Homemade Panera Bread Valentine Cookies

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Homemade Panera Bread Valentine Cookies
From www.foodfanatic.com, by Kelsey Banfield

Homemade Panera Bread Valentine Cookies Photo

This winter I’ve developed a bit of an addiction to Panera Bread. One recently opened in our town and I find myself there on a regular basis to have lunch with my children. One of my favorite orders is the garden vegetable pesto soup, tea, and a butter shortbread cookie for dessert.

The cookies are a treat I only let myself order only once in a while. They are SO good, but they are so buttery and rich, I am confident they do not mean good news for my waistline come spring.

In the interest of my wallet, however, last month I came to realize that my Panera visits need to become less frequent. They only way I could imagine doing this was by learning how to make a few of our favorites at home.

Homemade Panera Bread Valentine Cookies Picture

First up was the soup. It took a couple of versions, but I finally figured out a recipe we love and I’ve made it twice now. Then it was time to work on the cookies.

I am not a cookie decorating master, but I can certainly handle making a simple glazed shortbread. To come up with a recipe we loved I started with a thick, rich shortbread dough. Instead of pressing it into a pan to make shortbread bars, I rolled out the dough and used a cookie cutter to make giant hearts. They baked in a mild oven until they were solid and just golden around the edges, then they cooled for the afternoon.

Panera doesn’t use a thick icing on their cookies, but it is sweet and definitely covers the whole surface of the treat. I decided to make a thin colorful glaze that would harden on top of the cookie and cover it with lots of red sugar for Valentine’s Day. It is just the right amount of sweet without being too cloying. I preferred it to a super thick frosting and appreciated that it was so easy to decorate.

Now that I have this simple meal done, I feel okay about cutting down on my Panera visits. Until the spring cookie designs come out, that is!

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Homemade Panera Bread Valentine Cookies Recipe

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Ingredients

  • 3 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour

For the Glaze:

  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 1 tablespoon water

To Decorate:

  • food coloring, as desired
  • sanding sugar, as desired

Directions

To Make the Cookie Dough:

  1. Cream the butter and sugar in an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
  2. Add the salt and vanilla and beat until just blended.
  3. With the mixer on low, beat in the flour until the dough is smooth and comes together.
  4. Chill the dough in the fridge for at least 3 hours, or up to 24 hours.

To Bake the Cookies:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Roll the dough out on a floured surface to 1/8”-inches thick. Use a heart cookie cutter to cut out heart shapes and place them on the lined cookie sheet.
  3. Bake the hearts for 18 to 20 minutes, or until the hearts are lightly golden around the edges. Allow to cool completely before glazing.

For the Glaze and Decorating:

  1. Whip the glaze ingredients together in a bowl. Add up to 1 tablespoon more water as needed to make the glaze thin enough to spread.
  2. Spread the glaze on the cooled cookies and cover with sugar.
  3. Allow the glaze to harden for 30 minutes. Serve!

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