The Chocolate Gourmand

Valentine Sugar Cookies
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Preheat oven to 350°F

1 cup butter, room temperature
3/4 cup powdered sugar
2 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon red food coloring

red and pink sanding sugars

Prepare the dough
Place room temperature butter in mixer and beat until light and fluffy. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour and powdered sugar. Powdered sugar has a tendency to clump in the package, so at least sift the powdered sugar. Slowly add the flour and sugar to the butter, mixing on low. Add the vanilla before you finish adding the flour and sugar. With all the flour and sugar added, the dough won't completely come together in the mixture, so you will need to finish it off by hand. Pull together the dough and form into a ball, pounding the dough with the palm of one hand. Once the dough is a consistent ball, use a knife to divide the dough in half. Return one half of the dough to the mixing bowl and add 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of food coloring—your hands will stain less if you do the initial mixing of coloring in the blender. Run the mixer for a minute to help incorporate the coloring. The dough will crumble, so finish kneading by hand until color is more uniform.Wrap each dough half in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Don't over chill or else the dough will crumble and you will need to warm it by kneading.

Rolling and cutting cookies
Lightly flour a pastry board or counter top and roll out one of the dough halves until approximately 1/4 inch thick. Add more flour to the top of the dough as you roll it out to keep it from tearing or sticking to rolling pin. Use the larger heart shaped cookie cutter to cut out the cookies. Use the smaller cookie cutter to remove the centers from the larger cutouts. Transfer the large and small heart cutouts to a silpat lined baking sheet (a greased or non-stick cookie sheet should also work). Sprinkle cutouts with colored sanding sugar as desired.

Bake cookies
Bake for about 13 minutes until the edges just start to brown. Remove from oven and let sit for one minute before transferring to cooling racks. Makes approximately 18 - 20 cookies depending on thickness and cookie cutter size.