So it's Valentine's Day again and whether you're loved up or single you can always share the love with a home made treat. Best part, this recipe makes a bunch of cookies so you can give them out to your main squeeze, your single pals, the neighbours, whoever! After all, who doesn't love getting a sweet gift made with LOVE?
It's really easy to turn regular cookies into a personalised V-Day gift. I do like to bake, but this recipe is pretty simple and could be done by anyone. And for those who love this idea (but not the idea of heaps of time in the kitchen) there's some cheat steps along the way.
You'll need to do this in a few stages so best to start a day or two before you plan on dishing out your baked love.
Step 1: Bake cookies
I used the New Zealand Edmond's Cookbook recipe for shortbread as it's a deliciously sweet biscuit that doesn't rise very much, giving the perfect flat surface you need for the chalkboard icing. You can use any recipe you like to create the cookies, just make sure they'll come out with an even surface!
Cheat step 1: Buy some cookies that you can pass off as your own.
Step 2: Make icing
So I've been watching a LOT of YouTube videos on how to do this royal icing thing and it was even easier than I thought it was going to be. Check out this link for the lowdown. He uses a different recipe than the one I do but it shows the consistency and technique quite well.
Black royal icing (enough for about 8 large cookies)
1 egg white
1 teaspoon of lemon juice
2 cups pure icing sugar
About 1 teaspoon black food colouring (or you could use Wilton gel icing colour, super concentrated and now at Big W, hooray)
Put all ingredients in KitchenAid and beat until smooth. You can do this by hand too but who can be bothered? The consistency should be thick enough that it drops but doesn't run (watch the vid). If it's not as black as you want it, add more colouring and a little more icing sugar until you have the right colour and consistency.
Put half the icing in a fancy piping bag if you have one... I don't – so I put it in a zip lock bag and snipped the end off. Just a small snip! You only want a border about 1.5mm. Pipe icing around edge of cookie. This will form the border of your chalkboard.
Once you've finished piping the borders on all your cookies, add in an extra teaspoon of lemon juice to the remaining icing mixture and mix until you have 5 second icing. Don't know what that means? You haven't watched the video yet have you? Watch it now. Put the 5 second icing in another bag and snip a slightly bigger hole. 'Flood' the centre of the cookie with icing and leave to set. This could take anywhere up to 12 hours.
Make more icing than you need – you don't want to run out half way through.
Leave flood icing to settle for about 20 mins with cling wrap over bowl. This will remove pesky air bubbles.
Watch the video, seriously.
Cheat step 2: Get your Mother involved, they're probs more experienced at this stuff than you and just love being needed.
Step 3: Make it personal
Now that you have a blank slate, get creative on those cookies! You can write messages, draw pics, whatever. If you’re stuck for ideas jump on pinterest for some hand lettering inspiration. The easiest way I found to get the chalk effect with an accurate application was to use Wilton White Icing Colour (available at baking supply shops and Big W) and a super fine paint brush. You can apply the icing colour quite thinly so it goes on a little patchy, then when it dries it will fade slightly and look just like chalk!
Cheat step 3: Not so good at the hand lettering? Get a stamp and paint an even coat of the icing colour directly onto the stamp. Have a couple of practice goes on a sheet of paper. Got the technique down? Apply stamp to cookie.
Step 4: Share the love.
Dish out your hand made cookies to your nearest and dearest. Happy Valentine’s Day to all.