I have an issue with conversation hearts, those adorable little pastel Valentine's Day candies with the adorable little sayings printed on them. My issue is this: They are, as I said, adorable. But they taste like ... like ... well, like nothing. But worse than nothing. More like a dusty stale old candy that you found in the bottom of your grandmother's pocketbook as a kid. Was it a mint at some point in the distant past? Hard to say. Blech.
But even though I haven't eaten a conversation heart since I was 6 years old, I still buy the icky little guys every Valentine's Day. Too cute to pass up, just ... kind of a waste.
That's why I'm seriously psyched to have found this recipe for Conversation Heart Cookies! They're just as charming as the candies but, seeing as how they're sugar cookies and all, taste WAY better. Plus they're fun to make.
The best part? These conversation hearts will say whatever you want them to say! (By the way, this recipe uses stamps and gel food coloring for the letters, but you can write your messages using gel food coloring in a tube, too.)
Conversation Heart Cookies
- 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour, plus more for surface
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Gel-paste food coloring (such as leaf green, lemon yellow, peach, red, rose, and violet)
- Royal Icing (instructions below)
- Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Cream butter and sugar with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy. With mixer running, add egg and vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture gradually, beating until just incorporated. Divide dough in half; flatten each half into a disk, and wrap each in plastic. Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour (or overnight).
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees with racks in top third and lower third. Let 1 disk of dough stand at room temperature just until soft enough to roll, about 10 minutes. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out dough to just under 1/4-inch thickness, adding more flour as needed to keep dough from sticking. Cut out cookies with a 2-inch heart cutter, and place them 2 inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Roll out scraps once, and repeat. Repeat with remaining disk of dough. Freeze cookies until very firm, about 15 minutes.
- Bake cookies, rotating sheets halfway through and switching from top to bottom, until edges turn golden brown, 14 to 16 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks. Cookies will keep, covered, for up to 1 week.
- Divide royal icing into 1/2-cup portions in small bowls. Tint each with a different gel-paste food coloring, starting with just a drop, mixing well, and adding more, drop by drop, to reach desired shade. Transfer 1 bowl of icing to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/8-inch round plain tip. Pipe the outline around edge of each cookie, then fill in with frosting. Poke air bubbles with a toothpick. Transfer decorated cookies to a parchment-lined baking sheet, and let stand uncovered overnight until dry.
- Arrange stamp letters to create desired phrases. (We stamped LUV U, UR A QT, BFF, LYLAS, B MINE, and 2GTBT.) Fold a paper towel into quarters. Squeeze a small amount of red gel-paste food coloring onto a paper towel, and press stamp in coloring. (You may need to blot stamp a few times on a clean paper towel if coloring is too thick.) Lightly press stamp on top of icing in center of each cookie. Let stand until dry, about 30 minutes. Stamped cookies will keep, covered, for up to 3 days.
- 2 pounds confectioners' sugar, sifted
- 10 tablespoons meringue powder
- 1 cup water
- Combine confectioners' sugar and meringue powder in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until combined, about 1 minute. With mixer on low, gradually add water. Mix on low until smooth and the consistency of thick honey, about 5 minutes. Do not overbeat. If icing is too thick, add more water, a little at a time, beating to desired consistency. If icing is too thin, continue mixing for 2 to 3 minutes more. Icing will keep, covered and refrigerated, for up to 1 week. (Stir with a rubber spatula before using.)