For me, baking and love have long been intrinsically interwoven. From the wobbly homemade birthday cakes my mom labored over each year, to the first muffin I shared with the cool boy I had silently adored for ages at school — and then the batch of cookies my best friend baked for me six months later when he dumped me without warning (I ate them all in one go, heartbroken and tear-strewn, but consoled by the still-warm chocolate chips) — food is love, in so many different forms.
But what if food can actually cause love, rather than just reflect it? In the move Chocolat, Juliette Binoche played a mysterious and mischievous chocolatier who was able to produce divine, personalized chocolates for each customer who came to the store, guaranteed to fulfill their desires and enhance their relationships within days. These Monogram Cupcakes and Love-letter Cookies may not be quite so powerful (who knows?), but they’re a sure-fire way of sending a message to those you love this year on Valentine’s Day, be they lovers, co-workers or family and friends.
In this project I’ve used a single monogram initial seal which would be great for a partner or best friend (or for yourself!), but you could also substitute a heart design if baking a batch of cupcakes or cookies for co-workers or a class. All the supplies are available from major craft stores, and these are easy to master. I hope you’ll enjoy the project! Come visit me at Instagram or my site any time. —Kate
- Fondant icing, colored or plain white
- Wax seal, either a monogram initial or any shape you choose
- Brush-on edible gold luster dust (optional) to gild your monogram seals and a soft brush to apply it with
- Chopping board
- Powdered sugar and fresh lemon juice for the cupcake icing
- Plain, undecorated cupcakes (homemade or store-bought)
Knead the fondant icing until it becomes soft and pliable, and then break off pieces to roll into balls the size of your thumb. Space these balls out along the length of your chopping board.Step 2
Take your wax seal and press it down into each ball, which will spread the fondant to form the seal, just as it would with warm wax. If you’re using gold luster powder, dip a dry paintbrush into the luster powder and brush it lightly onto each seal, building up coats until you reach the level of sheen and gilding you’re looking for. The trick is to do this when the fondant is still slightly moist, but not to press hard or jab with the brush in a way which dents the fondant seal. Leave to harden and set (this only takes a few minutes).Step 3
Meanwhile, mix up the icing for your cupcakes. Pour a cupful of powdered sugar into a bowl and add lemon juice until you have a paste of the consistency where it will drop slowly from a spoon; you want it to be runny enough to cover the top of your cake without needing to be spread out, but not so runny that it drips or thins. Scoop up a heaped teaspoon of the icing and add to the center of each cupcake, gently pushing it out with the back of your spoon, if needed, to form a circle. Place one of your monogram seals on top of the icing while it is still setting. Finally (importantly) — taste your work!Step 4
Love Letter CookiesStep 5
- Cookie dough (homemade or store-bought)
- Rolling pin and knife or rolling pizza-cutter
- Cardstock rectangle cut to your desired cookie size; I used 3″x 2″
- White fondant paste
- Red fondant paste
- Apricot jelly to glaze the cookies, or edible glue if you prefer
- Monogram seal (or use a heart design or a kiss!)
- Optional Vellum envelopes to slip your cookies into and closures; I used mini wooden pegs and faux petals
Roll out your cookie dough and use the cardstock shape to cut out a set of rectangular cookie envelopes. You can use a regular knife for this, but a rolling pizza wheel is great for cutting straight lines; use this if you have one. Lay these out on a cookie sheet and chill in the fridge for 20 minutes before baking; this helps to minimize spreading. Place in the oven once chilled and bake according to your recipe instructions. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.Step 7
Roll out your white fondant icing to your desired thickness and cut rectangles using your cardstock shape as before. Take a knife and press gently across the shapes to make an indent from corner to corner (top right to bottom left, top left to bottom right; be careful not to cut right through), to imitate the folds on the back of an envelope. Leave to harden slightly for a few minutes.Step 8
Brush your cooled cookies lightly with apricot glaze (or edible glue if you prefer), and then gently lay one of the white fondant envelope shapes atop each cookie. Press down lightly to seal in place.Step 9
Using the same technique as for the cupcake monogram seals, take your red fondant and roll into small balls before pressing the seal into the center of each. Allow to harden and then put a dab of apricot glaze or edible glue on the back of each and add to the center of your love-letter cookie.Step 10
To package up your love-letter cookies, try using vellum envelopes, which continue the theme and allow a tantalizing idea of what’s inside. Or for a special, one-off cookie, place it in an individual shallow gift box, perhaps with a poem or a letter. Use a dab of icing to secure your cookie to the base of the box for extra stability, if needed.
Storage notes: You can make the edible fondant seals upto a week in advance and store in an air-tight container at room temperature. Both the cupcakes and the cookies will taste best if eaten within 3 days of making. Happy Valentine’s Day!