I enjoy the odd bit of baking every now and then, and so, in an attempt to stave off the Valentine’s blues (and inspired by the less risque of the cookies here), I decided to try my hand at making and decorating some iced heart cookies this afternoon. I’ve been very impressed with the iced cookies that I’ve seen around the Internet (check out the amazingness in kneadacookie’s Flickr photostream for some of my favourites), and it seemed like it shouldn’t be too difficult…
First step was to find a sugar cookie recipe. ‘Frosted’ sugar cookies seem to be quite an American thing, though I think they’re getting more popular over here in the UK, so all the recipes I found used ‘sticks’ and ‘cups’ as their measurements. Eventually I found one that translated the measurements into grams so I mixed up the ingredients, chilled the dough, cut the dough into cute heart shapes, chilled the dough again, popped the biscuits in the oven and….
I have no idea why this happened. Any suggestions?
I decided to try again with a recipe I’d used before for plain shortbread biscuits. These seemed more promising even when they were still raw (and looked so pretty in their repeating pattern on the baking tray that I had to take a picture):
While they were cooking I did a bit of research on icing biscuits. I already knew that there are two main types of icing to use when decorating biscuits – piping icing and flooding icing. Piping icing is thicker than flooding icing, and is used to draw a thin outline for the flooding icing to fill, or draw fine details on top of the flooding icing. Flooding icing is quite runny and spreads out to fill an area. The most helpful place I found was Bake at 350 – she explains things in plain English and doesn’t have overcomplicated and time-consuming recipes! She also has a YouTube channel where she explains different icing techniques, amongst other things (very useful for a beginner).
Most articles I’ve read suggest using a squeezy bottle to apply flooding icing to your biscuits – I bought mine from a local kitchen supplies shop for the bargainous price of £1.50 each, they’re supposed to be used for something like ketchup so they don’t have the high price tag that you might associate with specialised craft/baking supplies. Sadly I neglected to take a picture but suffice it to say I had three squeezy bottles filled with red, pink and white flooding icing, ready to start the fun bit!
Sadly I was a little overzealous with my first couple of attempts (and I probably needed to let the icing ‘settle’ a bit first) and the flooding icing just flooded right on over the sides of the cookies:
(You might remember that earlier in this post I mentioned piping icing being used as an outline for flooding icing – well, I didn’t want to get overcomplicated and have two kinds of icing on my first attempt (plus I didn’t have a piping bag for the piping icing) so I just went with the flooding icing.)
Once past the initial mishaps, I like to think I did quite well on my first attempts at using flooding icing:
I tried a couple of different icing techniques to mix it up a bit.
Flood on flood – difficult to describe, but basically if you fill your outline with flooding icing then immediately add dots or whatever in another colour of flooding icing, it all levels out like in the pictue below:
And a variation on flood-on-flood where a toothpick or cocktail stick is used to drag the icing, in this case making a lovely heart shape. Aaaw.
You can see the edges of my flooded hearts are a bit wobbly, so next time I think I’ll be brave and have a go at that piping icing lark too. I’d love to know your thoughts on my debut efforts – any hints or tips (or good sugar cookie recipes)?
Thank you for reading, and Happy Valentine’s Day!