Show your Valentine how much you care with these buttery, almond-flavored Valentine’s Day Sugar Cookies!
Valentine’s Day is almost here! And you know what that means? Another excuse to bake my favorite cut out cookie recipe. As a professional food stylist for the past 20+ years, I have baked more than my fair share of cutout cookies, using countless recipes. This recipe of my mom’s is still one of my all time favorites!
SO what’s the “big deal” you ask? Two simple things make these cookies stand out from all the rest. Number one…powdered sugar. The majority of cutout sugar cookie recipes use granulated sugar. This recipe uses only powdered sugar. That little difference means that your cookies are going to be tender, buttery and melt-in-your-mouth. Who wouldn’t want that?
Number Two…almond extract. I LOVE almond extract. And these cookies use almond extract in the dough AND in the icing! If that’s too much almond for you, then you can just use it in the dough and use vanilla in the icing. But I am “Team Almond Extract” so I use it in both. To get the best almond flavor, be sure you are using pure almond extract whenever possible…you will taste a difference.
One thing to remember to ensure your cookie baking success: be sure to chill the dough before rolling. You don’t want your labor of love to end up stuck to the rolling pin and everywhere else. I like to make the dough the day before and let it chill overnight, but if you are making these from start to finish in one day, be sure to allow time for the dough to chill.
This recipe instructs you to roll the dough directly onto parchment paper or silicone mats. Doing it this way means you don’t have to transfer your cutout dough shapes onto a baking pan and therefore means your cookies will keep their shape better. If you don’t have parchment or silicon mats, you can roll the dough out, cut out the shapes and transfer the shapes to lightly greased baking pans, but your cookies may bend and lose their shape a bit in the process.
And speaking of shape, this dough works best for simple shapes, like hearts, circles, stars, squares, etc. The dough has cream of tartar in it, which gives it that flavor that is similar to snickerdoodles. But that also means it doesn’t hold sharp edges, so cookie shapes with a lot of detail would work better with a dough that uses only baking soda. For these hearts, this dough is perfect though.
The frosting on these cookies is also an old family favorite. It’s a shiny cookie icing, made from powdered sugar, a little milk, corn syrup and a bit of flavoring. It works so well because it dries with a nice shiny finish, but it stays soft when you bite into the cookie. I am not a fan of royal icing for frosting cookies, because it dries much harder than this shiny cookie icing. And you can flavor it with whatever type of extract you wish. Of course, I picked almond!
To make these Valentine’s Day Sugar Cookies look more like those fun, pastel candy conversation hearts, I decorated mine with piping. For those of you who don’t know me, I LOVE Ellen DeGeneres and her “Million Acts of Kindness”, so this year I am all about spreading kindness through baking. These cookies are just my little reminder to be kind to one another. If you aren’t feeling confident in your piping skills, a simple XOXO sends a wonderful message as well. If you are under a time crunch…skip the piping and sprinkle with colored sugar or sprinkles….your loved ones will still know how much you care. Happy Valentine’s Day and Happy Baking!
Yields 3 dozen 2-inch cookies
- 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 1/2 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon baking baking soda
- 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
- 6 tablespoon milk
- 5-6 tablespoons light corn syrup
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- -food coloring
- -additional sugar if needed for piping
- -colored sugar or sprinkles, if desired
- In medium bowl, beat 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar and butter together on medium speed until well blended.
- Add egg, 1 teaspoon almond extract and vanilla; beat 1 minutes, scraping bowl often.
- In small bowl, stir together flour, baking soda and cream of tartar. Add to butter mixture and blend on low speed, scraping bowl often, until well blended.
- Divide dough in half and wrap each half in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour.
- When ready to bake, heat oven to 375 degrees F. Using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll one portion of dough onto a piece of parchment paper or lightly floured silicone baking mat to 1/8-inch thickness.
- Using heart-shaped cookie cutter or other desired shape, cut dough into shapes, leaving about an inch between cookies. Remove dough scraps.
- Place parchment with cookie shapes onto baking pan. Bake at 375 degrees F for 6-7 minutes, until edges just begin to brown.
- Cool 2 minutes on pan before transferring to cooling racks. Cool completely before frosting. Repeat rolling and cutting with remaining dough.
- To make icing: In medium bowl, blend all ingredients together, mixing until thick and glossy. Add additional corn syrup if needed to reach desired spreading consistency. Icing should be easily spreadable, but not so thin that it runs off cookies.
- Divide icing into 4 portions and add food coloring to 3 of the portions to create desired colors. Set aside remaining 4th portion of icing for piping.
- Using a small offset spatula or rounded knife, frost cookies with colored icing.
- If decorating with colored sugar or sprinkles, sprinkle sugar or sprinkles on immediately, while icing is wet.
- If decorating with piped frosting, allow icing to dry for 30 minutes before piping any designs or words onto cookies. Icing will form a smooth, dry, shiny surface when ready.
- To pipe decorations, add a little additional powdered sugar to reserved portion of icing until thick enough to pipe with a #2 round tip. Place icing in a piping bag fitted with round tip. Pipe decorations as desired. Allow to dry.
- To store cookies: place cookie in airtight container, placing pieces of parchment between layers of cookies to prevent sticking.