How To Turn Sugar Cookies Into Galentine's Day Gifts

Here at How To Cake It we are lucky to have an incredible roster of dessert artists working with us to teach live baking tutorials, create digital activity books and share their passion and expertise with all of you. This month dessert artist extraordinaire Megan Warne aka @downtowndoughto tells us how to turn simple sugar cookies into gifts for your gal pals this Galentine’s Day!

Love is in the air, and cookies are in the oven. No, that’s not a Taylor Swift lyric, although you’re right, it totally could be. Whatever your feelings are on T Swift, you can’t deny that she’s the queen of female friendship. If you miss hanging out with your girlfriends IRL as much as I do, making them gorgeous cookie sets is a great way to remind them how much you care. Yes, Galentine’s Day (Feb 13th) is technically a fake holiday created by a fictional character on Parks & Recreation, but that’s no reason not to celebrate it. Plus, let’s be real, if you’re going to spend hours creating cookie art, gifting it to your best friends who will truly appreciate it is incredibly satisfying.

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  • Sugar cookies make the best canvases for cookie art, but that doesn’t mean you can’t infuse them with flavor. If your friends have a signature flavor that you know they love, customize their cookies to those preferences. If you want to play up the Valentine’s day vibes with a cinnamon heart/red hots flavored cookie, swap out vanilla extract for a cinnamon emulsion. Emulsions are potent water based flavorings that don’t bake out even when subjected to high heat, so they obviously work very well in cookies. 

  • Look, if there’s ever a time to go wild with your reds and pinks, this is clearly it. Vibrant gel colors are the best way to go, and ours will work just as well in your cookie dough as your royal icing. A red velvet bakery emulsion is a shortcut if you want to bang out flavor and color at the same time. And of course  if you’re looking for an elevated take, I have a red velvet cutout cookie recipe made from red wine that is included in the workbook for my live classes. If you can spare the wine, of course. 

  • When we’re talking about gourmet cookie decorating we’re usually talking about royal icing. Which can be daunting to begin with… not to mention red is for sure one of the hardest royal icing colors to achieve. You usually end up with a deep pink color, and find that you've used almost all of your gel colors. The key is to let your colors develop for at least an hour, but longer if possible. Play with different consistencies to achieve flooding and details. 

    Here are a few tips for achieving red & other deep colors in royal icing:

    • Start with pink royal icing - dying red icing right from fresh white icing is the most difficult and would use the most amount of food coloring. Taking leftover icing with the same general color undertones you are going for is helpful, e.g. using pink, orange, or even light brown can help achieve a deeper red color.
    • Let your icing develop! After mixing in your gel colors and getting a color that is a shade or 2 lighter than you want, cover your icing so it is airtight and let it sit for an hour, sometimes longer is better. At this point you can add a bit more gel color if you need to, and allow it to develop again for 20 - 30 min. Patience is tough, but if you can give it time, you’ll notice the color deepen significantly.
    • Add a touch of brown coloring to your red to help deepen the color quicker, if you don’t have time to let the color develop for as long.
  • After tirelessly baking and decorating your cookies, the final step is perfect packaging. If you’re super crafty and want to make some personalized pinterest-y cookie tins, go for it. If you prefer to keep your creativity in the kitchen, we totally get that, and created these cookie mailers for you! Part greeting card, part aesthetically pleasing treat container- they are our favorite edible gift presentation shortcut. Scribble a sweet note on the inside and mail across town or across the world- they are designed to keep treats safe! 

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