These vegan iced sugar cookie hearts are bound to leave you love-filled. Thick, heart-shaped pieces of sugar cookie dough are baked until just turning golden and then artfully dipped, slathered, and drizzled with naturally colored vegan royal icing.
These valentine's themed sugar cookies might just be my favorite thing I've ever photographed.
Not only was it fun (and therapeutic) to make them, it was a joy to capture their pink, purple, and magenta hues on camera.
You might be thinking to yourself, "Sheesh. There are some unnaturally pink hues going on there."
Fun fact: Those are alllllll natural colors.
The pinkest hue you see is brought to you by none other than the vibrantly magenta-hued pitaya (red dragon fruit).
The purple-ish color is all thanks to the runoff juice from defrosted wild blueberries.
The reddish hue is from finely ground freeze-dried strawberries 🍓.
And of course the white is made from pure, fairy dusted snow...
Ha. Just kidding.
The white is just good old fashioned plain (vegan) royal icing. AKA... the color of powdered sugar. Very magical.
But seriously, how fun is this setup? Vegan sugar cookies that are frosted with fruit-colored icing.
Makes you want to leap through the screen for a bite (or two), doesn't it?
Vegan Iced Sugar Cookie Hearts Ingredients
The vegan sugar cookie dough is seriously nothing fancy. Total basic dough scenario going on here.
I mashed up a few classic non-vegan recipes and turned that mashup vegan by using vegan butter and swapping out eggs in favor of arrowroot starch (cornstarch works, too), which binds the cookies together just as well.
And so in terms of ingredients, you're looking at:
Flour (all-purpose or white spelt).
Arrowroot starch or cornstarch.
Once you've rounded up your ingredients, you'll get mixing.
Keep in mind that like most sugar cookie dough, this one needs an hour or two minimum of chill time, otherwise you run the risk of the cookies spreading and losing their shape during baking.
If you don't have a three-hour window to dedicate to cookie making (most of us don't), you can prepare the dough a day (or even two) ahead of time. Just keep it chilled in the refrigerator until you're ready to bake it.
How to Make Easy Vegan Sugar Cookies
Start by whisking together the flour, starch, baking powder, and salt. Set the bowl aside but within an arm's reach of your hand or stand mixer.
Next, using a hand mixer or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment/s, beat together the butter and cane sugar for two minutes or until light and fluffy.
Add the milk and a splash of vanilla and beat again to incorporate.
Then, slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet while beating. Continue beating until the dough goes from crumbly to big, soft, play-doh like mounds (this happens as the butter continues to warm and soften).
Once the dough is ready, divide it into two pieces.
Place each piece on a sheet of lightly floured parchment paper. Place another sheet of parchment paper on top of each piece of dough and use a rolling pin to roll each piece of dough into a ⅓-inch-thick oval/rectangle (depends on how you roll—no pun intended).
Wrap each round of dough in foil or plastic wrap to prevent it from drying out. Then, pop them in the refrigerator for one to two hours (or more) to chill.
Once the dough is thoroughly chilled, unwrap it and transfer to a clean, lightly floured surface.
Use your cookie cutters or choice (or freestyle it and cut by hand) to punch out cookies from the dough.
Then, reform and re-roll the dough and repeat until most of it is used.
Sugar Cookie Baking Tip
Transfer the cookies to a parchment-lined baking sheet.
If you're using a variety of sizes (like I did), you'll want to divide the cookies accordingly.
For instance, I used four sizes of heart-shaped cookie cutters and transferred the two smallest sizes to one cookie sheet and the two largest sizes to the other.
This allows you to pull one pan out of the oven earlier than the other if needed. If they're all mixed together, you'll find yourself having to pickoff the early bakers individually.
Here's the pan with the small cookies.
Once the cookies are formed and divided amongst baking sheets, pop them in the oven for 10 to 16 minutes.
You'll know they're ready when their bottom edges begin to turn the slightest bit golden brown.
At that point, remove them from the oven and allow the cookies to cool on the pans for about 5 minutes.
Then, transfer them to cooling racks to cool completely.
How to Make Vegan Royal Icing
You'll make the vegan royal icing while the cookies cool.
Please, please, please don't be intimidated by the fancy name. Royal icing, especially vegan royal icing, is super simple to make.
Royal icing differs from simple glaze/icing in the fact that it sets completely and firmly.
You know those fancifully iced bakery cookies? In most cases, those are decorated with royal icing.
The catch though is that traditional royal icing is made with egg whites.
Thankfully, when the aquafaba trend made waves several years back, a handful of creative vegan bakers took to their stand mixers to see if aquafaba, a vegan egg white substitute, would be able to work its egg-like magic in royal icing.
