On February 14th I was put on Cookie Duty. Yes, a very serious and important task! Think I’m joking? This is no jest. Here’s the story: Every Friday at the Orpheum, orchestra musicians meet for a highly anticipated coffee break at 12pm sharp.
It’s a rare time when the cellos get the chance to mingle with the cute bassoonists and for the flutes to talk shop with the oboes. But that’s not all– Friday afternoon coffee break is when a musician’s baking skills are put to the test!
This may not be out in the open, but here’s the secret (shh!)– musicians have very fine-tuned taste buds (it’s a sensitive artist thing) and are secret foodies through and through. Now you know the way to our hearts.. it’s in the kitchen ladies and gentlemen.
Some people would feel the the pressure of baking for a crowd of 75 people a little daunting, but I was happy to take on the challenge. There are endless Valentine’s baking ideas out there, and I looked forward to the prospect of picking something creative to try. I settled with a classic: butter cookies.
Yes, I know Love Day has long past, but these heart-shaped butter cookies are just too adorable not to share with you today, don’t you think? Such tiny sweethearts!
How was your Valentine’s? The holiday can get a little frenzied, but despite all of its froo frah I hope you had a wonderful day hanging around your loves. My day was filled with some great romantic music, and of course moments divvying out these frosted treats to friends and colleagues.
Have you ever attempted to make the classic cut-out sugar cookie? This breed of dessert has a timeless simplicity that never tires. Mix, roll, cut, bake, decorate. The best part? This recipe calls on the staples you always have tucked away! Right when the holidays (Christmas, Valentines, Easter?) get busy, butter cookies can be your “go-to” fuss-free dessert. You won’t need to dart off to pick up a complicated list of ingredients. (Always a brow-furrowing experience, am I right?)
After mixing, chilling, cutting the dough the best step comes next– Decorating. It’s in steps like these when I am reminded of why I love baking. Decorating can offer a perfect outlet to express beauty and creativity!
Some of the most stunning sugar cookies I’ve seen have been decorated with a clean layer of icing, so in an attempt to try it myself, I decided to choose a recipe with a similar look. Royal icing is the secret. This icing is perfectly smooth and has a beautiful way of setting with a clean, dense finish.
If you’re curious about perfecting your decorating techniques, I found a helpful icing tutorial that was published on the wonderful blog I love to follow, Just a Smidgen by the effervescent poet and blogger Barbara Bamber.
Valentine’s Butter Cookies
from Butter Baked Goods cookbook by Rosie Dayton
Yield: 30 cut out cookies Bake: 350 F. Time: Chill: 1 hour minimum. Bake: 15 mins
3 cups all purpose flour 1 1/2 tsp baking powder 1 1/2 cups butter, room temp 3/4 cup icing sugar 1/2 cup granulated sugar 2 tbsp vanilla
1. Preheat oven to 350 F
2. In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder
3. In a stand up mixer, cream the butter and sugars on medium high speed until light and fluffy. Scrape down sides of the bowl. Add the vanilla and whisk to combine. Scrape down the sides of the bowl again.
4. Turn the mixer to low and add the dry ingredients and mix until fully combined.
5. Shape the dough into a large disk about 1 inch think, and wrap dough in plastic wrap. Chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
6. Divide the disk in two and place half the dough on a lightly floured work surface. Use a rolling pin to roll out the dough to about 1/4 inch thick.
7. Use the cookie cutter of your choice to cut out about 12 cookies. Carefully transfer to the prepared cookie sheets and place about 1/2 inch apart. You may have to combine the dough scraps and reroll the dough to cut out enough cookies. Avoid doing this too many times, as the cookies will become tough with overhandling.
8. Use a rolling pin to roll out the second disk of dough to about 1/4 inch thick and repeat step 7.
9. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes or until the cookies are lightly browned around the edges.
10. Remove from the oven and allow the cookies to cool for about 10 minutes on the sheets, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
4 cups icing sugar 1/4 cup meringue powder 6 to 8 tablespoons water
1. In a stand mixer fitted with a whisk, combine the icing sugar and meringue powder. Mix on medium speed until the meringue powder is evenly distributed throughout the icing sugar.
2. Turn the mixer to low and slowly add the water, little by little until the icing reaches the desired thickness and consistency.
3. Once the water is incorporated, beat the mixture on high to create some volume and lightness in the icing.
Recipe Credit: Rosie Dayton’s Butter Baked Goods Cookbook recipe for Cut Out Cookies and Royal Icing.
And there you have it! Good luck with your baking and decorating. Did you enjoy the sweet, buttery aroma that these treats left in your kitchen all day? Have fun with this one.
I hope you have a wonderful week ahead full of hot drinks, cozy nights-in and perhaps some healthy homemade meals.
PS: Do you ever read your horoscope? Here’s yours today.
PPS: On the nostalgic theme of love and romance from the month of February, I couldn’t agree more with these wise words.