Thursday, February 24, 2011

Conversation Heart Cookies

I kind of cheated.

I have wanted to make Conversation Heart Cookies since last Valentine’s Day. I had a vision of cute little heart cookies, iced in pastel colors and carrying a little message in red to look like Necco® Conversation Heart candies.  Last year, I didn’t have enough time to finish the cookies and ended up selling them at a church bake sale sans written messages. (They looked really boring, but at least they all sold!) I promised myself that I would complete the cookie project for this Valentine’s Day.

So why is this cheating? Conversation Heart Cookies are not technically featured in Betty Crocker’s Cooky Book and perhaps do not belong in this blog. I could have made the Love Letters cookies Betty suggests for Valentine’s Day, but I elected to  follow (more or less) her suggestion of “Heart Cookies” (Mary’s Sugar Cookies and Easy Creamy Icing) from the book and make my dream cookies instead.

Mary’s Sugar Cookies
1 ½ cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
1 cup butter or margarine
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
½ tsp almond flavoring
2 ½ cups flour
1 tsp soda
1 tsp cream of tartar
Easy Creamy Icing (see below)

Mix sugar and softened butter. Thoroughly blend in egg and flavorings. Stir together the dry ingredients and incorporate. Refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours. Preheat oven to 375 ̊F. Divide the dough in half and roll out the dough on a lightly floured pastry cloth to a 3/16” thickness. Cut with a cookie cutter and place on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake for 7 to 8 minutes or until cookies appear delicately golden. Makes 5 dozen 2 to 2 1/2” cookies.    

Easy Creamy Icing
1 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp vanilla or other flavoring
1 ½ Tbsp cream or 1 Tbsp water

Mix sugar, salt and flavoring; add cream to make the icing easy to spread. Tint with a few drops of food coloring if desired. Spread the icing with a spatula or pastry brush. 

I mixed up the dough on Tuesday after lunch, intending to chill it until after dinner and then bake the cookies that night- that way, they could be decorated Wednesday afternoon and be ready to share Wednesday and Friday evenings that week.

My carefully laid plans were foiled, however, and I didn’t end up baking the cookies until Thursday night. By this point the dough was as hard as a rock and super dry and crumbly. I got really upset, thinking I would have to start over making new dough and that the cookies would never be ready in time for Friday night, much less Valentine’s Day on Monday.  I was starting to think these cookies were cursed. Would I have to wait another whole year, until next Valentine’s Day, to make these cookies???

Don’t worry, the story has a happy ending! Ryan calmed me down and got me to try to fix the cookie dough. I let it sit at room temperature for about an hour and then cut the dough into quarters. After massaging a quarter of the dough until it was warm enough that it would hang together, I rolled it out. The dough cracked around the edges when I rolled it out, but at least it stayed in one piece. I used a non-greased baking sheet, trusting in the butter in the cookies to keep them from sticking. I made the first pan of cookies according to the directions- 3/16” thick, baked for 7 minutes- but they came out dry and crunchy. Since I prefer my sugar cookies soft and a little thick, I decided to adjust the dough a bit.

I read in my Cooky Book that the way to fix dry dough is to work 1 or 2 Tbsp of soft butter or cream into the dough by hand. (page 6) So after massaging the dough a bit, I spread on some softened butter and mixed it in. The dough became much more flexible and rolled out in a smoother circle. I increased the amount of flour on the table and the rolling pin to account for the increased stickiness of the dough. In the end, the best pan of cookies was the one with extra butter in the dough, a thickness of ¼”, and a bake time of just over 5 minutes. In all, this recipe made 74 small heart cookies.

Friday afternoon, I mixed up some Easy Creamy Icing. I used a lot more cream than it called for, although I didn’t measure how much. I just wanted it to be thin enough to be painted on with a pastry brush. I did my best to recreate the pastel colors one finds in a traditional box of Conversation Hearts: pink, orange, yellow, green, and purple. (I considered keeping some icing white, but the vanilla made the icing slightly brown so I decided not to use it uncolored.)  Because I also like my icing a little thick, I had to leave the cookies out on the table overnight for the icing to harden enough to decorate.
Saturday morning rolled around and I had now missed both of my pre-Valentine’s Day cookie-sharing opportunities… However, it was still two days to Valentine’s Day and I was determined that the cookies be decorated!  I tried a red Wilton FoodWriter™ Edible Color Marker, but the color didn’t really show up on the icing. Then I tried some red CakeMate® decorating icing since I had a tube of it lying around, but even the smallest tip wasn’t fine enough to write on the cookies. My solution was to thin a little bit of the red icing with some cream and then write it onto the cookies using a toothpick.

A few hours later, all 70 cookies had a unique message inscribed and my cookie dream had become reality! Here are a few examples of the finished product:


So this is basically a story of me freaking out (as usual) and things working out okay in the end (as always).  I had fun decorating these and just ended up having lots left to share with people after Valentine’s Day. Still, maybe I’d be safer making those Love Letters instead next year.

 Where else can you get a cookie like this?

Sorry I’m behind on posts! I’ll be back soon with more drop cookies.

Credit where credit is due:
This cookie recipe was found on page 18 of Betty Crocker's Cooky Book; the icing recipe was found on page 150.


  1. Seventy UNIQUE messages...awesome!

  2. I know this is a completely random time to post about Valentines Day cookies past... but I love the Team Jacob one. HAHA! I'm enjoying all of these cooky blogs!