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Watercolor Rose Sugar Cookies are gorgeous, romantic sugar cookies with a beautiful watercolor design. You’ll be amazed at how simple it is to create the lovely watercolor patterns on the rose-flavored cookies!
I am so not a girly-girl. I don’t care about fashion, my day-to-day hairstyle is a very chic French look called a “bun” (maybe you’ve heard of it?), and I’m pretty sure most of the products in my makeup drawer date back to my college days. I don’t normally care for overly frilly or feminine decorations, in my home or on my food. That’s why I was a little surprised when these delicate watercolor cookies emerged from my kitchen last week, and was even more surprised by how much I loved them.
It doesn’t get much more girly than rose-flavored sugar cookies, containing bits of real rose petals, decorated with a pink and purple watercolor pattern and accented with sparkles of gold leaf, but I don’t care! I’m totally smitten with these gorgeous Valentine’s Day cookies. Who am I? What have you done with the real Elizabeth? Why am I suddenly curling my eyelashes and putting on fake nails? Where are my 4-inch stilettos? What’s going on?!
These cookies start with a basic sugar cookie dough, with two major additions: a big splash of rose water, and a big handful of finely chopped rose petals. (From an unsprayed or organically gardened rose, please!) The rose petals don’t actually contribute much flavor, so you can omit them if you can’t find the right type of rose to use…but if you have one, I think the streaks of pink or red petals in the dough make these cookies extra-beautiful.
The real star of the show, of course, is the fondant layer on top. I’ve talked about my love for fondant-topped cookies before. (Check out these ombre Valentine’s Day heart cookies from two years ago!) While I don’t think fondant on cake is the tastiest thing there is, I actually like a very thin layer of fondant on top of sugar cookies—it gives the cookies a nice texture and sweetness, and does a great job of extending their soft texture by protecting the tops from air. Plus, it’s just so much fun to decorate!
I used my marshmallow fondant recipe for these cookies. It’s easy to make and cheaper than buying a tub of fondant, plus it tastes like sweet vanilla marshmallows—what’s not to love? You can, of course, use any regular fondant you have on hand.
The watercolor painting part was surprisingly easy. I wasn’t sure how well it would work out, or if I would end up with a sodden, splotchy mess on my fondant. Fortunately, since it’s such an abstract pattern, having splotches and random drips of color actually adds to the look! I basically watered down two colors of food coloring (Americolor Deep Pink and Regal Purple) and splashed and brushed these two colors, in varying strengths, on top of the fondant hearts before they were added to the cookies. Sometimes I dipped a brush in water and just painted the water across the top, and other times I dipped it in pure food coloring and added strong patches of pigment to the fondant. Add a few extra splatters, or remove some coloring by pressing a paper towel to the top—the more varied and random, the better!
After gluing the hearts onto the cookies with corn syrup, I let the tops dry overnight, then added some flecks of real gold leaf to a few of the cookies. (Here are some instructions for working with gold leaf, if you’re new to the process.) I didn’t want to go crazy and gild everything, but I’m a sucker for a little pop of gold here and there.
There you have it. The so-girly-it-hurts cookie that won over even the staunchest anti-pink person.
Sugar cookies are such a fun dessert to make and can be customized to any holiday or color scheme. Check out some of my other fun sugar cookie recipes like Big Soft Sugar Cookies (with Frosting!) (try decorating them with valentine’s sprinkles), Candy Cane Cookies (try forming them into a heart and experimenting with the extract flavor), Stars and Stripes Sugar Cookies for the 4th of July (try changing the colors and making the center shape a heart). You could also try changing the color scheme and incorporating the decorating styles of these Sugar Cookie Pinwheels, Christmas Pinwheel Cookies and Easter Egg Sugar Cookies! Whatever you decide to make, have fun and let your creativity shine. Enjoy!
Box of Chocolates Cake
Pink and Red Velvet Valentine’s Day Cake
Don’t miss our collection of the 10 Best Valentine’s Day Cookies – see the whole web story here!
Watercolor Rose Sugar Cookies
For the Rose Sugar Cookies:
- 17 oz all-purpose flour, (4 cups)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 8 oz unsalted butter, cold and cubed
- 12 1/4 oz granulated sugar, (1 3/4 cups)
- 2 tbsp rose water , or 1 tsp concentrated rose flavor
- 2 large eggs
- 1 unsprayed/organic rose
For the Decorations:
- 1 lb white fondant
- deep pink gel food coloring, (I like Americolor brand.)
- regal purple gel food coloring
- light corn syrup
To Make the Rose Sugar Cookies:
- In a bowl, whisk together the flour and salt and set aside for now.
- Combine the cold cubed butter and the sugar in the bowl of a large stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat them on medium speed just until they’re mixed together and there are no longer any chunks of butter. The key is to get a homogenous texture, but not beat until it’s light and fluffy—we don’t want to beat too much air into the dough, because that will cause the cookies to spread!
- Add the rose water or rose flavoring, and one egg, and beat to combine. Add the second egg and beat until it’s incorporated.
- Stop the mixer and add the flour, and mix on low speed until most of the flour is incorporated and just a few streaks remain. Pull the petals off the rose and finely chop them into small pieces. Add the rose petals to the bowl, and finish mixing the dough with a spatula, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for an hour in the refrigerator.
- Dust your work surface and rolling pin with a light layear of. Roll the dough out until it’s a bit more than 1/4-inch thick. Cut heart shapes out of the dough, dusting the cutter with flour when necessary to ensure clean cuts. Re-roll the scraps and cut out more hearts, until you’ve used all the dough. This recipe yields about 34 3-inch hearts.
