The daughter of one of my clients asked if we could make Valentine’s Day cookies, so I looked through some cookbooks and found a recipe I hadn’t tried before. It’s simple to prepare, and it makes a large number of cookies.
It also made a fun group activity on a cool winter day. I rolled out the dough, and gave half to each child to cut out hearts of different sizes. It was fun to watch the 6 year old figure out how to use his rectangle of dough as efficiently as possible. Once the cookies were baked, we all had fun decorating them. (That’s Nickolena’s artwork above.)
The recipe was so easy, and we had so much fun, that I am already thinking about making it again for the next holiday. Shamrock cookies, maybe, or perhaps bunnies?
Makes 3-5 dozen
1 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 cups granulated white sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1½ teaspoons salt
5 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
Icing, for decorating (optional)
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, vanilla, and salt; mix until combined. Change speed to low, and gradually add flour, mixing until each addition is incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula between every few additions.
Turn dough onto a clean work surface. Divide in half, and pat into flattened rectangles; wrap each in plastic. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 1 week.
Preheat oven to 350°F, with rack in upper and lower thirds. Line large baking sheets with parchment paper or use a Silpat liner if you have one (see photo). On a lightly floured work surface, roll out one rectangle of dough to about ¼ inch thick. Using cookie cutters, cut out shapes. Using a small offset spatula, transfer shapes to prepared sheets, placing about 2 inches apart. Chill in freezer or refrigerator until firm, about 15 minutes. Set scraps aside. Repeat process with remaining dough. Gather scraps, and roll out again. Chill 15 minutes; cut out more shapes, and place on sheets.
Store cookies in an airtight container, layered between sheets of waxed or parchment paper, at room temperature.
Recipe is adapted from Martha’s Stewart’s Baking Handbook.