Valentine’s Day cut-out cookies.

What could be more perfect than sharing the love with your sweetie, your family and your co-workers by way of a batch of heart-shaped cutout cookies? Why, frosting them with buttercream icing, of course! This butter cookie recipe comes straight out of my grade-school-era recipe box, in my perfectly round grade-school handwriting. It’s called Karen’s Butter Cookies, after the aunt of my best grade-school friend, Kirsten. (That reminds me: I should call her.) The buttercream icing is from a former colleague, Susan Riewerts. Both are delicious.

Karen’s butter cookies

3 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Cream sugar and butter in a mixer until light and fluffy; add egg and mix to thoroughly combine. Add vanilla to milk. Alternately, add the milk/vanilla and the dry ingredients until well combined. Roll out dough on a pastry cloth dusted with flour or powdered sugar. Cut out shapes as desired. Bake for 10 minutes. For crisp cookies, let the edges turn golden; for softer cookies, just bake until they’re set but not browned.

perfect buttercream icing

1/2 cup butter (OR, 1/4 cup butter and 1/4 cup shortening, for a fluffier icing)
3 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup evaporated milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract (NOTE: I used 1 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract plus 1/4 tsp. almond extract)

Cream together butter and evaporated milk. Add vanilla and mix. Add sugar 1 cup at a time, blending thoroughly. Tint with food-coloring gel as desired.

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