If you saw the headline for this piece and thought, “Engagement ring hand cookies? What are engagement ring hand cookies, exactly?” — you are certainly not alone. That was what I thought as soon as I read the phrase earlier today, although it turns out that they’re exactly what they sound like: Cookies shaped like hands wearing engagement rings. They seem to be something of a trend in the world of Gorgeous Pinterest Engagements And Weddings lately (or at least, that’s what social media is telling me), so, uh… let’s take a look, shall we?
Food and Wine gets the credit for identifying this trend; writer Nina Friend highlighted engagement ring hand cookies as A Thing over there after a Chicago-based bakery, Alliance Bakery, custom-made a batch for her friend’s engagement. Shaped like hands and featuring icing recreations of the bride-to-be’s actual engagement ring, they’re artfully done; the hands don’t occupy each entire cookie, but have rather been drawn onto them over a white background. The ring, too, is spectacular, and the icing versions of it have been faithfully rendered in edible form.
Want a look? Here you go — it truly is a work of beautiful and apparently tasty bakery art:
And, as it turns out, plenty of other folks have posted images of engagement ring hand cookies on Instagram, too, Friend points out. To be fair, they seem to be less a proposal trend — that is, people aren’t having the cookies made and then incorporating them into a proposal — but more of a celebratory trend: Hand-shaped cookies sporting bits of bling on their ring fingers seem to pop up with some regularity at engagement parties and bridal showers as part of the all-important dessert table.
There’s some debate about whether they’re cute or creepy; indeed, that’s exactly what Keren Greenberg, a baker who runs the Instagram account @kakesbykeren, noted in her post about the cookies: “Can't decide if these are really cute or really creepy,” she wrote as the caption to a shot of six hand cookies featuring pearl engagement rings, pearl bracelets, and red-painted nails. According to many commenters — both on the @kakesbykeren post and on others — they’re mostly cute, as well as delicious; one person did call them “a little creepy, a little cute,” though, so maybe, ultimately, the answer is that they’re a bit of both. (Although if Cake Wrecks has taught me anything, it’s that a cute idea can very quickly turn creepy depending on the execution. So, uh, do with that what you will.)
These, I think, are cute; I love the fact that the hands appear to be wearing little lacy gloves:
What kinds of cookies make for good engagement ring hand cookies? Generally, you’ll want to go with cookies that bake up relatively firmly. According to their website, Alliance Bakery’s iced cookies are shortbread cookies; sugar cookies would probably work as well, although you’ll want the recipe to result in crisper cookies, rather than cakey ones. The difference between shortbread cookies and sugar cookies has to do with the flavor and the leavening, notes Bake Mag: Shortbread cookies don’t have any leavening agents in them — that is, there isn’t any baking powder or soda — nor do they have any vanilla; sugar cookies, meanwhile, have both. The lack of leavening agents makes shortbread cookies harder than sugar cookies — which is why they’re so often used as the base for intricately decorated treats.
The icing, meanwhile, is usually just good old-fashioned royal icing. Made of meringue powder, confectioner’s sugar, and water, royal icing dries into a crunchy, sweet shell; it’s ideal for decorating cookies whose designs require a great deal of detail. It’s easy to make and can be dyed whatever color you like, too, making it a favorite of bakers who specialize in iced cookies.
Personally, I am not terribly taken by the idea of engagement ring hand cookies — I just… can’t really get over the idea of eating something that is shaped like a human hand — but I can see how others might really dig them. Want to order some? Your favorite local bakery will likely be happy to oblige your desire for custom-made hand cookies. Want to make them yourself? Here’s a shortbread cookie recipe, a royal icing recipe, and a left hand-shaped cookie cutter.
And hey, if you just got engaged, congrats! I raise a cookie in your honor.