Hearts and Flowers Sugar Cookies

Baking Valentine sugar cookies has become a family tradition.

I don't know about you, but when I bake, I don't want to have a lot of extra time-consuming steps like waiting for cookie dough to chill. Through the years I have experimented with recipes to find one that did not need to be refrigerated.

Many years ago I attended a cookie decorating class in New York City taught by Toba Garrett.  I was very excited to see that she doesn't chill her cookie dough either.

The recipe is very simple:

Basic Sugar Dough Recipe

1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

Cream butter and sugar.  Add egg and vanilla.  Mix.  Stir in flour and salt.

The dough will look very dry but do not worry, you can easily form a ball with your hands.

Scoop up a bit of the dough.  Roll to desired thickness (1/8 inch).  There is no need to use flour when rolling.  Use parchment paper if you want an easy clean up.

Cut out desired shapes with cookie cutters.  If you do not have cookie cutters you can cut out a heart from parchment paper or wax paper.  Place the paper on top of the dough and cut around the edges with a knife.  This is really good for making extremely large hearts which are particularly good to deliver to the neighbors and perhaps encourage a tradition of their own.

Bake cookies in 350 degree oven for 6-8 minutes.  (Larger and thicker cookies will take longer).  They should be slightly brown around the edges.

Cool.  Decorate with favorite icing.

Following is a recipe for icing that dries well and stays shiny for a couple of days.  It is great for decorating.  (For flavor, though, I prefer an icing made with butter)

Cookie Icing

4 cups confectioner sugar
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup corn syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla (or other flavoring)

This recipe makes a lot of icing.  This is particularly good if you want to practice on a few cookies.  If you do not like a lot of icing or you do not plan to use a lot of different colors, then just use half of this recipe.

To outline the cookies, add 4-6 Tablespoons confectioner sugar to 1 cup icing to thicken.  Place in a decorating bag or use a plastic sandwich bag with one of the corners cut off to create a tiny hole for the icing to escape as you outline the edge of the cookie.

After outlining the edges of the cookies, flood the interior of the cookie with regular icing.  (The thicker icing on the edges will stop the icing from going over the sides)  (The icing can be thinned with a little more milk if it seems too thick to move easily on the top of the cookie.)  You could also place this icing in a plastic bag and then cut off a slightly larger corner.  It makes it easier to flood the cookie.

Experiment with fun color combinations.  It is also fun to think of different ways to present the cookies.

For the hearts and flowers sugar cookies I attached wooden skewers to the back of the cookies before baking.  I put flower decorating foam in a clay flower pot and then stuck the skewers into the foam.  The grass is plastic Easter grass.  Super simple, but a lot of fun.