Heart + Message Embedded Valentine’s Day Cookies

Happy Love Day!  Now that I am officially finished making and sending Valentine’s Day cards, it’s time to make some Valentine’s Day treats!

I actually made these heart embedded chocolate chip cookies last year, but the chocolate chips were getting in the way,  so I wanted to try with sugar cookies which is definitely the way to go!

These cookies are Valentine’s Day themed, but the concept can be used for so many other holidays, birthdays, and celebrations.  You can embed someone’s name in the cookies or the age of a birthday girl or boy, change up the cookie colors, use different cutters for the centers– there are lots and lots of possibilities!

Below are a some ideas with hearts and messages of love!  I split the dough into two portions and tinted one a light pink.  I used cranberry juice as an alternative for food coloring which made it a nice pretty subdued shade of mauve.  I think it may have come out a little brighter if I had used all white flour in the cookie dough instead of substituting some for whole wheat flour.

Heart + Message Embedded Valentine’s Day Cookies

I used half of this basic sugar cookie recipe as is, and half I used cranberry juice in place of the 1 TBS of non-dairy milk.  You can add more juice if you’d like but you may have to add a little bit more flour as well to keep the consistency from getting to sticky/watery.

Keep in mind you do have to refrigerate the dough for a few hours before it will be ready to handle.  It can also be made the night before or a few days in advance.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the cookie dough.  You can do each color at a time instead of two at the same time.  The dough may be a little crumbly at first, you may need to knead or work the dough a bit to warm it up.  Then it should be easy to work with!

Cut out the main cookie shape.  I made some hearts and some circles.

Cut out the embedded shape.  I think the heart cookies as is with the centers cut out are cute as well.

Swap centers and place into cookie- that’s it!

Make a bunch, carefully transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet, bake for about 8 minutes and they are done!

I also made some love cookies…

…as well as some round ones with hearts in the centers.

Hope you have a wonderful day celebrating all the special people you love and remember to let them know not just today, but everyday!

Chocolate Chip Cookies 2 Ways + Cookie Cutter Fun

I have been really wanting to try to make these adorable cookies with the heart embedded in them!  I am super impressed but these but guess what?  They aren’t hard to make at all!  Here are 2 chocolate chip cookie recipes to try while experimenting with your cookie cutters!  (Although the chips kind of make it hard to cut out so sugar cookies might work better.)

{Oops, I broke one!}

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

This recipe is adapted from Martha Stewart’s Double-Chocolate Brownie Bites.  Just substituted some ingredients so they are vegan-friendly.

– 1 cup whole wheat flour
– 1/2 cup oat flour or AP flour
– 1/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
– 3/4 tsp baking soda
– 1/2 tsp coarse salt
– 1 stick vegan buttery spread, such as Earth Balance
– 1/2 cup packed dark-brown sugar
– 1/2 cup agave nectar
– about 1 1/2 cup of semisweet chocolate chips
– 1/4 cup sugar, for coating (optional)

Preheat oven to 350F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or lightly greased foil.

In a medium bowl whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.

Beat butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy.  Add agave nectar and beat until well combined.

With the beater on low, slowly add the flour mixture and beat until well combined.

Add chocolate chips and mix.

Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

If not using cutters: If using coating sugar, drop spoonfuls of dough into sugar.  Roll to coat, shaping them into balls.  If not using sugar, just shape the dough into balls.  Place on baking sheet about 1″ apart.  Bake until tops are cracking and cookies are just set, about 9 minutes.  Let cool and serve!

If using cutters: You may want to leave it in the refrigerator for about an hour or until it is firm.  Lightly flour work surface.  Roll out dough to about 1/4″ thickness.  Cut out with cutters.  If using coating sugar, press the tops of the cookies in the sugar.  Place on baking sheet about 1/2″ apart.  Bake for about 9 minutes until cookies are just set.

This dough does not spread too much, when I used the cookie cutters it kept the heart shape very well!

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies

This is actually adapted from a chocolate chip cookie recipe I have tried and posted about in the past.  Just wanted to try to use whole wheat flour more so substituted some of the AP flour for WW flour this time around.

You will need an electric mixer for this recipe.

– 1 cup of vegan butter/margarine, softened
– 1/2 cup brown sugar
– 1/2 cup sugar
– 1/4 cup non-dairy milk
– 1 tsp vanilla
– 1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
– 3/4 cup oat or AP flour
– 1/2 tsp salt
– 1 tsp baking soda
– 1 to 1 1/2 cup non-dairy chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or lightly greased foil and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the margarine and sugars until light and fluffy.  Slowly add the non-dairy milk and vanilla.  To this, stir in with a wooden spoon the flour, salt, and baking soda until everything is well incorporated.

Fold in chocolate chips.

If not using cookie cutters: drop spoonfuls onto non-stick cookie sheets and bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until edges start to turn golden brown.  Let cool and serve.

If using cookie cutters: refrigerate the dough until firm so it is easier to handle.  Lightly flour your working surface.  Roll out the dough to about 1/4″ thickness.  Cut out dough with cutters and place them on baking sheet about 3/4″ apart.

FYI- this dough does spread a bit which enlarges whatever shape you are cutting out.

