Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Vexation

I am a hopeless romantic.  I will come straight out and admit it.  I am, by no means, a cynic about love or relationships.  I do, however, loathe Valentine's Day.  I think it's a far too commercial and materialistic manifestation of "love."  It takes all of the beauty and romance of love and turns them into a billion dollar industry of cards, chocolates and flowers.  Some say it is a day to "remind that special someone that you care," and I will let them think that way.  However, I completely disagree.  I think there are much better ways to show someone that you care, and that those little things can be done throughout the year.  Valentine's day has become the one day a year to make up to your significant other for screwing up the rest of the year.  It's even better than an anniversary, because it's so in-your-face and on the same day every year, so you can't miss it.

I used to love Valentine's Day in grade school, especially when my "boyfriend," Jeffrey, gave me chocolates and a teddy bear and colored-in coloring book pages of the 101 Dalmatians in Kindergarten and the 1st grade.  In college, however, today is a day I despise, mostly because I work in the mail room.  I see everyone else get care package after care package, all reeking of chocolate and decorated with glittery hearts and lips.  We also get dozens of flower deliveries, and you can imagine how I feel about those given my allergies to every plant under the sun.

Despite my strong feelings of hatred for this day, I still like to use it to make my friends smile.  If I am annoyed on Valentine's Day, I'm sure all of my friends feel the same way.  So to make their days a little brighter, I bake all my Wes friends cookies, and send a few care packages out to Rochester.  I used 8 hours of baking yesterday to cope with my negative feelings about today.  If that's not using baking as therapy, I don't know what is.

Valentine's Sugar Cookies with Almond Glaze
Recipe adapted from a Sweet Pea Chef
*I made two batches, one with butter and one with Earth Balance (for my dairy-free friend, Leada!)

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter or Earth Balance (softened)
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Whisk together dry ingredients (except sugar)
In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar
Add egg and vanilla and beat until combined
Slowly add the dry ingredients until incorporated.  It will look dry and crumbly.  Mold dough with hands and divide in half.

Cover each half in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least half an hour
Roll out dough on a well-floured surface and cut with cookie cutters of your choice
Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet at 375°F for 7 minutes.  Cool on pan for 2 minutes, then transfer to wire rack.
Once they are completely cooled, we can make the icing.
Icing Ingredients
*I needed to make several batches
1 cup confectioners sugar
3 tsps almond milk
2 tsps light corn syrup
1/2 tsp almond extract
red food coloring
sprinkles or edible glitter- optional

Icing Ingredients
Mix all ingredients together really well.  Add red food coloring until it is at your desired color.  I like to use dark bowls so the food coloring does not stain my lighter colored ones.  Spread on cookies in an even layer with the back of your spoon.  Allow icing to harden for at least 1 hour.
 l like to frost on cookie sheets.  Don't wash them after you bake the cookies- just set them aside.  If you put frosted or glazed cookies on sheets, you save yourself a mess on your counter or table tops, and if you need to move them for space you don't have to pick up wads of soggy paper towels.
I packaged them all up and stuffed them in the mail boxes of 70 of my closest friends this morning.  While doing so, I realized that I have a lot of love in my life.  Maybe too much love.  If I make any more friends this may turn into a week-long project...

For those of you that do like and celebrate today, Happy Valentines Day.  For those of you like me, let's make cookies, take Zyrtec, and sleep until tomorrow.

Love and cookies,

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