Christmas Confetti Cookies

If you’ve come to Lucy the Baker for plain old sugar cookies, you’ve come to the wrong place. There are no plain sugar cookies here. Yeah, I’ve got cutouts (dazzled with royal icing and a hint of lemon), brown sugar ones that taste like cinnamon, and I’ve got pinwheels, but no regular old sugar cookie.

The thing is, sugar cookies are my least favorite.

Christmas Confetti Cookie_6

They are so BASIC. Ugh, like so plain with nothing really going on. There is so much potential in a sugar cookie to become something more than what I consider a sugar coated blob of butter. I actually had a bad experience once with a snickerdoodle that tasted just like that. Scarred for life, to be honest. It’s also what I’m trying to avoid, and why you won’t find a snickerdoodle or plain sugar cookie recipe here (for now…. never say never).

Christmas Confetti Cookie_Batter

Now, you might be thinking; “but Lucy, confetti cookies are still plain sugar cookies.” That’s where I’ll stop you. Confetti cookies are sugar cookies on steroids. I mean, it’s sugar on more sugar! I can’t hate on that. Why are confetti cookies different than plain old sugar cookies? They just are.

I’m aware that sprinkles (or jimmies to some folks) don’t taste like much or “add anything” to a recipe but I think they do. They add festiveness (in this case), decoration, and they’re just plain fun. Like, do you even consider a plain sugar cookie to be fun? I don’t think so. Besides, sugar cookies have to be adorned or decorated with something more, whether it’s icing or chocolate, to even become likable. Sprinkles are the best and easiest route, so I went with that.

Christmas Confetti Cookie_Batter2

I saw this recipe on the amazing Joy the Baker‘s site when her newest cookbook, Homemade Decadence, came out. Consequently, it was also the same day her new page layout went live. Her site is bright and colorful (like she is), which matched these cookies. I’m a sucker for anything with sprinkles, so I knew these were going to be in my future for sure. Since December is basically National Cookie Month, I planned them to be a part of my #CookieCraziness.

One of the best parts about this recipe is that you can make the dough a day ahead. I’m not one to make things ahead of time, so I was intrigued into trying it. It made my life so much easier because I basically just preheated the oven, portioned the dough, put them on the sheet and baked them. That’s it! The only sucky part was photographing the making of the dough. It was late and the lighting was off. I felt slightly defeated but I rolled with it, and I think the photos came out okay.

Christmas Confetti Cookie_Batter3

Since I wanted to make the dough ahead, I ran into some poor planning. I completely forgot to take out a stick of butter! You can’t really make anything with cold butter. The solution? Cutting the stick into tiny cubes, and spreading them out on a plate. I’m sure it’d work if you piled the cubes in a bowl but I’m really picky about these things. I spread my tiny cubes out on a plate, and made sure none of the cubes were touching. I came back in like 10 or 15 minutes to room temp, soft butter. This is honestly the best way. The microwave can backfire on you (ahem, melted butter), and putting a stick of butter in my pocket just won’t end well.

Needless to say, these cookies were awesome. I picked the red and green sprinkles for obvious reasons. I also accidentally poured in the whole half cup into the dough, realizing that I only needed to put in half right after I emptied out the measuring cup. I don’t think it harmed the cookie at all! They were crispy, with a little crunch from the sprinkles. Even with all the sprinkles in the cookie, I dipped them in more sprinkles. More the merrier, right?

Christmas Confetti Cookie_Batter4

I hope you now realized that plain sugar cookies are lame, and that confetti cookies are where it’s at. Who would ever decline a fun, festive, and sprinkly cookie over a plain and unadorned one? No one, that’s who. Keep sprinkles in your pantry and dazzle your cookies every once in a while!

Christmas Confetti Cookie_5

Christmas Confetti Cookies – barely adapted from Joy the Baker

Makes 32-36 cookies

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup red and green sprinkles

Directions:

  1. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt. Set aside. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Don’t be afraid to cream the sugar and butter longer than you think! Ideally anywhere from 3-7 or 10 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla extract, and mix until well incorporated.
  3. Fold in 1/4 cup (or all of them) of sprinkles into the batter. At this point, you can wrap and chill the dough or portion and chill the dough on the baking sheets. Either way, chill it for two hours or overnight.
  4. Preheat your oven to 350F. Take out the chilled dough and portion, if you haven’t already into tablespoon sized dough balls. Drop the dough balls into the remaining 1/4 of sprinkles, and placed on the prepared sheets. Alternatively, if you decided to portion and then chill, roll them in the sprinkles before hitting the fridge.
  5. Bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes, or until they start to get slightly golden around the edges but are still pale. Cool on the sheet for at least 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Lucy’s Tips:

  • My cookies spread out and flattened as they baked. This may have happened for a number of reasons. Either the dough got too warm, or the liners and sheets I used were to blame. For the record, I used standard aluminum half sheets lined with silicone liners. Darker pans and parchment produce a different, darker result. Both are fine but it’s just worth nothing. 
  • I do not have vanilla beans (sigh) so I stuck with extract. Should’ve liqoured them up, to be honest. 
  • We like jimmies here, so I used that. Feel free to use whatever sprinkles you have on hand. 
  • Go check out Joy’s blog if you haven’t already, and then weep at the magic inside her cookbook. 
Advertisements

Kitchen Experiments: Meringues

Meringues have always been one of my favorite mystery kitchen experiments. I never really understood how or what was required to make these yummy things, or how simple it actually is. My first tastes of meringue were courtesy of traditional Dominican desserts. Our birthday cakes are covered in meringue frosting, similar to seven minute icing. It is soft, fluffy, super sweet and resembles marshmallow fluff. When the cake is left out for a couple hours, the frosting begins to harden and form a bit of a crunchy shell. The longer it sat out, the crunchier it’d get. The thick layer of frosting helps preserve the cake layers underneath; keeping the cake relatively moist. As an adult, it’s still my favorite part of Dominican cakes. Sometimes, I collect my parents’ and sister’s leftover frosting off their pieces of cake and refrigerate it for a couple days so some of it would harden; giving me a mix of soft, fluffy frosting with tons of crunchy bits.

IMG_2871A

These days, the only way I can get my meringue fix is if I make them myself. This was definitely a kitchen experiment to me. I’ve played around with meringue several times before but never made the actual meringue cookie. For this batch, I used Food52’s non-recipe to make my meringues. I had one egg white sitting around my fridge that needed to be made into something. This non-recipe uses ratios to figure out how much of each ingredient is needed to make consistent meringue cookies, depending on how many whites you have.

The ratios are: 1 part egg whites: 2 parts sugar: .5 parts (in tsps) cream of tartar

My amounts were:  1/4 cup of egg whites (from two whites): 1/2 cup sugar: 1/8 tsp cream of tartar.

Sounds simple and straightforward, right? Well, the difficulties (if any) lie in the method. The egg whites must be room temperature before whipping to soft peaks. Before you even do that, you have to make sure your bowl and beaters are completely grease free. Feeling skeptical? Wipe your tools down with a small amount of lemon juice before whipping.

Before beginning, preheat your oven to 225F, and arrange your oven racks in either the lower and upper thirds of the oven or place one rack in the center. Low temperatures are crucial for meringues; don’t try to hike it up so they’ll be done quicker. Your patience will be rewarded.

Pour your whites in your grease free bowl with the cream of tartar and whip away with your beaters. You’ll notice how bubbly the mixture gets as you whip. For this method, the whites need to be whipped to soft peaks. What does this mean? A soft peak means that when held up, the whites can’t hold the peak. