Are you in charge of your kids' Valentine Party at school this year? Do you just want to make a special treat for the ones you love? Here is your chance! This is a great cookie recipe. It is chewy and strong enough to decorate without breaking.
Rolled Butter Cookies
1/2 lb. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup superfine sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 large egg plus 1 yolk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for work surface
Either by hand or with electric mixer, cream butter, sugar, and salt until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes with mixer set at medium speed. Add yolk, beat well, then add whole egg and vanilla; continue beating until well incorporated. Add flour; beat at low speed until flour is just mixed in. Divide dough in half and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour (Can be refrigerated up to 2 days or double wrapped and frozen 1 month)
Adjust oven racks to upper- and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 375°. Remove one disk of dough from refrigerator and cut in half. Return unused portion of dough to refrigerator.
Lightly flour work surface; roll dough to 1/8 inch thick, using thin metal spatula to loosen dough. Sprinkle surface and rolling pin lightly with flour as needed to keep dough from sticking.
Cut or form dough into desired shape. Place dough shapes 1/2 inch apart on parchment-lined cookie sheets. Bake, reversing cookie sheets (from top to bottom and back to front) halfway through baking time, until evenly golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes.
Use thin-bladed spatula to immediately transfer cookies to cooling rack. Cool to room temperature. Repeat rolling, cutting and baking remaining dough. Decorate cooled cookies with royal icing, if desired and transfer to an airtight container. (Cook's Illustrated)
As always, begin with room temperature ingredients
When mixing the dough, mix until just combined with the flour. Over mixing will result in tough cookie. There are scientific "gluten" reasons I can't recall right now, just trust me.
If you think the dough is too sticky, never add additional flour , just throw it in the fridge to stiffen up before rolling.
The best way to avoid "blobby" cookies that don't retain their shape, is to cut out the shapes, then pop them into the freezer for about 10 minutes before baking. You could add additional flour to achieve the same result, but you will be sacrificing flavor and texture.
Time to decorate, my favorite part!
I like to mix up my confectioner's sugar icing (you know, sugar, vanilla, and milk) to a thick consistency and put a few spoonfuls into a Ziploc baggie. You can then pipe an outline of the shape onto the cookie to correct any "blobbiness" that occurred during baking. It also provides a guide when you add the colored icing.
Using the remainder of the icing, thin it a bit and add coloring. Use this to fill in your outline. You can use a toothpick to help fill in the edges. Sometimes, I fill another baggie with colored icing and pipe it inside. The kids really like this part.
Thin down the remaining icing in the baggie, and pipe a squiggle or a rough shape. Here we were decorating hearts, so I piped a loose heart on top to finish the cookie. If you do this when the icing is not yet set, they two will melt into each other for a cool effect.