Happy Valentine’s Day, everybody!

As the mother of a 5-year-old daughter who loves cookies, baking, hearts, and decorating anything (not to mention being myself a former 5-year-old who loved cookies, baking, hearts, and decorating anything), I’ve been wanting to make these ever since I saw them in Julia Usher’s Cookie Swap, published in 2009.

But back then the daughter was 3, the son was 8, and the mother was on more deadlines than she knew what to do with.  Valentine’s Day 2010 passed with no marbled heart cookies, and so did Valentine’s Day 2011.  2012 looked as if it would go the same way–mom about to go to a conference, the usual pile of deadlines, and the cookie paraphernalia buried who-knows-where in the pantry.  Still, I ordered a set of Ateco heart cutters before I left, hoping they just might arrive on time.

And I stole out of the conference mid-session to go to that mecca of sugarcraft, NY Cake and Baking Supply, where I found the Chefmaster Liqua-Gel and silver dragées that could make these long-delayed hearts a glittering reality.

With only one alteration (subbing butter for shortening, ’cause Crisco gives me the heebie-jeebies), Zoe and I somehow managed to bake the gingerbread cookies, mix up the royal icings, and decorate two batches of cookies in time for Valentine’s Day–even turning out a few with spectacular marbling effects, thanks to some deft work with a toothpick.

Dinner was late, the table covered in frosting, I missed one self-imposed deadline, and woke up with a sinus headache from licking sugar off the toothpick, but was it worth it?  Just ask Zoe.