Valentine crispy messages

valentinecrispysSome of you may wonder why crispy treats. Why not sugar cookies? The simple answer is, I have a child that suffers from severe food allergies and crispy treats are an easy sweet to modify. So here goes. For this fun treat you’ll need:

ingredients:

  • 6 cups rice crispy cereal
  • 1 bag large marshmallows
  • 3 tsp butter (or vegan Smart Balance)
  • 1 can cream cheese icing
  • red food coloring

tools:

  • heart shaped cookie cutter (inch deep)
  • parchment paper
  • cooking spray
  • large spoon
  • resealable bags
  • icing connectors (NOTE: These are available at craft stores and are roughly 4 for $2)
  • #4 and #2 icing tips
  • toothpicks

valentinecrispies3And here are the steps:

crispy treats:

  1. Melt butter and marshmallows over low heat.
  2. Lay out a piece of parchment paper and spray your heart cookie cutter with cooking spray so that your crispy cereal will release easily.
  3. Add your rice crispies to your marshmallows and butter and stir well. (Tip: Add the cereal a little at a time to ensure you don’t make them too dry.)
  4. Spray a large spoon with cooking spray and then scoop up the crispy cereal and mold it into your cookie cutter. Pack down the cereal mixture and set the newly formed heart to the side. Repeat until you’re out of mixture and allow them to cool for at least 15 minutes before icing.

 icing:

  1. Spoon out about a half of the icing into two bowls and tint it pink red (gel food coloring works best).
  2. Clip the corner of a resealable bag, insert the bottom of a connector, and add 3 large spoons of icing into the bag. Place the #4 tip on the outside, secure the top of the connector and pipe an outline on the heart.
  3. Microwave the remaining red icing in the bowl for 10 to 15 seconds until dripping but not soupy.
  4. Slowly spoon or pour red icing into the heart area and smooth it in with a toothpick. Doing this quickly will produce a smooth surface once the icing dries.
  5. Allow the icing to set for at least five minutes.
  6. Taking a second resealable bag, clip a corner, insert the bottom of a connector, spoon in the pink icing, attach the #2 tip and the top of the connector, and pipe your lettering.
  7. Set your crispies aside and allow them to harden for several hours before packaging. 

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Valentine cookies: flooding fun

redheartValentine’s Day is on our doorstep and wouldn’t it be fun to flood beautiful cookies for your kids to take to school with their Valentine cards? Yes, you could go and get some from the grocery, but if you want some great tips on how to be the envy of the other moms, read on.

Icing – First of all, you have to have the right type of icing: royal icing. Don’t let the name scare you, it’s just one pound of confectioner’s sugar, five tablespoons of meringue powder, a half cup of water (or less) and gel-paste food coloring (available at most bakery and craft stores; the food coloring in grocery stores is usually very watery taking more of it to achieve the color you want). You’ll need to mix the icing until it’s fluffy, yet dense, about seven to eight minutes. Then you’ll need to use the icing immediately or transfer it to an airtight container.

Coloring – Separate your icing into the number of colors you need for your project. Then color your icing one drop of gel at a time. It’s a lot stronger than you might think. Once all the icing is the colors you need, separate them again so that you can thin one half for flooding. With your second set, thin each color with one teaspoon of water at a time. Often, one teaspoon is all it takes depending on how many times you’ve separated your icing. Now you have thick and thin versions of all the colors you need.

Tools – Trim one corner of a resealable bag and insert a #3 icing tip with a connector. Repeat this process for each of your colors (thin and thick). Then spoon each into a bag. (I always mark the thin bags so I don’t accidentally ruin a cookie by trying to trim it with the thin icing.)

Flooding technique – Now that your icing is prepped, take a cooled sugar cookie and pipe an outline around the shape. Allow it to set for 10 to 15 seconds and then you can flood the cookie with the thinner version of the color. While the flooded color is still wet, you can add a different thinned color to make polka dots or other designs. Doing it quickly will allow the second color to settle into the flooded color and dry flat. Allow the flooded colors to set for several minutes before adding any additional piping or layers to your design.

Okay, now that you’ve read the basics, here’s how you create the red heart cookies shown:

  1. Pipe red icing using a #3 tip around the outer edge of a cooled sugar cookie.
  2. Allow the icing to set for at least 10-15 seconds.
  3. Pipe the thinner red icing into the center of the cookie and spread it out to the corners with a toothpick.
  4. Allow the cookie to set for at least 4-5 minutes and then pipe red zigzags on the cookie using the #3 tip again.
  5. Allow the cookie to set for at least a half hour before packaging.   

 Happy baking everyone!

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