Playing with my sugar cookies

Every Christmas I like to make sugar cookies.  It's just one of those classic treats that's a must-have at Christmas, particularly if you have children.  I don't make roll-out cookies that often during the year but come December, it's time to dig out the star, tree, gingerbread man, and assorted holiday cookie cutters.  And like my husband likes to say (and I agree), sugar cookies may not be something you crave but once you eat one, you're reminded of how simply delicious they are.  I love making room to revisit them every Christmas.
I wasn't planning on posting about my sugar cookie-making adventure but I did a couple of fun new things that I wanted to share! 

Breaking a little from routine, I tried something very simple that might change the game as far as sugar cookie-decorating goes for me.  Typically, I decorate my sugar cookies with sprinkles or sanding sugar.  On occasion, I'll use royal icing (more on that later).  But last year, I read an article from Alice Medrich that suggested a genius idea that's totally up my alley: use straight up chocolate to decorate your cookies!
Decorate your holiday cookies with chocolate!  Needless to say, it's delicious!
Hello, I'm a chocoholic - why hadn't I thought of that!  I didn't get a chance to test out this idea last Christmas but I did it with this year's batch of sugar cookies.  Oh boy - it's easy, it's delicious, and it's something I'll be doing from now on!  
I used dark chocolate but you could certainly try white chocolate if you prefer.  I simply melted a bit of chocolate in the microwave, put it into a plastic sandwich bag, nipped a small corner, and went at it.  It was surprisingly easy to handle and frankly, melting some chocolate is a lot easier than making royal icing.  And if you (or your kids) like to go crazy with decorating and tend to pile on the icing, your cookies are still sure to taste delicious because you're loading them up with pure chocolate.  It's a genius little idea and I hope you give it a try!  This is my public service announcement for the holiday season.  : ) 

Having a little more fun with my cookies...I also took an idea I saw just a few days ago from Sweet Paul magazine's instagram feed for 3-D Christmas tree sugar cookies. Using my usual sugar cookie dough - the same recipe I've been using for years - I simply took a plain round cookie cutter to cut a round that serves as the base for the tree.  Then use a paring knife and cut a rectangle or slot in the middle of the round (before baking) to make a place for the tree to "stand" in.  
How fun is that!  I love finding simple ideas that don't take much extra effort but allow you to put a fun new spin on an old routine.  It's a neat little trick to wow the kids and it's fun to plop one of these in the middle of your cookie platter.  
I had fun playing with my batch of sugar cookie dough this year.  If you are planning to roll and cut cookies this holiday season, maybe you'll try one of these little fun twists.


So I mentioned royal icing...and it reminded me of this cookie decorating party I had last year.  

I had some kids over to decorate sugar cookies.  I made sugar cookie cut-outs, a few colors of royal icing and laid out some candy toppings, and the kids went at it.  
A cookie-decorating fest at my house last Christmas
Don't get me wrong, traditional icing like royal icing is colorful and fun (as you can see below)... 
The colorful results the kids created...and ate heartily!
...but given the choice, I would personally prefer to eat cookies decorated with pure chocolate.  We've already happily polished off most of the ones you see below today.
There's certainly no right or wrong way to decorate cookies.  The only "rule" is to have fun and if you end up with a delicious result, all the better!
Happy holiday baking!


Recipes:

Sugar cookie recipe I use can be found: here
My trick is to add a splash (2-3 teaspoons only) of whole milk right at the end of mixing to bring the dough together.  It turns out smooth and easy to roll!

To decorate cookies with chocolate: See Alice Medrich's article on Food52
Essentially, you simply melt some chocolate and place it into a sandwich bag, then cut a small tip and start decorating.

3-D Christmas Tree Sugar Cookies: Idea/instructions from Sweet Paul magazine.  I used the sugar cookie recipe listed above.





46 comments:

  1. I hate making royal icing, so i LOVE this! Is there anything better than chocolate and sprinkles anyway? I think not.

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    1. I rarely do too but if I need it, I'll do it. The chocolate and sprinkles is so much better in my opinion!

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  2. They are so adorable! Love those colourful sprinkles.

