Diamonds and pearls are usually given in jewelry boxes for Valentine's day, but this year I'm giving them in cookie tins! These faux precious stones are made of sugar and entirely edible.
The jewels came from a favorite online baking supply shop (here). They'd catch my eye every time I browsed the edible decorations section and I'd always wondered if they were as pretty in person as they were in the pictures online. Boy, are they ever!
The large jewels are $15 for eight, or you can get sixteen clear diamonds for the same price. I think they are lovely, well packaged and worth every penny. That said, they also sell the molds inexpensively so I ordered a couple to see if I can make them at home. I'm eager to see how they turn out!
Tiny 2mm dragees were used to create the illusion of "prongs" for the jewels. I was able to place them with my fingers, but a pair of sugar-crafting-dedicated tweezers might allow for easier and more precise placement.
The clear diamonds are my favorite. They bring just enough bling and look great with any color frosting or fondant. The larger stones are best displayed on white because their color looks truer and brighter on a stark background.
The sugar cookie recipes are from the SprinkleBakes book and are my top pick for decorating. They hold their shape well and are slightly sweet; a perfect vehicle for the sweetest frosting your heart desires (though I've been known to eat a stack of 'em plain)
I used fondant on these cookies, and if you're a fondant hater then I'd suggest you try Satin Ice brand ready-made fondant. It's soft, marshmallowy-tasting and not overly sweet. I bought it on Sweetapolita's recommendation and I've been hooked ever since. If you've tried Satin Ice and still don't like fondant, then you probably just don't like fondant. You might find rolled marzipan a more pleasing alternative.
Vanilla or Chocolate Sugar Cookies
Yield: Approximately two dozen
This recipe is a great blank canvas for whatever cookie art you're dreaming up. To make the chocolate version, omit the almond extract, replace 1 cup of flour with 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder and blend it with the flour in step 3.
Vanilla Sugar Cookies
1/2 lb. (two US sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. almond extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
- In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter and sugar together until just incorporated. Do not over-mix at this stage, or the cookies may spread while baking.
- Add the egg and vanilla and almond extracts. Mix again on low speed, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl intermittently as needed.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Add to the butter and egg mixture. Mix on low speed until a dough is formed and there are no longer any streaks of butter in the mixing bowl. The dough will often clump around the paddle attachment while being mixed. This is normal and a good sign that your dough is the right consistency. If your mixture does not come together and is crumbly, add ice cold water 1 tbsp. at a time until the dough clumps.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Turn the dough out onto a sheet of wax paper and top with a second sheet. Roll dough into an oblong disc between the paper with a rolling pin. Transfer dough - wax paper and all - to a large cookie sheet. Wrap the dough tightly onto the cookie sheet with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
- Remove top sheet of wax paper and roll dough a little thinner. It should not be sticky. You may dust the surface lightly with flour if it is sticky, but not too much! You don’t want streaks of white flour baked onto your pretty sugar cookies.
- Roll dough to a ¼-inch to ½ -inch thickness.
- Cut out desired shapes from the dough and transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Be careful not to stretch the cutout shapes or they will be distorted after baking.
- Refrigerate the cutouts for 30 minutes. This will help the cookies maintain a crisp shape during baking.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Bake the cookies for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Let cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack. Decorate the cookies when completely cooled.
Jeweled Heart Sugar Cookies
Yield: About fifteen 4-inch cookies
[click for printable version]
I used a large 4 1/2-inch heart-shaped cutter to cut the smooth-edged heart-shaped cookies. A slightly smaller scalloped heart-shaped cutter was used to cut the fondant. If you don't have a smaller sized heart cookie cutter to cut the fondant, you can use the same one that you used to cut the cookie dough.
1 recipe Vanilla Sugar Cookies, baked into 4 1/2-inch heart shapes
1 recipe Chocolate Sugar Cookies, baked into 4 1/2-inch heart shapes
3/4 lb Satin Ice ready made fondant, white vanilla
Pink gel food coloring
2mm silver metallic dragees
An assortment of edible jewels
4-inch scalloped heart-shaped cutter
Fondant quilting tool or toothpick
|Fondant quilting wheel.|
- Divide the fondant in half and tint one portion with a little of the pink gel food coloring. Knead both pieces of fondant well. Roll out one piece of fondant with a rolling pin to 1/4-inch thickness on a confectioners' sugar-dusted work surface. Keep the other piece covered or sealed tight in a zip-top bag for later use. Cut heart-shaped pieces from the fondant with the scalloped cutter. Cover them with plastic wrap so they stay soft and don't dry out. Brush a baked cookie's center with a little water using the artists' brush. Place a fondant heart on top and press gently.
- With a quilting tool or toothpick make perforated lines that intersect on the fondant's surface (It should look quilt-like). Use a piece of thick craft paper as a straight-edge if you have trouble keeping your lines straight.
- Place pearl dragee on the "x" where each line intersects. Press it into the soft fondant with your finger.
- Place a jewel in an upper corner of the heart and press it firmly into the soft fondant. If the jewel doesn't want to stick, brush a little water or corn syrup on the bottom to adhere. Place 4 evenly spaced 2mm dragees around the small jewels, and 8 (2 per corner) for the large jewels. Press them in with a fingertip.
- Repeat with remaining fondant and cookies.
- Store in an air-tight container.