Hi there, friends! Valentine’s Day is nearly here — a day that some look forward to and a day that some dread. But no matter your feelings toward this holiday, it’s practically impossible to turn down those inevitable sweet treats that come our way so I figured this would be a great time to share something yummy with you!
Many families have a tradition of baking and decorating cookies during the Christmas season, but I remember this being something my mom always did with my brother Jake and me for Valentine’s Day. We got to shape the cookies, bake and decorate them. I’m sure they looked atrocious, but lucky for us, cookies don’t have to look good to taste good.
But, what stands out to me about this is that after decorating the cookies my mom always took my brother and me to deliver the cookies to people in our little community. We gave them not only to our great aunts and uncles, but also to homebound folks nearby. While Valentine’s Day is marketed as a day for couples, I am really thankful that my mom used this time to teach Jake and me that this day is more about the love that Christ has shown us — and how we can show that love to others — than it is about fancy dinners, roses and chocolate.
Whether you are celebrating this Valentine’s Day with a significant other, or friends and family, I encourage you to use this as a reminder of Christ’s love and grace that we get to experience every single day. Whether this is a day that you look forward to or a day that you dread,
“May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and the steadfastness of Christ.” 2 Thessalonians 3:5 (ESV).
I wish I could say this that this is an original recipe, but it’s not. This recipe is from The Joy of Cooking, a resource that I think all novice cooks and bakers should take advantage of. Generally, when making cookies to decorate, people stick with a classic sugar cookie. But, since it’s Valentine’s Day I decided to go with a good ole shortbread cut-out cookie instead, topped off by a super easy icing glaze recipe. I find that fancy cookies can be a little tedious to decorate, but this makes a beautiful cookie without hours and hours of work. (You know it’s easy when between both the cookie and the icing recipe there’s a grand total of only eight ingredients!)
2 cups all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
½ cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Using a stand-up or hand-held mixer, beat the butter until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute.
2. Add the powdered sugar and beat until smooth, about 2 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl halfway to make sure all is mixed well.
3. Beat in vanilla extract until blended into the mixture.
4. Combine flour and salt together, then gently stir into your mixture until well incorporated.
5. Flatten the dough into a disk shape, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for about an hour or until firm. (I have found that a full hour makes the dough a little too firm to work with, but everyone’s fridge is different!)
6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and line baking sheets with parchment paper.
7. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a ¼ inch thick circle. (I actually measured with a ruler because I’m really terrible as eyeballing things like this.)
8. Cut out dough using lightly floured cookie cutters of your choice and place on prepared cookie sheets.
9. Place cookie sheets in refrigerator for 15 minutes. This firms up the cookies so they will hold their shapes while they bake. (This really works – these cookies hardly spread at all while baking.)
10. Bake 8-10 minutes, or until cookies are VERY lightly browned, and cool on a wire rack.
Sugar Cookie Glaze
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
2 tablespoons water
Food coloring of your choice (optional)
Vanilla extract or other preferred flavoring (optional)
1. Stir powdered sugar, corn syrup and water together. Add preferred food coloring and any desired extracts. (I added a few drops of both vanilla and butter extract.)
2. Stir glaze vigorously until there are no lumps left.
3. To decorate the cookies, you can dip the cookie in the glaze, twist it around in the icing to make sure the entire surface is covered in the mixture, and pull out, or you can simply pour the glaze over the cookie.
4. Optional: Add sprinkles. (I, of course, added tons.)
So, there you have it — an easy baking activity for Valentine’s Day! Let us know in the comments or on social media if you decide to give it a try. You might also consider sharing some of these delicious cookies with someone in your life who needs some encouragement or a little extra love. Your kitchen may get a little messy, but the blessing — for them and you — is always worth it.
Until next time!