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    1. That is something really cute about these little decorated cookies no matter how you do it...no wonder we pull them out for Christmas!

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  3. These cookies look amazing and how wonderful to engage the kids in decorating them.

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    1. Thanks, Balvinder. It's amazing how crazy the kids go with their decorating.

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  4. I love your tip about the splash of milk. I JUST made my sugar cookie dough and am going to try that!

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    1. Oh great! I do it all the time with my dough and it works like a charm. Hope it works for you.

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  5. I'm with you, I love sugar cookies around the holidays! The cookie decorating party you had looked like so much fun! The cookies are so cute!!! I love that you decorated yours with chocolate and sprinkles! They look so so pretty!

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    1. The chocolate and a few sprinkles is totally my way to go now. The kids love all the crazy sugar and icing. I look back at that decorating party and can't believe the stuff they loaded on their cookies - marshmallows, snow caps, sprinkles, icing...and then they ate them like it was just delicious! haha : )

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  6. OMG Monica!!!!!! How CUTE are these!!!!!!!!!!! <3 L.O.V.E!!!!! That 3D Christmas tree cookie idea is just phenomenal!!!!! MUST.TRY.IT!!!! Pinning! :D

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    1. So thrilled you like them so much, Samina. I'm happy to spread the sugar cookie love! Merry Christmas!

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  7. This is so cute! That's what I love about the holidays; the pretty cut-out cookies and the decorating! Neat trick too (: Have a great day!

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    1. Thanks, Monica. I love admiring beautifully decorated cookies...at home, these rustic ones have their own charm. ; )

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  8. Hi Monica! I am SO glad that I stumbled upon your blog recently! I am originally from HK, live in NJ now, recently started being a SAHM (but I am quite inexperienced in the kitchen so until your blog I have only been baking nestle toll house chocolate chips cookies), and I LOVE anything sweet. Although I must say I might not be as head over heels about chocolate as you are! ha! I feel compelled to write today because I have been looking up sugar cookies recipes and techniques ever since we bought 2 sugar cookies at the Chelsea Market for our 2 boys, and spent a little over $10 (on TWO cookies! They were so expensive that my hubby and I didn't have the heart to eat any so as to save them for the kids!). So when I saw your sugar cookies, I jumped up and down for joy and am determined to try your recipe out!! Thank you for posting!!! Just wondering... do you have a preference between plastic and metal cookie cutters? I googled this topic, seems like some people think metal is better for cleaner cut, while most others say both work the same. I am ready to try my hand at these sugar cookies.. but first I have to shop for the cutters! :)

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    1. Oh my gosh - hi there, Karen! It's so nice to read your comment and we do indeed have a lot in common! : ) Believe me, I'm inexperienced too and learning/experimenting as I go! I doubt many people are as crazy about chocolate as I am so it's okay. ; )
      I think I know where you got your sugar cookies from Chelsea Market! They were amazing, I bet, but the cost does make me cringe a bit...that's why I like to admire from afar. : ) I'm so glad you plan to make some at home. Please try that splash of milk trick...it helps make a smooth dough that's easier to work with. As for cookie cutters, just get basic inexpensive ones. I like metal only because they're less bulky and easier to store (also readily available and inexpensive)...you just want to check that they are well made and sturdy because sometimes they bend. The copper ones are beautiful and will last forever but who wants to spend that much on cutters! Interestingly enough, many of my x'mas cookie shapes are plastic. They work just fine and they don't bend. So just get either and have fun. Thanks again for the lovely comment.

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  9. Thank you for sharing your sugar cookie exploits Monica!! Of course, what a brilliant idea to use chocolate and the 3D tree is so cool. Roll out cookies take quite a bit of effort (gosh, I rolled & cut 8 gingerbread houses yesterday - the kids want to create a 'village' this year!) so it's lovely to see some great, modern ideas! Good job!!😀

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    1. I thought the idea was brilliant too and I filed it away to do one day and I'm happy I did. I cannot believe you made/cut out 8 gingerbread houses!! We decorate a store-bought one every year. Maybe I should be glad that my son is not uber excited to cook and make things in the kitchen 'cause I'm not sure I could handle that kind of project. ; ) My husband and I were talking about making like a pop-up x'mas village using that 3-D idea...I hope he was kidding!

