Writer and Photographer Francine Coles

There is nothing that says “I love you” more than homemade iced heart cookies. They are easy to make, beautiful to look at and — of course delicious to eat. The way to anyone’s heart is through these cookies. Simply top cookies with sprinkles immediately after icing or let rest for two hours and apply a paint-stroke finish for an extra decorative look. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Makes: 30 cookies


2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Royal Icing:
2-3/4 cups confectioner’s sugar
1 large egg white
Pink gel food coloring (optional)


In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl attached to a stand mixer, beat butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Beat egg and vanilla into the butter mixture, then reduce speed to low and gradually add flour mixture. Beat until just combined. Divide dough in half, flatten into disks, wrap each in plastic and freeze until firm, about 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment. Remove one disk of dough, let stand for 5–10 minutes then roll out between two sheets of floured parchment, dusting with flour as needed, until 1/4-inch thick. Cut shapes with 2-1/2-inch heart-shaped cookie cutters. Using a spatula, transfer to prepared baking sheets. Re-roll scraps and cut more shapes. Repeat with remaining disk of dough.

Bake cookies, rotating sheets halfway through, until edges are golden, about 12 minutes. Let cool completely on wire racks.

In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine confectioner’s sugar and egg white on low speed. Add 1/4 cup water, then increase speed to medium-high and mix until icing briefly holds a ribbon-like trail on the surface when you raise the paddle, about 10 minutes. Reduce speed to low and mix for an additional minute to eliminate air bubbles.

Dip the top side of each cooled cookie into the royal icing. Tilt the cookie so that excess icing drips off back into the bowl. Place the iced cookie on a rack set inside a baking pan or over aluminum foil for easy cleanup.

To create a paint-stroke finish, mix a few drops of pink gel food coloring into a small bowl of water to achieve preferred depth. Dip the tip of a brand-new paintbrush into the pink water and “paint” over the cookies. Repeat until all cookies are painted. Let rest until dry. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to one week.