Easy Frosted Valentine Cookies
Spread the LOVE this Valentine’s Day with easy frosted Valentine cookies! 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 Cookies
For the Sugar Cookies:
- 1 ¼ cups unsalted butter softened
- ¾ cup sugar
- 1 large egg yolk egg white reserved for royal icing
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
For the Royal Icing:
- 1 large egg white
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
- To make the sugar cookies: Using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl, cream the butter until pale and fluffy. Add the sugar ¼ cup at a time, mixing on low-speed for 2 minutes after each addition.
- Mix in egg yolk and vanilla until well blended. Meanwhile, sift together the flour and salt. Add to the large mixing bowl and stir until evenly combined.
- Scrape the dough out onto a floured work surface and divide in half. Wrap each mound of dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
- Remove the dough from the refrigerate and roll out between two pieces of parchment paper until ¼” to 1/8” thick. Using cookie cutters, cut out shapes and transfer to the prepared baking sheets.
- Repeat with the second ball of dough. Scrape all remnants together and reroll. If the dough becomes too soft or sticky, refrigerate an additional 10 minutes.
- Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown on the bottom and around the edges, rotating the baking sheet halfway through. Cool the cookies for 1 minute on the pan before transferring to racks to cool completely.
- To make the Royal Icing, bring the egg white to room temperature. Beat the egg white with the cream of tartar on medium speed until foamy.
- Reduce mixer speed to low and add the powdered sugar until just incorporated. Beat on high for 2 minutes or until the frosting is thick and glossy.
- Using a pastry brush or spatula, spread frosting on to a few cooled cookies at a time, quickly decorating with sprinkles before the frosting hardens. Allow frosting to set before serving or storing in airtight containers.
To make Royal Icing without the egg: Combine 1 Tablespoon meringue powder and 3 Tablespoons warm water in a mixing bowl at medium speed. Reduce speed to low and gradually stir 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar. Once the sugar is incorporated, beat on high until very and glossy, about 5 minutes. Add additional warm water, 1 Tablespoon at a time, until desired consistency is reached.
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