I’ve always loved Valentine’s Day, since in addition to being an officially sanctioned reason to eat chocolate and tell people you love them, it’s my half birthday. I’m a big fan of holidays and birthdays in general. Why not take a moment out of the mundane to have a little fun?

heart shaped junior mints

Any excuse for romance is a good one. The beauty of being a romance novelist is that I get to immerse myself in love and romance (and sex) every day of the year. How do you celebrate this particular holiday? I present my hubby with a card and a sweet, usually heart shaped Junior Mints since he doesn’t like many types of candy. This year, I’m using Valentine’s Day as an excuse for making a whole bunch of decorated heart sugar cookies.

heart cookie cuttersAnd as a sweet treat for you, here’s my favorite sugar cookie recipe, adapted from the Rosie’s Bakery Chocolate-Packed Jam Filled Butter-Rich No-Holds-Barred Cookie Book by Judy Rosenberg. Every recipe in that book is a winner.

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
13 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cut into small pieces
1 egg
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Process the flour, sugars, baking soda, cream of tartar, salt in a food processor for a few seconds. Then add the butter pieces and process for about 30 seconds. Stir egg and vanilla together and then add to the running food processor and process until the dough starts coming together, about 30 seconds. Remove it from the processor and knead into a ball, then divide into two slabs and wrap in plastic wrap. I like to press the discs out until they are fairly flat so it is easier to roll them later. Chill for two hours. You can also freeze at this point for two weeks.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Remove the dough from the plastic wrap and place it between two pieces of parchment paper, then roll it out to 1/8 inch thick. Use cookie cutters to cut shapes and transfer them to the baking sheets. Gather scraps and reroll as needed. Bake until firm with lightly golden edges, about 15 minutes, but may be less depending on the size of the cookies and your oven. Cool them on sheets and decorate as desired.