Heart-Shaped Cookies 2.02 Hammers and Veils
“Oh my god. What is this?” “Uh, the dinner special?” “The dinner special is a heart-shaped pastry with Max and Lorelai written on it?” “I couldn't find any good salmon.” “Oh Sookie, you're throwing me a wedding shower, aren't you?”
For the sugar cookies:
4 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
½ cup granulated sugar
¼ tsp vanilla extract
¼ cup whole milk
1 ½ cups flour
½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
For the royal icing:
¼ cup meringue powder
½ cup lukewarm water
1 lb powdered sugar
Food coloring (optional)
Edible marker (optional)
For the sugar cookies:
Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in the egg, vanilla, and milk.
Sift in the flour gradually and mix until combined. Then mix in the baking soda, baking powder, and nutmeg to make a ball of soft dough.
Wrap the ball of dough and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes to firm up.
After the dough is done chilling, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Out a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to about ¼ inch thickness. Use heart-shaped cookie cutters (or any shape of your choice).
Repeat this process until all the dough has been cut out.
Place on a lined baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or until golden brown.
Allow cookies to completely cool before decorating.
For the royal icing:
With a whisk attachment on a stand mixer in a large bowl, mix the meringue powder and water until frothy.
Sift the powdered sugar into the bowl. You don’t know what to skip the sifting because it will prevent your icing from getting clumps.
Mix the icing, making sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula to get all the sugar. Beat until the icing forms soft peaks.
Separate the icing into 2 bowls one will be for piping icing and one will be for flooding icing.
To the first bowl, gradually add water using a spray bottle to thin the icing to piping consistency (about the same as toothpaste).
To the second bowl, gradually add a little more water than the first using a spray bottle to thin the icing to flooding consistency (about the same as shampoo).
Gently tap both bowls on the counter to remove any air bubbles.
If you want different colors, separate the icing into more bowls. Add food coloring to reach your desired color. It’s best to use gel food coloring so it doesn’t alter the consistency of your icing. (I only had liquid coloring, so I was just mindful of how much water I already added before I added the coloring). You’ll want to make the same color in both your piping and flooding icing.
Add the piping icing to a fine-tipped squeeze bottle or a piping bag. Add the flooding icing to a slightly larger tipped squeeze bottle or piping bag.
Pipe an outline with the piping icing around the border of a cookie. Then fill in the center with flooding icing. Use a toothpick to drag the flooding icing to the piped border.
Using a toothpick, pop any air bubbles that may have formed when flooding your cookies.
You can add designs to the wet cookie with a different color of icing and drag a toothpick to create patterns. Or you can allow the base layer to completely dry and use a different color of piping icing to pipe on your designs. You can also use an edible marker to decorate.
Oh.boy. As I mentioned in the recipe, I have never once attempted to make/ use royal icing before this endeavor. I’ve always been intimidated by it, though I find timelapse videos of cookie decorating with royal icing to be very relaxing. Now that I’m sitting down to write this blog post, I realize that I didn’t need to do royal icing at all. Somehow, I got it in my head that I HAD to try royal icing. When I was planning out my dishes for season two, I think I mixed Sookie’s panic of WHICH COOKIE to Michel and the heart-shaped pastry with Max and Lorelai written on it. I envisioned heart-shaped cookies with Max and Lorelai written on them and that’s why I thought I HAD to do royal icing.
In addition to being a fun outlet for my Gilmore Girls obsession and a quarantine project, I did want to challenge myself. I definitely challenged myself with last season’s stuffed fried squash blossoms and homemade pop-tarts, but I think in comparison, these royal icing cookies were even more challenging. Part of that was definitely writing out Max and Lorelai (we will get to that), but I can be a bit of a perfectionist and when it’s your first time trying something, you have to throw perfection out the window. Making the actual sugar cookies was easy and the process of making royal icing wasn’t as bad at all like I thought it might be. No, the real struggle was the actual cookie decorating process.
