In some ways, we really like candy message hearts. They make good ammo, you can stamp them with your own messages, they make halfway decent sidewalk chalk, and they do bizarre things if you cook them.
On the other hand, you may or may not like the way that these things taste. (To us, many years ago, they compared very favorably to the other varieties of sidewalk chalk that we had tried.) In either case there is certainly some room for culinary alternatives.
Read on and learn how to make your own highly edible custom cookie message hearts.
Our shortbread message hearts are a slightly grown-up version of the classic. They are much larger, but keep a lot of the fun.
We started with a basic recipe for shortbread cookies. You can use your favorite, but it’s good to pick a simple version because candy hearts come in an assortment of colors. That means that we’ll be making several small batches, each in a different color. Don’t add food coloring to the dough, but instead plan ahead a bit and add the food coloring when you cream the butter and sugar.
Our first set of hearts is in pink, for which we added some red food coloring.
We had a selection of different heart-shaped cookie cutters in different sizes, and opted for one that’s palm size. It’s important to get the area/thickness aspect ratio right so that they end up looking like thick pieces of candy. Roll out the dough to the appropriate size, dusted in powdered sugar, and cut out the hearts. Carefully remove them from the cutter; try to keep the edges nice and vertical.
The next few batches of dough here are orange, green, blue and yellow, which are usual colors that you’ll find in a box of message hearts. We opted not to go for white– we have white food coloring, but the idea of dyed-white shortbread was a little bit much for us. (Isn’t it bad enough to use bleached flour?)
And here they are. (The colors will become more muted when they cook, of course.)
The next step is to start adding messages to the hearts. We tried a few things that did not work first. Stamping or painting the cookies with regular food coloring or food coloring markers (before or after baking) was rather ineffective, presumably because of the buttery nature of the cookies. However, spray color (like we used in the circuitry snacks project) turned out to be effective, either before or after baking. To apply it where we wanted, we cut out some stencils, doing our best to mimic the visual style of the text on message hearts. We used 1/8″ plastic sheet for the stencils, but the thickness proved to be a distraction– card stock would have been a better choice.
We used both green and red color spray; the red generally seemed more appropriate.
And finally, after baking.
…I can has cookie?