Maggie has her Valentine’s Party this morning at school and she started the day jumping up and down saying, “I am so excited. I am so excited. I am so excited.” Her enthusiasm for this holiday has been amazing to see crescendo as the week comes to a close. This (almost) four year old girl has been sitting for a week now patiently writing her name on each card and envelope. Then, she meticulously packs cards, candy and treats inside the envelopes – custom-stylized for a special friend. Amazing.

The gist of this is that we are going to celebrate Maggie’s new favorite holiday by making her (my) favorite sugar cookies over the weekend and I have to get ready today.  Notice how the hearts (cookies) in the drawing above are larger than anything else in her world – including house, pets, and parents! Got to love a girl who loves to cook…

The base of our recipe comes from Kim’s Cookbook For Young People that was given to me by my Grandmother Smith on my 13th Birthday.

For whatever reason, this recipe has never been surpassed – well, with a few modifications:


1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar (we use raw sugar)
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
½ teaspoon homemade baking powder (see below)
¼ teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Beat butter and raw sugar on medium speed until they are creamy – about 3 minutes. (That mixer would make a great Valentine’s Gift for a deserving chef if you still don’t have an idea and they don’t already have one.)

Add 1 egg and 1 teaspoon vanilla to butter and raw sugar and blend on medium.

Sift together flour, baking powder and salt in a separate bowl and add in quarters to dough. Blend on low until just smooth – do not over beat.
Chill your dough for 1 hour – trying not to taste.

Roll to about 1/4” thick on a lightly floured board. Cut with floured heart cookie cutters. Place on parchment paper lined pan and bake for 8 -10 minutes. The trick is not to overcook. Test often to make sure that the cookies are “done.”

Remove from pans and cool on wire racks.

Decorate with Buttercream Frosting.

A Note on Homemade Baking Powder
The Gift of Southern Cooking by Edna Lewis and Scott Peacock (In my top ten list of cookbooks and also a great Valentine’s Day gift):

Distressed by the chemical additives and aftertaste of commercial “double-acting” powders, Miss Lewis years ago started making her own baking powder – a traditional mixture of cream of tartar and baking soda. When I first used her formula (from her books, before we met), I couldn’t really taste any difference. Soon, though, I realized that muffins and quick breads made with aluminum-sulfate-based powders left a metallic “tingle” on my tongue. Today, I make up a batch of this powder every week for use at the restaurant and bring a jar home for Miss Lewis. We recommend it for all the recipes here. If necessary, you can substitute commercial baking powder in equal amounts.

Sift 1/4 cup cream of tartar with 2 tablespoons baking soda together 3 times, and transfer to a clean, tight-sealing jar. Store at room temperature, away from sunlight, for up to 6 weeks.

Happy Valentine’s Week(end),
From all of us @ Alabama Chanin


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