My daughter helped me make these, and she loved it! She was so excited about cutting out the hearts, and was over the moon about the frosting. She kept calling them, "little cuties", and couldn't wait for them to dry.
Set that aside, and in the bowl of a mixer (stand, or hand mixer), put the softened butter and powdered sugar, and cream together until light and fluffy.
Once these are well mixed, add in the egg and vanilla, and again, mix well. It will look a little curdled, but don't worry, it will work itself out.
Now then, slowly add in the flour/cocoa/salt mixture with the mixer on a low speed (if not, you'll be wearing it! Trust me!). Once it has just come together, with no streaks of white in the dough, move the dough to some plastic wrap, and put it in the fridge for 1-2 hours to rest.
Roll your dough out to about 1/4" thick, and use whatever cookie cutter you'd like, and cut away! For February, we used a heart cutter, and got to have some fun. This is a somewhat delicate dough, so don't be shy with the cocoa powder, because you don't want it to stick to your counter top.
Also, you want to be sure to get the most cuts you can the first time around; each time you need to regroup the scraps, the texture of the finished cookie will change ever so slightly.
Once all of your cookies are cut out, lay the cookies out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and bake for 10-12 minutes. Let them cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, and then move the cookies to a cooling wrack, to cool completely.
To start off with, put the powdered sugar through a sifter; you don't want any lumps in your icing! So, sift together the powdered sugar and the meringue powder, and add in the water.
When you add in the water, it may look like it won't work into a smooth icing dough, but it will. Just let the mixer run on low, for 5-10 minutes, until it looses its wet shine. If you notice your mixer working too hard, you may want to take it out and hand knead it.
This stage reminds me a lot of my marshmallow fondant; take about 1/4 of the icing ball, set it aside in an air tight container. For these two color icings, I wanted to keep one plain white, and one pink. So, I separated out the 1/4 of the icing, to keep it white.
For the remaining icing, put about 1/4 tsp of gel food coloring (I used red) in, and mix on low speed, until it is well incorporated.
The 5 Tbs of water you already added in will give you a very, very firm icing. Add in another 1-2 Tbs of water, to get the perfect firmness for piping a hard edge around your cookies. Mix your water in a little bit at a time; you can always add more, but you can't take it out!
Once your piping icing is ready, put it into a bag, fitted with a #3 tip, and pipe around your cookie. Set this aside to completely dry, for 3 hours, at least. Believe me, it does not have to be pretty. Just make sure it is completely touching all edges of the cookie.
These aren't beautiful, but you just want a boarder to keep your "flooding" icing inside.
Take the remaining icing, and mix in another 1-2 Tbs of water, until you can pour it off of a spoon; the perfect consistency will reabsorb quickly into main dish. I like to put my flooding icing into a squeeze bottle; it helps maintain control. I put the pink and white icings in the squeeze bottles, turn them upside down, and place them into mason jars. This way, the icing is ready to be poured out, and waiting on me!
So, now then, take the cookie that has been edged, and pour the flooding icing into the boarder. You don't want to flood it completely edge to edge, because you will be adding decorating icing.
Take a knife and gently smooth out the first icing, to meet the edges of the boarders. I opted with a very simple, yet pretty design for these cookies. I took the white icing, and made dots all around the edges, then drug a toothpick through them, making connecting hearts.
Do whatever you want, though! Have fun with it!