Thursday, January 26, 2012

Will You Be My Valentine?

     When you're in second grade, Valentine's Day is wondrous. In the days leading up to it, you  thoughtfully decorate your mailbox with hearts and stickers, all the time anticipating what it might hold when the magical day arrives. Red and pink scraps of paper litter the classroom floor, evidence of hastily cut, glued, glittered and lettered missives of friendship that will be surreptitiously slipped into your classmates' expectant receptacles.

     In second grade everybody's your friend. You don't have to worry about girlfriends or boyfriends or dating or any of those drama inducing love triangles that will come all too soon and fill your Valentine's Day with more angst than should be allowed.

     In second grade, instead of worrying about who's sending you flowers or candy, you can tell jokes. Corny jokes. And riddles that you ask your friends over and over and they will always laugh. When you're in second grade, jokes are always funny. Classics like:

What did the boy bird say to the girl bird?  "Let me call you Tweet Heart."
What did the boy bat say to the girl bat? "Let's hang around together."
What did the boy cat say to the girl cat? "We're purrrfect for each other."

     The long awaited fourteenth  arrives, and all day long eyes are glued to the bulging bags on the classroom counter.  Not soon enough, little fingers are busy unearthing and poring over the hidden treasures within; little envelopes with colorful cards and maybe a piece of candy or two. Affirmations of friendships. And hopefully, cookies.

     These Iced Spice Cookies have been the "go-to" cookie in my household for years. Simpler to decorate than the last Valentine cookies I posted, they were a breeze to make. I used Sweet Sugarbelle's "Twenty Second" royal icing since the cookies were smallish. I loved that I only had to make two different colors of frosting, but you could make yours as colorful as you like. The hearts on the cookies were made by immediately piping dots of frosting onto each freshly frosted cookie, and then drawing a toothpick through the dots from top to bottom. Do this immediately, before the frosting crusts, and be sure to wipe off the toothpick after every pass to keep your hearts neat!

     Make some of these for someone you love. And if you know any second graders, ask them to tell you their favorite joke. Be prepared to listen to their peals of laughter while you secretly groan inside. :)

Iced Spice Cookies
(printable page)

recipe adapted from Patti Paige, Creative Ideas for Living Jan/Feb '89
2/3 cup shortening (I use butter)
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 and 1/2 teaspoons salt (I only use 1)
1 large egg (from a happy hen if you can find one-mine aren't laying right now)
3/4 cup molasses
3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

  • Cream together the first six ingredients. Add the egg and mix thoroughly. Add the molasses and mix again. Set aside.
  • Sift together the flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Add to molasses mixture and mix until dough forms.
  • Divide the dough into two balls (flattened), wrap in plastic wrap and chill at least three hours. (I chilled it overnight) This dough is hard to work with unless it's chilled.
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Roll out one ball of dough to a thickness of 1/8 to 1/4 inch. The original recipe calls for rolling the dough out between two sheets of lightly floured wax paper or a floured pastry cloth. I didn't have those so I just checked my dough frequently to make sure it wasn't sticking to my surface.
  • Cut out desired shapes. Gather scraps into a ball and put in the freezer while you repeat with the rest of your dough.
  • Transfer cookies to parchment covered (or greased) baking sheet.
  • Bake for 8-10 minutes, making sure edges don't burn. Cool completely on a rack before frosting. For me this recipe made about 4 dozen small cookies.

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