Sunday, February 13, 2011

Pretty Pink Valentine's Cookies

Pretty Pink Valentine's Cookies

     As dorky as I think it is, I think it's time for me to come to terms with the fact that I love a good theme. I love me a good party where I can make foods that scream that they belong to a specific holiday. Of course Valentine's Day is no exception. I felt a strong and urgent calling Friday night to make something pink and heart shaped.
     I did not plan ahead, and for the life of me I could not find a damn heart shaped cookie cutter! I searched the local Whole Foods, the T.J. Max next door, and as I was just about to give up when I realized that CVS was another cookie cutterless establishment, a revelation... no, an epiphany came over me! All those heart shaped boxes of chocolates could double as a cookie cutters! AWESOME. I found a nice, small box a similar size as a cookie cutter and voila! Presto cookie cutter, it worked like a dream!
     These vegan sugar cookies are flakey, buttery, sweet, and really simple to make. Use the dough with any cookie cutter you'd like depending on your mood. With a coating of Confectioner's Icing, sprinkles, and some assorted candies of your liking, you can make these super pretty, and be as creative as you fancy!

Vegan Sugar Cookies

Makes about 3 dozen cookies, depending on the size of your cookie cutter

2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup earth balance margarine
1/2 cup earth balance vegetable shortening
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond, lemon, maple, or other flavor extract
1/4 cup nondairy milk

In a mixing bowl, sift together the flour, cornstarch, salt, and baking powder. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, use electric beaters to cream together the margarine, shortening, and sugar until light and fluffy, at least 4 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl occasionally with a rubber spatula. Beat in the vanilla extract, the flavor extract, and the nondairy milk to combine. Beat in half the flour mixture until moistened, then carefully mix in the remaining flour mixture to form a soft dough.

Divide the mixture in two and pat into discs until 1 inch thick. Wrap each disc in plastic wrap and chill for several hours or overnight.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Lightly flour a large, clean work surface. Roll the dough to a 3/8-inch thickness and cut into shapes with cookie cutters. If the dough seems too stiff to roll or cracks too much, let it rest at room temperature for 10 minutes, then try rolling again. Pull away excess dough and use a thin metal spatula to carefully lift cookies onto cookie sheets, leaving an inch of space between cookies. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until the cookies have just started to turn golden around the edges. Remove the cookies from the oven and let them cool on sheets for 5 minutes before using a spatula to transfer them to wire racks. Use only completely cooled cookies for decorating or filling. Store in a tightly covered container for softer cookies; store loosely covered for crisper cookies.

Confectioner's Icing

4 cups sifted powdered sugar
4 tablespoons nondairy milk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Food coloring

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together all the ingredients except the food coloring using a fork or a wire whisk until smooth. Add food coloring 1 drop at a time until desired color is acquired. Combine to form a glaze that can easily spread with a icing spatula or piped for a pastry bag with a very small round tip.

If the icing is too thick, whisk in 1 teaspoon at a time or nondairy milk, or water. If too thin, whisk in more powdered sugar by the tablespoon until a desired consistency is reached.

To Assemble:

Once cookies have cooled, spread a thin layer of icing on each cookie. Before icing sets, decorate with your various toppings, or leave plain, which is also very pretty.