- Place the cookies on parchment-covered baking sheets. Chill the sheets in the freezer while you preheat the oven to 350 F. Bake at 350 for about 10-12 minutes, rotating halfway through, until the cookies lose the raw shine in the middle and just start to take on color along the very edges—they shouldn’t have much color at all! Cool the cookies completely before decorating.
- Dust your work surface and rolling pin with powdered sugar, and roll the fondant out until it is very thin, less than 1/8-inch thick. Use the same cookie cutter that you used before, and cut out the same number of hearts as you have cookies. (Or make an extra one or two in case of breakage!)
- Transfer the cookies to sheets of waxed paper or parchment, since this next part can get a bit messy. Put a drop of pink color in a small bowl and a drop of purple color in a separate small bowl. Fill a third small bowl with water. Add a bit of water to the pink and purple bowl, and mix them up so you have diluted colors. Now it’s time to experiment!
- Use food-safe paintbrushes to decorate the fondant hearts. Try brushing them all over with a layer of light pink or purple, then going back and adding additional color to saturate certain areas. You can also paint just parts of the hearts with streaks of light color, or dip the paintbrush in straight food coloring and touch that to the fondant to get bright patches of color. You can dab a paper towel on portions of the fondant to remove the color, letting some of the white underneath show through. Finally, you can flick some color onto the hearts to give it a speckled, painterly appearance. If you want to experiment, try mixing some food coloring with vodka and use the same painting techniques—I found that water was best for thin washes of color, but vodka was great for blending the colors and having them bleed out a little bit. Just experiment and have fun!
- After you paint the hearts, the tops will be quite wet and will need an overnight period to dry before you can eat them. However, they should be transferred onto the cookies before they harden, so paint the tops of your cookies with a thin layer of light corn syrup, then carefully place a heart on top of each cookie. Let them sit at room temperature overnight, until the fondant is dry and not sticky to the touch. Once they are fully dry, these cookies can be stored in an airtight container between sheets of waxed paper or parchment paper at room temperature.
Our recipes are developed using weight measurements, and we highly recommend using a kitchen scale for baking whenever possible. However, if you prefer to use cups, volume measurements are provided as well. PLEASE NOTE: the adage “8 oz = 1 cup” is NOT true when speaking about weight, so don’t be concerned if the measurements don’t fit this formula.Click here to learn more about baking measurements and conversion.
I’m with you on girly things…but I have to tell you, I’m in love with these. They’re beautiful! I bet you had such a blast taking photos of them. The colors really pop! Gorgeous 🙂
Im so not a girly girl either, but I can see why you love these cookies. I mean they are gorgeous! And one can argue it’s the artistic nature of the cookies that draws you in and not the fact that they are just so dreaming cute and colorful and oh look at how the gold sparkles!
These cookies are so gorgeous! I love the colors that you used and the gold lead just puts it over the top. Beautiful!
Wow, they’re so so beautiful, delicate and exquisite. I would do these for a wedding or a special party, not just Valentine’s Day.
Things that made me LOL while reading this post: 1). “Most of the products in my makeup drawer date back to my college days.” Ditto! 2). “You can, of course, use any regular fondant you have on hand.” As if I have fondant on hand.
But seriously, your cookies are gorgeous and so are you! Still your #1 Fan!
Nothing wrong with embracing pink and sparkly sometimes! Heck, nothing wrong with embracing pink and sparkly ALL THE TIME. And you do it so well. Happy Valentine’s Day to you and your favorite hand model!
These are simply adorable and I love that you used (organic) rose petals in the cookie dough! Amazzzzing! xoxo
I’m in a house surrounded by boys (husband, children and dogs!) so I like to add some girlyness into my life!! We even had a pink Christmas tree!!
These cookies are so super girly!! I love them!!
Wait, just 4″ stilettos? You need at least 6″. And my little gal – also not a girly girl, would love these because they are partly purple! Love ’em!
These. Are. GORGEOUS!!! I really can’t even stand it—ROSe cookies? GOLD LEAF? I’m having a mild (major) freak out right now
These cookies are so gorgeous!! You totally had me fooled that you weren’t a girly-girl. All that pink and purple? I never would’ve guessed! I love your tip about the fondant keeping the cookies softer too. If I ever get around to working with fondant, I’ll have to try it! Pinned!
Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand you did it. You outdid yourself once again.
GIRRRRL THESE COOKIES COULDN’T LOOK ANY MORE STUNNING.
They are a work of art. They belong into a museum (or my mouth, mind you). Seriously, I’m not a sucker for girly things, but these babies have stolen my heart.
Elizabeth, these cookies are just gorgeous! I’ve never put fondant on my cookies, but it seems like a great idea. It opens up a whole new world when it comes to decorating 🙂 I’m not a girly girl either, but there’s something about Valentine’s Day treats that bring out the most frilly, girly treats ever!
These are just perfect for Valentine’s Day! They look amazing!
Even though I wear black and grey most days, I am totally drawn to super feminine things. I always have been and remain a mystery to my mother to this day. So, when I saw these cookies on instagram I totally had heart-eyed emoji face at them. I LOVE!
These are beautiful! I’d like to mail some to my boyfriend for valentines day, but it’ll take 48 hours for them to reach him. How long do these cookies keep for?
Hi Jenny! I think they would do just fine. The fondant on top actually helps keep them fresher since it’s not exposed to air. If you wrap them really well I’d say they’ll be fine for 5-6 days at room temp without going too stale.