Chocolate Hearts

chocolate-heart-cookieI inherited some vintage cookie cutters from my grandma Zella, among them a scallop-edged heart with a red wooden peg handle. With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, it seemed appropriate to make chocolate hearts to send to my nephew Roman, who now lives in North Carolina.

Cookie cutters come in nearly every shape and size, for every occasion and holiday. My cookie cutters, of which there are dozens, live in a wonderful set of stackable drawer containers in one of my kitchen cabinets. I have all the basics, plus cutters for nearly every holiday, with some animals, dinosaurs, and other fun shapes like an umbrella and a teapot mixed in. Zella’s vintage heart is among my favorites, though.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preparation 

In a medium bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, and salt; set aside.

In a mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar until fluffy. Add egg and vanilla extract, beating until well-combined.

Slowly add flour mixture, scraping the sides of the bowl often and beating until a very well-combined, soft dough forms.

Gently knead the dough a few times to make sure it comes together; roll dough into a ball and flatten into a disc. Wrap in plastic and chill for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees; line three baking sheets with parchment or foil.

On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to 1/8 inch thickness. Cut with a heart-shaped cookie cutter; if using different sizes of hearts, be sure to bake all of the same size on one cookie sheet. Baking different-sized or differently-shaped cookies on the same sheet can lead to uneven results; some of your cookies might be underdone while others will be overdone.

Bake for 8-10 minutes, until edges are set. Remove from oven and cool on cookie sheets for 1-2 minutes, then remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Makes about 3 dozen, depending on the size of your cookie cutter.

Heart Sugar Cut-Outs

heartEvery baker needs a simple, tasty sugar cut-out in her arsenal. I think of sugar cookies as a perennial treat, good for any occasion or no occasion at all. Cookie cutters are available in so many shapes and sizes, and you can make them as simple or as elaborate as you like. I find that keeping a range of food colorings, both the gel and liquid kind, is very helpful for sugar cut-out decoration.

The recipe below includes simple ingredients that you probably have in your fridge and pantry. It’s a modification of my earlier sugar cut-out post, because when I baked these yesterday I used a lot more vanilla than my original post included and I liked both the texture and the flavor of this dough better.

For the frosting, you can go as simple or as fancy as you wish. I tinted mine pink and red, to keep it simple, but you can add sprinkles or colored sugar or piped elements – whatever your heart desires.

Sugar Cookies

Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 recipe Zella’s icing, plus red gel and red liquid food coloring

Preparation

In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

In a mixing bowl fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter on medium speed for about 1 minute. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy.

Add egg and 2 teaspoons vanilla, then beat until well-combined.

Add flour mixture in two batches, beating well between each addition.

Add remaining vanilla and beat until dough comes together; it may be a bit crumbly, but that’s okay.

Turn out onto a lightly floured counter top and knead very gently to bring the dough together. Divide in half; shape into balls, then flatten into discs. Refrigerate for about 20-30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line several baking sheets with foil.

Remove dough from fridge and allow to sit at room temperature for a few minutes.

On a lightly floured counter top, roll dough to about 1/8 inch thickness. Cut into heart shapes and place on prepared baking sheets about 2 inches apart.

Bake for 9 minutes, until edges are just golden. Remove from oven and cool on baking sheets for a few minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

When cookies are completely cool, prepare icing.

Divide in half; use a few drops of red liquid food coloring for pink icing and red gel for red icing.

Frost cookies as desired; you can add sprinkles, chocolate chips, or piped elements for decoration if you like, but I just left mine plain.

Allow frosting to set before storing cookies; store between sheets of waxed paper in an airtight container.