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Slice-and-bake Spiral Cookies

Treat the apple-of-your-eye to a sweet treat this Valentine’s Day with swirled cookies sure to earn you a kiss.

With Febuary 14 right around the corner, thoughts of flowers, chocolates, and dinner-dates are swirling about. These pretty heart cookies are a step above the normal icebox variety, and make a great homemade gift. Mix and match any colors you choose- add less dye for two different reds, try pink, or stir in other colors. An extra bonus: Left-over dough can be stored in the freezer, so the the next time you want a treat or need to bring dish along for a party, you have an instant baking project. Just roll the partially defrosted  cookie dough in sugar, cut into 1/4-inch slices, and bake.



Slice-and-bake heart cookies, makes 4 to 6 dozen (adapted from Martha Stewart Holiday, December 2010)
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, cubbed and softened
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2/3  cup milk
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
4 1/2 cups all-poupouse flour, plus additional flour for dusting the surface
Food coloring in red, plus additional colors if wanted

1. Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and cream on medium-high speed for five minutes until pale and fluffy.  Add in eggs, one at a time, and mix until completely incorporated. Beat in milk and vanilla. Slowly rain in flour and salt, allowing to come together, but mixing until just incorporated. Don’t over mix.

2. Divide the dough in half. Place half the dough back in the mixer and add a few drops of coloring. Mix completely and add coloring until desired color is achieved (remember color will fade slightly when baked). Flatten both sections into a flat ball, wrap in plastic, and chill for one hour.

3. Once chilled, remove one color of dough and roll out on a floured surface to 1/2-inch thickness. Place on a lined sheet tray and place back in the refrigerator. Roll out the remaining dough. Remove the first piece, and slightly dampen the top side using a wet pastry brush. Lay the second piece on top of the first. Starting at one end, pinch and press the ends together and then slowly roll up together. Try to work quickly, because this will be harder as dough becomes soft. When finished, place on tray, and chill again for at least 20 minutes.

4. Remove log from fridge, wrap in plastic, and roll like a rolling pin, trying to make as evenly circular as possible. Chill again for twenty minutes, this time in the freezer. While waiting, prepare several sheet trays for baking with parchment or silpats and preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove log, and cut  into 1/4-inch slices. Using a rolling pin, roll the slices out slightly on a floured surface and then punch out using a heart shaped cutter. Place on the sheet tray. Save the scrapes, and when all dough has been cut and punched, gather the scrapes together, roll out to 1/4-inch thickness and punch out (this will be a less swirled version). Chill the punch out cookies again briefly, about 5 minutes.

5. Bake cookies for 12 minutes, rotating once during the process. Transfer to a rack after baking to cool. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

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