It's official: my children have passed the stage where they want to give their classmates Valentine cards. Valentine cards are "lame" and "boring" and also, they don't want to give cards to people who aren't particular friends. Gone are the days when one could feel popular based on the number of cards in our construction paper mailboxes; these are the days when we either give to everyone, or give to no one. My children have chosen the "no one" option.
But that doesn't mean they want to be merely Takers in the classroom. They do want to be Givers, just not Lame-o Card Givers, apparently. What they chose to do, this year, is to send in cookies for their classmates to enjoy during the class parties. Cookies, in their humble opinions, are far superior to cards.
And so it was that I found myself making eighty-four sugar cookies in the shape of hearts. I packed off thirty-five for each class - making sure the teachers and aides could enjoy as well - and kept a few at home for the boys to gorge on. When I went to pick up the boys from school, a number of third-and-fourth graders came running up to me on the playground, to inform me that I am, officially, the "World's Best Baker".
Well. I feel I might just get myself a t-shirt with that emblazoned on the front.
The truth is, though, that I owe this title to my mother. This is her recipe for sugar cookies, and when I was a child my friends would all clamour for more of her cookies. She would bake them for every occasion and now I do too: heart shapes for Valentine's, ghosts, pumpkins and black cats for Halloween, bunnies for Easter, trees and snowmen for Christmas, stars for birthdays. My kids' friends gobble them down with admiration, just like my friends did for my mom. It's sweet.
Mom's Old Fashioned Sugar Cookies
1 1/2 cup butter, softened
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla
4 1/2 cups flour
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
Cream together butter, sugar, and vanilla. Add eggs and beat together. Mix in dry ingredients. Divide dough into three balls, cover with plastic wrap and a) chill overnight, or b) freeze for later consumption.
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees and line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Roll dough out to 1/4 inch thickness; cut into shapes. Bake for 8-9 minutes for a perfectly soft, chewy cookie. Cookies should be slightly browned around the edges.
Perfect Buttercream Frosting:
1/2 cup very soft butter
4 cups icing sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
2-3 tablespoons milk
Beat butter with icing sugar, adding the sugar very slowly by 1/2 cup increments. Add vanilla and milk by tablespoon until desired consistency is reached. Add food colouring if desired.
Makes about 7 dozen cookies, depending on the size of your cookie cutters. Size does matter and don't let anyone tell you different.