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holiday

Valentine’s Day Heart Cookies

heart-cookiesSugar Cookies
Makes about 3 doz cookies, depending on size of cutter.

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup (two sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated white sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, salt, and baking soda. Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy in a large bowl with an electric hand mixer. Add the eggs and vanilla extract and beat until combined. Slowly add the flour mixture to the eggs and butter and beat until you have a smooth dough. Cover and refrigerate for about one hour or until the dough is firm. Tip- You can make the dough ahead of time and roll the cookies the next day.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and  line two baking sheets with parchment or silpat. Flour a surface to roll out the dough. Take half the dough out of the refrigerator and roll it out to about 1/4″ thick. If you don’t have a rolling pin, a floured wine bottle works well! Cut out the cookies with a cutter, I used different sized hearts, if you don’t have any cookie cutters a thin drinking glass will make rounds. Transfer the cookies to the baking sheets. Placing them in the refrigerator for 10- 15 mins before baking them will help the cookies keep there shape. Working in batches keeps the dough easy to work with.

Bake the cookies until they just start to brown, check them at 7 mins, they shouldn’t bake longer than 10 mins. Let the cookies rest for a few minutes before transferring them onto wire racks to cool. Let them cool completely before icing.

Royal Icing
These cookies get there polished look from royal icing which dries hard and smooth. They are particularly nice for giving because you can stack the finished cookies.

  • 3 ounces pasteurized egg whites (available at most better grocery stores)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 cups confectioners’ sugar (powdered)
  • food coloring, I like gel colors

Icing recipes are not exact, add more or less sugar to get the desired consistency. Almond extract or lemon juice can be used instead of the vanilla to get a different flavor.

In large bowl the egg whites and vanilla and beat with a hand mixer until frothy. Add confectioners’ sugar gradually and mix on low speed until sugar is incorporated and mixture is shiny. Turn speed up to high and beat until mixture forms stiff, glossy peaks. I like to start with a stiffer frosting to pipe the edge for a clean look. This should take approximately 5 to 7 minutes. Add food coloring. If using gel colors use a toothpick to add just a drop at a time until you reach the desired color. These are strong pigments! If you want to have more than one color, divide the icing into several small Tupperware bowls with lids. You’ll need to keep the frosting covered until you’re ready to ice the cookies so it doesn’t harden.

Fill a piping bag with small round tip to make the borders. If you don’t have piping bags, a plastic baggie with a tiny cut in the corner works fine. After you’re done with the borders squeeze the remaining frosting back into the tupperware. Add water, or lemon juice a little at a time to thin the icing to a looser constancy. Fill the piped border on the cookies with a “flood” of icing for a smooth look. You can use the piping bag again with a larger tip, the icing will spread and smooth itself into the area defined by the piped edge. Let the icing harden before stacking and storing.

Looking for more Valentine’s Day gift ideas, check out our sweetheart shop.

Daphne’s Amazing Homemade Toffee

At Art Effect we look forward to the holidays for many reasons, decorating the shop, the festive scent of our seasonal candles, the hustle and bustle… but most of all we look forward to Daphne’s amazing homemade toffee! Daphne was our book-keeper and she retired last year, but before she left, she shared this recipe with us! Make a batch to share with loved ones.  This treat is delightful to box up as a homemade gift.

homemade toffee

Ingredients

  • 2 sticks butter, plus some for buttering the pan
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • nuts
  • 4 milk chocolate bars, (approx. 43 gram bars)

 

Before you begin:

Lightly butter a cookie sheet, finely chop or grind 2-3 handfuls of pecans or walnuts, and unwrap and break-up 4 chocolate bars- make sure the chocolate is in very small pieces.

 

Directions:

In a saucepan combine: 2 sticks of butter directly from the refrigerator, 1 cup of granulated sugar, and 3 tablespoons of water. Melt and stir constantly 10-15 minutes over medium-high heat to a rolling boil. You might want to enlist a friend to help you, as this is hard work! When you reach the carmel color, remove from heat and quickly mix in the vanilla. It will fizzle. Immediately pour the contents from the sauce pan onto the lightly buttered cookie sheet. Tilt the pan from side to side to spread the toffee. The toffee will not cover the entire pan.

*Hint- if you set your cookie sheet on top of the stove while you’re making this, it will warm up and the toffee will spread across the pan a little more than if you use a cold cookie sheet.

Quickly sprinkle the chocolate pieces over the toffee and let them melt down for approximately 45 seconds. Lightly spread the melted chocolate around the toffee in a thin layer with a spatula. Sprinkle with the chopped nuts. Place away from heat to set. You can speed this up by placing in the freezer for about 10-15 minutes. If it’s cold but not snowing you can place out side to set (if you can trust your squirrels) Break into pieces and store in an airtight container.

 Enjoy!

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