I just love all of the cute Valentine desserts at this time of the year, so I decided to get an early start to give myself plenty of time to make a few! I started with these sweet little sugar cookies. This idea was inspired by a British baker named Cupcake Jemma. I love watching her weekly recipe videos, which are filled with some very cute and festive ideas throughout the year.I used my whole-wheat sugar cookie recipe from my Christmas cookies last year, and I dyed half of them pink with beet juice. The beet flavor doesn’t come through, but the color is very pretty. For a little variety, I also made some of them into stained glass window cookies with cinnamon hard candy melted in the middle.Double Heart Cookies
2 raw beets
Approximately 1/4 cup cinnamon hard candies (if you would like to make some of the stained glass window cookies…otherwise, omit)
2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup unsalted room temperature butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
To make the beet juice to dye the pink cookies, start by putting on latex gloves if you have them. Peel the beets with a vegetable peeler. Grate the beets on a grater or with a grater attachment of a food processor. With cheesecloth or a thin kitchen towel you don’t care about, squeeze out as much juice as you can. (Reserve the pulp for the red velvet cake recipe to follow!)
To prepare the candy for the stained glass cookies, place the hard candy in a plastic zip lock bag. With a meat mallet, smash the candy into fine pieces.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. In a second large bowl, beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Add the flour mixture, and beat until just combined. You may need to hand mix the last bit if the dough becomes too thick for the mixer.
Divide the dough in half. Into one half of the dough, add as much of the beet juice as you like for the color you desire. (Keep in mind, the color fades slightly when baked.) Thoroughly knead the juice into the dough for an even color.
Wrap the two pieces of dough separately in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour or overnight.
Preheat oven to 350 F.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the two pieces of dough until they are between about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick.
Cut out the dough with a large heart-shaped cookie cutter. In the middle of each large heart use a smaller heart-shaped cookie cutter to cut out a smaller heart in the center. Reserve the smaller hearts.
Transfer the larger hearts to a cookie sheet.
For the stained glass window cookies, fill the center of each large heart with an even layer of the crushed candy. The candy will bubble up slightly when baked, so don’t fill the cookies to the top.
For the remaining cookies, fill the hole with the smaller hearts in the opposite colored dough.