Tag Archives: sugar cookies

Coconutdoodles

CoconutdoodlesPeople tell me all the time that they don’t bake because it doesn’t allow for improvising. I’m here to tell you that assumption about baking being all about precision is a big ol’ myth. At least half of the recipes in my archives started from a place of improvisation.

Now, could I have improvised so much when I first started baking? Probably not. The key is developing a few solid base recipes and paying attention to what different ingredients do—after that, it’s trying new things, like working with what you already have and fending off your crippling fear of failure. It’s the same with improvising during “regular” cooking, or in music or in theatre or in musical theatre. You’ve got to know the rules before you can bend them. But then, bend away, and if it doesn’t work, bend another way.CoconutdoodlesThe base recipe for these Coconutdoodles has been on here once already this year. It looks different there, filled with pecans and white chocolate chips, but the recipe is almost *exactly* the same otherwise. Same with last year’s Funfetti Cookies—take out the white chocolate chips and rainbow sprinkles and you have a blank slate sugar cookie recipe.CoconutdoodlesCoconutdoodlesCoconutdoodlesCoconutdoodlesThat’s right, a blank slate. A new start. A place to improvise by adding that random half-bag of coconut you have leftover from…well, I don’t remember what, but that’s beside the point. The point (!) is to load up that dough with as much coconut as it can take, then blitz the rest into a powder with some sugar and roll your cookie dough balls in it, snickerdoodle-style. But it’s coconut, so…Coconutdoodles.CoconutdoodlesCoconutdoodles bake up super thick and puffy, and while the sugary coconut-crusted exteriors don’t really toast, they do get extra crispy. Oh, and the insides are super chewy and loaded with an obscene amount of coconut. Ob-scene. I really thought it might be too much, or that it might make the cookies crumbly, but it‘s the exact right amount and these cookies stay soft for days. I know because I ate this whole batch myself. That was weeks ago and I’m still sad that they’re gone.CoconutdoodlesBut you know what? I have this blank slate sugar cookie dough, and I’ve got another half-bag of coconut, and heaven knows I’ve got time to make cookies this weekend. I’ll save my crippling fear of failure for next weekend.Coconutdoodles

Coconutdoodles
makes about 2.5 dozen cookies

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon coconut extract (optional, but recommended)
2 cups sweetened flaked coconut

Coating:
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup sweetened flaked coconut

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to cream butter until fluffy and lighter in color. Beat in granulated sugar. Mix in eggs one at a time, followed by vanilla. Add dry ingredients in two installments, beating until combined. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to fold in coconut. Cover dough with plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours, or up to 3 days.

Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Set aside.

Make the coating. Combine granulated sugar and coconut in a food processor. Pulse 10-15 times or until mixture is snowy (no big pieces of coconut). Do not over-process, as mixture can become a paste. Place coating in a shallow bowl.

Scoop chilled dough in 2 tablespoon increments, and roll into balls. Roll each dough ball in the coating mixture. Place dough balls at least two inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Bake cookies 10-11 minutes, until puffy. Let cool on baking sheets for five minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely. Repeat process with any remaining dough, letting the baking sheets come back to room temperature between batches.

Cookies will keep extremely well in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.

CoconutdoodlesCoconutdoodles

Friday Favorites: Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is a divisive occasion, but whether you love it or hate it, it’s a week away. I, for one, think any excuse to show people you love them is a good one, and you won’t be surprised to learn that I express love primarily through food (and videos of dogs on Instagram).

Here are some of my favorite treats from Valentine’s Days past. Look out for a new one next Wednesday!Friday Favorites: Valentine’s DayRed Velvet Cheesecake Bars

I may associate red velvet with Oscar Night, but most bakers like to make it for Valentine’s Day. These bars are much simpler to make than the traditional cake, and bypass the frosting in favor of a thick layer of cheesecake.Friday Favorites: Valentine’s DayStrawberry Sugar Cookie Squares

I’ll never understand why strawberries are so popular for Valentine’s Day. Who wants to eat a flavorless February strawberry?! That said, freeze-dried strawberries are good year-round, especially when pulverized and mixed into soft sugar cookie squares and buttercream. They provide both flavor and color here—these are food coloring-free!Friday Favorites: Valentine’s DayChocolate-Covered Strawberry Buttercreams

Speaking of strawberry buttercream, that’s the name and filling of these homemade candies! The frosting is made and chilled before being scooped, rolled, and enrobed in dark chocolate.Friday Favorites: Valentine’s DayCoconut Cluster Brownies

I have a bit of a thing for cheap drugstore chocolate, which is exactly what inspired the milk chocolate-coconut candy layered on top of these brownies. I’ll take these over a heart-shaped box any day of the week!Friday Favorites: Valentine’s DayChocolate-Dipped Brown Butter Shortbread

