Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Be My Valentine Cookies

I know, Valentine's Day was almost a week ago and I'm a little late. But maybe you want to make your sweetheart some "just because I love you cookies" or maybe you just want to make some cutout cookies for no reason in particular. Whatever the case may be, here are the Valentine's Day cookies I made to give out this year. 

I'm a big fan of giving treats as gifts when I can. I love the baking part and I also feel better knowing that whatever I'm giving is going to be eaten and enjoyed rather than sit on a shelf or in a drawer somewhere never to be seen or used. In short, everyone loves food.

To make these cookies I used a cutout cookie recipe that I've been baking with since I was a little girl baking Christmas cookies with my mom and brother. I'm not sure where the recipe came from, but my family has been using it since I can remember. I've never used another recipe for cutout cookies. The recipe can be easily halved or double if necessary. The full recipe usually yields around 5 dozen cookies depending on the size of the cookies you're making. Because I didn't need that many cookies I cut the recipe in half and I got slightly over 3 dozen cookies.

Soft Cutout Cookies

5 c. flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 c. butter (room temperature)
2 c. sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1 c. milk

Mix butter, sugar, eggs, milk and vanilla. Then add dry ingredients. Chill 1 hour. Roll dough 1/4" thick and cut out cookies. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Do not over bake so cookies stay soft.

Yes, it's that easy. I highly recommend making sure you chill the batter long enough. It can be a little sticky if you don't. Making sure your rolling pin, hands and cookie-cutting surface are adequately floured will also help.

For the frosting I used the recipe I always use when baking cakes. It's a plain vanilla buttercream. It can also be easily halved or double if necessary. In this case I made the normal recipe and I had just a tiny bit extra which worked out perfectly.

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

1/2 c. butter (softened)
1 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp salt
1 (16 oz) package powdered sugar
3-5 Tbsp milk

1. Beat first 3 ingredients at medium speed with electric mixer until creamy.
2. Gradually add powdered sugar alternately with 3 Tbsp milk, 1 Tbsp at a time, beating at low speed until blended and smooth after each addition. Beat in up to 2 Tbsp additional milk for desired consistency.

When making the frosting I usually add in the extra 2 Tbsp of milk just because I like my frosting to be a little creamier and easier to spread. When the frosting was done I separated it into 2 bowls and added food coloring to one of them so I would have pink and white frosting. I also have a ton of sprinkles on hand, people like to give them to me as gifts, so I had several options of sprinkles to use for Valentine's Day. 

After the cookies were frosted and decorated I put them on a cookie sheet and set them in the freezer for a few minutes so the frosting sets. That way when I wrap them up to ship them or personally deliver them they still look good when they arrive. In this case I placed 6 cookies in mini disposable loaf pans which I wrapped in Saran Wrap (to keep the cookies fresh) and then placed in a Valentine's snack bag I got at the dollar store. In hindsight I should have taken a picture of the finished product, but I didn't think of it at the time. I boxed up the packages I was shipping and hand delivered the rest. To quote my neighbor, they were "awesome". Hope your Valentine's Day was a happy one!