You didn’t think I’d let Valentine’s Day slip by without whipping out my heart cookie cutters did you? While I’m not the type of person to go all out in celebrating the big V-Day, I do love heart shaped desserts and any excuse to make them for you.
Speaking of love.
I got a text from Jesse last week that said “I did something”, followed by a picture of an big fish tank perched in our front room. So we were to become fish parents. I was immediately against this idea because while I don’t have anything against fish, I don’t love big fish tanks. I’m a lone gold fish in a bowl or solo beta floating under a plant type of gal (if you can categorize ladies by the type of fish tanks they prefer). Anyways, it happened. We had 8 or 10 fish…I don’t know exactly how many. My only stipulation was that I got to name them. I named them accordingly: Queen Mother, Dumpling, Tater Tots (x3 fish), Walt, Lindsay and Lohan. I’m not sure I named them all, honestly I don’t know how many we started with.
And that brings me to the next part of the story. We started with 8 or 10 fish, but lost a few between then and now. Remember how I was against the big fish tank? Well that stemmed from the fact I didn’t want to deal with the cleaning, feeding and ultimately the seaman funeral down the porcelain throne. And of course, the days Jesse was away, 3 of our fish kicked the bucket and I had to perform the fishy funerals. Gross.
So yeah, love. Love is what kept me from tossing the whole tank outside while Jesse was away. Because if a smelly ol’ fish tank is what brings him joy, that makes me happy too.
You know what else makes me happy? Cookies. Especially these cookies made with rich almond paste in the dough and smeared boozy amaretto frosting on top. yum.
I’ve decided there are two types of people in the world. Okay, maybe a few more than two, but for the sake of today’s recipe, we’ll say there are two types. People who grew up eating sugar cookies with cream of tartar in them and people who didn’t. Personally, I’m on team cream of tartar. I realized this because I was trying various popular sugar cookie recipes across the interwebs and none of them really struck that nostalgic sugar cookie feeling with me. I realized that most recipes don’t include cream of tartar. I love the slight tang it adds to the cookies. If you’re not on team cream of tartar, you can just leave it out. But I don’t recommend that.
almond sugar cookies with amaretto frosting
what you’ll need:
for the cookies:
1/2 cup butter
2/3 cup powdered sugar
4 ounces almond paste
1 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar*
2 cups all purpose flour
pinch of salt
amaretto frosting: <–you should really go this route
1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon amaretto
4 teaspoons sugar syrup**
red & blue food coloring
1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
4 teaspoons almond milk
4 teaspoons sugar syrup
red & blue food coloring
*omit cream of tartar if you’re not a fan of the tangy taste it gives cookies.
**to make homemade sugar syrup combine 1/2 cup cane sugar and 2 tablespoons water in a small sauce pan, simmer until sugar is dissolved and the syrup thickens.
If you’re cookie crazy (like me!) or feeding a crowd for valentines/galentines, you may want to double the recipe.
YES, you can get 3 different colors of frosting from just 1 batch of frosting in just 1 bowl. Living without a dishwasher has made me get creative with ways to save dishes.
how to whip it up:
In a stand mixer or in a medium sized bowl with a hand mixer, cream together the butter and powdered sugar for roughly 5 minutes. You want SUPER fluffy butter-sugar-clouds. Add in both extracts and egg, continue to mix for another minute. Chop up almond paste, add into mixture and blend until completely combined and creamy. Add in baking powder, cream of tartar, salt and flour. Gently mix until combined. Dough should be fairly stiff but not dry.
Roll out on floured surface until 1/4 inch thick and cut using heart shaped cookie cutter. Arrange on a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. Bake at 375° for 8-10 minutes. Edges should be pale but firm. Let cool completely before continuing on to frost and sprinkle!
To make the frosting, with a stand mixer fitted with the whisk or with a hand mixer in a medium bowl, whip together the powdered sugar, amaretto (or almond extract + almond milk) and sugar syrup until you have a smooth, thick consistency. You may need to add a few additional teaspoons of powdered sugar to get your frosting thick enough for your liking. To color your frosting, for light pink, add 1 drop red dye. Frost as many cookies as you like this way, sprinkle as you wish. This is my favorite offset spatula for frosting smaller baked goodies. Then mix in another 2 drops of red dye for a deeper pink color, repeat frosting and sprinkles. To make purple frosting, mix in 1 drop blue dye to the remaining frosting. Frost, sprinkle, repeat.
Yields 28-32 (ish) cookies depending on how big your cookie cutters are.