Putting a New Twist on a Childhood Favorite
Last weekend was Valentine's Day. Since it fell on Saturday, my day at the dog park, I wanted to bake something suitable for the holiday. Hearts immediately came to mind. And chocolate - definitely had to be chocolate. But what?
When I need a spark to get the creative juices flowing, I often turn to Pinterest. There is always something interesting, beautiful or different posted there. Searching Valentine's treats, I saw pins featuring heart-shaped rolled sugar cookies. Great idea! But I wasn't quite there yet. Then, I saw chocolate sugar cookies and I knew that I had hit the proverbial pay dirt.
Although I have been baking for many years, I am a new-comer to decorating sugar cookies with royal icing. I have not yet tried more intricate designs or adding piped embellishments. I want to master the basic techniques of piping, flooding and marbling. Marbling involves adding lines or dots of flood icing to an area already filled with wet flood icing in a contrasting color and creating designs by pulling the dot or line with a very sophisticated decorating tool - a toothpick. These Easter egg cookies were my first effort at creating iced sugar cookies.
Last fall, I made these maple leaf cookies. Don't you just love all of those colors? With these cookies, I squeezed in a line of each color of flood icing from the outer edge to the center of the cookie following the red piping outline until the entire cookie was filled. Using a toothpick I then pulled the colors from the center to the points of the leaf and from the scoop between the points back to the center.
After deciding on a chocolate sugar cookie for Valentine's Day, I had to decide on the specific flavor of the chocolate. There are many flavor variations in chocolate cookies - chocolate peanut butter, chocolate hazelnut, chocolate mint, etc. I thought about what I wanted. And then it came to me - I was craving something from my childhood.
When I was a little girl, my mom made our birthday cakes. My cake was always the same - chocolate layer cake with almond buttercream frosting covered all over with shredded coconut. Mom baked the cake layers in heart shaped pans. I still have those pans.
This was the flavor profile I was hungry for - the combination of chocolate and almond - and it would lend itself perfectly to my cookie valentines. When I make sugar cookies, I usually flavor the royal icing with almond extract. All I needed was a good chocolate sugar cookie recipe. A few minutes searching online lead me to the recipe for "The End-All for Chocolate Cookies" on LilaLoa.com. Lila Loa's recipe had great reviews. And it did not need to be chilled before rolling and baking. Perfect! I decided to give it a try.
In my opinion, Lila Loa's chocolate sugar cookie recipe definitely merits the praise it has received. The dough came together quickly and rolled beautifully without being chilled. The baked cookie is delicious, deeply chocolate-y and not too sweet. It would pair nicely with almond flavored royal icing. I cut my cookies with a vintage crinkle-edged heart cutter. I thought the crinkle edge would make the completed cookie look like an old fashioned valentine. Since the chocolate cookie is dark, I chose a pink pulled heart design on a white background for my valentine treats to make the decoration pop.
Sugar cookies are a two day project for me. I bake the cookies one day and ice them the next so that I am not pressured by time. Decorating with royal icing, even with a simple design and only two colors, is not a quick endeavor because you are handling each cookie individually. With more than 4 dozen cookies to decorate, minutes quickly add up to several hours of work.
Here are my Chocolate Sugar Cookie Valentines. The almond flavored royal icing was delicious with the cookies I made using Lila Loa's End-All for Chocolate Cookies recipe. Mmmmm. Chocolate and almond. Still one of my favorite flavor combinations even after all these years.
Is there a favorite baked treat from your childhood that you've been craving? Put a new twist on it by replicating the flavor profile in a different way; say from cake to cookie or vice versa. Here's the best part of going to the effort to creating a new treat - sharing a happy memory from your past with your loved ones of today.