Sometimes there’s nothing better than a simple, buttery, tender sugar cookie. And no bakery can replicate the pure perfection of these delicate, flaky cookies. Flavorful and sweet from the addition of both vanilla and almond extracts, a little bit soft and a little bit crunchy from the decorating sugar on top, these are a cinch to whip up. But you don’t have to tell your sweetheart that. Place a cooled stack of these cookies in a celophane bag and tie with a ribbon to present to your loved one (or your girlfriends if you’re boycotting Valentine’s Day this year — it happens, and it doesn’t mean that you should be deprived of cookies this good and so addictive that yours truly recently downed eight in the course of a single evening… in the name of research, of course.)
Happy Valentine’s Day.
Valentine’s Day Sugar Cookies
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for the board
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Red gel food coloring
- Colored sanding sugars to decorate (such as red, pink, and opalescent decorator’s white)
Make sure all ingredients are at room temperature. In the bowl of an electric mixer or large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Next add the egg, the vanilla and the almond extract. In another bowl, whisk together the salt and the flour. Slowly add the flour to the creamed butter and sugar mixture. When the dough is thoroughly mixed, add a small amount of red food coloring; a few drops should suffice. Allow the food coloring to incorporate, and remove the desired portion of the dough. Next, add in additional food coloring in as many installments as you wish, increasing the amount of food coloring so that each batch of dough is a different hue. Wrap each batch separately in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or an hour, until chilled. On a floured board, roll out the dough to about 1/4” thick and use a heart shaped cookie cutter to stamp out the cookies. Place them on a baking sheet covered in parchment paper, and sprinkle them with decorating sugar. Alternatively, you could omit the decorating sugar at this step and choose to ice the baked, cooled cookies with Royal icing. Bake in a preheated 350° oven for 8-9 minutes. Allow the cookies to cool on the sheet for 2-3 minutes before removing them to a rack to cool completely. Sample the morsels you’ve cooked with love, then share with the people who make your heart go pitty pat.
Almond Royal Icing
- 3 cups confectioner’s sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon almond extract
- 3 teaspoons meringue powder or 1 egg white
- 2-3 Tablespoons water, to desired consistency
- Red food coloring
Sift the confectioner’s sugar into a large mixing bowl. Add the meringue powder or egg white, vanilla extract, almond extract, and whisk to combine. Slowly add the water—and more, if necessary—to reach the desired consistency. Divide the icing between several bowls, if you want to make multiple colors of icing. Add the food coloring one drop at a time until the desired color, or colors, have been reached, stirring to combine. Use immediately.