If you want the cookies to come out exactly like the cutters, take the dough and roll it out into a big rectangle about 1/4″ thick.  Bake the entire rectangle.  When it is done but still soft, take your cookie cutters and cut out your shapes then for sharper points and edges.

Embedded Heart Cookie How-To

Roll out both types of dough you are using and cut out circles out of the dough.

Cut a heart on the center of each circle cookie.  You can put the heart in the center of if using a smaller heart cutter you can get creative and cut out the heart on the side or bottom of the cookie instead of the center.

Swap the hearts so each cookie is made of both types of cookie dough

That’s it!

Happy Dio De Los Muertos!

I am surprised I have heard nothing the past few days about Day of the Dead (also known as Dio De Los Muertos in Spanish)!  The holiday is celebrated in Mexico on November 1st + 2nd, in connection with All Saints Day (November 1st) and All Souls Day (November 2nd).  Origins are traced back hundreds of years to an Aztec festival dedicated to a goddess called Mictecacihuatl (I have no idea how that’s pronounced.)

It is a day to honor the deceased; friends and family go to cemeteries to be with the soul of the departed.  They clean and decorate the graves and build private altars.  Gifts are offered, such as the departed’s favorite food and beverages, sugar skulls, marigolds, and memorabilia.  It is believed that by visiting and being with the souls of the departed, they will hear your prayers and comments that the living have directed to them.

I love what Dio De Los Muertos stands for–  what a beautiful holiday of remembrance, to celebrate the lives of loved ones and re-kindle the bond you will always have them.

In honor of this holiday, I am making Day of the Dead sugar cookie skulls!  I love the different colors and decorations you can find on sugar skulls and will be attempting to translate them via a sugar cookie canvas.

I hope you like them!

Happy Dio de los Muertos & belated Halloween! (Thank you Bao for inspiring me to dress up for Halloween in the same theme– I think this was one of the fun-est costumes I’ve worn in awhile!)

Basic Sugar Cookie Recipe

This recipe is a veganized version of Alton Brown’s sugar cookie recipe on FoodNetwork.com.

You will need an electric hand mixer for this recipe.

*Please note that you need to chill the dough for at least 2 hours.  I recommend making the day before, so you have the whole second day to focus on the fun part– decorating!

– 3 cups AP flour
– 3/4 tsp baking powder
– 1/4 tsp salt
– 1 cup vegan butter, such as Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks , softened (but not liquid)
– 1 cup sugar
– 1 egg substitute, such as Ener-G Brand Egg Replacer
– 1 TBS non-dairy milk (I happened to have almond milk so I used that but any kind will do)
– powdered sugar, for rolling out dough

Place sugar and butter in a large bowl and beat until light and fluffy.  Add egg replacer and milk; beat to combine.  With the mixer on low speed, gradually add a scoop of flour at a time, along with the baking powder and salt.  Beat until the mixture becomes crumbly and pulls away from the side of the bowl.

Transfer (I find the easiest way is to use your hands and I kind of mushed the dough together before I placed it down) to plastic wrap or wax paper; wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

If you don’t have a skull shaped cookie cutter, you can easily make a template while the dough is in the fridge.  I took a piece of parchment paper and cut a skull out free hand.  When I liked the general shape, I folded the piece in half then trimmed the edges and shape so it would be symmetrical.  If you don’t feel comfortable free handing it, you can print out a skull clip art you like off the internet, or draw first.  If you have some cardboard, you can make it out of that too.  The thickness helps when you are cutting out the template with a pizza roller, sharp paring knife, or exacto knife.

After the dough has chilled, take out desired amount and roll on a lightly floured surface until about 1/4″ thick.  You can use a wooden rolling pin or I used my fondant roller.  If the dough sticks or is too crumbly, knead it a little in your hands until it forms a ball then roll out.

Take your template and cut out the skulls.  I used a pizza roller to do it because it was easier to get the curves.

Place skulls about 3/4″ apart on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

Bake at 375F for 7-8 minutes.  I always time it a minute before it should be done so I can check on it, better to have it under cooked and keep baking instead of burning them!

Once they are done comes the fun part- decorating them!

There’s a ton of ways to do this– by using decorator’s icing, an assortment of sprinkles, fondant– I ended up using fondant and “painting” them with gel food coloring (according to Wilton, they do not use animal products in anything they carry.)  It also helps to sketch out some rough ideas, or maybe use sugar skull make up or art as inspiration.  You can draw swirls, spiderwebs, flowers, dots– again the possibilities are endless!

Using the same cookie template, I rolled out fondant about 1/8″ thick and cut out skulls.  With paint brushes, gel colors, and a spaghetti noodle, I got to work!

Dried spaghetti noodles are great for scooping out food coloring and also to use the ends to create perfect circles.  You just gently press the noodle straight into the fondant until it makes a round indentation.  Then you can paint in it, or what I did was dip the noodle in watered down food coloring and swirled them in the indentation to get them neatly colored.

Once you are done painting/decorating, set those skulls aside so the fondant and paint can dry a bit.  When they are dried, these fondant skulls are “glued” on top of the skull cookies with a bit of frosting.

This is a fun project for kids to get involved in too!  To make it easier, you can get the edible markers and they can draw straight on the fondant.

Have fun and enjoy eating these yummy cookies!