How to Make Beautiful Valentine’s Sugar Cookies — in a Hurry!
How much extra time do you have on your hands?
I have a feeling you are about as busy as I am — which means you don’t always have time for the extras in life, like when your child comes home from school asking to make sugar cookies for the class Valentine’s party.
Your first instinct is to pick up a couple dozen from the bakery in the morning and put them on a plate and cover them with plastic wrap. No one needs to know.
But, your daughter begins to jump up and down with excitement over the idea of making them with you, and you just can’t break her little heart.
So you hit Pinterest to find a recipe. And then you start to whimper a little. Quietly, so your daughter doesn’t hear. You don’t have time for chilling dough overnight or waiting 24 hours between coats of royal icing.
And speaking of making royal icing, who has meringue powder in their cupboard??? This is Thursday night people. The party is tomorrow!
This is How We Do It
It is time for short cuts baby. And I promise you, your cookies will be so delicious, no one will miss the layers of royal icing.
(Of course, no disrespect to royal icing. If you have time, decorate away! I adore all the incredible sugar cookie designs I see on Pinterest. And I am working on my decorating skills. But some moments call for short roads.)
Color Them Quick
It is Valentine’s Day and you want your cookies to show it. You and your daughter want sugar cookies that are playful and cute.
But that doesn’t mean you need to mix up five shades of homemade royal icing.
Nope, a couple of quick drops of pink or red food coloring into your DOUGH will do the trick.
Yes, you have got your color within seconds. Just knead the food color throughout the dough before you roll it out and then cut those heart shapes. (If food dyes bother you or your child, you can buy natural food coloring. It is much more expensive than regular food coloring, but it is a great option.)
Another time-saving, headache-saving tip is to roll and cut your dough on the parchment paper you will use on your cookie sheet. Then just peel up the extras and leave the cookies on the parchment.
Cool Them Down Fast
If you don’t have time for excessive dough chilling, it is ok. Your cookies will survive and still taste great.
Once you have rolled out your dough on parchment and cut out your first batch of hearts, move the parchment onto a cookie sheet and pop in the fridge while you heat your oven and continue rolling and cutting out the rest of the cookies.
Remember, you will need to roll out onto something that won’t stick to your dough, such as parchment paper or a baking mat like a Silpat. If your flour is sticking to your floured rolling pin, you can roll your dough between two pieces of parchment or wax paper.
Also, I find greasing my cookie cutter with a bit of butter or oil works better than flouring it if it is sticking to my dough.
Although, the batch pictured here didn’t stick at all. It rolled and cut perfectly with no flouring. I just used my baking mat and my rolling pin. I even used my fingers to pick up the hearts and move them onto my parchment lined cookie sheet.
When the first sheet is in the oven, pop the next filled cookie sheet in the fridge to cool while the first sheet bakes.
And keep a CLOSE eye on the oven. Sugar cookies bake super fast and will be done between 6-9 minutes, depending on size and thickness. You want to take them from the oven the moment the edges hint at brown and the centers look firm.
You might think they aren’t done, but they will finish cooking on the baking sheet. The longer they cook, the crispier your cookies will be.
Powder Them Up
If you don’t have much time between cookies coming out of the oven and running out the door, or if it is bed time by the time the cookies come out, no worries.
Decorating these cookies is faster than powdering your own nose.
Simply allow the cookies to cool for a few moments on the parchment lined baking sheets. Then slide the parchment with the cookies still on to a cooling rack to continue to cool. Or, if your cookie sheet has sides and sliding won’t work, use a thin spatula to place cookies on to rack.
When the cookies are cool, grab a mesh strainer (a small one or even a large one will do,) and pour in a bit of icing sugar. Dust the cookies with the sugar and you instantly have decorated, adorable sugar cookies.
There is no waiting for icing to dry, just wrap up your cookies and you are good to go.
And perhaps the best part of these powdered sugar cookies — they aren’t nearly as sugary and sweet as cookies with a thick layer of icing. Yes, I use that reasoning when I eat more than a few as I pack them up…
Fast and Easy Valentine’s Sugar Cookies — and Gluten-Free if You Choose
This recipe will work with gluten or without.
Since my daughter is celiac, I make our cookies gluten free. I used Better Batter Flour for this batch and they were delicious. I have also used an almond/coconut/rice/tapioca flour blend I made as well, and it was wonderful.
The key to making delicious gluten free baked goods is a great flour blend. If you just use rice flour, your baking will be sticky, gluey and very disappointing. You can purchase good gluten free blends or you can make your own blend.
I have spent the past few months experimenting with different versions of flour blends and I am working on a post to tell you more about my favorite combinations and the great resources I have found. In the meantime, here is a super helpful post on gluten free flour blends from Gluten-Free on a Shoestring.
With wheat or without, this basic sugar cookie recipe will serve you well…
- 1 cup unsalted butter - room temperature or softened slightly
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup powdered sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ½ tsp almond extract (optional)
- 3 cups flour or gluten free flour blend
- 1¼ tsp xanthan gum (if using gluten free flour blend that doesn't contain xanthan gum)
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ¾ tsp salt
- Cream butter and sugar in mixing bowl for two minutes
- Add eggs, one at a time, and blend until well incorporated
- Add vanilla extract (and almond extract if using) and mix until combined
- In separate bowl, whisk together dry ingredients
- Add dry ingredients, a cup at a time, to wet ingredients, mixing until blended
- Add 1-3 drops of food coloring, depending on desired intensity
- Mix until dough begins to form and color is blended
- Remove dough and divide into two balls
- Knead each ball of dough until color is fully blended and smooth
- Roll out dough on parchment paper, baking mat, or floured surface
- Roll to ¼ inch or ⅓ thick and cut out shapes with greased cookie cutter
- Move shapes onto parchment lined cookie sheets and chill for 10-15 minutes in fridge
- Bake in 350* oven for 6-9 minutes, depending on size and thickness
- Watch closely and remove when cookies firm in the middle and before edges brown
- Allow to cool for 3-5 minute on cookie sheet to allow cookies to continue cooking and to firm up
- Move cookies to cooling rack, if desired
- Once fully cooled, use a mesh strainer to dust cookies with powdered sugar
Written and photographed by Janice Croze, co-founder of 5 Minutes for Mom