Spread the LOVE this Valentine's Day with this easy frosted Valentine cookie recipe! No matter what your baking skills are, you'll be able to tackle these simple cookies topped with royal icing and sprinkles.
When it comes to decorating sugar cookies, my skills are elementary at best.
I can roll out cookie dough as well as anyone, but I just lack the patience/skill/focus to decorate my cookies like a professional.
Then I learned this one secret tip, and I stopped worrying about it.
Sprinkles! Just use more sprinkles. Sprinkles make sugar cookies look gorgeous, no matter what.
But before we get to the sprinkles, we need to make some Valentine cookies.
Ironically, my husband is the one who really drives the Sugar Cookie Train. He loves to make sugar cookies, testing out different recipes in his quest for The Perfect Sugar Cookie (he does the same thing with Pizza Dough; the guy should start a food blog!)
We are currently favoring my Grandma's recipe from an old Gas Company cookbook. Because this cookie dough needs to chill at least two hours, I like to make it the night before. Once you start working with it, if the dough is too warm it will become sticky and impossible to work with.
With Depression Era sensibility, the cookie dough requires one egg yolk, and the royal icing requires one egg white. Nothing to waste!
Note: In the notes of the recipe, I have a royal icing recipe that does not contain raw eggs, so feel free to use that instead.
The Royal Icing
Royal Icing is worthy of its glamorous name: It looks gorgeous, all shiny and billowy in the bowl, and spreads like a dream. I started off using a small spatula but migrated to a pastry brush.
Even though you might see lines in your royal icing after first applying it, it dries evenly for a smooth, blemish-fress surface. The frosting hardens quickly though, so frost a few cookies at a time and then decorate with sprinkles right away.
I spread a piece of parchment on the counter and decorated my cookies there to keep things tidy. At the end, I swept up all the fallen sprinkles and decorated a few more cookies. The randomness of leftover sprinkles looks great!
If the frosting hardens in the bowl or begins to become stiff, you can loosen it with a few drops of hot water at a time, stirring it until well-blended. You'll definitely want to do that if you plan to pipe your royal icing, too.
Easy Frosted Valentine Cookie Recipe
For the Sugar Cookies:
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup butter softened (2 sticks)
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup milk
For the Royal Icing:
- 3 ounces pasteurized egg whites
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 4 cups powdered sugar
To make the cookie dough:
- In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
- In a standing mixer with the paddle attachment on medium speed, or with an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Beat in egg yolks and vanilla.
- Reduce mixer speed to low and gradually add flour mixture and milk until just incorporated. Scrape dough on to a floured work surface, shape into a ball, and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill at least 2 hours or up to 2 days in advance.
To bake the cookies:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.
- On a floured surface, roll chilled dough between parchment paper or wax paper to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut with heart-shaped cookie cutters. Transfer to prepared baking sheets with an offset spatula.
- Repeat with the remaining dough. Scrape all remnants together and re-roll. If the dough becomes too soft or sticky, refrigerate an additional 10 minutes.
- Bake until the edges are lightly browned, about 8 to 10 minutes (if thicker than 1/8 inch, they may take 10 to 15 minutes). Transfer to wire racks and cool completely before decorating with frosting (recipe follows).
To make the royal icing:
- In a standing mixer fit with the whisk attachment on medium-high speed, add the egg whites and vanilla and beat until foamy.
- Reduce mixer speed to low and add the powdered sugar until just incorporated and shiny. Beat on high for 5 to 7 minutes or until the mixture is thick and glossy with stiff peaks.
- Add food coloring if desired, then transfer to piping bags or spread with a spatula. If using sprinkles or sugar, add quickly before the frosting hardens.
- To make in advance, store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.