I came across Grandma’s recipe for love knot cookies when scouring her collection for Valentine’s Day themed treats, and yes, I chose to test them out simply because they had the word “love” in the title. And what is Valentine’s Day if not an excuse to eat cookies in the name of love? Unfortunately, it turned out to be one of Grandma’s most cryptic recipes yet. It looked like it had been scrawled on the back of a napkin and didn’t even include an oven temperature or bake time! But that’s all part of the fun of this project – trying to get inside Grandma’s head.
I’m not sure what it is about Valentine’s Day that gets me in a baking mood, but every year around this time, I experience a manic desire to produce baked goods and gift them to people who I hope will love me forever. That includes friends, frenemies, co-workers, students, professors, boyfriends, and more! No one is safe.
If we’re being honest, my baking motives are not always 100% altruistic. In fact, back when Anthony and I first started dating, I made him cupcakes on Valentine’s Day and then asked him if he was my “boyfriend”, as if he could say “no” with a mouthful of icing. It was not my proudest moment, but in my defence, I really liked him and the cupcakes were excellent (I ate four, so I know). I was 95% sure he was my boyfriend, but I just wanted to make sure. So, cupcakes.
As it turns out, there was really no need for a baking scheme that Valentine’s Day (or any other Valentine’s Day). He totally saw through my delicious ploy and agreed to be my boyfriend! *Barf* Five Valentine’s Days later, here we still are. But please do not interpret this story as a lesson in love or baking. I do not endorse devious cupcakes! Especially because…feminism.
These days, Galentine’s Day gets me way more excited than Valentine’s Day anyway. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of romance. But I’m a way bigger fan of celebrating my lady friends at brunch! These love knot cookies can definitely be used to celebrate either occasion, but I believe the cute ombre icing effect would be most appreciated by other cool ladies. And if you need to use them to trick a cool lady into being best friends with you, I am totally okay with that. As this post has revealed, baking can be used for good and evil, but female friendship is always a good cause in my books.
Since Grandma’s recipe for love knot cookies didn’t offer many clues as to how they should look or be baked or consumed, I had to do a little bit of research to come up with the final product. Turns out, they’re more like tiny sweet dinner rolls than cookies, but they are quite delicious. I ended up adapting most of the recipe from a blog called My Verona NJ, which also revealed that these cookies are traditionally an Italian treat. That’s why they taste like bread!
Dipping them in the icing was definitely the most fun part. All I did to create the ombre effect was to add another drop of red food colouring to the icing for every three cookies. Someone who saw the picture above asked me if what he was looking at were “unicorn turds”, which I think is a hilariously apt description for these love knot cookies. Do you agree? And can a blog really have too many recipes for cookies that resemble poop? I swear it’s not intentional.
Products featured in this recipe:
Chicago Metallic 16-3/4 by 12-Inch Commercial II Traditional Uncoated Large Jelly Roll Pan
KitchenAid Artisan 5-Quart Stand Mixer, Ice Blue
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp butter, room temperature
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 large egg + 1 egg white
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp lemon zest
- 1 cup icing sugar
- 2 tbsp milk
- 1 tsp almond extract
- red food colouring (amount varies on how pink you want the icing)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Grease one cookie sheet or line with parchment paper.
- Combine the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a medium bowl.
- Cream the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy. If using a stand mixer, use the paddle attachment on speed 3 or 4 for about 3 minutes.
- Add whole egg to the butter and sugar. Mix well.
- Then add the egg white to the butter and sugar. Mix well.
- Add the lemon and lemon zest to the wet mixture. Mix well, again.
- Gradually add the dry mixture to the wet mixture, beating at a slightly higher speed to combine.
- Form the dough into a ball, wrap it in saran wrap or wax paper, and refrigerate for an hour.
- After an hour, remove dough from fridge and place on a lightly floured surface.
- To form the love knot shape, break off a piece of dough roughly the size of a golf ball, roll it out with a rolling pin, and then use your hands to roll it into a rope roughly 1/2 inch thick and 7 inches long. Gently tie a knot with the dough rope. One end should poke up through the centre. Repeat 8 times or until dough is used up.
- Bake for 12 minutes or until lightly browned.
- For the icing, combine the icing sugar, milk and almond extract in a small bowl and stir with a whisk until smooth. Add food colouring sparingly as it is very potent! If you want to get different shades of pink, add one more drop per 3 cookies. Dip the cookies into the bowl of icing "knot-side-up" one at a time.
- It's important not to skimp on the lemon zest. It's what gives these cookies their distinct, lemony flavour. You can even add more than 1 tbsp if you like. Go crazy!