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An easy decorating shortcut for your Valentine's Day cookies

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The cookies that I took to church this weed were plain rolled sugar cookies, but in my decorating equipment I had some very pretty sprinkles that took the heart-shaped beauties from plain to fabulous. But another thing I found out how to deal with is the whole issue of making frosting and then decorating that once again.

This time I skipped frosting entirely, and you can too if you buy some syrup that can be brushed on the cookies. A sugar syrup, which you can also make yourself, will provide a surface for the sprinkles to stick to, after which it dries to a thin film on the cookies (letting their delicate butter color come through).

Walmart in Tucson is awash with Valentine's Day-themed materials, and you don't even have to make your way to the baking or housewares section--you will come across them as you walk through the store. I got a large shaker that came loaded with at least six different decorations, such as pink, red and lavender sugars as well as sprinkles with heart shapes and other such things.

You could also go to the section where coffee syrups are displayed and pick up an amaretto or hazelnut syrup, or another that you like. I just saw last night that Hershey's is coming out with a chocolate spread, which will be great and probably behave much like Nutella. What I did yesterday was take two butter cookies and sandwich them with Nutella, which was definitely a hit with my chocolate lovers over there.

If you want to make a simple syrup yourself, you can use half sugar and half water, placing them into a saucepan and heating to melt the sugar. That's all there is to a simple syrup, a staple of bartenders everywhere.

If you would like a wash of delicate color, you could also melt some jelly, a bright red one like currant jelly, and then brush the cookies. Jelly will dry to a glaze on the cookies as well, so adding some sparkling sugar will work well with the basic pink tint that it will impart to the cookies. Seedless jelly from something like blueberries or blackberries will also give you a lavender wash over the pale cookies, so you could have two shades of color, or more than one flavor if you get seedless raspberry as well as currant jelly.

The possibilities are endless, and you do not have to buy tons of powdered sugar to make pretty Valentine's Day treats unless you like the process. For me it seemed too soon after Christmas to do complicated cookies again, so I contrived the syrup approach and it worked fine!

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