Greetings from sunny Los Angeles! I'm here for a few days on a work trip, shooting a fun little video with a couple of my sponsors. I can't wait to share the project with you guys — it'll be super fun, and you'll get to see the homeowning/gardening side of me that I don't often share on this blog! I'm also very excited to see all my LA-based friends and plan on dragging them to all the restaurants with the kind of food I can't get up in Portland. That means trendy Filipino food at Ma'am Sir, crispy bread at Kismet, Taiwanese fried chicken in Alana's fancy new neighborhood, and maybe even Shake Shack if my pants still fit by the end of the day? We'll see, we'll see.
Excited as I am about my mini LA food trip, it does mean that Erlend and I are spending Valentine's Day apart. To make sure we could celebrate the occasion at least a little, I made him and his coworkers a batch of these strawberry malt sugar cookies before I left. I'm especially proud of these sugar cookies because they're perfectly cute without having to deal with any piping bags or elaborate royal icing. In fact, they're not even frosted!
To make these cookies, I used a technique I like to call "INCEPTION COOKIE". I divide a batch of sugar cookie dough into two and dye one a different color. I then use cookie cutters to cut out a big shape, and then use a smaller cookie cutter to cut out a slightly smaller shape within the bigger cookies. I then use the same smaller cookie cutter to stamp out the smaller shape from the dyed dough and nestle it into the bigger shape's cut out, essentially placing a cookie within a cookie (do you get the name "Inception Cookie" now?!). When baked, the two different colored doughs meld together to create a seamless cookie! It's so much easier than futzing around with royal icing, I promise.
In honor of Valentine's Day, I spiked the cookie dough with red food coloring and Nesquik Strawberry Milk Powder. The milk powder is malted, and gives the cookies a nice (but very subtle) strawberry malt flavor. To amp up the flavor, I recommend buying strawberry extract online (I like the Watkins variety) — in a pinch though, you can always use vanilla extract. The cookies will be perfectly tasty and buttery no matter what you do!
Some baker's notes:
- Nesquik Strawberry Milk Powder is available in most major US supermarkets in the aisle with the powdered milks, coffees, and teas. If you don't want to purchase an entire tin of the stuff, I totally get it — you can just omit from the recipe completely since it uses such a small amount. The resulting cookie will be just as tasty and will be more similar to the traditional sugar cookies we all know and love. Similarly, you can substitute the milk powder with regular milk powder, or chocolate too!
- To make my shapes, I used a 2 1/2-inch biscuit cutter and a 1 1/2-inch vintage heart cookie cutter wide. I found mine at a thrift shop, but you can find various heart cookie cutter sizes on Amazon. Also, don't feel limited to the shapes I used! The Cookie Inception technique can work on all sorts of shapes and sizes, just as long as one of the cookie cutters is bigger than the other.