Why yes, this is the second Valentine’s Day chocolate recipe in a row here on Cork and Spoon, but if there is any time of year to enjoy a few decadent chocolate treats, its this week, am I right? Ruth’s molten lava cakes from Friday are great for an intimate romantic dinner, but they don’t work very well as a treat for a crowd, whether a child’s party or as a way to win over co-workers. That’s where these adorable dark chocolate heart shaped cookies, care of Martha Stewart, with my own cherry royal icing, come in to play.
The cookies are a simple recipe with minimal ingredients, although they require 3 cups of confectioners sugar, combined with the 4 cups of sugar used in the royal icing, you will definitely want to make sure you have at least 2 bags lying around. I also used Hershey’s dark cocoa powder instead of regular cocoa powder, as the recipe calls for. So if you don’t have the dark cocoa lying around, feel free to substitute regular.
Royal icing, as I have mentioned before, is perfect for these types of cookies because it hardens to a shiny lovely surface, perfect for stacking in tupperware and transporting. This version is made by substituting organic cherry juice concentrate for some of the water in the traditional royal icing recipe. Because of the syrup’s dark red color, you almost certainly have to add a little gel food coloring to your icing, otherwise it turns into a funny rust color. I recommend the burgundy or true red gel coloring, as the light pink doesn’t have enough oomph to fully cover the muddiness in the cherry flavored icing.
** Sorry pictures are scarce in today’s post, I got carried away with the baking and decorating that the picture taking sort of got forgotten. I promise to be better next time!
Dark Chocolate Cutout Cookies
3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
3 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1¼ cups unsweetened dark cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon salt
3 cups flour, plus more for surface
1) Using a wooden spoon, mix the butter and powdered sugar together until well combined. Add vanilla and eggs and mix together well.
2) Add the cocoa powder and salt and and stir well. Add flour a cup at a time stirring well between to combine.
3) Store dough in an air tight container and refrigerate for a minimum of 1 hour.
4) Working with half of the dough at a time, roll it out to ¼-inch thickness and use cookie cutters to make desired shapes. Place cut cookies in freezer for 15 minutes.
5) Place frozen cookie shapes on a clean cookie sheet and bake for 14 minutes in an oven pre-heated to 350°F. Half way through the baking time, rotate cookie sheets and tap each sheet firmly to remove any bubbles forming in the dough. (For this step, I lifted each sheet and dropped it from a height of an inch or 2 to remove the bubbles).
6) Remove from oven and cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack. Cook completely before decorating.
Cherry Royal Icing
4 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
2 tablespoons meringue powder
3 tablespoons cherry juice concentrate
2 tablespoons water
gel food coloring
additional water as needed
1) Combine sifted sugar and meringue powder in a medium sized bowl.
2) Using a wooden spoon mix together sugar mix and cherry concentrate. Add additional water a tablespoon at a time until you reach a consistency thick enough to be piped onto the cookies and still hold its shape. Add enough food coloring to reach desired hue.
3) Using a squeeze bottle with a small opening or a piping bag fitted with a small round piping tip, outline each cookie with the thick icing. Let set for 30 minutes to an hour.
4) Thin icing with additional water, adding it a little bit at a time. You want the icing to drip easily off of the spoon. Fill the cookie shapes with icing, using a toothpick or chopstick to help spread the icing all around. Let rest uncovered for an hour or until the icing hardens and cookies can be stacked on top of each other.