Iced Heart Cookies
Prep 1-2hr (+drying time)Makes about 25 biscuits
If you're keen to show your loved one/s just how much they mean to you by baking them something irresistibly sweet, then you really can't go past a batch of these gorgeous cookies! The style of decorating used to create them is called 'flood on flood' icing and is a really effective way to decorate gingerbread or sugar biscuits. The key is to be patient, try not to rush and remember your designs will improve with practice. You will need at least three small piping bags and three Wilton or Loyal #4 round piping nozzles for this style. This Royal Icing recipe makes about 3 cups of icing and is enough to decorate about 25 average-sized cookies.
Gel food colours of your choice (we have used shades of 'rose pink' and 'raspberry'), to tint
About 25 gingerbread cookies
Edible sprinkles, to decorate
3 egg whites (from 59g eggs) or 90g pasteurized egg whites (see Baker’s Tips)
675g (1½ cups) pure icing sugar, sifted through a fine sifter
½-3 teaspoons strained fresh lemon juice
Room temperature water, to thin icing
- To make the Royal Icing, place the egg whites then the icing sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Use the paddle beater to beat on low speed until combined. Increase speed to medium and beat for 5 minutes. The icing will be smooth and thick at this stage. Add the lemon juice, ¼ teaspoon at a time, beating well between each addition, until the icing reaches a good piping consistency. The icing should be the consistency of toothpaste - soft but will hold its shape and form a soft peak when the beater is lifted.
- Immediately cover the bowl with plastic wrap and then a damp tea towel or cloth to prevent it from drying out (see Baker’s Tips).
- Divide the icing evenly between 3-5 small bowls (depending on how many different coloured icings you would like to use - we used 4 for these cookies including the white) and cover each bowl well. Transfer one white icing portion to a small piping bag fitted with a Wilton or Loyal #4 round piping tip (this will be used to pipe the outlines). Working with one portion of the remaining icing at a time, tint to desired colours, then add a little water, a drop at a time, and use a small palette knife or metal spoon to stir until it reaches the right consistency for ‘flooding’ (see Baker’s Tips). As soon as each portion reaches the right consistency, spoon into a small piping bag fitted with a Wilton or Loyal #4 round piping tip. Twist the end of the piping bag and seal with a clip or elastic band (this will help prevent it from drying out). Cover the tip with plastic wrap and then a damp cloth or tea towel and set aside while tinting and thinning the remaining icing portions.
- Use the white icing to pipe an outline around the inside edge of a cookie to create a border so that the icing in the centre won’t flow over the edge. Set aside for 3-5 minutes or until firm but not set.
- Pipe a tinted icing into the centre of a cookie to 'flood' it (making sure there will be enough to cover it comfortably but not too much so that the icing flows over the piped border). Use a toothpick to carefully spread the icing to cover fully, if needed, and then let the icing settle and become smooth. To achieve a ‘flood on flood’ effect (so that the pattern sinks into the base icing), while the icing is still wet, use contrasting tinted icing/s to pipe the stripes, dots or patterns onto the flooded icing (see Baker’s Tips). We created the heart pattern by piping dots and then dragging a toothpick through the dot from top to bottom and a little beyond. Sprinkle with edible sprinkles to decorate, if desired.
- Set iced cookies aside to dry completely overnight before storing (see Baker’s Tips).
- If you are concerned that these cookies will be served to pregnant women or people with compromised immune systems, use pasteurised egg whites. They are available in a carton from the refrigerated section of the supermarket.
- Royal Icing will dry out and start to set very quickly if not covered well. Cover bowls and the tips of filled icing bags with plastic wrap and then a damp tea towel while you are not using them to prevent the icing from drying out.
- To test if the icing is at the right consistency for ‘flooding’, drop a teaspoonful of the icing back into the bowl. If it melts back into the icing and the surface becomes flat in 5-6 seconds it is ready. If not, add a little more water to thin or a little more icing sugar to thicken it.
- If using the ‘flood on flood’ technique, to prevent the icing from spilling over the piped border, it is important not to over-flood the centre of the cookie with icing.
- It is best to have all the tinted icing consistencies the same for the best results for the 'flood on flood' technique. However, if two icing portions are slightly different consistencies, use the thinner one first to cover the cookie first and then use the slightly thicker one on top to create the decoration.
- If your royal icing becomes too thick during decorating, remove it from the piping bag and stir in a drop or two of water or enough to reach the desired consistency. A dropper is ideal for adding this small amount of water.
- The time it will take for the icing to dry/set will depend greatly on the weather (temperature and humidity). If humid, to assist in the drying, place the cookies on a lined tray in an oven preheated to 50°C for 30-60 minutes. Also if it is really humid, it is best to put the cookies straight into an airtight container lined with absorbent paper as soon as they cool from drying in the oven.
- These decorated cookies will keep in a single layer in a sealed airtight container lined with paper towel for up to 5 days.
- The Royal Icing will keep in a well-sealed container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Bring to room temperature to use. You may need to add a little more water to bring it to the correct consistency.