We can’t think of a sweeter way to say “I love you” than with beautiful cookies you bake and decorate yourself. Our elaborate heart-shaped cutters offer plenty of opportunities for bright colors and special touches, and they’re easy to master at home with the right tools and tips. We talked to our food stylist Cathie Lopez to learn her tricks for making gorgeous cookies every time. Happy Valentine’s Day!
- Cookie sheets
- Parchment paper
- Flour for dusting the rolling pin
- Rolling pin and rolling pin spacers (I like approx. 1/4″ thick cookies)
- Food gels or food coloring
- Exact-o knife
- Icing bags, tips and couplers
- Large spatula
What tips do you have for working with these cutters? How can people get the best shapes and details?
I found that it was easiest if I rolled out the dough directly onto the parchment paper. Then I cut the cookie out and transferred it on the parchment paper to the cookie sheet, cutting any excess paper so it fit on the cookie sheet. Using a large spatula also helps with the transfer.
Any tips for mixing colors? Do you have formulas or guidelines for the different shades of pink and red?
For the colors I used pink, rose and red food gels. These three colors can be adjusted from a pale color to an intense color by adding a little or a lot of food gel.
One important tip about red icing: resist the temptation to add more and more red food gel to your icing, because you may not immediately see that dark rich red color you’re going for. Let it sit for 30 minutes (covered with plastic wrap touching the surface so it doesn’t harden) and the color will intensify to a nice deep red.
Walk us through the process of decorating the filled hearts. Do you start by piping the edges, then flood, etc? How do you create a perfectly smooth filling in the center? And how long do you let the bottom layers set up before piping the details?
To flood the hearts with a base color, the consistency of the icing needs to be just thick enough to control while piping but still thin enough so that any piped lines disappear. Test this by stirring the bowl of icing, then letting a stream of icing fall from the spoon back into the bowl. If the stream disappears within 30 seconds, the icing should be the right consistency to flood the cookies. I use a #3 tip for flooding. Start by outlining the cookie shape then fill in the body of the cookie. Let this dry for several hours or overnight before adding other royal icing decorations. The flooding will keep the cookies fresh for days.
Do you have any tips for making smooth dots?
To make smooth dots of icing, try lightly patting down the peak of the dot with a clean damp finger right after piping.
Tell us about how you use the beads. Do you have any secrets for placing them?
If you would like to add sprinkles, nonpareils (mini beads) or sanding sugars, I find that the best time to do this is right after the cookie is flooded with icing. Place the cookie on a paper towel and carefully sprinkle with the sugar decoration. Pick up the cookie by the edges and turn upside down so the excess sprinkles fall back onto the paper towel. Carefully pour the sprinkles back into the jar to use again.
What are some of your creative ideas for decorating these cookies that we didn’t show in our catalog shots?
When cutting out the large hearts, also make sure to poke out the smaller hearts and bake them as well. These can be decorated and attached with icing to the larger hearts or sprinkles on a frosted cake. They can also be frozen and used later.
Can you think of any fun packaging ideas for the decorated cookies?
A nice way to package these cookies is to place them in a heart-shaped candy box. For the smaller hearts, I like to fill a wide-mouth mason jar, tie a red ribbon around the lid and add a tag that says “Jar of Hearts.”
Special thanks to Cathie Lopez for sharing her tips!