same ingredients as your typical shortbread cookie but just beating the dough for longer which adds extra air to the mixture.
I get a couple people asking for this recipe each time (which is apparently way too much because my recipe is coated in buttery fingerprints).
What You Need
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups butter or margarine
1 cup icing sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups mini chocolate chips
Cream the butter/margarine with a mixer. Beat in the icing sugar and vanilla.
Add in the flour and salt mixture one part at a time and blend until nice and smooth
With a wooden spoon, mix in the chocolate chips
Form the dough into 1 inch balls by hand and place onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Press dough balls down with the bottom of a glass dipped in flour and top with some sprinkles.
Bake at 325 degrees F for 10 minutes and enjoy! These cookies freeze VERY well (and actually taste even better frozen!)
The first day of my 25 Days of Christmas Baking Challenge is to be a favourite treat from childhood. This was easy for me. Chocolate dipped pretzels were one of the very first things that my mom taught me to make when I was very young and the one thing that I *have* to make every year no matter what.
Best of all, they’re very easy to actually make, especially if you’re in a time crunch. Good thing because people will beg you to make them again and again!
What You Need
Pretzels (either twists or sticks)
Chocolate wafers (dark, milk, or white chocolate) ~ they seem to be super hard to find this time of year though as I’ve checked two stores and they were both sold out of the white chocolate ones!
Glass bowl and pot to act as a double boiler
Setup a double boiler and melt the chocolate wafers (a microwave also works for melting chocolate, but I like the control of the boiler). A double boiler is just glass bowl on top of a pot with 2-3 inches of water at medium heat below. Stir the wafers until smooth when they start melting.
Dip! This is the fun part. I find using tongs is the easiest way to drop the pretzel into the melted chocolate and pick it up. A fork also works, but it’s much hard to control. Remelt if the chocolate starts getting too thick. Hint: broken pretzels are also fun to dip. Just means more you have to eat yourself 😉
Drop the pretzels onto a pan with wax paper and decorate. Add some Christmassy sprinkles on top, or drizzle with other chocolate.
Let the dipped pretzels cool. It takes 10-15 to allow the chocolate to fully dry before you can pick them up. I usually throw it them in the freezer for 2-3 minutes which does the job. Now enjoy the salty sweet deliciousness!