Who wants to make a batch of soft and buttery iced biscuits for Valentine’s Day? FYI, my daughters are raising all of their hands.
In all honesty, I do think Valentine’s Day is a load of rubbish when it comes to the whole gifts, flowers and chocolates thing… But my girls think this celebration is the best thing since sliced bread. An entire day set aside for all things hearts, pink and girly? They’re 100% in, and so we bake heart biscuits and cut out pink paper hearts and act all giggly and it’s actually quite fun to be silly with them about it.
This is my favorite biscuit recipe to make and decorate with them. Even if you just chuck everything into a bowl at once, mix, roll, cut and bake, you’ll get a delicious result. The icing is a simple mix of icing sugar, water and vanilla extract, so no need to mess around with egg whites for a royal icing. You can add some meringue powder for a nice shine if you like, but I hardly ever bother – up to you!
One rule: No Valentine’s baking without Robbie.
Robbie and me go way back. I’ve been listening to him through every butterfly flutter and heartbreak alike since the tender age of 13. He is most definitely on my list of people I would squeal at if I actually met them (said list also includes Gordon Ramsay, Mary Berry, Duchess Catherine and Sue Perkins – eclectic, I’m aware). Just… Listen to him as you bake.
Now make the biscuit dough:
When I make this recipe with the children, I measure out, they add the ingredients to the mixing bowl and we use the electric mixer together. It’s quite simple and works well.
Do make sure the butter is very soft, or you’ll struggle with mixing it. If you’re forgetful (or simply not of the planning kind), fear not: Rinse a bowl with very hot water, quickly dry it off and invert it. Pop the butter underneath and let it sit for 5 minutes. It will become incredibly soft and ready to be used.
I always mix the butter and sugar first, and only then add the egg and seeds from a vanilla pod. Because… Habit?
I also have a child combine the dry ingredients separately, to make sure the baking powder is evenly distributed throughout – this helps with getting evenly baked biscuits. For the spice, you can really use any warm, chai-inspired spices you have/enjoy. I have made these with only cardamom before, and it was delicious, too. I mostly use a chai spice mix though, pure magic.
The combined dry ingredients simply go into the bowl with the beaten egg/butter/sugar/vanilla situation, and then carefully mix on low speed. (Really, carefully, slow —- you’ll massively regret any other way to approach this and will spend the next hour cleaning flour off yourself and every surface in the kitchen. ask me how I know…)
Time to roll the dough and cut out shapes!
This dough doesn’t require any chilling, which makes it perfect for impatient children (and mothers, ahem). Just roll it fairly thick, around 7mm, and cut out heart shapes.
My daughters genuinely cut out the biscuits in this photo below, and over the years I have learned to restrain my anxiety over them placing the biscuit cutters wherever they please, vs maximising the space. Makes for much more interesting pictures as well, and is a good lesson that parents don’t always know everything better 😉
Place similar sized biscuits on the same baking trays (seems obvious, but I thought I’d still mention it, and rightfully so because I often forget the most simple things myself over the excited chatter in the kitchen with the munchkins). And then place one tray at a time in the oven to bake.
The biscuits are still very soft when they’re ready, and every so slightly golden underneath. When you lightly touch them on top, they shouldn’t feel like pudgy and gooey like raw dough, but rather dry and delicate. Cool them on the baking tray for a few minutes, then on a cooling rack until cooled completely. Then, and only then, stir up the icing and decorate away.
I went for white, intense pink and light pink with my icing colors. I did my best at icing the biscuits quite nicely, but doing things delicately is definitely not my forte.
I’m more the kind of person who slaps things together somehow and then gets away with it by calling them “rustic”, ha! Either way, this is my best effort at icing pink biscuits.
The rest went to my girls with a boatload of sprinkles. We’re now on day 13 of eating jaw-breaking sugar sprinkles with a bit of biscuit underneath… 😉
Soft Baked Spiced Vanilla Iced Valentine’s Biscuits
For the biscuits:
- 225 g butter, softened (1 cup)
- 200 g granulated sugar (1 cup)
- 1 large egg
- seeds from 1 vanilla pod
- 375 g plain flour (3 cups)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon – 1 teaspoon chai spice (or use a mix of cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, ginger powder, cloves and black pepper)
For the icing:
- 125 g icing sugar (1 cup)
- 1-2 tablespoons water
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- food colouring of your choice (beet powder, tomato powder, beet juice, food colouring all work)
Make the biscuit dough:
- Heat the oven to 180°C (360°F / Gas 4). Line a few baking trays with nonstick baking parchment or with silicone baking mats.
- Place butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until well combined. Then add the egg and scraped vanilla seeds and beat until the egg is fully combined.
- Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and spices in a separate bowl, then gradually add to the butter mixture and mix on low speed until combined.
Roll out and cut shapes:
- Remove the dough from the bowl and place it on a clean work bench. Push it together with your hands a few times until it forms a smooth biscuit dough – do not knead or overwork it! Divide the dough in half and roll out each half on a lightly floured work surface to 7mm (1/4 inch) thickness.
- Cut out biscuits with a biscuit cutter, re-rolling any scraps of dough to cut out more. Place similarly sized biscuits on the same trays, 2 centimeters (1-2 inches) apart to allow for even baking.
Bake, cool and decorate:
- Bake one tray of biscuits at a time in the hot oven for 8-12 minutes (8 minutes for small biscuits, 10 minutes for medium biscuits, 12 minutes for large biscuits), or until they're lightly golden underneath and feel dry and delicate when lightly touching the top.
- Cool the biscuits on the tray for 5 minutes, then remove to a cooling rack to cool completely.
- To ice the biscuits, stir all ingredients for the icing together and colour as desired (I divided the icing into 3 and coloured one dark pink, one light pink and left one white). Ice the biscuits as you like, and decorate with sprinkles while the icing is wet, if you want. Let them dry for a good few hours before packing them up!