We love Homemade Valentine’s Day Treats. Especially once shaped as Conversation Hearts! Sarah from Maison Cupcake knows her baking! My first meeting with her will always remind me of a delicious flapjack that she handed to me instead of business card. Yum. Certainly a way to get to my heart and be remembered! On her fabulous blog, Maison Cupcake, you will find fabulously foody posts, just reading them makes my mouth water and makes me want to run off and bake and cook. So if food is your thing, hop over! If food is NOT your thing.. hop over anyway, Sarah is lovely! Today, Sarah shares with us this fabulously fun “Love Heart Cookies”? Remember Love Hearts (“conversation hearts”)?! Oh yes, well there is nothing better than a Love Heart Cookie to share around with the loved ones in your family. Even better, children can help!
It’s such an honour to be doing my first ever guest post at Red Ted Art! I first discovered Maggy’s blog when I was visiting people on the blog roll before Cybermummy, the UK’s first mummy blogging conference. Red Ted Art jumped out at me on the list because my son is called Ted and when I saw how lively the blog was I made a definite note to make sure I met Maggy at the conference. Happily we were seated at the same table and had plenty of opportunity to chat about our teds and blogs alike!
My son adores making and decorating biscuits and this recipe is especially suitable for doing with young children as you can break it down into stages and do ten minutes here and there when you have time. I keep all the ingredients on a big tray on the worktop and get it out for ten minutes before or after dinner to move onto the next stage. Provided you keep your icing covered and work fairly quickly with the fondant stage, you can take your time making these over a couple of days.
The biscuit dough recipe yields a generous amount so I usually split the batch in half and freeze some for another occasion. This dough had been in the freezer since Hallowe’en and worked perfectly well.
I use rolled fondant to cover these cookies because it is quicker and easier and gives virtually the same effect. You can alternatively fill and flood your cookies with royal icing before allowing them to set and piping on the words.
It’s also up to you whether you pipe messages on the fondant before or after you adhere them to the cookies. If you’ve got lots more fondant hearts than cookies and are unsure about your piping skills then maybe you’d prefer to pipe onto fondant before sticking the hearts down so you can choose which ones have worked best. If you choose this method you’ll need to do it all in one session as the fondant will dry out not cling to the surface of the cookie as well. Alternatively, you can use a fish slice to slide the damp iced fondant heart onto the cookie but you will risk damaging it and it won’t be stuck down fast for when you tap off the sugar. Whichever method you use therefore involves the odd hairy moment but if you take your time you should be fine.
I prefer to stick your fondant hearts to the cookies in advance so you can wait until the next day to do the piping and sugaring. The recipe below describes doing it the slow laid back order rather than fly by seat of pants hurry hurry way.
Love Hearts or “conversation hearts” as they are known in the US have been popular children’s sweets for decades. I was amused to hear on the radio once that someone in their factory has the job of dreaming up phrases that will appear on the sweets. I guess they have to come from somewhere! It makes me laugh how the phrases have been updated over the years to reflect flirting with the use of modern technology. The packet I bought as research featured the message “Page Me” which inspired me to do a Facebook style cookie saying “Poke Me”. I’ll let you interpret that how you like!
Depending who you are giving your cookies too, your love messages can be as demure or as cheeky as you like! I’m currently deciding whether I can get away with sending a batch including the words “Love Bite” to my son’s preschool or husband’s office. Oh well, I’ll have to eat that one myself.
What would you write on a Love Heart cookie?
