frosted sugar cookie hearts + a valentine’s day giveaway

Soft Lemon Sugar Cookies with Almond Icing
Makes about 4 dozen

Adapted from my Aunt Carole via Saveur

For the lemon sugar cookies:
2 1/2 cups (312 grams) flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick or 113 grams) butter, softened
1/2 cup (110 grams) soft margarine (my aunt uses Gold n’Soft)
1 1/2 cups (185 grams) powdered sugar, sifted
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract

For the almond frosting:
5 tablespoons (70 grams) butter, very soft
2 tablespoons (30 ml) half and half or heavy cream, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups (220 grams) powdered sugar, sifted

Sprinkles and food coloring, for decorating

Make the dough: In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. In a large bowl use a hand mixer to beat together butter, margarine, and powdered sugar on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy. Add egg, yolk, and both extracts and beat until smooth. Add dry ingredients, and mix until just combined. Transfer the dough to a work surface and shape into two disks. Wrap each half in several layers of plastic. Refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours or overnight.

When you are ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 350 and line a baking sheet with parchment. On a lightly floured surface roll out the dough to about 1/4-inch thick. Dip a 2-inch cookie cutter into flour and stamp out as many cookies as possible. Reroll the scraps as necessary. Bake for 8 – 10 minutes or until the edges are just barely golden. Do not over bake. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.

Make the frosting and decorate the cookies: Combine butter, half and half (or cream), both extracts, and salt in a medium bowl, and beat until smooth, then add sugar and mix until smooth and spreadable. Generously spread each cookie with frosting and decorate with sprinkles.

To make the graduated colors: I first divided my cookies into four batches then frosted one quarter with plain white frosting. Then I dipped a toothpick into electric pink gel paste food coloring and added just the tiniest amount of pink (I am talking the smallest amount of color!) and frosted another quarter batch. Then – you get the idea – I added even a bit more color and frosted the third quarter. Finally, I added the MOST coloring and frosted the remaining cookies.