Happiness Project #34: Messy Happy Hearts Sugar Cookies!

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Valentines Day. A day of cards, flowers, chocolates and valentine cookies. In other words, a day filled to the brink with words, sweets and sometimes very quirky displays of endearment. A day that I don’t actually believe in. Yes, one that I do not believe in celebrating, at least as an adult. And no matter any of the many varied arguments in Valentines Day’s defense, my very grounded opinion of this day will not be swayed. Trust me on this. However, I DO believe that Valentine’s Day has much to offer (as well as many valuable lessons to impart) for school-age children. Sharing, especially when establishing core values in the lives of children, is caring, in the best of ways. So much to the bemused delight of those near & dear to me, I decided to whip up some Valentines Sugar Cookies this year. Something I have NEVER done before. Never. It must be the new mother in me pouring out, right? Which meant it was finally the appropriate time to pull out my quite hefty 40lb marble pastry board and little used but much loved rolling pin. As well as un-dusting one of the best sugar cookie recipes I have ever found. Think mid 1900’s. Needless to say, I was very excited. So for all of you cookie monsters out there or those of you who DO celebrate Valentine’s Day, here’s a little something yummy from m to you…

For the Sugar Cookies:

1 cup salted butter, softened at room temperature

1-1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 cups all-purpose flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 cup heavy cream

Preheat your oven to 350F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpat Mats.

In a stand mixture, cream the butter, sugar and eggs at medium speed for 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy. Add in each egg, one at a time, until well mixed. Sift in the flour, baking powder and salt, adding the heavy cream as needed, until throughly combined. This dough should be a stiff not soft texture. If it’s too soft to handle, cover and let chill in the fridge for 30 minutes to an hour.

Break out that pastry board (marble is always preferred over wooden) and rolling pin. Quick tip, one of the most valuable things I learned while in Pastry School is that rolling pins are NOT all created equal. The most efficient rolling pin for cookie dough? The classic wooden pin with no handles.

Once the cookie dough is stiff enough to roll into a large ball, lightly flour your pastry board AND rolling pin (so the dough doesn’t stick to either surface while being rolled out). Roll out the dough to around 1/4 inch thick. Grab those heart cookie cutters and shape, shape away =)

Bake for 8-10 minutes and let cool on a wire rack while you’re creating the buttercream frosting.

For the Buttercream Frosting:

1 cup unsalted butter, softened at room temperature

3 cups powdered sugar, sifted

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon vanilla extract *clear vanilla extract if you want a white colored frosting*

3-4 tablespoons heavy whipping cream

In a stand mixture, beat the butter for 2-3 minutes until smooth and creamy. Drop the mixture speed down to a lower setting and sift in the powdered sugar until well incorporated with the creamed butter. Increase the mixer speed to a medium setting and add in the salt, vanilla extract and heavy whipping cream. Whip for 3-4 minutes until nicely thickened.

And now, FROST, with or without your favorite colored dye!!! And SPRINKLE!!! Sprinkle away!!!! That’s the whole fun of creating sugar cookies, after all, right? Especially if your little ones are helping you!

Happy Heart Day, my friends!

P.S. My Mom gifted me with a beautiful personalized cutting board (featured above) for my birthday this year! Jealous? Go to redenvelope.com for your own!

Happiness Project Recipe #24: Lemon Cream Sugar Cookies!

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Since Lemon just happens to be my 2nd favorite dessert flavor, I knew that I just HAD to create a new Lemon recipe for my family’s 2012 Christmas gathering! Particularly since my Mom was the very person who first turned me on to this lovely, citrus filled delight many a year ago. So casting aside my usual chocolate drenched ambitions, I finally tried my hand at a new sugar cookie recipe. One in which I joyfully incorporated my all time favorite indulgence: frosting! Although the 1st trial run with a classic buttercream frosting turned out quite well, the superior frosting snob that I am simply could not settle for anything less than absolute perfection. Hence this now pleasantly altered buttercream recipe, featuring cream cheese as it’s star flavor! The result? Sugar cookie perfection.  At least I think so.

Cookies:

1/2 cup salted butter, softened at room temperature

1/2 cup butter flavored crisco

1 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 egg

2 tablespoons lemon zest (approximately 2 lemons)

2-1/2 cup all purpose flour

pinch of kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 tablespoon whole milk

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Frosting:

1/4 cup salted butter, softened at room temperature

8 oz cream cheese, softened at room temperature

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups confections sugar, sifted

pinch of kosher salt

2 tablespoons lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 350F.

In a large mixing bowl on a stand mixer, cream the butter, crisco and sugar until light and fluffy (2-3 minutes on medium speed). Mix in the vanilla, egg and lemon zest. In another bowl, sift together the flour, salt and baking soda. Add the dry ingredients into the wet mixture until just incorporated. Stir in the milk & lemon juice until well combined.

With a small cookie scoop, roll your dough into 1 to 1-1/2 inch balls, placing them on a Silpat lined or lightly sprayed cookie sheet. Using either your fingers-tips or a spatula, gently press each dough ball flat. Bake for 10-12 minutes until the edges begin to brown ever so slightly. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.

Onward to the frosting! In a large mixing bowl, on a stand mixer, beat the butter and cream cheese together until smooth and glossy. Slowly beat in the vanilla extract. Add in the confections sugar and salt until well combined. Last but not least, stir in up to 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice.

And now to what you’ve all been waiting for: frosting these heavenly bite sized cookies! As with anything involving frosting and cookies, decorating can be as messy or as pretty as you so chose it to be. Using either a spoon, a butter knife or even a pastry bag fitted with a large round decorating tip, frost, frost, frost away! And don’t forget to add in your favorite colored sprinkles! Sprinkles make everything better =)

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