Friday, February 14, 2014

Valentine's Day Lace Cookies

Ahh, Valentine's Day!  There is nothing that screams sugar cookies as loud as this love loaded holiday.  And who doesn't LOVE sugar cookies?  What's not to love about a perfectly sweet cookie that is covered in rich and delicious icing?  For me, the best part about sugar cookies is always the decorating.  A sugar cookie just wouldn't be worth it's weight in powdered sugar without some form of decorating.  I have always done the usual icing, sprinkles, and candy hearts, but this year, I wanted to be a little more adventurous and try something a little more artsy.  

I have always loved doing lace work on wedding cakes, but it has really started to become a lost art.  You can still find it done on some traditional wedding cakes, but with the new surge and popularity of fondant, it is becoming more and more rare.  Then when I saw some photos of lace work on cookies, I originally thought, "Who in their right mind would spend that much time on a single cookie?",  I mean a wedding cake is one thing, but a cookie?  But the bug got to me and I just couldn't help myself and had to try it.     

I tried out a new sugar recipe I found here. The dough was easy to handle and I really liked that.  They weren't as sweet as some sugar cookies but baked flat without rising in the middle and that was important for doing the lace work.  I cut them out about 1/4" thick - instead of the 1/8" as suggested in the recipe and I also doubled the recipe.  If you are going to have a sugar cookie, you might as well actually get something that is worth eating.  If I wasn't doing lace work on these, I would probably make them even thicker.  There is nothing I love more than a really thick sugar cookie with lots of yummy butter cream frosting flavored with almond extract.  Having said that, I must say these cookies are more for looks than for taste.  Once the royal icing hardens, it really just can't compete against a good butter cream.  They still taste good, after all, it IS a sugar cookie, just not as scrumptious and devouringly luscious as a thick butter cream frosting! Especially one flavored with almond extract!  Mmmm...  

But I guess some things in life are better to admire than to salivate over.  These fit into that category.  However, once you finish these cookies and realize the time you put into each individual cookie, you may want to salivate over them once you are done.  Or, if you are like me, you will hear comments like, "How can I eat that?", "They are too pretty to eat.", "I feel guilty even taking one bite out of such artwork.",  "It should be framed or hung on a wall, or made into a pillow?",  haha.  I don't do much needle handwork or quilting and I often think that if I put the kind of time I do into decorating cakes and cookies into that kind of art instead, I could have something to actually show that would last forever for my posterity.  But, that's why cameras were invented.  Not everything can last forever.  

As a cake decorator I have come to realization that what I work so hard on, will actually be destroyed...aka eaten.  It used to be really hard for me to see that first cut into a wedding cake that I spent hours creating and fussing over.  It was almost like the knife was cutting into me.  But I have since learned that this is an art that is not meant to last forever as far as a tangible thing, but to last forever in others hearts and minds.  And that's okay.  After all, one of life's greatest pleasures is enjoying delicious and beautifully prepared food.  And if I really wanted my creations to last forever, I would take up needlework or quilting.  I prefer to create with the sweet things in life.  The added bonus to that is, I get to sample it as I create it to make sure it's just right.  It's a tough job, but somebody's got to do it!  Mmm.....

“Favorite Sugar Cookie Recipe”


  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2-1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt


  1. In a large bowl, cream butter and confectioners’ sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and extracts. Combine flour and salt; add to creamed mixture and mix well. Chill for 1-2 hours.
  2. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to 1/8-in. thickness. Cut with 2-1/2-in. flour-dipped cookie cutters.
  3. Place on greased baking sheets. Bake at 375° for 7-9 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove to wire racks to cool. Yield: 6-7 dozen.
Once the cookies are done and ready to decorate, color your royal icing (recipe below) with Wilton color gels.  I just found these great little squeeze gels at my local Walmart and I snatched them up quick! I have been waiting for Wilton to make their color gels in a simpler form and I was so happy to finally find these.  I can't find them in any craft stores yet, however.  So if you see these grab them!  But if you can't find them, just use your regular Wilton gels.  I wouldn't recommend using the liquid food color you buy at the grocery store as they don't color as well and can change the consistency of your icing, but if that's all you have then you can just adjust the consistency with more powdered sugar if needed.

I colored mine purple (of course!).  Be sure to leave some of the icing white (or preferred color) for the lace work.

If you want a heart shape in the middle of the cookie then pipe a heart border around with a Wilton #2 tip.  Let it harden and then with the end of wooden spoon begin dabbing the royal icing inside of the border to flood it inside.  Once you have it filled, then let that harden a bit.  

For the lace work, you will need a parchment cone.  I made my own parchment cones to pipe the cookies with.  For instructions on how to do that go here.  Fill cone with white royal icing.  I wanted a really fine line for the lacework and so I didn't trim anything off the end of the cone.  Be careful with the parchment cones when working with royal icing as it will stiffen quickly and can harden at the opening of the cone which is difficult to fix without altering the shape of the opening.  If you work quickly, you won't have any problems.  I did some of my lace work with a Wilton #1 tip as well.  It works just as well, but isn't quite as intricate and fine as using the cone without a tip.  Do a few practice runs to get in the groove. The tiny dots really add a lot as well as the cross-stich designs. Get creative with your designs.  Anything goes.  And above all HAVE FUN!  

Royal Icing Recipe (for doing lace work)


Beat all ingredients until icing forms peaks (7-10 minutes at low speed with a heavy-duty mixer.  Makes about 3 cups of icing.
NOTE: Keep all utensils completely grease-free for proper icing consistency.
Thinned Royal Icing: To thin for puddling, add 1 teaspoon water per cup of royal icing. Use grease-free spoon or spatula to stir slowly. Add 1/2 teaspoon water at a time until you reach proper consistency.



Audrey said...

You are amazingly talented with icing! Your cookies are beautiful!

Cole N Brooke said...

They look so yummy! You have such a great talent.


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