February 13, 2009

Strawberry Jello Heart Cookies

These cookies are an oddity and not something I would normally make, but I asked my son Alex what kind of cookies he wanted and "strawberry" popped out of his mouth. I've never had luck making anything with baked strawberries but I do have a bad habit of buying Jello even though we only eat it 2-3 times a year. So I dug around and found that yes a box of strawberry Jello was hiding in my pantry. Armed with artificial strawberry flavor and red dye #40 (hey moderation is the key, right?) I hunted down a Jello cookie recipe I'd seen online. I felt I had to redeem myself somewhat so I added a real vanilla bean and made them heart-shaped for Valentine's Day.

I think any sliceable cookie recipe would be easy to make heart shaped. All I did was roll the dough up into a tube, refrigerate it for the required 2+ hours. Then when I was ready to bake I cut a notch on one side and shaved off a little on the other side to make the pointed bottom of the heart. I rolled the whole thing in colored sugar which helped to knock down the edges and enhance the heart shape. Despite the dubious ingredients, these were a tasty buttery cookie with a pleasant strawberry flavor and perfect for Valentine's Day!

Strawberry Jello Heart Cookies
Adapted from Cast Sugar's Cherry Almond Jello Cookies, her recipe came from Gelatin Spritz Cookies from All Recipes
Makes ~4 dozen cookies

1 1/2 cups (12 oz) butter (Earth Balance margarine in our house)
1 (3 oz) package strawberry Jello
1 cup sugar
the scrapings from 1 vanilla bean
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
colored sugar, optional

-Cream the butter/margarine with the sugar, Jello powder and vanilla bean scrapings until light and fluffy.
-Stir together the flour and baking powder and set aside.
-Add the egg and vanilla extract to the creamed butter/EB and beat until combined.
-Add the flour mixture and beat until the dough is smooth and even. *If you have a cookie press they can be baked as spritz cookies at this point.
-Place a third of the dough on a large sheet of plastic wrap, shape into a log ~2 inches in diameter and wrap tightly in the plastic wrap. Repeat with the other two thirds of the dough. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, overnight is better to develop the vanilla flavor.
-Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
-Remove one log of dough from the fridge and cut out a small groove on one side, this will form the top indent of the heart. Turn the log over and trim a little on the sides to form a point.
-Roll the log in the colored sugar. You will need to pour some colored sugar into the groove to get it to stick in. Be gentle so you don't destroy the details of the heart.
-Slice 1/4 inch slices from the log and place them on a parchment lined baking sheet. Leave an inch between each cookie.
-Bake for 6-9 minutes, until they puff slightly and the bottoms are very light brown. Cool on the baking sheet for 1-2 minutes and then remove to cool completely on a wire rack.
-Repeat the process with the remaining dough. The dough will keep well in the fridge for up to 5 days and the vanilla flavor will improve with longer refrigeration.

My cat Abbie has a heart shaped spot on her nose, isn't she the cutest thing ever!!


Veronica said...

awww..cute cookies. :)

Are they chewy?

Alisa - Frugal Foodie said...

I have never seen such a recipe! They came out very nice. And Abbie is VERY cute!

VeggieGirl said...

Such a fun recipe!!


Hannah said...

What great tips for making heart-shaped icebox cookies- I wouldn't have thought to make them that way!

Donna-FFW said...

What a nice idea. I wonder if all the flavors/colors would work depending on the theme. They look so cute.

jumbleberryjam said...

Awww, I want to give that little nose a smooch! :-)

5 Star Foodie said...

Those cookies are adorable! My daughter would love them too.

Navita said...

they look adoarble n u bowled me over by NOT using cookie cutters...tht is some great job!

Hi my first time here ...n love this place :)

DJ Karma said...

Alas- jell-o has gelatin in it, so none for me since it's not vegan... do you think strawberry jam would work, reducing the sugar a bit? Love the bright color!!

shellyfish said...

I love the hearts, and Abby's nose is the cutest!
I don't eat jello, but I bet this could be done with agar and juice, too!

Daily Spud said...

Very cute cookies and very cute cat :)

Zerrin said...

I can feel how they are yummy in my mouth right now thanks to this wonderful picture

Nina Timm said...

That is one adorable cat!!! I have never heard of a Jello cookie before, but sure sounds interesting!

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

These are beautiful, even if the jello thing might be a turn-off for me. ;-)

You should send your cat pic to Michelle of Bleeding Espresso for her "love Thursdays" feature. What a great photo!

Maggie said...

Veronica: They're chewy right out of the oven but tender crispy after they cool completely.

Alisa - Frugal Foodie: Thanks!

VeggieGirl: I'd love to try them with agar based gels just to see if it would work.

Hannah: It was really easy.

Donna-FFW: I think any flavor would work. I should get rid of all my Jello stock this way!

jumbleberryjam: I think she's irresistible but I'm a sucker for cats.

5 Star Foodie: They definitely have a lot of kid appeal. And if you use blue sugar your tongue will turn purple.

Navita: Thanks for visiting my site!

DJ Karma: Yeah, Jello isn't my favorite thing. I need to stop buying the stuff. I think you could try using strawberry flavor in a plain sugar cookie recipe. Do try the real vanilla bean though, it makes a huge difference in sugar cookies.

shellyfish: I agree that agar and juice might work or just strawberry extract/flavor in a regular sugar cookie.

Daily Spud: Thanks!

Zerrin: Thanks!

Nina Timm: Thanks, I hope you try them.

Butterball said...

Pretty, pretty & love your cat's little love pat! Kudos to landing these on Tastespotting!

Dawn said...

Those are different. How did they taste?
I just love that nose on Abbie. You're right, it is heart shaped, how cool!! Happy Valentine's Day!

anna said...

I love that you justified the Jello to yourself by adding vanilla bean! These are really cute.

chuck said...

I would have never thought of using jello in a cookie, but I guess if you think about it. It could work. Well, just one look at these cute cookies, you can see that it would lol.

Jamie said...

Jello is pretty scary (yes, what kind of gelatin do they use?) but the cookies are really adorable and I'll bet they are good and flavorful.

The cat is so cute too!

Gera @ SweetsFoods said...

Maggie, adorable cookies and the cat too :)
Wonderful for V day..I can feel the buttery-strawberry flavor here!


finsmom said...

I have never used jello in a cookie before! What a clever idea! Great photo!

Clumbsy Cookie said...

I'm in love with your cat! And the cookies are a lot of fun! And so very versatile!

Kevin said...

Nice looking heart cookies!

Cakespy said...

Oh my goodness, they look so festive and delicious!! I have got to try these. Very inventive too. :-)

Allergy Mom said...

I'm late to the party, but I just love the heart shaped spot on your kitty's nose! What a great shot! (I miss having one because of my son's environmental allergies, and can absolutely feel the fur and smell the cat breath when I look at the photo.)

Nurit "1 family. friendly. food." said...

They look great!
What about using strawberry jam?

glamah16 said...

I love the look of the cookie. I'm like you as this would be a stray off course. But sometimes that more fun.

Maria said...

I love the bright pink color!

ARLENE said...

Wow! I've never seen jello used in a recipe. These look great. Your cat is sooooooooooo beautiful and I love the heart on her little nose.

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

Aw, Abbie is so very cute! :)

Those cookies look great! Did Alex like them?

TavoLini said...

LOL, cute cat!!

So, did Alex dig the strawberry cookies? Very creative :)

Melissa said...

Those are super cute and they look delicious!

Heather said...

those cookies are really pretty and sound so easy! and your cat's nose is so cute!