Bake Your Heart Out

Necco Conversation Heart candies cookie valentine's day craft recipeNecco’s tiny pastel hearts with sayings of love on them serve as the perfect inspiration for a  holiday baking craft.  Last year, Martha’s team created these cute, techy cookie versions and more recently, I saw these in the winter Williams-Sonoma catalog, in a chocolate form.   What a festive, thoughtful and creative way to express your thanks and love to those around you this Valentine’s Day!  For the cookies below, I prefer to use a super easy lemon shortbread cookie with a basic, yet modified, royal icing recipe.  Letters are then piped on with store-bought red fondant icing to keep things simple.  These are definitely a labor of love, especially if you are mixing different colors of icing, but well worth the effort!

Shopping list:

  • flour
  • butter
  • sugar
  • salt
  • 2-3 lemons
  • powdered sugar
  • parchment paper
  • meringue powder
  • red fondant icing pen
  • food coloring (gel paste is best, but the liquid version works, too, and is cheaper)
  • heart-shaped cookie cutter

* The last 4 items on your list can be purchased from Michael’s, or other craft stores, with a baking section.

conversation heart cookie valentines day baking craft recipe

For the shortbread cookie (adapted from Sunset Magazine):

Makes ~ 2 dozen 3″ cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2  cups  flour
  • 1  cup  cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1/2  cup  granulated sugar
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt
  • zest from one lemon

1. Preheat oven to 325°. Put flour, butter, granulated sugar, salt and lemon zest in the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix on low speed until blended, then increase to medium and mix until dough is no longer crumbly and just comes together.

2. Form dough into a disk; chill 30 minutes.

3. On a lightly floured work surface, roll dough 1/4 in. thick. Cut dough into hearts with a heart-shaped cookie cutter. Arrange cookies on baking sheets and chill 15 minutes.

4. Bake until light golden brown, 15 minutes.  Allow to cool completely before icing.

conversation heart cookie valentines day baking craft recipe

For the icing (adapted from Martha Stewart):

Makes 2 1/3 cups

  • 1 box confectioners’ sugar (1 pound)
  • 5 tablespoons meringue powder
  • scant 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine sugar and meringue powder.

2. Mixing on low speed, mix in lemon juice until desired thickness is achieved. For a thinner consistency, usually used for flooding, add some water. A thicker consistency is generally used for outlining and adding details. Mix until icing holds a ribbonlike trail on the surface of the mixture for 5 seconds when you raise the paddle.

3. First outline, then flood your cookies.  Allow to dry completely prior to using your fondant pen for writing.

conversation heart cookie valentines day baking craft recipe

Bring them to your office on a tray for all to enjoy or wrap them in pairs in cellophane bags and tie off with red ribbon for a more personal touch.


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