These Chocolate-Dipped Brown Butter Shortbread hearts are one of my favorite recipes on this site. They’re simple to make and the flavors are universally loved, and while you can make them in any shape you like, I think they are particularly adorable as half-dipped hearts.Friday Favorites: Valentine’s DayChocolate Cut-Out Cookies

For all the class and restraint embodied in those shortbread, these cookies go in the exact opposite direction. They’re brash and bright and snarky and I l-o-v-e love them. Oh, and while icing is great, the rich chocolate cookies underneath are the real stars of the show.Friday Favorites: Valentine’s DayChocolate Puff Pancake {Dutch Baby}

Valentine’s falls on a Friday this year, and if you’re anything like me, making a fuss after a long workweek is not my idea of a good time, especially if it means I have to wear real clothes. Skip the fancy dinner and celebrate the morning after with a Chocolate Puff Pancake. It’s super delicious and easy to make and you don’t have to change out of your pajamas to make it.

Have you made any of these or any of my other Valentine’s Day recipes? Let me know in the comments or on social media!Friday Favorites: Valentine’s DayFriday Favorites: Valentine’s Day

Pinwheel Cookies

Pinwheel CookiesI have had these Pinwheel Cookies on my “to bake” list for years, but every time the holidays have come around, I’ve said “next year.” But now, having gotten brave and made them four times without any real hitches, I can confidently say that the Pinwheel intimidation factor is entirely in the presentation. I mean, all those colors and the signature swirl and the abject cuteness—you can see why I was worried. What if mine were hideous?Pinwheel CookiesI was sure that I, with my fairly limited motor skills, would need months to figure out a method that worked for me. Turns out all I really needed were 48 hours and a little self-confidence. If I can make Pinwheel Cookies, so can you! I mean, even if you really screw them up (which you won’t!) they’re still going to be cookies, right?! Let me walk you through the process.Pinwheel CookiesAs I said, these are simpler to make than they look, but be sure you read through the recipe a couple of times before beginning. That’s Baking 101, but I know I’ve skipped it and found myself in a bind more than a few times. This recipe is not difficult, but it does have many steps, including two short chills and one long one. You want to know what’s coming before you start!Pinwheel Cookies The dough I used here is my tried & true Cream Cheese Sugar Cookie dough—it’s easy to mix together, tastes delicious, and bakes up beautifully every time. Mix it up, divide it in thirds, and dye two of them red and green, leaving the remaining one white/plain. Give the dough a brief chill before rolling it out and stacking it up.Pinwheel CookiesThis part always stresses me out, but I promise it’s not a big deal. I’ve tried stacking the dough in frozen sheets, among other ways, but the best I’ve found is rolling them all on parchment, then stacking and peeling off the parchment. If your dough tears, simply press it back together with your fingers. Once all the colors are stacked, put the dough into the in the fridge for a few minutes before rolling it up into a cylinder.Pinwheel CookiesPinwheel CookiesSome recipes will tell you to trim off the edges of the dough before rolling, but I’ve found that unnecessary. If it’s bothering you, though, go ahead and even out the long sides.

To create the cylinder, start by lifting a long edge of the cookie dough stack and turning it in on itself. It’s easiest if you do this by moving from one end to another, like how you roll up cinnamon rolls (or, if you’ve never made cinnamon rolls, how a typewriter moves). Once that initial roll has happened, lift the parchment and use it to coax the dough into a cylinder. Don’t worry if it doesn’t go perfectly–these are surprisingly resilient.Pinwheel CookiesBefore I chill the dough, I like to smooth the cylinder, rolling it back and forth and stretching it out to 16 inches in length and 1 1/2 inches in diameter. This ensures that all the layers of the cylinder stick together in one cohesive piece and that all the cookies will be roughly the same size. Trim off the uneven ends, wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill it for a good three hours. If you’re working ahead, you can triple-wrap it and put it in the freezer. Just thaw overnight before slicing.Pinwheel CookiesPinwheel CookiesThe great part about Pinwheel Cookies is that the hard part is done before the final chill. After that, all you’ll need to do is slice them into 1/4-inch thick pieces, arrange them on a sheet pan, and bake them for 8 minutes. Let them cool on a rack and then throw ‘em on a platter, in a tin or a cookie jar.Pinwheel CookiesAll that’s left to do is eat three and declare this the “Year of the Pinwheel.” Nobody else will have any idea WTF you’re talking about, but I do and I think you’re a holiday baking badass.Pinwheel Cookies

Pinwheel Cookies
makes 3.5-4 dozen cookies

3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
4 oz (1/2 brick) full-fat brick-style cream cheese, softened to room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 large egg, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
10-12 drops red gel food coloring*
8-10 drops green gel food coloring

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a separate large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Cream in granulated and light brown sugars, followed by the egg, vanilla, and almond extract. Add dry ingredients in 3 installments, combining completely after each.

