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Friday, February 14, 2014

Valentine's Heart Cookies (and baking with kids)

I haven't told you this yet here at four thirty four, but I make my living as a part time nanny for 3 kids. I love the job so much, they are like my second family. I am always looking for fun new things to do with the kids. They love to bake almost as much as I do (how lucky is that!?) so most holidays we make sugar cookies. Baking with 3 kids is crazy, but making the mess is half the fun. You know there will be flour on the floor, frosting in at least one person's hair, sticky handprints everywhere, and sprinkles all over the counter. But it's ok because you also know you will be making memories and having lots of fun. 

This recipe is really easy, it is my go-to sugar cookie recipe.
(Sorry for the picture quality in this post, I didn't bring my nikon to work, so they're just camera phone pics.)

Cream together 3/4 cup softened butter and 1 cup of sugar in an electric mixer. Beat on high until light and fluffy (2 minutes or so). Add in 2 eggs, 1 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract and 1/8 tsp of almond extract. I like to add a tiny bit of almond extract to all my vanilla baked goods (I do it in my blueberry muffins, too!). I feel like it adds another layer of flavor without being overpoweringly almond-ey. 

Refrigerate for at least an hour. Roll out on a heavily floured surface. Let somebody with cute pudgy hands help you roll it out (optional). 

Cut the cookies out (I let the kids do this all on their own, they love it!) and bake at 400 F for 6-8 minutes. Let them get very slightly golden, and take them out before you think you need to. This will result in a nice soft cookie. Let them cool. Make the frosting while they are cooling. 

For the frosting, cream 2 sticks of butter with 1/4 cup of milk and 2 tsp vanilla extract. I always use clear vanilla in my frosting because it doesn't color the frosting at all, and I like how it tastes better. Let somebody small decide how much food coloring to put in (optional). End up with extremely pink frosting (again, optional). One cup at a time, add in the powdered sugar and mix on low. Beat the frosting on high for 3-5 minutes to get it light and fluffy. 

Frost the cookies and decorate with sprinkles.

 Let those cute pudgy hands help with this, too. Don't get mad when they eat the frosting and the sprinkles off the cookies. Their pudgy little hands look cute covered in pink frosting, as does their tiny face.

 Somebody ate some frosting off of this cookie. Oops!

Bake something with somebody that you love this Valentine's day (big or small- the mess is worth it!) 

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