sugar on a cookie

When I was a very young girl, I broke a little boy’s heart on Valentine’s Day. It is not a moment for which I am proud. In fact, like my Momma, guilt sticks with me as tightly as my own shadow, no matter how many years have passed since the event that forced the creation of those feelings and their permanent lodging in my gut.

And so I still think of that towheaded little boy who, on February 14th, 1988 gifted me a very special heart-shaped puzzle, red with tiny white and pink flowers, that professed his adoration of a very young, pigtailed Andrea. I was only five, and still believed whole-heartedly that little boys had highly-contagious cooties, passable even by touching the same paper card. Mortified, I clutched the present, not even pausing to whisper “thank you” to the shy child, and turned as quickly as I could to the girl at the neighboring cubby.

I thrust the puzzle in her direction, saying something along the lines of “he wants me to give this to you” and fled the scene as quickly as possible. Finding comfortable ground in a nearby gaggle of little girls, I turned back towards my cubby just in time to see the devastated look on a heartbroken freckled face. Oh, the guilt.

I received quite the lecture from my Momma that night, about feelings and how not to hurt those of others. I came to embrace Valentine’s Day with its red and pink decorations, the elementary school parties with tiny cards displaying cartoon characters and the frosted cookies from our Room Mom. Future Valentines found a much more amiable object of their affections, one who said “thank you” after receiving a gift and who even sometimes had one to give in return. There were flowers and balloons and candy, hand-holding and blushes and shy middle school kisses.

The holiday intensified in high school, when suddenly having a boyfriend on February 14th was a very big deal. Girls would walk around all day with balloons from their beloved tied to their backpacks, a vase of flowers in their hands. I received gold jewelry from two sweet boys two separate years, and eagerly compared the baubles to those my girlfriends had received. Gold! In high school!

Valentine’s Day was a competition, full of pressure to find a date, to go out for a fancy dinner, to give and receive gifts that displayed an accurate level of affection. Until I met Brian.

When you meet your One, the novelty of Valentine’s Day wears off quickly. It’s corny to say, I know, but Brian and I truly do strive to make all of our days together special, to write love notes and give gifts on days other than those we’re “supposed” to. We have a comfortability that comes after years of marriage, and with the knowledge that we’re each other’s Only. There are no expectations of flowers and heart-shaped boxes of candy, no exchange of red lingerie for boxer shorts covered in tiny Cupids, no giddy phone calls to my girlfriends to compare our jewelry, no disappointment if none of the above happens. We simply enjoy spending the evening with each other. Anything extra is just icing on the cake, or sugar sprinkled on a cookie.

These are Brian’s very favorite cookies, an old family recipe slipped to us by his Aunt Lynn. So soft and moist, they very nearly have the consistency of cake. The hint of nutmeg is the perfect amount, I urge you not to mess with it.

The dough is extremely sticky and troublesome to work with, so don’t be afraid to use flour liberally as you roll it out.  If you’d like to decorate the cookies with icing when they are cool, I recommend Martha Stewart’s Royal Icing, which, although tooth-achingly sweet, dries beautifully.

Sugar Cookies

from Aunt Lynn and Uncle Scott (thank you!)

makes 3 dozen, 3-inch cookies


  • 2 sticks unsalted butter (1 cup), room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 4-1/2 cups all-purpose flour


  1. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add beaten egg, salt and nutmeg and blend well.
  2. Mix together the baking soda and buttermilk in a small bowl until foamy thin. Add to the creamed mixture, along with the vanilla.
  3. Sift the flour into the creamed mixture and blend well.  Place plastic wrap in mixing bowl directly on top of the dough, and refrigerate overnight.
  4. The next day, preheat your oven to 375* and line two sheet pans with parchment paper.
  5. Remove 1/3 of the dough from the mixing bowl and place on a moderately-floured surface, leaving remaining 2/3 dough in refrigerator.  Roll to a heavy 1/4-inch thickness, liberally flouring the dough as you go to keep it from sticking to the rolling pin.  Cut quickly with cookie cutters of choice, moving cookies to sheet pans and spreading them about 2-inches apart. Sprinkle with sugar if you don’t plan to ice them after baking.  Repeat with remaining dough.
  6. Bake for 10-12 minutes until cookies are just starting to turn golden at the edges.  Be careful not to over-bake them, as you want to maintain the soft interior texture.
  7. Let cookies cool on pan for 5 minutes before moving them to racks to cool completely. Store in airtight containers for up to one week (good luck keeping them around for that long…).

This recipe appeared on SuzySaid – Charlottesville this week, as part of my weekly recipe contribution.


21 responses to “sugar on a cookie

  1. what a beautiful valentine’s day story! and those little cookie stacks are adorable 🙂

  2. Happy Valentines! Lovely cookies.

  3. My dear, you have outdone yourself in the photography department with this post. I wish I could take photos like those.

  4. Are your photos in magazines yet? =)

    – The Nutrition Nut

  5. Gorgeous photos and a cute story of learning from your mistakes. (Although we won’t hold it against you.) Happy Valentine’s Day!

  6. These sound absolutely gorgeous and look so beautiful!

  7. No fair!! The rest of the family wants some too! Aunt Lynns cookies are to die for!!

  8. LOVE THE PICS! OH THESE MADE ME HUNGRY! I would say I would make them but I’m being realistic. I don’t’ even have a rolling pin. 😦 But I’ll enjoy your photos and dream of their sweetness nonetheless!

  9. Wow. Great pics! I’ve been looking for a good sugar cookie recipe. I’ll have to try this one.

  10. Love the story! My husband and I are similar – anti VDay…except where the little ones are concerned – we instead do random Happy Wednesay presents / cards etc. Like you said, we love each other evry day!!

  11. I love the bows. A really nice touch to a delicious-looking cookie.


  12. These are beautiful cookies! I’ve always loved sugar cookies with actual sugar crystals on top. mmm Yum!!

  13. loveee that story– depicts such a classic childhood tale.

    hope youre doing well love
    bec xo

  14. So Pretty! Absolutely sweet and precious!

  15. Those cookies look delicious and your photos are beautiful as usual! Once in awhile I crave a good ol’ sugar cookie.

  16. do cookies get better looking? I think not!

  17. You have such darling memories of Valentine’s Day. So sweet 🙂 And, what cuties these cookies are!

  18. What a lovely post – as always Andrea! My husband and I are the same way – we make every day special – I leave notes in his car – I’ve walked to my car after work to see roses sitting on the drivers seat.

    Aren’t we lucky we found our Only’s?!

  19. Sugar cookies are so yummy-these look absolutely delicious. I love the touch of sprinkles on top-too cute!

  20. These are beautiful cookies!!! Mmmmm this post made me hungry!!


  21. How pretty! Love the sweet little ribbons!
    I’m starting to finally emerge from what was a particularly gluttonous holiday-cookie season and have been thinking more and more about baking. Can’t go wrong with sugar cookies…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s