Divide dough into thirds. Form one into a disk—this is the white/plain portion. Using your mixer (or your hands and a surface) knead 10-12 drops red gel food coloring into another third, then form into a disk. Clean your mixer (or your hands and surface) before kneading 8-10 drops green gel food coloring into the remaining third and form into a disk. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.

Flour a rolling pin. Place the red disk on a large sheet of parchment and roll to a 9×11-inch rectangle. Set aside. Repeat this process two more times (with the green and white disks), flouring your rolling pin as necessary.

Stack the dough. Place the red sheet (still on parchment) dough-side-up on your work surface. Carefully lift the green sheet and place dough-side-down on the red. Peel away parchment. If dough has cracks or holes, just use your fingers to piece it back together and pat lightly. Carefully lift the white sheet and place dough-side-down on the green. Again, piece together anything that may be askew. Use your rolling pin to give the stack a couple of rolls, just to adhere everything together. Chill stack for 15 minutes.

Make the pinwheel. Orient the dough so that one of the 11-inch sides is nearest to you. Lift the closest edge of parchment and use your fingers to carefully start to roll the dough. This is easiest if you start on one side and gradually move to the other, like how you would roll cinnamon rolls (or how a typewriter works). Once you’ve started the roll, use the parchment to coax the dough into a cylinder.

Once rolled up, roll the cylinder out to 16 inches. Starting by placing your hands in the center of the cylinder, lightly roll it, moving your hands outward to smooth, until it is 16-inches in length, with a diameter of 1 1/2-inches. This will take a few minutes and a few repetitions of this motion. This ensures the roll is uniform and that all the layers are adhered into a pinwheel. Trim the ends, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for 3 hours or up to 3 days.

Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment.

Place cylinder on a clean, dry cutting board. Use a large, sharp chef’s knife to slice cylinder into 1/4-inch slices. Place 1.5-2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Bake cookies 7-8 minutes, until no longer raw-looking. Let cookies cool on the pans for five minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely. Repeat slicing and baking with any remaining dough.

Cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.

Note:

I prefer gel food coloring, as it doesn’t affect doughs as much as liquid food coloring. If you only have liquid, I’m sure it will work, but I don’t know how much you’ll need.Pinwheel CookiesPinwheel Cookies

Funfetti Cookies

Funfetti CookiesIt’s no secret that I love sprinkles. Like big pink puffy heart ❤ ❤ ❤ them. You’d be surprised at the amount of restraint I have to practice so that half the recipes on this site aren’t loaded with rainbow-colored spots.Funfetti CookiesI know it’s silly, but I don’t care. You can tell me all you want that rainbow sprinkles have no real flavor and are mostly just food coloring and other ingredients that I wouldn’t normally give a second glance, but I simply. don’t. care.Funfetti CookiesSprinkles make me happy. Don’t rain on my Funfetti parade.Funfetti CookiesI mean, how could anyone be anything but beaming while eating a soft, chewy sugar cookie bursting with color and studded with white chocolate chips? This batch is long gone, but just looking at the photos makes me smile 🙂 Funfetti CookiesYou know what else makes me smile? Miniature schnauzers (also all dogs ever), lemon cake, the pink heart sunglasses sticker in Instagram stories…and how easy these Funfetti Cookies are to make.

Sorry about that tangent. Won’t happen again. Today.Funfetti CookiesThis recipe starts with a buttery drop sugar cookie dough that you probably have all the ingredients for right now! #score Funfetti CookiesFunfetti CookiesYou could, of course, skip the accoutrements and bake up a batch of really delicious plain sugar cookies, but I promise the sprinkles and white chocolate chips are worth the extra trip to the grocery store. They take an already great recipe and turn it up to 11.Funfetti CookiesI don’t know about you, but I simply don’t have time or spare calories for cookies that aren’t an 11.Funfetti Cookies

Funfetti Cookies
makes about 2.5 dozen cookies

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon imitation butter extract or almond extract (optional)
1/2 cup rainbow sprinkles (jimmies,* not nonpareils)
1 1/4 cup white chocolate chips

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to cream butter until fluffy and lighter in color. Beat in granulated sugar. Mix in eggs one at a time, followed by vanilla and optional imitation butter or almond extract, if using. Add dry ingredients in two installments, beating until combined. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to fold in sprinkles, followed by white chocolate chips. Cover dough with plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours, or up to 3 days.

Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Set aside.

Scoop chilled dough in 2 tablespoon increments, and roll into balls. Place dough balls at least two inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Bake cookies 10-11 minutes, until puffy. Let cool on baking sheets for five minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely. Repeat process with any remaining dough, letting the baking sheets come back to room temperature between batches.

Cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.

Note:

I used jimmies for the sprinkles in this recipe. Nonpareils may not be substituted. For information on the differences between the two, see this post. Funfetti CookiesFunfetti CookiesFunfetti Cookies

Chocolate Cut-Out Cookies

Chocolate Cut-Out CookiesI’m not sure exactly how I’ve allowed 3+ years to go by without giving you my recipe for Chocolate Cut-Out Cookies, but I’m happy to be rectifying that travesty today.Chocolate Cut-Out CookiesI mean, how dare I deprive you of this dead-easy recipe for these deeply chocolaty, shockingly tender blank-slate cookies for 362 posts! How. Dare. I.Chocolate Cut-Out CookiesYou may think I’m being dramatic—they’re cookies, not rocket science—but these are really delicious. Like more chocolaty than any plain, no-frills cookie really ought to be.Chocolate Cut-Out CookiesChocolate Cut-Out CookiesSo rich and buttery and utterly decadent that you’d be more than happy to eat them by their lonesome…Chocolate Cut-Out Cookies…but then you’d be missing out on the cheeriness that comes with a layer of my go-to Quick-Dry Royal Icing.Chocolate Cut-Out CookiesOr perhaps you, like me, prefer your cookies and icing with a little light-hearted snark. I’m not one of those people that hates Valentine’s Day—far from it—but I do prefer a more tongue-in-cheek approach over the traditional syrupy-sweet message.Chocolate Cut-Out CookiesPerhaps I’ve had my heart broken one too many times. Or maybe I just know exactly what I want: a man who will tolerate me for all my weirdness and vast amount of baking equipment.Chocolate Cut-Out CookiesYes. That and a pile of cookies.Chocolate Cut-Out Cookies

Chocolate Cut-Out Cookies
makes about 2 dozen 3-inch cookies

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I use Dutch process)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 large egg, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Quick-Dry Royal Icing, for decorating (recipe below)

Special Equipment:
rolling pin
graduated cookie cutters

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a separate large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Mix in granulated and light brown sugars, followed by the egg and vanilla extract. Add dry ingredients in 3 installments, combining completely after each. Dough may seem a bit crumbly, but will hold together well when pinched. Divide dough into quarters and wrap each in plastic wrap. Chill for at least 3 hours, or up to 3 days.

Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Set aside.

Lightly flour a surface and a rolling pin. Take one quarter of chilled dough at a time, roll it to 1/4-inch thickness, and cut with cookie cutters. Place cut cookies at least 1 inch apart on prepared baking sheets. Bake cookies 10-12 minutes, until soft but no longer raw-looking. Let cookies cool on the pans for 10 minutes before carefully removing to a rack to cool completely. Repeat rolling, cutting, and baking with any remaining dough.

Decorate cookies with Quick-Dry Royal Icing and allow to dry.

Cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for at least a week.

Quick-Dry Royal Icing
recipe barely adapted from SugarDeaux

3 tablespoons meringue powder
5 ounces warm water
3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract (optional)
2 pounds confectioner’s sugar, divided
1 tablespoon corn syrup
water

Special Equipment:
small bowls
gel food coloring
piping bags (or plastic sandwich bags)
small round piping tips and couplers
squeeze bottles
toothpicks
sprinkles

In a large mixing bowl, combine meringue powder and warm water. Beat with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until doubled in size, about 1 minute. Mix in cream of tartar, vanilla, and almond extract. With the mixer running on low, add 1 pound of confectioner’s sugar. Mix in corn syrup. Add the remaining pound of confectioner’s sugar. Scrape down the bowl before beating on medium-low for an additional 30 seconds.

Divide icing among small bowls. Press plastic wrap to the surface of all exposed icing.

Make outline icing. Working with one bowl of icing at a time, add water 1/2 teaspoon at a time until icing dribbled into the bowl forms a ribbon that fades within a few seconds. Stir in gel food coloring until the desired color is reached. Place 1/4 cup of icing into a piping bag with a tip. Alternatively, load icing into a plastic sandwich bag and snip a very tiny corner. Outline all cookies. Set aside to dry while you prepare fill icing.

Add water by the 1/2 teaspoon until the ribbon of icing fades into the bowls within 2 seconds. Load icing into squeeze bottles. Working with one cookie at a time, fill icing into outlined sections. Use toothpicks to coax fill icing evenly to the outlines.

Decorate with more icing or sprinkles, as desired. Let cookies dry uncovered at room temperature for 4-6 hours. For 3D decorations, use outline icing to decorate dried cookies and allow to sit uncovered for another 3-4 hours.

Iced cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for several days.Chocolate Cut-Out CookiesChocolate Cut-Out Cookies