Happy Valentine’s Day! Rose are red, violets are blue, I have sprinkle cookies for you! Sorry for the cheesiness, I just couldn’t resist. That popped into my head the other day when I was thinking of what to write for these cookies. For a second I thought about switching up my plan for these cookies and using sprinkle colors to represent the teams playing in the Super Bowl this past weekend – since I was taking them to a Super Bowl party- but that would have been red & green, so I decided to spread a little love with them instead. That brings up a good point about these cookies, you can switch up the sprinkle colors for any occasion. They will taste good regardless. Similar to the Cookie Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies I shared a few weeks ago.
A couple of things to note about these cookies. The dough can be made in a food processor or using a hand/stand mixer. Since I like easy clean-ups, I opted to use my food processor. While the recipe I was following stated that you could use the butter and cream cheese right out of the refrigerator if using a food processor, I let both come to room temperature. Be sure to refrigerate the dough prior to baking, if not, the cookies will spread considerably. Also, the cookies will appear under baked when they come out of the oven but will firm up after cooling on the baking sheet for a few minutes. Resist the temptation to put them back in the oven for an extra minute or two.
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into chunks
2 ounces cream cheese (1/4 of an 8-ounce brick), cut into chunks
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup sprinkles
Preheat oven to 375 F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
In the bowl of a food processor add the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Pulse a few times to mix together. Add the butter cream cheese and sugar and process until the mixture comes together. Add the egg and vanilla extract and process until a ball of dough forms. You may need to scrape the bowl down a few times to ensure everything combines and mixes together. Transfer the dough to a bowl and refrigerate for about 20-30 minutes so the dough can firm up.
Place sprinkles in a small bowl. Use a cookie scoop to scoop the dough. Roll the dough in your hands and then roll in the sprinkles before placing on the prepared cookies sheets 2 inches apart. Use the bottom of a glass to press the cookies down about 1/4 to 1/2 – inch. If the cookies have any bare spots press more sprinkles into the dough.
Bake in the preheated oven for 9 to 10 minutes. Cookies will appear under baked and very soft. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
If you opt to use a hand mixer or stand mixer to make the dough… In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside. In a large bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer) beat the butter, cream cheese and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla extract beat again until well combined. With the mixer on low add in the flour mixture and beat until combined. Refrigerate 20-30 minutes until firm and then continue with directions.
While I enjoy decorating cakes one thing I rarely do is decorate cookies. Around the holidays I always have this grand idea of making sugar cookies and decorating them with royal icing. I actually have a mitten shaped cookie cutter that I have been meaning to use for the past two Christmases to make decorated cookies and it just hasn’t happened. Part of the reason is that I run out of time and the other part is that I am not fond of royal icing. I think it goes back to when I was taking Wilton decorator classes and one of the courses involved making flowers with royal icing. While I liked that the flowers would harden because of the royal icing, which meant you could make them ahead of time to decorate with them later, I just didn’t like the way my flowers looked. And I found working with the royal icing to be a bit of a headache. You have to keep it covered so it doesn’t harden and so forth. Because of all these little things I just avoid it. It’s actually been years since I’ve made royal icing, but, I decided that this year I wanted to make Valentine’s Day cookies that were decorated not just with sprinkles.
I began by making sugar cookies (I also made a batch of Gingerbread Cookies that you can see in the pics as well). I actually took a major shortcut in making the cookies. I purchased Pillsbury’s Sugar Cookie Dough, the one that comes in a roll not the pre-cut ones, and per the instructions on the wrapper I kneaded in flour before rolling the dough out on a floured surface. I then used a heart-shaped cookie cutter to cut out the cookies. I placed them on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and placed them in the refrigerator for a few minutes before baking them. I was hoping that chilling the cookies for a few minutes would help the cookies keep their shape while baking – cold cookies don’t spread as much while baking. Unfortunately this wasn’t the case. Some of my hearts ended up looking like circles or wonky shaped hearts. The two arches at the top weren’t as noticeable as I hoped they would be. I just figured I would make them look like hearts by decorating them. I ended up reading some reviews about the cookie dough and quite a few of them were negative and expressed what I had experienced. The dough spread way too much while baking. Oh well, I know for next time.
While the cookies were cooling I made a batch of royal icing. I removed about 1/2 cup of the icing and transferred it to a piping bag fitted with a small round tip. I then added in 2 tablespoons more water to the remaining icing to thin it to a syrup consistency. I then removed half of it and transferred it to another piping bag fitted with a small round tip and tinted the remaining icing a light pink and then transferred it to another bag, with, you guessed it, another small round tip. I used the thicker consistency icing to pipe the outline of the hearts on each cookie. After letting that set for a few minutes I then used the thinner consistency to flood the cookies. I didn’t go too crazy with my decorating. I piped horizontal lines in the contrasting color on some of the cookies and made a heart design in other. For both, I piped the secondary color on the icing while the first one was still wet this way the icing would dry together and be smooth. To create the heart designs I piped dots onto the cookies and then used a toothpick to drag a vertical line down the center of the dots. If you want to create a 3-D design on your cookies wait until the flooded icing dries and then pipe whatever design you would like onto the cookies.
I must say, decorating these cookies with royal icing was a lot easier than I remember it being. Or it could be that I find it easier compared to some of the cake decorating I do. I remember when I first started baking making some things seemed so daunting. Just last week I was working on a cake. I had just finished filling and crumb coating it and was about to make another batch of frosting to decorate it when I realized I had a major fail so I had to toss the cake and start over. I was able to bake and decorate another 3-layer 9-inch cake in just a few short hours. Thankfully I didn’t freak out and was able to manage my time to get it done. Had this been a few years ago I wouldn’t have been so calm.
So, will I attempt to make cookies decorated with royal icing again? Absolutely! Although next time I will be making the sugar cookies from scratch or possibly using a store-bought mix I only have to add a few ingredients to in hopes that they will keep their shape better. My gingerbread ones baked up perfectly, but, I also had made the dough a few weeks back and then rolled, cut and froze them until I was ready to bake them.