Conversation Heart Bears
Valentine's Day is right around the corner! Time to start planning treats for your valentines! I wanted to incorporate something classic into my Valentine's Day treat and came up with conversation hearts. I mean, what's more iconic than conversation hearts? There was just one problem, they're kind of gross. Is it just me?! They really aren't good! They're all chalky and.. ehhh... no. Now conversation hearts made out of candy melts?! That's more my jam. And what could be cuter than little teddy bears holding them. Nothing, that's what.
Using the silicon tray makes it super easy since you can just throw it into the microwave. Yay for less mess! When the melts start to melt you just stir them up a little, drop the tray down on the counter a little to even it out and get rid of the air bubbles and throw it in the fridge for a bit to harden. Once you're sure they've completely solidified you just pop them out, which I was a little apprehensive of, but turned out to be super easy!
Then you just pipe on whatever conversation heart saying you want onto each heart. I used a #1 piping tip and red candy melts. You want to use the tiniest tip you can, otherwise the letters just blob together. Oh, one helpful tip I have is if your candy starts to solidify in your piping bag, unscrew and take off the tip (do not leave the tip on!) and then throw it in the microwave for 30 second or so.
For the bears I made a batch of my favorite sugar cookies and cut them out with a bear cookie cutter.
Before throwing them in the oven, I used a heart to measure and I bent the arms upward to "hold" the heart. You really have to smoosh the arms and shape them. You want them like bookends. If you just bend them up, they'll fall back open. So really shape them. Then I put them in the fridge for 30 minutes to firm them back up to make sure they didn't spread when baking.
After my bears were done baking, I let them cool for a bit and then before they were completely cooled, I placed a heart in each of their arms. Then the hearts melted slightly and hardened onto each bear. If you're scared that they are melting too much, you can throw them in the fridge or freezer to stop the melting. Then pipe on little faces on with some melted chocolate and voila! If you wait too long, or don't feel comfortable putting the hearts onto the warm cookies, you can just use some of the chocolate you used for piping on faces to stick the hearts on.
Now, you can hand them out just like that or maybe you would like them gift wrapped. You can put them in little individual baggies and throw in sprinkles and actual conversation hearts to make it extra cute. I recommend doing this with a lot of flourish. Channel Rowan Atkinson in Love Actually.
CANDY MELT CONVERSATION HEARTS INGREDIENTS
Mix of different color candy melts (I used pink, orange, yellow and vibrant green)
2 ounces red candy melts
BEAR SUGAR COOKIE INGREDIENTS
makes 24 bear cookies
1/2 lb. unsalted butter
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
1-3 tbs milk
24 candy melt conversation hearts
2 ounces chocolate
CANDY MELT CONVERSATION HEART INSTRUCTIONS
Put three candy melts into each cavity. Microwave for around a minute and half on high. Once they've started melting, take them out and stir. Then pick up the tray and drop it onto the counter several times to even it out and get rid of the air bubbles. Refrigerate until solid. Once you're sure they've completely solidified pop out the hearts.
Fit a #1 piping tip onto a piping bag. Melt around two ounces of red candy melts in a bowl in the microwave per instructions on package. Place in piping bag and pipe on sayings onto each heart.
BEAR SUGAR COOKIE INSTRUCTIONS
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter and sugar together until just incorporated. Do not over-mix at this stage, or the cookies may spread while baking. Lightly beat the egg and vanilla and add to butter-sugar mixture. Mix again on low speed, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl intermittently as needed.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Add to the butter-sugar-egg mixture. Mix on low speed until a dough is formed and there are no longer any streaks of butter in the mixing bowl. The dough will often clump around the paddle attachment while being mixed. This is normal and a good sign that your dough is the right consistency. If your mixture does not come together and is crumbly, add milk 1 tbs at a time until the dough clumps.
Turn the dough out onto a large sheet of plastic wrap. Form into a ball and then smoosh down to a thick round. Wrap tightly with the plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour
Lightly dust your work surface with flour and roll out dough to about 1/4 inch thickness. If your rolling pin sticks to the dough, dust that with flour too. Cut out your bear shapes with cookie cutter and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Take the leftover dough and roll it back out and cut out more bears. You can continue doing this until you've run out of dough or you've reached 24 bears.
Grab a heart to measure and bend the bear's arms upward so they "hold" the heart. If you just bend them up, they'll fall back open. So really shape them and make them like bookends.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Refrigerate your bears for 30 minutes and then bake for 15-20 minutes.
Let cool on the baking sheet for 5-10 minutes. Before they are completely cooled, place a heart in each of their arms. The hearts will melt slightly, hardening them onto each bear. If the bears were too warm and you see that the hearts are melting too much, throw them in the fridge or freezer to stop the melting. If your bears cooled too much, or don't feel comfortable putting the hearts onto the warm cookies, you can just use some of the chocolate you're about to use for the piping on the faces to stick the hearts on.
For the faces, melt chocolate per package instructions, place in a piping bag fitted with a #1 piping tip. Pipe on two eyes and a nose onto each bear. Let sit until everything has hardened.