Step aside, flowers and cards! This Valentine’s Day, give the gift of love with some beautifully decorated desserts.
With our basic recipe for the best sugar cookies and our recipe and guide to decorating with royal icing, you will be prepared with everything you need to make personalized cookies for your special sweetie.
But how should you decorate them to fit the V-Day theme?
Glad you asked!
With these tips, in the time it takes Cupid to load up another arrow (OK, maybe a little longer than that…) you’ll be a pro at crafting everything from cookie “Conversation Hearts” and polka-dotted cuties to romantic roses and sweet candy box-inspired confections.
For all of the designs described in this article, you can start with a plain sugar cookie base.
Keep reading below to get started.
How’s your cursive? If you want to use writing to express your love, a decorating bag (a.k.a. a pastry bag) filled with royal icing is even better – and far more edible – than a pen or pencil!
I recommend using a small round tip (#1 or #2) for more precise lettering. One-word expressions like “love,” “hugs,” “kiss,” and “xoxo” are short enough to fit on a cookie legibly.
And you’re not limited to cursive – try any style of font you like, to customize your baked goods.
Just be sure to practice a few times on a cutting board or parchment paper first, before moving on to the real thing!
Perfect Polka Dots
Want to be fun and flirty this holiday? Polka dots give a whimsical touch to any cookie!
Follow the wet-on-wet icing application technique, being sure to evenly space out the dots so they don’t touch.
After being exposed to air, the surface of your icing will begin to dry in a thin layer on top. You need to pipe the dots as quickly as you can, and gently tap the cookie on the work surface to help settle the dots into the base.
Romantic Rosette Transfers
Transfers are hardened royal icing designs that provide more dimension to the decorations.
Rather than being piped directly onto the cookie, they are piped onto parchment paper, set until completely dry, then transferred from the paper to the item being decorated.
Transfers are incredibly helpful if you need to pipe a lot of detail, and need more space to work. It’s also a very efficient technique – you can make a lot at one time and they dry fairly quickly, in about one hour with the help of a fan.
And because they can be completed on a separate piece of parchment paper, you don’t have to worry about the risk of ruining your cookie if you make a mistake.
As long as you let it fully harden, you can use either flood or medium-stiff consistency icing to create a variety of styles. Options are endless for what you can design as a transfer. Try playing around with stenciling simple images.
I like making an easy rosette decoration – a fun, modern design that mimics everyone’s favorite Valentine’s Day flowers.
Use a medium-stiff royal icing and a star tip (#13 or #16), depending on how large you want your finished product to be. I used a #16.
The method is simple, and it takes just one motion to master:
1. Pipe a small mound, then release pressure from the bag while you lift up and move the tip in a circular, counterclockwise motion.
Adjust the end of the peak if necessary. That’s it!
2. Set aside, using a fan to speed up the drying process if you like. Once the transfers have fully hardened, remove them from the parchment paper as you would a sticker from its backing.
Keep in mind that they are brittle, and need to be handled with care.
3. Get them to stick on the cookie by using a little bit of prepared medium-stiff royal icing on the back of each rosette before placing where needed.
With some practice, you’ll be making perfect rosettes!
Holiday Candy Boxes
Combine all of your embellishing skills by making cute designs inspired by candy boxes.
On a dry cookie base, pipe thin lines using medium-stiff consistency and a round tip (#1 or #2) for the ribbon, and place rosettes on top of the lines before they dry to get them to stick in place.
Piping a border around the edge is optional, but I think it helps to provide that final adorable touch to the finished product.
There may not be chocolates inside, but I guarantee these will be just as tasty – and, of course, they’re made with love.
Be My Sweet Valentine
So, what do you think? Are you inspired to make something sugary and sweet and from the heart this Valentine’s Day?
Pull those heart-shaped cookie cutters out of the back of your junk drawer, mix up some pink and white royal icing, and start decorating!
Play around with colors, shapes, and designs to make them extra special for that special someone.
And let us know in the comments below how you will decorate your cookies this holiday.
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Photos by Nikki Cervone, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details.
About Nikki Cervone
Nikki Cervone is a hungry foodie living in Pittsburgh. Nikki holds an AAS in baking/pastry from Westmoreland County Community College, a BA in Communications from Duquesne University, and an MLA in Gastronomy from Boston University. When she is not tearing through her city's best grub, Nikki enjoys a healthy dose of yoga and chocolate. Lots of chocolate.