It did, and here we are.
My recipe is based off of a variety of recipes I've used over the last few years.
To make it, you'll need aquafaba (the beany liquid found in a can of chickpeas), cream of tartar (or lemon juice), powdered sugar, and vanilla extract.
If you're planning to color your royal icing, you'll also want a variety of natural food coloring agents.
My favorites are:
Pitaya (red dragon fruit) purée (our Whole Foods sells frozen packets in the freezer section, but you can also use fresh pitaya).
Wild blueberry juice (from defrosted frozen wild blueberries).
Ground freeze-dried strawberries (I use a coffee grinder to turn them into a fine powder).
Once you've gathered your ingredients, you'll add the aquafaba and cream of tarter to a mixing bowl and use a hand mixer or stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment/s to beat the mixture until it turns into a cloud-like substance with stiff peaks. It will resemble meringue.
Once the mixture has stiff peaks, slowly add in the powdered sugar while continue to beat until the consistency resembles thick Elmer's glue. Odd comparison, but you'll see what I mean when you're making it.
From there, add the vanilla extract and beat again.
Then, you can either use the royal icing as is or divide it into separate bowls and add your natural food colorings.
From top to bottom below, you have wild blueberry juice, au naturale, powdered freeze-dried strawberries, and pitaya purée.
Once your royal icing is ready and your cookies have cooled, get frosting.
You can use a traditional "flooding" method to outline the perimeter of the cookies and then fill them in, but I've found it's much easier (and more fun) to dunk the face of each cookie into the icing.
From there, I swirl in other icing colors using a toothpick (or the pointy end of a chopstick) or I dip a butter knife into the fresh pitaya purée or blueberry juice and smear the color across the icing to create a sort of abstract ombré effect.
Use this as an opportunity to let your artist side run free. There's no mistakes when it comes to cookie icing.
Once you've iced the cookies, allow the icing to set completely before serving or storing.
The setting time will vary depending on how generously you've iced your cookies. As you can see, I'm certainly not shy when it comes to icing, so my set time for these cookies was about an hour.
I hope you LOVE these vegan iced sugar cookie hearts.
If you make them, let me know! Leave a comment, rate the recipe, and don’t forget to tag a photo #blissfulbasil on Instagram.
Vegan Iced Sugar Cookie Hearts
- 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour or white spelt flour
- 2 tablespoons arrowroot starch or cornstarch
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ¾ cup vegan buttery spread (1 ½ sticks)
- ¾ cup cane sugar
- 3 tablespoons plain, unsweetened plant-based milk
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 recipe Naturally Colored Vegan Royal Icing
- Lightly flour two pieces of parchment paper and have two more pieces nearby.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, starch, baking powder, and sea salt. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl using a hand mixer or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the vegan butter and sugar on high for 2 minutes. Add the milk and vanilla and beat for another 30 seconds. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Turn the mixer on low and slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet. Increase the speed to medium and beat until just incorporated.
- Divide the dough into two equal pieces. Place each on one of the floured pieces of parchment paper and then cover each mound of dough with one of the extra sheets of parchment paper. Use a rolling pin to roll each mound of dough into a ⅓-inch-thick oval or rectangle. Fold in the edges of the parchment to secure each dough disc and then wrap with foil or plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 to 2 hours to chill and firm the dough.
- Once the dough is chilled and you're ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350Line three large baking sheets with parchment paper. Lightly flour a clean work surface.
- Unwrap each piece of dough and use your cookie cutters of choice (I used heart-shaped and star-shapeto punch out the dough. Transfer the the cookies to the lined baking sheets, being sure to leave about 2 inches of space between each. (If you're using varying sizes of cookie cutters, divide the cookies between sheets based on similar sizes. For instance, I used four sizes of heart-shaped cookie cutters, so I placed the two smaller sized cookies on one sheet and two larger sized cookies on the other. That way, if baking time varies, you can simply pull one tray out earlier than the other rather than having to individually remove cookies.)
- Re-roll the dough and repeat until as much of the dough is used up as possible.
- Bake for 10 to 16 minutes (could be less or more than this time range depending on the size of your cookies, so keep a close watch), or until the bottom, pan-touching edges of each cookie are just beginning to turn light golden brown.
- Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then carefully transfer to wire cooling racks to cool completely.
- Meanwhile, prepare the vegan royal icing.
- Once the cookies have cooled completely, ice them and decorate to your heart's content.
- Store the finished cookies at room temperature for up to 3 days or refrigerate for up to one week.