I think I actually enjoy Valentine’s Day more since having kids. Don’t get me wrong, I love my hubby, even now that we’ve been married over 11 years. Even more than when we were googly-eyed newlyweds. But having kids as just magnified that for me. We have even more love in our home!
So for Valentine’s Day we celebrate as a family. I make a fun dinner and we make “Love Shacks”. Sugar cookie houses loaded with fun.
We had a few friends and their kids over this year and made a party of it. Each kid got a house to decorate, and we put tons of valentines candy down the middle of the table.
Each kid got a small plate with some frosting and a knife (pre-“glueing” the houses together really helps here, they won’t fall apart even with tons of candy on them).
You could also give each kid a piping bag or a ziplock with a snipped corner of frosting.
We started this tradition because our oldest daughter adores decorating cookies and gingerbread houses. We usually make a few for friends or family who might be going through a rough time, like the elderly widow down the street we visit with, or someone we love, like my daughter’s therapist.
Autism has not stopped my sweet girl from being a sweetheart, that’s for sure!
4 cups flour
1 T baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 T milk
1 T vanilla
In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and shortening together until softened.
Add sugar and beat until fluffy. Add milk, eggs, and vanilla, mix until well blended.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to dough and mix until well mixed. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate a couple hours to a few days.
Roll out sections of dough on silicone mats. (I find it helpful to cover dough with a piece of wax paper or plastic wrap so you don’t have to over-flour the surface of the dough to roll it out.)
Here is a template for houses that works well for small kids houses.
Cut out shapes and take away excess. I find it works well to have the shapes up against each other, so there is less room for expansion.
Bake at 375 degrees for 6 to 12 minutes, depending on size of shapes.
You want it slightly golden brown. Within a minute of taking out of the oven, I slide the silicone mat onto a flat counter and trim any excess that may have expanded during baking, and re-score lines.
After pieces are cool, make royal icing. Fill a piping bag (or even just a ziplock with a snipped corner) and “glue” houses together. I like to use overturned paper plates like my friend Angela does, it makes decorating easier.
Ideally, “glue” the houses together at least one day before decorating, it makes them more stable for little ones who like to add alot of heavy candy 😉
For Royal Icing:
1 lb powdered sugar
3 egg whites (you can substitute 2 T meringue powder and 6 T water alternatively)
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
Mix all icing ingredients together until stiff peaks form when the beater is pulled out. Decorate as desired!