THE CONVERSATION HEART COOKIE RECIPE
Dough recipe based on Nigella Lawson’s Butter Cut Out Biscuits from How to be a Domestic Goddess
Serves: 12-15 heart shape cookies per half batch of dough (24-30 in total)
Conversation Heart Ingredients:
For the cookie dough
- 175g soft unsalted butter
- 200g caster sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 400g plain flour plus extra for rolling out
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
For the decoration
- 400g white fondant icing (if you want to make your own, here is a recipe)
- gel food colouring in pink, yellow, green and violet
- purple sugar or 100g caster sugar mixed with violet gel colouring
- 150g apricot glaze or smooth jam
- 100g royal icing (from a tube, instant or home made)
And if you need to make your own royal icing (for piping)
- 1 egg white
- 250g sifted icing sugar
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- dab of violet gel food colouring
You will also need
- 2 baking sheets, greased or lined
- heart shape cookie cutter
- silicone or bristle pastry brush (optional)
- electric hand mixer (if making own royal icing)
- straight fine piping nozzle for piping letters (I used no4 Tala)
- disposable piping bag
How to make your Conversation Heart Cookies
Making The Cookie
1. To make the cookies, first cream the butter and sugar together until pale, then beat in the eggs and vanilla. In another bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture and mix gently. Be wary of adding too much flour at this stage as you will add more when you roll the biscuits out and you don’t want it to be too dry.
2. Halve the dough and form fat discs. Wrap with cling film and refrigerate for at least one hour. The dough freezes very well for 3-4 months if you want to save half for another occasion. The batch I used here was left over from Hallowe’en.
3. Whilst the dough is in the fridge, preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan oven/Gas Mark 4.
4. Sprinkle your work surface with flour, place a disc of dough on it, and sprinkle a little more on top. Roll out to a thickness of about 1/2 cm. Cut out your heart shapes and space well apart on the baking sheets.
5.Bake for 8-12 minutes, by which time they will be lightly golden
around the edges. Cool on a rack and continue with the rest of the dough. Your oven may be slightly different so use this time as a guide.
How to decorate your conversation heart cookies
6. For the fondant decoration, divide your ball of white fondant into three equal pieces and soften in your hands until warm and pliable. Using the tip of a cocktail stick, dab a touch of gel colouring into the surface of the white fondant and knead to incorporate the colour. To get the swirly texture similar to the sweets, do not knead fully but just enough to roughly spread the colour through the fondant. (again, if you want to make your own fondant, here is a recipe)
7. Using icing sugar to stop it sticking to the table and rolling pin, roll out your tinted fondant and cut out heart shapes with the cutter. Take care not to stretch the hearts or they will be bigger than the cookies. Lay the hearts out on baking parchment paper.
8. To adhere the fondant hearts to the cookies, warm your apricot glaze slightly. I give mine a 15 second blast in a ramekin in the microwave rather than dirtying saucepans. If you have a pastry brush use it to paint the jammy glaze on the top surface of the cookies. Alternatively, rubbing it on with the back of a teaspoon will suffice. Carefully press down a fondant heart to each cookie. Your fondant hearts should be roughly the same size as your cookies.
9. If you need to make your own royal icing, put the egg white in a large bowl and whisk lightly until a foam forms. Add around a quarter of the icing sugar and the lemon juice and beat in well with a spoon. I prefer to do this in the food processor using the egg whisk attachment as it avoids getting icing sugar everywhere but you can either do by hand or with an electric hand mixer. Keep adding a quarter of the sugar at a time until you have a consistency that is both smooth and firm enough for piping. Royal icing will keep in a tub for a week. You can use meringue powder as an alternative to raw egg whites.
10. Tint the royal icing with some violet gel colouring on a cocktail stick. You are aiming for very pale violet. Use a spoon to half fill a disposable piping bag fitted with a straight writing nozzle.
11. Pipe a line of royal icing around the edge of each heart so that you leave 1mm showing around the edge. Pipe your messages onto the cookies. Aim for pairs of words with a maximum of 4-5 letters.
12. Gently tip a spoonful of coloured sugar over the wet icing, shake the cookie to spread it about then tap firmly on the edge so that the excess falls off. Repeat if necessary. Continue with each cookie until all covered and allow icing to harden.
Your Love Heart Cookies are FINISHED!!!
So.. What would you write on YOUR cookie?
More amazing Conversation Heart Crafts here:
More fantastic Valentine’s Day Treat ideas here: