VALENTINE’S DAY Hand-painted cinnamon heart cookies

Adell Shneer has always been drawn to colours - peonies in a market, an orange print scarf in a window, rolls of Japanese paper, and paintings. Seurat, Gerhard Richter, Matisse catch her eye. “I want to capture it,” she explained as she set out her painting materials on the counter in my kitchen. As a York University fine arts grad, she’s done her share of painting and designing. But Adell is also a superb baker, a former Canadian Living Magazine test kitchen manager and recipe developer.

Adell has changed her medium, and she's changed her canvas — today, she "paints" on cookie surfaces. Last year she turned her passions into a business, founding Art to Eat, hand-painted cookies that explore her love of colour and pattern, all edible - if you can spare the loss of a 4-bite size piece of original art work.

dell does custom orders, matching designs according to the client or celebration. For Valentine’s Day 2014, she has created special heart-shaped cookies for Sun Media readers. Not decorated with run-of-the-mill red and pink, but pastels inspired by conversation candy hearts. A very pleasing palette. With Adell’s simple ingredients and clear instructions, you, too, can create a sweet masterpiece for your loved one(s).



Adell Shneer is pictured with her cinnamon heart cookies. (Elizabeth Baird photo)

 Adell’s Cinnamon Heart Cookies

Adell adapted this recipe from Canadian Living Magazine


  • 3/4 cup (175 ml) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup (250 ml) granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp. (5 ml) real vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups (625 ml) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. (5 ml) cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. (2 ml) baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. (1 ml) salt


Line 2 rimless baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats; set aside.

In large bowl, beat butter with sugar until fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. In separate bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, baking powder and salt. Stir into butter mixture, stirring until well combined. Gather into smooth ball; divide in two. Flatten into discs; wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. (Make ahead: Refrigerate up to 24 hours. Let stand at room temperature until soft enough to roll, about 20 minutes).

On lightly floured surface, roll one disc of dough at a time to generous 1/4-inch (5 mm) thickness. Using 2-inch (5 cm) heart -shaped cutter, cut out shapes. Re-roll scraps. Place cookies, 1 inch (2.5 cm) apart on baking sheets. To help cookies keep their shape, chill or freeze raw cookies until firm, about 30 minutes in fridge, 15 in freezer. (Make ahead: Layer cookies between waxed paper in airtight container. Freeze for up to 2 weeks. )

Bake in centre of 350F (180C) until evenly golden, about 12 to 14 minutes. Let cool on baking sheet for 2 minutes; transfer to racks to cool.

Makes about 36 (2-inch/5 cm) cookies

Royal Icing


  • 1/3 cup (75 ml) pasteurized egg whites (available in refrigerator section in grocery store)
  • 1/2 tsp. (2 ml) cream of tartar
  • 3 1/2 cups (875 ml) icing sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. (15 ml) water
  • Food colouring (such as AmerColor gel or Wilton paste)


In bowl, beat egg whites with cream of tartar until foamy. Gradually beat in icing sugar until stiff, about 4 minutes. Cover with damp cloth. (Make ahead: Transfer to airtight container; cover surface directly with damp paper towel then cover container and refrigerate. Stir well before using). Arrange cookies on tray or rack. Spoon about 1/4 cup (60 ml) icing into small piping bag fitted with small plain tip. Pipe around top edge of cookies. Icing should hold its shape when piped. If too thin, add a little icing sugar, if too dry, add a little water. Mix well; test again. Let piping dry. (Piping creates a dam preventing icing inside piping from spilling over edges.)

Divide remaining icing into small bowls for tinting. Using toothpicks, add minute amounts of colouring to tint icing as desired. Add colour gradually until desired colour is reached.

Add water, drop by drop until icing will flow and fill tops of cookies, i.e. is fluid but not runny. Transfer tinted icing to squeeze bottles, or use small spoon to fill-in cookies a few at a time. Decorate as desired with contrasting colours. Let iced cookies dry undisturbed until completely hardened for 12 to 24 hours. Layer with waxed paper in airtight containers and store at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.

Makes 2 cups (500 ml), enough for 36 cookies.

Adell’s Tips:

For evenly rolled professional looking cookies, use rolling pin rings available at Golda’s Kitchen, ( or check with your local baking supplier for similar item.

Choose the appropriate ring for desired dough thickness and slip it onto rolling pin.

Good heavy shiny rimless baking sheets help cookies bake evenly.

Line cookie sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper

Look for AmeriColor gel food colouring. It provides vivid colours, lots of choices and mixes well. Plus, it doesn’t dry out quickly in the containers.

Add food colouring in tiny amounts with toothpick and mix in well before adding more. Colours dry a little darker and more intense. Newly iced cookies may have tiny air bubbles in icing. Tap cookies gently on counter and use toothpick to pop any bubbles.

Inspiration can be found all around. Keep your eyes open for pleasing colour combinations, shapes, patterns and ideas.