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Valentine Cookies (Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing)

Valentine Cookies

Don't be fooled into thinking a cookie isn't decadent and special enough for a Valentine's Day dessert. These Valentine cookies are made of lemon shortbread with a lemon icing. Add in the heart shapes and the decorations, and you have a tasty and gorgeous treat for the holiday.
Servings: 24 cookies (approximately)


  • 2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature (see note)
  • 1/2 cup superfine sugar see step-by-step instructions in the blog post for how to make this
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract homemade vanilla extract
  • rind of 1 lemon see step-by-step instructions in the blog post
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour measured by stirring flour and then using scoop and sweep method
  • 1/8 tsp fine sea salt

Lemon Royal Icing

  • 1 1/2 tbsp meringue powder like this
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1/2 lb confectioner's sugar
  • 1 1/2 oz lemon juice
  • food coloring gel like this
  • more lemon juice to thin out the icing when decorating



  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment.
  • Remove the lemon rind, with some of the pith and chop it up into small pieces. Grind it up in a coffee or Spice-and-Nut Grinder until it is in very fine pieces. It should almost be powdery. If there are large chunks the cookies will not hold together when rolled out.
  • In a food processor, grind some regular granulated sugar for about 1 minute and then measure out 1/2 cup of the superfine sugar for your recipe. The rest of the sugar can be saved for another recipe.
  • Beat the butter in a stand mixer with the Beater Blade Paddle Attachment on medium-high, until it is smooth. Gradually add the sugar, then vanilla and lemon, mixing until light in color and texture, about 3 minutes. In thirds, add the flour and salt. Mix until the dough comes together and cleans the sides of the bowl.
  • Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Knead very lightly until it is a smooth ball. Use your favorite cookie cutters. Dust the dough with flour and roll to about a scant 1/4-inch thick rectangle. The dough does not need to chill first. You can re-roll the scraps once, beyond that it starts to get tough.
  • Position the cookies on the prepared cookie sheets. Bake for about 12 to 15 minutes, or until lightly golden. If you are baking both sheets at once you will want to switch from top to bottom and back to front. Cool on a rack.



I used a European-style butter, which has lower amounts of water and whey. This makes the cookies taste better and have a fantastic crisp texture, but isn't absolutely necessary.