Chocolate and hearts – the perfect treat to make for Valentines Day! Sugar cookies are not only fun to make (and great if you have little children to keep busy) and delicious to eat, but they are make a great personal gift to give to someone. Make up a batch, keep some for yourself and treat everyone you love this Valentines Day!
200g unsalted butter
200g caster or berry sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
1 large egg
350g plain or all-purpose flour
50g cocoa powder
12g / 1 heaped tbsp dried egg white powder (meringue powder)
500g icing sugar
5-6 tbsp water
Pink & red food colouring
Decorations of your choice
To make the cookies cream together the butter and sugar using an electric mixer. Be careful not to over mix as this can cause the mixture to spread during baking. Lightly beat the egg then mix into the cream and sugar until well mixed. Sift in the flour and cocoa then with the mixer on low speed gradually mix together until a dough forms. Take the dough out and form it into a large disc then wrap in cling film and chill for at least 1 hour.
Line a baking tray with baking parchment or greaseproof paper.
Sprinkle some flour on a large chopping or your work surface. I tend to cut the dough in half and work on one half at a time. Put the dough onto the floured surface and knead slightly before rolling out to roughly ¼ inch in thickness. Using cookie cutters of your choice (obviously since these are Valentines cookies hearts were the shape of my choice!) cut out the shapes and carefully place onto the lined baking tray. Once they are all cut out chill the cookies for another 30 minutes (If you are short on time you can miss out the second chilling but the cookies might spread a little).
Preheat the oven to 350F/ 180C/ GM 4. Bake the cookies for 8-12 minutes, depending on the size, then remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack.
While the cookies are cooling make up your icing. Sift the dried egg white (meringue powder) and icing sugar into the bowl of a free-standing mixture or large bowl, then add 5 tbsp of water. Starting on a very low setting mix everything together then increase the speed and mix until well combined, glossy and smooth. In order to pipe the outlines you want the icing to be fairly thick so don't be tempted to thin it too much. Divide the icing into bowls depending on how many colours you want to make, then add a little food colouring to each bowl (I use gel paste food colouring so it doesn't thin the icing and use a cocktail stick to add the colouring – a little goes a long way!). Put a little of each icing into a piping bag – I use sandwich bags then cut the very corner off so you just have a small hole. Carefully pipe the outline of the cookies. Once they have all been done you can add a little extra water to each icing to thin it slightly. Spoon some icing into the centre of each cookie and carefully let it flood to the edges, helping it with the back of the spoon or a small spatula. Once the cookie is evenly covered set aside and repeat using up all of that colour. Once you are finished sprinkle with decorations if using then let dry completely. Repeat with all of the cookies then sit back and admire your handy work before enjoying with a cup of tea!