For no particular reason, I started to make heart-shaped cookies near Valentine’s Day when I was in college. I cut the cookies from a tube of sugar cookie dough and slathered them with icing bought in small plastic tubs. I shared a few cookies with my roommates, and I ate my fair share of the cookies. I also brought a plate of the cookies to my great-great-aunt Laura’s house, since she she lived in the same city where I went to school.
I was never overwhelmingly close to Aunt Laura. Given she was my grandpa’s aunt, she was always “old” to me, and until I moved to Columbus to go to college, we lived a couple hours’ drive apart. Given I was an able-bodied family member who reduced those couple hours to a couple miles when I moved to attend college, I felt a certain obligation to visit her, but it was an obligation I didn’t really mind. Aunt Laura was a good conversationalist, and to be honest, pretty cool. She graduated from college in 1929(!), taught school, worked at Lazarus, lived in a city, married an older man(!), and lived a life to the ripe old age of 101.
I’ve long since graduated from college and those tubes and tubs of cookie dough and frosting. This year I made heart-shaped cookies using a recipe in The Complete Cookie by Barry Bluestein. Given Saint Valentine is the Patron Saint of bee keepers and love, I thought a honey cookie to present to your honey would be more fitting than a boring, ol’ sugar cookie. (In addition to other love-related themes, Saint Valentine is also the Patron Saint of epilepsy, fainting, plague and travelers. I don’t know what to make for those. You can read more about Saint Valentine at History.com.)
I don’t know that chewy is the best description for these honey cookies. They are slightly chewy, but I would describe them as more of a crisp-chew. The dough is incredibly sandy, for lack of better descriptor, and it really takes a while to come together once it is rolled out. I had the most success after I rolled out the cookie dough a few times, and an extra sprinkling of flour really helped cut down on the sticking. The dough needs to sit in the refrigerator ,wrapped tight in a log, for about four hours, so be sure to plan accordingly should you wish to bake a batch.
To decorate, I simply rubbed some sugar on the tops of the honey cookies once they had cooled. I pulsed granulated sugar in my coffee-bean grinder (feel free to use a food processor as that tool is likely more appropriate) to make it super fine. I also colored my sugar at home by rubbing some food color into the sugar. The color, whether liquid or gel, globs onto the sugar, so you really need to rub the color into the sugar. You may want to wear gloves during this step to avoid staining your fingertips. The honey makes the cookies so sweet that icing these lovelies might make them too sweet, but as always, the kitchen is yours!
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
- 1 cup brown sugar, packed
- 1 egg yolk
- ½ cup honey
- Whisk together the flour, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.
- Cream the butter and brown sugar together on medium speed until light and fluffy, about one to two minutes.
- Add the egg yolk and the honey and beat until well incorporated.
- Slowly add the flour mixture and continue to beat until just combined.
- Form the dough into a log, seal in plastic wrap or wax paper, and refrigerate for four hours.
- After four hours, remove half of the dough, and leave the other half refrigerated.
- On a lightly floured surface, use a rolling pin to roll out the dough to about ¼ inch thickness.
- Use cookie cutters to cut the dough into desired shapes, returning unused scraps of dough to the refrigerator to firm as necessary.
- Repeat rolling and cutting until all dough is used.
- Place the cookies on a lightly greased baking sheet.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes, rotating the baking sheets halfway through, or until the edges of the cookies are lightly browned.
- Allow to cool on a wire rack.
- If desired, dust with sugar once cooled.