Get the kids to stuff and join the piñata cookies – they’ll love it!
- 1 batch vanilla sugar cookie dough
- red food colouring
- flour, for rolling out
- 2 large handfuls conversation hearts
- mini pastel confetti sprinkles
- mini gold pearl sprinkles (dragées)
- 200 g different coloured candy melts (I used pink and red; see Note)
- small candies or gifts
Vanilla sugar cookie dough
- 400 g plain flour, sifted, plus extra flour for rolling out the cookies
- ¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
- ¼ tsp salt
- 225 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 170 g caster sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Chilling time 1½–3½ hours
You will need one 10 cm heart cookie cutter and one 7.5 cm heart cookie cutter for this recipe.
To make the cookie dough, in a large bowl, whisk together the flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt. In a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until well combined. With the mixer on low, add one-third of the flour mixture and mix to combine. Add the second third of the flour and continue mixing on low speed. Add the final third of the flour mixture, beating just until combined. Pour the mixture onto a work surface and knead with your hands for 3-5 minutes, until the dough is no longer crumbly and you are able to form a tight ball.
Cover the dough in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour, but preferably 3 hours. You can also leave it in the fridge for up to 3 days or freeze this dough (well wrapped) for up to 1 month.
Tint the dough deep red. Divide the dough into two portions and chill for another 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 160°C (fan-forced). Line a baking tray with baking paper.
On a floured surface, roll one portion of the dough to a 5 mm thickness. Working in sets, use a 10 cm cookie cutter to cut four large hearts for each completed cookie box and place the cookies on the lined baking tray.
Take a 7.5 cm cookie cutter and cut a smaller heart out of the centre of two of the large hearts. Reroll the scraps and cut out more cookies.
Bake for 10-12 minutes, until you just start to see the cookies darkening around the edges. Allow to cool slightly before removing from the baking tray.
Repeat with the remaining portion of dough.
Place half of the conversation hearts into a zip-lock bag and use a rolling pin to lightly crush them. Add the sprinkles and pearls and shake to combine.
Melt the candy melts to piping consistency.
Place the desired colour candy melts into a zip-lock bag, cutting a small tip off the corner. Pipe a thin line of melted candy around the edge of one of the solid hearts. Then, take a heart cookie with the centre removed and place it on top. Pipe a line of melted candy on top and place another heart cookie with the centre removed on top.
Fill the centre of the gift box with whole conversation hearts, your favourite sweets, or a small gift, and then pipe a line of melted candy on top of the hollow heart and place the final whole heart cookie on top.
Pipe a thin line of melted candy around the top heart, close to the outside edge. Once the outline is dry, snip a larger corner from the zip-lock bag so you have a wider tip and flood the inside area of the cookie with melted candy. Tap the cookie on the counter to ensure even distribution and immediately sprinkle with the crushed mixture.
Place several whole conversation hearts among the crushed candy and allow to set.
Repeat to make all the boxes, changing the colour of candy melts as you go.
• Candy melts are available at Spotlight and Big W stores. If you’re piping melted chocolate, it doesn’t need to be thinned. If you’re using candy melts, however, I would add 4 teaspoons coconut oil or shortening per 100 g of melts to help loosen them up.
• These cookies will last up to a week at room temperature, so feel free to make them in advance.
Image and recipe from Sweet! Celebrations by Elise Strachan (Murdoch Books, $39.99, hbk).