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Sincere Acts of Sweetness

June 1, 2009

Adele's Peppermint Heart Cookies with Peppermint Buttercream Frosting

One Christmas season many, many years ago, I was invited to bake cookies with my friend Adele and her family. It was an annual tradition for them, something I found to be completely foreign. The only things I recall my mother ever baking were a lackluster lemon meringue pies at Thanksgiving and drop-biscuits that were super dry and literally tasted the way Bisquick smells. My mom could cook like no body's business, but baking was never her forte.
I remember arriving to a kitchen that smelled heavenly, full of the aromas of cinnamon and browned butter. Freshly baked cookies and pastries sat cooling on racks while Adele, her mom, and sister busily toiled away on their own individual creations, yet seemingly working together. Various baking supplies peppered the kitchen counters: newly opened bags of flour, big black bottles of pure vanilla extract, and sticks of unsalted butter softening on the counter.

At Adele's request, I had come prepared with a recipe in hand. The night before I flipped through my mom's big plastic container of laminated recipe cards, each one boasting a full-color photograph. It didn't take me long to find the recipe I wanted to make: Peppermint Heart Cookies. Peppermint seemed perfectly appropriate for a holiday cookie and for some unknown reason the fact that they were pink and heart shaped didn't seem to matter one bit.
I remember being nervous, but really excited. I followed the recipe very carefully, being sure to take my time to not make any mistakes. The rest of the day is a bit of a blur; I don't remember much except listening to Manheim Steamroller, cracking jokes about the Whisper 2000 and watching the lights on their magnificent Christmas tree twinkle.

Years have past, friendships have been made and forgotten, and many miles have separated us, but Adele and I have remained friends. Our paths may have taken us in completely separate directions in life but when she writes, calls, or I am lucky enough to actually see her, we pick up like right where we left off.

A few weekends ago Adele was in town for a conference and even though it had been more than four years since I had last seen her, I couldn't wait to spend the day catching up. And of course I couldn't greet her empty handed! I arrived with a big tin of these cookies as a belated birthday gift which she dove into almost immediately, which I loved. I think that these are the perfect cookie to celebrate an important friendship in your life and it doesn't even have to Christmas to make them.
Peppermint Heart Shaped Cookies
Yield: About 16-20 sandwich cookies


1 cup of sugar
1 cup of unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
1 eggs, at room temperature
3 cups of all purpose, unbleached flour
1 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt

Cream the butter and sugar. Add vanilla and eggs. In a separate bowl, mix dry ingredients together. With the mixer on low/medium speed, slowly add dry ingredients to the wet, being sure to scrape down the bowl frequently. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Form the dough into a ball, wrap it in plastic, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Separate the dough ball into 2 balls and place between two sheets of parchment paper. Roll the ball out to about 1/4 inch thick being sure to keep all the dough between the sheets of paper. Transfer to a cookie sheet and store in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour or until firm (you can also cheat by putting them in the freezer).

Preheat oven to 350F. Cut out desired shapes (I used a big heart shaped cookie cutter plus a slightly smaller one to create a heart shaped frame) and place onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a Silpat mat. Bake for 8-12 min. Keep a careful watch on your first batch so you can establish the correct cooking time. After 6 minutes, keep checking them every minute until they are firm to the touch and just the slightest bit brown. Cookies will continue to bake as your remove them from the oven. Let them sit for a minute, remove the cookies from the baking sheet with a spatula big enough to support the entire surface of the cookie (or they may break) and cool on a wire rack.

Repeat steps with left over cookie dough.

When they are completely cool, store them in an airtight container or a big zip-lock bag. You can even freeze them and save them until later.
Peppermint Buttercream Frosting
adapted from More From Magnolias Bakery

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
3 to 4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup cold milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon peppermint extract (if you don't like peppermint, use vanilla)
pink food coloring gel (optional)
4-5 red peppermint candies or one candy cane, crushed but not pulverized (optional)

Place the butter in a large mixing bowl and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add 1 cup of the sugar and then the milk and vanilla. On the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat until smooth and creamy, about 3-5 minutes. Gradually add the remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition (about 2 minutes), until the icing is thick enough to be of good spreading consistency. You may not need to add all of the sugar or you may find you need to add more milk. If desired, add a few drops of food coloring and mix thoroughly until you get your desired color. (Use and store the icing at room temperature because icing will set if chilled.) Icing can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Carefully spread each heart-shaped cookie with a generous dollop of pink frosting. Top with a heart shaped cookie frame (if desired) and sprinkle a little crushed peppermint candy in the center.


