The best Valentine’s Day treat of all — the iconic sugar cookie
There’s just something that is so simple about baking cookies with children. Instead of rounding up the best Valentine’s Day gifts, promotions and deals, I am dedicating this year, 2014, to cookies! Yup! It’s been one heck of a chilly, willy winter, and there is nothing more intimate and sweet (literally) than baking cookies with your loved ones for Valentine’s Day. There is no money exchanged, no unwrapping presents, rather, just that treasured smile when you each bite into the fresh-out-of-the-oven cookie and hope the warm, gooey sugars don’t fall out of your mouth from your grin ear-to-ear.
Wow, yes, I want that memory! Give me instructions . . . now! We will. And, the glory this year, is Valentine’s Day goes all weekend long, so cookie-baking starts now and just keeps going. Plus, there are no preservatives or anything funky in these treats, they are coming straight from your oven. It’s okay to induldge in sweets together for celebratory days, especially, homemade goodies.
My two favorites this year dictate that it’s a sugar cookie year. Batter up (oh, the puns are flowing today), is darling mom of three, Kelly Manning, and owner, creator and magician behind Acorn Catering. She made the most darling holiday cookies for our childrens’ school party in December, and I cannot disclose how many I ate, instead, I had to find an excuse for her to make me some more. Valentine’s Day! I also had her make balloon sugar cookies for International Random Acts of Kindness Week. It was the best gesture of the week, everyone at Fox and KWGN went crazy for Kelly’s sugar cookie surprises. I knew this recipe had to be passed on.
Kelly has cutouts for just about every holiday and lets the kids do the sprinkles. “To maintain my sanity, I have sprinkles and frosting just for them and let them go crazy decorating their creations. My girls love to stir and dump ingredients into the mixing bowl. And, of course eating is the best part, so I introduce them to different ingredients so they’ll try eating new things,” she explains.
Here’s Kelly’s SUPURB SUGAR COOKIE RECIPE.
P.S. “Make sure to chill your dough before you bake cookies. You need the butter to be cold so when it melts it leaves tiny air pockets and you get a wonderful texture with flaky layers. If the dough isn’t cold enough your cookies will be flat.”
Sugar cookies, from Real Simple Dec 04 / Makes 4-6 doz depending on shapes
4 c all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 c (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 c vegetable shortening
1 ½ c sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
Royal icing and various gel food colors
Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl; set aside. Combine the butter and shortening in the bowl of an electric mixer and cream until smooth. Slowly add the sugar, beating on medium. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla. With a wooden spoon, stir the dry ingredients into the creamed mixture 1 cup at a time. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and divide in half. Wrap separately, then refrigerate at least 2 hours or up to 1 week. To bake, preheat oven to 350. Roll to 1/8 inch thick on a well-floured surface. Cut into shapes. Using a spatula, transfer to a large greased baking sheet. Bake 12-14 minutes or until light golden brown around the edges. Transfer to a cooling rack. Once the cookies are completely cooled, frost with colored icing. Store in a cool place.
And one more for you. My family tried this recipe in late August with fresh lavender flowers from my garden and I am positive I made new friends with this recipe when the children went back to school. We add a bit more lavender then it calls for, and I got my most recent batch of dried leaves from local Savory Spice Shop. I had my daughter and her amazing helper make some Valentine’s Day love for the neighborhood. Enjoy! Erica and Dora recommend using this short-bread recipe from Martha Stewart (marthastewart.com/342398/basic-shortbread). The girls also used this site for accurate lavender measurements since there are variations when you are using dried versus fresh herbs. (agardenforthehouse.com/2013/06/easy-lavender-shortbread-cookies/)
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PS – we did devour these treats for free, but only write about our favorite things – this is our opinion