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  10. These are so clever Monica, love the idea of using melted chocolate, they look so beautiful!

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    1. Thanks, Cheri. I'm so glad I tried it. It works like a charm. : )

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  11. So true - I don't really ever crave sugar cookies but man, when I have one? They are so good!

    And I have never thought to decorate them with chocolate! What a fantastic idea! That cookie decorating party looks like it was a lot of fun last year!

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    1. Those crunchy sugar cookie just hits the spot...I do always forget how terrific butter, sugar, vanilla is together! That party was fun and it's neat to see what the kids come up with. Then, it's crazy to see them eating their creations, with all the icing, candies, sprinkles - galore on 'em!

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  12. Gosh this makes me miss my kids when they were little. We always decorated sugar cookies each year. It was a family time, and a wonderful one indeed. These are lovely Monica - a great tradition. I agree with your husband - you almost forget from year to year how tasty they are!

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    1. Your kids must have had a lot of special traditions growing up...how fun it must have been, Tricia! Now your grandkids get to benefit from all that you started, I'm sure. I love giving a shout-out to simple sugar cookies during the holidays. Hope you're having a great one!

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  13. These cookies are so cute...I am sure that all the kids had a great time decorating cookies...melted chocolate sounds much better than sugar...
    Awesome post Monica...have a great week ahead :)

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    1. Thanks, Juliana. Christmas is the time to break out the cookie cutters and decorations, that's for sure!

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  14. I LOVE sugar cookies. What more fun is there than baking something, getting to play with it and then eat it? So much fun!

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  15. Chocolate on sugar cookies... so yummy!!! Christmas cookie decorating is just the best :)

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    1. I know...it really does put you in the Christmas spirit, both while making and tasting them! Hope you are having a great holiday season, Marie. : )

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  16. These sugar cookies look so good! I need to be making more Christmas cookies!

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    1. Thanks, Cathleen. I am all for making Christmas cookies so please do!

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  17. Decorating cookies is so much fun! Love all the shapes you cut out and chocolate sounds like a wonderful topping for sugar cookies!

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    1. It works like a charm and I find myself biting off the chocolate "icing" when I would never for royal icing. : )

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    1. Something special to do at Christmastime, for sure. : )

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  19. These are so gorgeous Monica! I agree, sugar cookies are such a classic Christmas thing to have around :D Decorating them is the most fun part!

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    1. I think my son agrees with you on decorating being the best part. : ) Thanks so much, Lorraine.

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  20. My kids love sugar cookies, but they don't really like icing. Decorating with chocolate sounds like a great solution!

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    1. You must be so glad they don't like icing! I usually stick with sprinkles and sanding sugar unless we're *really* decorating but the chocolate thing totally opens up a tempting world for me from now on...

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  21. These are so adorable! I love the little 3D Christmas trees. I need to give them a go for Christmas day!

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    1. Yeah, I saw the idea from Sweet Paul and thought it was so smart and cute! Have a great Christmas!

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  22. You are so right! Sugar cookies are so festive and fun to make with children around to help. I did the same thing. Though I like any kind of icing...chocolate does add something special to any treat. Loving your cookie posts Monica:-)

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    1. Thanks, Sonali! Sugar cookies are wonderful however you slice or decorate them. ; )

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  23. TOTALLY love this idea!!! Royal icing is such a pain in the butt...esp if you make a few diff colors. This is so classy looking and I bet tasty too. My only issue would be if I make gingerbread cookies instead of sugar cookies- maybe use white chocolate then?

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    1. Glad you like it, Amy. : ) I think white chocolate would surely work (though even dark chocolate would be delicious). My only thing with white chocolate is that it's so easy to over-heat and get too thick. I usually work in small amounts, which doesn't help. Adding a few drops of oil should loosen it but if you are melting a good amount and do it slowly (more patiently than I would), white chocolate should be totally fine. An idea for the next holiday season? : )

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