  1. How pretty they look in the tin. Like little cheerful soldiers in a row!
    I have a handful of good friends from the past like Adele. They are the gold standard friend!
    I like what you said about enjoying that she opened the present and couldn't wait to eat them.
    I love thinking about what present to give to these special dear friends. It is so disappointing to live so far away and never getting to see the friend open the present. I miss that part.
    Your cookies and memory of making them with Adele is a lovely thing to remember. Such a nice story.

  2. What a lovely story. I have a friend like that too. It never matters how many years pass before we see one another - we just pick up right where we left off. Real friendships are precious.

  3. What a sweet story. I love the part about Adele opening your present. We all need a friend like that...one you can pick up with no matter how long it has been since you last saw one another. And the cookies are lovely little tokens of love.

  4. Awe I love your post, your cookies are so pretty....Pretty in Pink!!

  5. AnonymousJune 02, 2009

    I love your pictures, they have me wanting to bake up a batch right now!

    I love the story you shared, friends are so important.

    ;) amy

  6. Gorgeous, pretty,perfect cookies, Julia!

  7. What cute cookies - I love peppermint, and you're right, it should be enjoyed year round :)

  8. I would eat them all~ Yum! How funny, we both had "memory lane" posts! I'll send you a 100x better than lackluster Lemon Meringue pie if you'll send me those cookies, lol...

  9. They're so pretty and a perfect way to let someone know how special they are.

  10. i love peppermint. i love heart-shaped edibles. these are spectacular, and if i was given just one of these, i'd be on cloud nine for a week. :)

  11. I like how your posts have stories/memories that go along with the recipes. I struggle when writing mine.

    The cookies look lovely. Hopefully one day you'll come visit FL and I'll get to greet YOU with a pretty tin of goodies or better yet.....get to spend the day in the kitchen with you baking up a storm! :)

  12. Your cookies look fantastic! I ador the pink frosting!

    Katie xox

  13. What a lovely story and how very sweet of you to take her these pretty pink cookies. Perfect for a girlfriend!

    Thank you for sharing your recipes and the stories that accompany them.

  14. Mmmmmm I can almost smell them! Very sweet post!

  15. What a sweet story and delicious looking cookies. Glad the reunion went well.

  16. Ok, so I read a lot of food blogs, as many as I can get to, (Mom of four boys, I just can't get to all of them!!) and I feel like I've heard of yours, but after Tiffany's post from The Cookie Blog about your Malt Mint Brownies, I came and looked around and stayed for a while and YUM!!! I love your blog and just added it to my reader.
    Your cupcakes and cakes are awesome! The whales are about the cutest thing ever. Can't wait to see all your posts now.

  17. Oh my God. Those look so good...you've inspired me to cook, so thanks! I love baking, but it always takes someone else's work to motivate me.
    They're so cute and perfect for Valentine's Day!

  18. How cute! Look so delicate and yummy!

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  20. Recently made these as Valentine's Day cookies. Wow, that is a good sugar cookie recipe. The cookies have a perfect amount of salt and are deliciously buttery. The dough behaved just as it was supposed to.

    I was also very pleased with the buttercream recipe -- I had to add quite a bit more powdered sugar than the recipe called for, but the frosting turned out delicious (perfectly creamy) and with a really subtle sparkliness.

  21. Mmmm, these are super good! I'm eating one as I type this :) I agree, this is a very good sugar cookie recipe. It's the first one I've ever used that I didn't have to add extra flour to keep the dough from being so sticky. I ended up using 4 1/2 cups of powdered sugar in the icing to thicken it up, but I had a ton left over. I'm planning on keeping the leftover icing and making another batch of cookies later this week. Thanks for the recipe! I love all the things I've made from your blog.


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