The process in which you fill in your desired shape with icing is called flooding (what’s so satisfying to watch in those time-lapses) was not too difficult. I don’t have the steadiest hands (hello coffee addiction and anxiety) so I didn’t always make the straightest lines. But you don’t see me signing up to be a surgeon or any other profession that needs steady hands so it’s usually fine. Also, those videos I like to watch are time-lapses, meaning what seems like a quick process is actually time-consuming. I was so worried I was going to end up with icing all over the place, that I was painfully slow in flooding my cookies. Minus a few air bubbles and dents and wobbly edges, I managed to flood fairly well.
When I went in to pipe the words Max and Lorelai, however, was when disaster struck. I actually bought fine-tipped squeeze bottles that were meant for piping letters. HA! The letters ended up being thick and runny and not anything you would see at a wedding shower. I decided to nix the couple of cookies that I had tried to letter and I ordered some edible markers to use instead. And while those were significantly easier to use, I also don’t have the best handwriting. My handwriting was the only negative comment I ever got on my elementary report card, and it’s stayed with me into adulthood. I also press down really hard when I write (it’s that anxiety manifesting, man), so when I first when in with the edible marker, I ended up cracking the icing *facepalm.* All in all, these were still fun to make. My appreciation for those that use royal icing to decorate cookies increased exponentially. Even though my cookies weren’t the prettiest, they tasted great, and at the end of the day, that’s all that really matters.
Here are some takeaways from this royal icing endeavor:
Have a spray bottle of water on hand to add a little water at a time to thin your icing.
Don’t be afraid to make your flooding icing thin. I was definitely afraid, and it’s much harder to flood with thicker icing.
Have plenty of toothpicks on hand unless you have a flooding tool (which if you do, you’re probably much more skilled at royal icing than me, so you don’t need my advice).
Be patient and go slow!
There is a lot to unpack in this episode. First and foremost, we should talk about Rory’s use of the r-word. You can say it was of the times when Gilmore Girls first aired, but it was never okay and Amy should have never included it in the script. Cue the Gilmore Guys going, “is this problematiiic?” If you listened to their show, then YOU KNOW. That word aside, that scene- and the whole plot of Rory needing more activities for her college applications- is actually quite comical to me now. I haven’t shared this yet, but I’m a college counselor, so it’s interesting to see how pop culture approaches the college application process (just you wait for Application Anxiety next season). Like volunteering for Habitat for Humanity for one day is going to get you into Harvard, okay, Rory.
I do like that this episode gives us this bedazzled hammer. It was that hammer in fact that inspired me to wrap a pink feather boa around my Gilmore Girls Christmas tree because it just felt like what the girls would do. If you missed it on my Instagram (@EatingGilmore) you can find it in my story highlights! Anyway, I just love that Lorelai is always unapologetically herself. We see that throughout this episode, including her newspaper veil at the beginning. Part of me wishes she would have also crafted an entire wedding dress out of newspaper!
But the best part of this episode is the conflict between Lorelai and Emily. It’s done so well that you’re able to understand where they are both coming from. Lorelai is hurt because Emily isn’t excited for her wedding and Emily is hurt because she learned her daughter was engaged from Sookie. While this is a classic case of “if you would just have a conversation, your problems would be resolved” that almost every TV show and movie utilizes, I do think it makes for a dynamic plot and is true to their relationship. When Lorelai marches through the Gilmore mansion and asks “why have you never cared,” it always breaks me.
The other major thing that happens in this episode is Lane leaving for Korea. She thinks she’s moving there permanently, but we soon learn it’s only for the summer. Something that has always bothered me about this episode is that when Lane gets in her car to leave for the airport (her comically large suitcase strapped to the roof), Rory just smiles at her from across the town square. I know they technically said their goodbyes already, but if this was the last time before you saw your best friend before they move to the other side of the world, you run to them and hug them tightly. It annoys me that Rory is too preoccupied snuggling with Dean to hug her best friend goodbye. She’s such a bad friend to Lane.
Anyway, speaking of friendships, Happy Galentine’s Day! I didn’t even plan for these heart-shaped cookies to come out during Valentine’s weekend. It was serendipitous. I always have a Valentine’s date with my dog, so I’m looking forward to that tomorrow. How do you plan to celebrate this weekend?
If you missed what I made last week, catch up here!