Decorating Valentine’s Day Cookies? Here’s What You Need to Know

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We can’t think of a sweeter way to show affection than with beautiful cookies you bake and decorate yourself. Our Valentine’s Day-themed cookie 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. To get some insight, we asked expert decorator Cathie Lopez for some tips on how to make gorgeous iced cookies every time.


What items should be in every cookie decorator’s toolkit? Other than cookies, of course.

Cookie sheetsparchment paper, flour for dusting your rolling pin, a rolling pin and rolling pin spacers (I like approx. 1/4″ thick cookies), food gels or food coloring, an X-Acto knife, icing bags, tips and couplers, and a large spatula.


What’s your secret to getting the best shapes and details out of cookie cutters?

It’s easiest if you roll out the dough directly onto the parchment paper. Then try to cut the cookie out and transfer it on the parchment paper to the cookie sheet, cutting any excess paper so it fits on the cookie sheet. Using a large spatula also helps with the transfer.


Any tips for mixing colors? 

For these types of cookies, use 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. Resist the temptation to add more and more red food gel to your icing. You may not immediately see that dark rich red color you’re going for, but 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.


How do you create those perfectly 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.


Do you have any secrets for placing beads?

If you would like to add sprinkles, nonpareils (mini beads) or sanding sugars, 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.


Filled hearts


What’s the best way to achieve filled hearts on an iced cookie?

First you have to flood the heart cookies with a base color. To do that, 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.


Can you think of any fun packaging ideas for decorated cookies?

A nice way to package cookies is to place them in a heart-shaped candy box. For 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.”


Any other tips?

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, or they can be frozen and used later.

Have you ever made cookies for Valentine’s Day? Share your decorating tips below in the comments.

9 comments about “Decorating Valentine’s Day Cookies? Here’s What You Need to Know

  1. Joyce

    What do you use the exact-o knife for? Cutting the parchment paper? Or is there another purpose?
    Also I use a paper plate and not a paper towel under the cookie for decorating. The paper plate bends and will give you more control getting the sanding sugar back into the container.

    1. Williams-Sonoma Post author

      Hi Joyce, the exacting knife is used to cut the parchment paper to fit onto the cookie sheet and to pull out the small cut out hearts shapes from the large cookie.

    1. Williams-Sonoma Post author

      Hi Dina, the basic recipe is 4 cups of powdered sugar, 3 tablespoons meringue powder, 1 teaspoon of vanilla and 6 tablespoons of hot water. Mix all until smooth. Add more water to thin or more powdered sugar to thicken.


  2. Happy Valentine’s Day! | Williams-Sonoma Taste

  3. Pam

    The complex heart cookie cutter pictured above gave me a large heart cookie that was segmented. This is due to the smaller heart placements within the outer mold. The cookies I have seen in the photo shots were all solid. Is there a secret to icing them together after baking?

    thank you

    1. Williams-Sonoma Post author

      Hi Pam, we asked Cathie her thoughts, and she suggested that you may be using the cutter upside down, or that your dough may be too thick. Hope this helps!

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