As soon as I laid eyes on this article in Better Homes & Garden Magazine (BHG), I knew I had to make these Tri-Colored Heart Cookies. They appealed to both my sense of creativity and curiosity in trying new techniques. Plus, Valentine’s Day was right around the corner.
However, I decided to go with my tried-and-true Staying In Shape dough recipe because the cookies don’t spread, and with the addition of a bit of lemon zest, they have a welcome brightness to the taste. The difference here is coloring the dough itself while still in the mix master. You will also need three or more small heart-shaped cookie cutters in various sizes, which are easily ordered online.
Now for my “senior moment” act. I had made the dough early in the morning and refrigerated them until my cookie cutters arrived. During that wait, I started scribing this blog, and it occurred to me that I added four eggs instead of two! I’m thinking OMG, the cookies will be misshapen and puffy. But instead of tossing it all, I decided to run a test.
Senior moment #2 was forgetting to freeze the baking sheet full of test cookies before I popped them in the oven. Surprisingly, they came out fine! Luckily I could proceed with the dough that I had, but from then on, I did freeze each baking sheet before popping them in the oven.
- Brush colored dough with stripes of egg white and sprinkle on colored sugar, lightly pressing to adhere before cutting out cookies.
- For striped cookies, place strips of varying dough colors next to each other. Brush egg white between each color so dough will fuse together while baking. Roll into one large sheet and cut out cookies at varying angles. (Don’t worry if the lines aren’t perfectly straight, it makes the cookies more interesting.)
- A mixture of food coloring, egg white and water makes an edible watercolor you can brush on the dough before cutting out.
- For touches of gold leaf, use an already prepared edible product or mix 1/2 tsp. edible luster dust with 1 tsp. vodka. Brush onto cooled cookies.
- For a marbled effect, lightly knead two or three colors of leftover dough so that the variations of color are still visible. Roll out the dough and cut out the shapes.
The recipe below is doubled in order to get enough of each color.
Tri-Colored Heart Sugar Cookies
- 4 sticks (2 cups), room temperature
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 eggs
- Zest from 1 lemon
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 6 cups unsifted flour (plus more for rolling cookies out)
- 1 tsp salt
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Add the butter sticks and the sugar and cream together in a stand mixer, about 3 minutes.
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the eggs, lemon zest, baking powder and vanilla extract, then beat again for 2 minutes until a creamy.
- Add 6 cups flour (2 cups at a time) and ½ teaspoon salt and mix on low speed to combine about 2 minutes.
- Remove approximately 1/3 of the dough and wrap in wax paper until ready to use.
- Add pink food coloring to the reminder 2/3 dough and mix until evenly colored. Remove 1/2 of the pink dough and wrap in wax paper.
- Finally add red food coloring to the remainder of the pink dough and mix thoroughly and wrap. Refrigerate all three dough balls until ready to use.
- On a floured surface or pastry cloth, roll out the cookie dough balls to desired thickness level, about an 1/8″ or a little thicker.
- Begin cutting out the smaller heart shapes then move the cut out pieces to fill in the holes in another color of dough. Use the largest cutters to make shapes around the filled in pieces.
- Place shapes on an unrimmed baking sheet.
- Reform any leftover dough into another ball and repeat the process.
- Put baking sheet(s) in the freezer for 10 minutes.
- After 10 minutes take the baking sheet out of the freezer and bake for 10 minutes, just before edges start to turn a light brown.
- Remove cookies from oven, allow to cool for a few minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely. (See variations above for finishing touches.)