Sweet and simple, these butter cookies are made by piping dough and setting in the freezer for an hour before baking. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)

Sweet and simple, these butter cookies are made by piping dough and setting in the freezer for an hour before baking. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)

On the strawberry patch: Bites of romance

Valentine’s butter cookies offer flavors of love

When we first started dating, our romance was adventurous.

We spent our weekends in the mountains or in deep snow on journeys that would last for hours and hours, and with just our two black kittens at home waiting for us, we were intrepid and spontaneous and explored the winding roads just to see where they went.

Our home life together was quiet and routine, ending with beans and rice or lentils for dinner and maybe an episode (or three) of Game of Thrones before our strict, early bedtime. It was a brief but memorable phase of our life together, and a time I look back on with fondness, and sometimes longing, but never envy, because what we have now is much more than that romance.

Now I stay home and raise our little one just like we planned from our futon in that first little place, our five-year plan faithfully executed with joyous results.

Our weekends are still adventures, though the mountains are smaller. Our weekdays are still a comforting routine, although the quiet is long gone, possibly forever.

When I look at him, I see the rugged, romantic traveler who sings and plays guitar, but now I also see the life and family I imagined for myself when I was young and would dream of my perfect future.

My dream come true.

For dessert these days we´ve swapped cocktails for cookies, and these bite-sized butter cookies are perfectly sweet and simple like our happy little life. Although not completely necessary, these cookies were made to be piped out, so prepare a large star tip and a sturdy piping bag.

Ingredients:

2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

¾ cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon almond extract

1 egg, room temperature

2 tablespoons milk, room temperature

½ teaspoon salt

Directions:

With the paddle attachment on your mixer, cream the room temperature butter and sugar together on high speed until the color has lightened and the mixture is fluffy, about 5 minutes.

Sift the flour and salt together.

Whisk your eggs, extracts and milk together.

Pour your egg mixture into the butter and sugar and mix on low speed to combine.

Add in your flour all at once and mix on the lowest speed until homogenous. Turn the mixer off as soon as it is combined and try not to overmix, or your cookies will be tough.

Transfer the dough immediately to your piping bag and get to work. Each cookie should be about 1 ½ inch across. This batch made about 50 mini-cookies.

Put your finished trays into the freezer for 1 hour to set. This will help the cookies hold their shape in baking.

Preheat your oven to 350 F.

Move the cookies directly from the freezer to a room-temperature baking tray and bake for 9-11 minutes, until the edges are just browning, rotating halfway if necessary. Do not thaw the dough before baking or the cookies will melt into disappointing puddles and burn.

Allow to cool on the tray for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

Let them cool completely before decorating.

Store in an airtight container.

I used piped chocolate and sprinkles to decorate our cookies, but they are just as delicious unadorned.

The frozen raw cookies will keep in the freezer for months, so you might consider making a large batch, transferring them once frozen solid to a gallon zip-top bag, and removing only a few at a time so you may enjoy fresh warm cookies anytime in minutes.

They also ship well and would make an excellent addition to any cookie box or candy care package for your distant valentines.

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