Heart-Shaped Sugar Cookies with a Twist

My Brandied Blackberry Ice Cream for Valentines Day needed an accompaniment–something crunchy and subdued in flavor. Decorated Sugar Cookies cut out in the shape of hearts seemed like the perfect match.

Brandied Blackberry Ice Cream and Heart-Shaped Sugar Cookied - IMG_2734_1

These sugar cookies have a twist. In an attempt to make the cookies somewhat healthier, I include the ingredients of whole wheat flour and wheat germ. As the flour label indicates, wheat germ is high in folic acid. Whole wheat flour adds fiber, nutrients and folic acid, too. Since one of the dietary recommendations is to eat more whole wheat products, you can eat these cookies without guilt!

A Martha Stewart recipe for S’Mores Graham Sandwich Cookies has caught my eye and has been in the back of my mind. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find my printed copy or the magazine issue. An Internet search resulted in 3 or 4 recipe variations. Ms. Stewart must like S’Mores–the old camping favorite of graham crackers, marshmallows and chocolate bars. Her recipes included wheat germ, whole wheat flour, molasses or honey. However, none of the recipes I found seemed like they would work and I couldn’t find graham flour in the stores.

I have a favorite sugar cookie recipe for rolled cookies that I use often, especially at Christmas time. During the holidays, I make the cookie dough and my children cut out the shapes and decorate them. I decided to try the same recipe, substituting half of the all-purpose flour with whole wheat pastry flour and wheat germ.

There are many brands of specialty flours. Bob’s Red Mill is only one of several brands and it is available in our stores here. Bob was present at his booth at the NFCE Convention October in Houston and the employee-owned company impressed me. It’s fun to meet the company’s originator. (He looks like the photo on the packaging–same hat!)

Bobs Red Mill Whole Wheat Pastry Flour and Wheat Germ - IMG_2647_1I added orange peel zest to the cookie dough to give an interesting flavor to the cookies.

I like this recipe because it it always works–and it worked with the whole wheat flour, too. It’s not sticky and rolls out easily. One trick is to refrigerate the dough to chill it before attempting to roll it out. This helps immensely. I have a very large cutting board that I place on my kitchen counter for rolling cookie dough or pie dough. Then it’s easy to pick up the cutting board and wash it after you are finished with the cookie-making session. A little flour helps to prevent the cookie dough from sticking to the board surface while rolling out the cookies. The dough is rolled to about 1/4 inch thickness.

cookie dough with rolling pin - IMG_2514_1Over the years, I’ve ended up with quite a collection of cookie cutters. I’ve discovered that heart shapes come in all sizes and shapes – it’s fun to be creative. I usually use smaller shaped cutters.

cut out cookies - raw dough - IMG_2517_1

This sugar cookie recipe includes baking powder (not all recipes have this ingredient), so the cookies puff up a little while baking. I baked these at 375 degrees, don’t over bake–the bottom should be just slightly brown. I bake the cookies on parchment paper, rather than oiling a baking sheet.

The icing is a powdered sugar glaze with a tiny bit of almond extract. I added colored sprinkles for decoration. Colored sprinkles last do not spoil–so it’s easy to get a collection of sprinkles and colored sugars, too. This glaze dries quickly, so work fast. The patterned cookies are made with a bit of icing that has been colored, then patterned with a fork or knife slid through the icing. I used purchased icing glaze on several of the cookies for decoration, however, this glaze does not harden.

sprinkles for decorating cookies - IMG_2525_1

This recipe is adapted from the “Joy of Cooking,” one of my favorite cookbooks. It’s my source for so many recipes. If you don’t have this cookbook, I highly recommend it. I discovered that family members still own the cookbook and maintain an interesting web site, too. thejoykitchen.com/store.

Heart-Shaped Sugar Cookies with a Twist

1/2 cup real butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 extra large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 generous tsp zest from orange peel
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup wheat germ

Cream butter and sugar together in medium bowl of electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy. Add eggs and beat until smooth. Add vanilla and orange peel. Sift flour, baking powder and salt together in a separate bowl. Then on low speed add flour mixture, whole wheat flour and wheat germ and mix until just blended. Cover and refrigerate the dough until chilled (several hours).

Remove from refrigerator and let warm a little until pliable. Roll out dough on floured surface to 1/4 inch thick, adding flour to board and cookie dough to prevent sticking. Add as little flour as possible. Cut out cookies (place close together on dough) and carefully transfer to a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Take scraps and blend the scraps together with your hands. Roll out again. You can usually flatten the final scraps with your hands. Bake in 375 degree oven for 7 – 10 minutes. (My oven is “hot” and requires the shorter time.) Cookies should be just slightly browned on bottom. Don’t over bake. This made 42 cookies from 1″ to 2″.

Powdered Sugar Glaze

1 cup powdered sugar (more may be needed)
1/4 tsp almond extract
3 Tbsp milk

Blend these ingredients together in medium bowl, whipping until creamy and smooth. Add additional powdered sugar (a spoonful at a time) until the glaze is thick. When a spoon of the glaze is held up, the icing should slowly run off the spoon in a ribbon. If it won’t hold to the spoon, it’s not thick enough.

Decorate with sprinkles and colored sugars.

Here are the finished cookies. They won’t last long!

Heart-Shaped Sugar Cookies with a Twist - 2 - IMG_2540_1

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