It’s Valentine’s Day... again.
Now don’t get me wrong, it is a great reason to celebrate your loved ones. However, somehow, this celebration has become a materialistic, consumer driven holiday where people expect iphones and computers and other lavish gifts.
What happened to simple, thoughtful gifts like spending time doing something together or making something for each other. After all, more and more couples and families are driven apart by demanding jobs and we are all constantly competing for time with electronics and other media. Why not enjoy this one day together, perhaps relaxing at home, having a picnic in the park, and just enjoying each other’s company? After all, isn’t that what it’s all about?
So, here’s an idea for you... spend some time together in the kitchen making these great cookies that show just how much you love each other. Then, share these home baked cookies and enjoy each other.
All-Occasion Sugar Cookies
"Baking: From My Home to Yours" by Dorie Greenspan
Makes about 24 Heart Shaped Cookies (about 3 inches)
2 cups Flour
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Baking powder
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp Butter, room temperature
1 cup Sugar
1 Large Egg
1 Large Egg Yolk
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
Whisk the flour, salt and baking powder together.
Cream the butter and sugar together until the mixture is light and pale. Add the egg and yolk and beat for another minute or two; beat in the vanilla. Slowly and steadily add the flour mixture, mixing only until it has been incorporated (Note, this dough is best when worked least).
Turn the dough out onto a counter and divide it in half. Shape each half into a disk and wrap in plastic. Chill for at least 2 hours.
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.
Roll out the dough, one disc at a time, between sheets of plastic wrap or wax paper to a thickness of 1/4 inch, lifting the plastic or paper and turning the dough over often so that it rolls evenly. Lift off the top sheet of plastic or paper and cut out the cookies. Pull away the excess dough, saving the scraps for rerolling, and carefully lift the cutouts onto the baking sheets with a spatula, leaving about 2 inches between the cookies.
This is a soft dough and you might have trouble peeling away the excess or lifting the cutouts; if so, cover the dough, chill it for about 15 minutes and try again.) After you’ve rolled and cut the second packet of dough, you can form the scraps into a disk, then chill, roll, cut and bake.
Bake the cookies one sheet at a time for 9 to 11 minutes, rotating the sheet at the midpoint. The cookies should feel firm, but they should not color much, if at all. Remove the pan from the oven and dust the cookies with sugar or cinnamon sugar, if you’d like. Let them rest for 1 minute before carefully lifting them onto a rack to cool to room temperature.
Repeat with the remaining dough, cooling the baking sheets between batches.
Storing: The cookies will keep at room temperature in a tin for up to 1 week. Wrapped well, they can be frozen for up to 2 months.
Egg-less Royal Icing
Makes enough to ice all 24 cookies
2 cup Powder Sugar
4 tbsp Milk
4 tsp Light Corn Syrup**
1/2 tsp Almond Extract
Stir together the icing sugar, milk, and corn syrup. Beat in the almond extract. Add more milk or more powdered sugar depending on consistency desired. I find this recipe works great to make the thick outlining icing, and adding 1-2 tbsp of milk is enough to make the icing good for flooding.
**If you don’t have light corn syrup, heat 1/3 cup water with 1 ¼ cup white sugar, and stir until sugar is dissolved.