Who doesn’t love cookies? So, what could be better on Valentine’s Day than some homemade cookies that practically melt in your mouth when you eat them? Not much.
Valentine’s Day is February 14, and if you have not gotten your sweetie something for that special day of love, it is certainly time to start planning it. While there are a lot of great treats out there on store shelves, nothing says love like going the extra mile and doing a little kitchen time yourself. And, this recipe allows you to not only take into account your valentine’s taste, but to easily take it a step further and, yes, offer a variety of cookie choices to the one you love best.
One drawback to creating treats on your own as opposed to picking them out at a bakery or other specialty store is that it is a lot more time-consuming in your own kitchen to prepare a variety of flavors than it is to just go to the retailer and pick out three or four different cookies to present as a token of your affection. However, this recipe is easy to modify, right on the spot. Want plain sugar cookies? Start with the basic recipe. Your true love swoons over chocolate? Add some milk or dark chocolate chips. Peanut butter fanatic? No problem, just add your sweetie’s favorite brand of chunky or smooth. And, of course, feel free to cut the cookies into typical rounds, hearts, or other shapes with your cookie cutters, or to decorate them with sprinkles, colored sugar or other toppings before they go into the oven, or with icing after they finish baking.
To get started, you will need:
1 cup margarine (you can use shortening or butter, but margarine will prevent “weeping” of the cookies as they cool, so I prefer it in this recipe)
1 cup white sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups self-rising flour.
Blend all ingredients (this is made super-easy using a food processor, but you can certainly do it with an electric mixer, if you prefer). This will make approximately 18 cookies. If you would like to make all sugar cookies, you can stop here. But, if you would like to make additions, here are some ideas; I have found approximately one cup in a full batch of dough works well, but adjust to your preferences:
- Chocolate chips
- Dried fruit, such as cherries or chopped apricots
- Peanut butter
Mix and match, add more or less, or divide the dough and make different types of cookies from a single batch—it’s up to you!
Now that you have your dough ready, roll into 2 logs (think of one of those logs of cookie dough you get ready-made at the grocery store), wrap in plastic, and place in the freezer for about 30 minutes. Carefully slice into rounds (each log should yield about nine cookies), then place onto the cookie sheet; this makes for perfectly portioned cookies, and the freezing step will slow spreading, helping to produce a softer, thicker cookie. However if you would prefer to cut into shapes, you can do that, too! Skip the wrapping in plastic/freezer step, but do chill your dough in the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes; it will make it easier to work with as you roll out on a lighty-floured surface and cut with cookie cutters. Working with small batches of the dough will keep it from heating too much as you work with it.
Place cookies on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for approximately 12 minutes, or as long as needed. Different ovens will bake differently, but as soon as these cookies have spread and can be removed from your cookie sheet, they are done. They may appear to be a bit underdone in the center, but when you remove from the cookie sheet to your cooling rack, they will cool into cookie perfection!
Give Some Love, Get a Cookie Back
After cooling completely, place in bread bags (these are the greatest bags in the plastic container/bag aisle of your market; they are just clear plastic bags, no zippers or fold-tops, and they are perfect for projects such as this), tie with some zippy ribbon, and put into a pretty gift box or bag for you sweetheart.
Oh, and, okay, you can have one cookie yourself—a cook has to taste, after all. But, don't worry: When you give them away, these cookies have a way of inspiring sharing.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Image: Wikimedia Commons