Monday, February 14, 2011

A Valentine Bouquet of Cheer

I’m up to my old tricks.

I volunteered to bake cookies for my daughter’s first grade class Valentine’s Day party and, well, you know me. I couldn’t just make cookies.

“Let’s do hearts and flowers!” my daughter said excitedly.

“No, let’s do a whole bouquet of hearts and flowers!” I responded. I don’t know why I egg her on. It always means more work for me.

We hadn’t done a large batch of lollipop cookies on sticks since her pre-school Easter basket. The cookies simply are cut-out shapes, but the skewers add another level of labor and a hefty opportunity for breakage. I felt rusty. And worried.

My daughter and I always work side-by-side when it comes to almost any sort of baking, and her little hands get into every element at every step. This time was no different. But the results were: She was very adept and surprisingly smooth with the dough, the icings, the sugars, the chocolate dipping and the final assembly. She was careful and precise with little guidance. What a difference from age 4 ½ to 6!

We made smooth-edged hearts and what I called “doily hearts” – which were lacey and charming. All we did was prick the edges of the dough with a toothpick before baking and Voila! It was a good idea that was super-easy and worked out very well. We iced and coated the hearts in red, violet and pink sparkling sugars and non-pariels, using décor left over from her party last week. We also made a separate “XOX” cookie for her teacher.

Did we stop there? Not on your life. We rolled out the remaining dough scraps and cut out small one- or two-bite hearts to be dipped in chocolate (her idea) and topped with a conversation heart (my idea). They were really cute, too!

We assembled the “bouquet” of hearts in a pink tub with red paper “grass”, laid the chocolate-covered hearts amidst the forest of sticks, then wrapped the entire confection in clear cellophane tied with a mass of curling ribbon in three shades of pink.

My daughter proudly carried it in to class on Monday morning, and rightly so.

She did a great job.

Elements, recipes, tips and techniques used can be found in a past entry, “Queen of Royal Icing.”

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