Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Valentine Heart Sugar Cookies - Part 1

While I seem to have been making a lot more gingerbread cookies lately (as seen here and here), iced sugar cookies are a long-time favorite in my family, both because of their delicious taste and because of the endless creative possibilities with the decorations.  My mom and I usually dedicate at least a day over the holidays to decorating cookies which is a nice way to get in the holiday spirit and chat while making treasures we will bring out for all the special occasions to ooh and aah over and then munch right up.  We spent the holidays with my in-laws this year so there were no sugar cookies at Christmas, so I decided to make a whole batch up for valentines day.  The decorating possibilities are nearly limitless, as you can see from the sneak peak above of the different cookies I made.

But you'll have to come back tomorrow to see more of the decorated cookies and get tips on how to make the different designs!  Today I am going to share all the steps to make the cookies, including mixing the cookie dough and cutting out and baking the cookies.  If you already have a favorite sugar cookie recipe you can of course use that, but while I may be biased, I really think that our family cookie recipe is the best.  The cookies are crispy, rich and flavorful, and they don't have any of that fluffy blandness you find in some sugar cookies.  I am not sure what the secret is, but I think it has something to do with making the cookies really thin... oh, and butter.  Lots of butter.

Sugar Cookies
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
In a medium/large bowl, cream together butter, shortening and sugar with a mixer or pastry blender.  Add eggs and vanilla and mix until fully combined.  In a separate smaller bowl, mix together remaining (dry) ingredients, then add to the wet ingredients a bit at a time, mixing as you add.  The dough should be fairly sticky but should come together.  Scraping out bowl to get all the dough, wrap in plastic wrap (or put in a zip-top bag) and refrigerate at least 2 hours and ideally longer.

Preheat oven to 375F, and either grease cookie sheets lightly with butter or use a silicone baking mat (as I mentioned, I love our new silpat mats!).  Take the dough out of the fridge and break off about 1/3 to 1/4, then return the rest to the fridge.  Use a clean countertop area to roll out the dough, liberally sprinkling flour under the dough, on top of the dough and brushing the surface of the rolling pin with flour.  With gentle but firm and even strokes, carefully roll out the dough, adding more flour if it seems to be sticking to the countertop or the rolling pin.  I generally roll these out to be 1/16" to 1/8" thick, but just try to get them as thin as you can.  Cut out cookies using cookie cutters of your choice and gently lift onto cookie sheet using a spatula, making sure to space cookies 1/2" apart.

Bake the cookies for 6-10 minutes - exact time will depend on your oven and how thin the cookies are rolled out.  They should be just starting to brown slightly at the edges when they are done.  Take out of the oven and promptly remove from the cookie sheet to a counter or cooling rack to cool.  I have found on the silpat mat that they come off with no problem, if you are using a greased cookie sheet you may have to use the spatula a bit more to get them loose, and there is a risk that they make break especially if you have made cookies with delicate shapes, so try to be as gentle and careful as possible.  Let cool and then store in an airtight container.

Don't forget to come back tomorrow for the icing recipe and decorating tips!

What are your favorite valentines desserts?  Do you make sugar cookies in your family?


  1. thanks for the receipe - i'm definitely going to try them out this weekend!


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