January 30, 2012

Better than Flowers: Valentine's Cookie Bouquets

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While my mom was in the hospital, my brother and I saw another patient get a cookie bouquet. It was cute, too. The cookies were all bears and decorated (albeit, a bit poorly. I think it was hand made) like doctors and nurses, and the card said that cookies are the best medicine. I decided that I would make one for my mother. Me and cut-out cookies are not the best of friends, however, and I'm not much of a cookie decorator. I'm too impatient for it. So I thought a slice and bake cookie would be better, and since I'm such a cinnamon fan, I went with cinnamon roll cookies. These are just basically sugar cookies rolled with a cinnamon brown sugar filling. I've linked the recipe that I used, but you can make them with any recipe you like, just roll it out, brush with a little melted butter or margarine, and sprinkle some brown sugar and cinnamon on top. Roll it up into a log and freeze for about 20 minutes, then slice and bake. It also doesn't have to be cinnamon roll cookies. Personally, I like a pinwheel cookie because it looks like an old-fashioned lollipop, but any sturdy roll-out cookie works for making cookie pops, even the pre-made slice and bake kind from the grocery store.

Of course, my mother was only in the hospital about 3.5 days (the .5 being the day she was discharged, National Chocolate Cake Day), one of which was the day of her surgery, one of which I went to the hospital straight from work, and one of which I wasn't feeling well. So my plans for a "Get Well Soon" or a "Welcome Home" cookie bouquet fell through.

Then it hits me; I'd been amassing small trinkets thinking that I should do some sort of Valentine's Day craft. I'd had it narrowed down to some sort of centerpiece, using these really cute, decorative glass bottles I'd gotten from The Christmas Tree Shops. I had been thinking of using some polka dot fake flowers I'd seen in a craft store (because polka dots are awesome), but I realized that I could do the cookie pops instead of flowers and it would be so much better.

You need to start off with some decorative glass bottles. These were super inexpensive (I think I use the word super too much, but it's just such a super awesome word) at the Christmas Tree Shops; 4 of them came in a package for about $3. You can find similar ones at craft stores, dollar stores, thrift stores, etc. You could even upcycle some glass bottles destined for the recycle pail, like empty wine bottles, or the maple syrup bottle since you used it up making muffins this morning. Just me?

You'll also want some decorative elements. I went with some Valentine's themed foam stickers (aren't the little robots so cute?) and wooden gift tags, both of which I got from Michaels.
Next, you want to decorate and fill the bottles. I filled mine with plastic pony beads (you know the kind you used as a kid to make your mother a necklace strung on a shoe lace?). These are inexpensive and can be found almost anywhere. I also had them already lying around the house. The wooden gift tags I used to tie the plastic to the bottles.
The pink one's my favorite; gotta love the little robot dog!
 The plastic bags are just storage bags from the grocery store; plain cellophane bags that come in a box with twist ties. They were kind of big, so I cut them down by half and used a Valentine's sticker to stick down the ends. These I already had in the house, but I'm sure you can find valentine-themed treat bags if you so desire. Just stick in two cookie pops (you might have to cut down one of the lollipop sticks slightly to get varying heights), wrap with plastic and tie with gift tag. You could also use ribbon or a pipe cleaner to tie the bag instead of a gift tag. The possibilities are endless.

Have a valentine who won't be satisfied with 2 cookies?
Just put a Styrofoam round into an appropriately colored/decorated bucket or pot or basket, stick in cookie pops and wrap in plastic. I added the ribbon for a little extra flair- just use double-sided tape to stick it to the bucket. Now, I already had the bucket, but I think it came from the dollar store, as did the ribbon. The Styrofoam round is from Michaels, and the plastic bag is the same as I used for the bottles (I told you they were big).
And, as Nadia G would say, tsaketa. An easy-peasy, inexpensive alternative to flowers that's better. Because you can eat it.

Cinammon Roll Cookie Pops {Printable Version}
Yield: about 30 cookie pops


For the cookies:

3 ½ cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. salt

¾ cup unsalted butter, softened

1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk

2 eggs

1 tbsp. vanilla extract

For the filling:

Melted butter (2-3 tbsp.)

½ cup brown sugar

2 ½ tsp. cinnamon


In a bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter at medium speed until smooth. Add in the condensed milk, the eggs, and the vanilla extract, beating well after each addition. Add in the flour mixture and beat until smooth. Divide the dough into 4 equal parts, wrap each in plastic wrap and chill for a minimum of 2 hours or overnight.

In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar and cinnamon. Set aside. On a sheet of plastic wrap, roll out the first section of dough into a rectangle. The dough should be about ¼ inch thick. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle evenly with the brown sugar/cinnamon mixture. Roll the dough into a log (use the plastic wrap to help guide this), wrap in plastic wrap and freeze until firm, about 20 minutes. Repeat with the rest of the dough.

Preheat oven to 350°. Take the first log out of the freezer and slice into pieces about ¾ to 1 inch thick. Carefully insert a lollipop stick into the middle of each slice. Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a Silpat mat and bake 12-14 minutes, or until the cookies are lightly browned. Let cool on the pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining 3 logs.

Recipe adapted from Favorite Brand Name Best-Loved Recipes of All Time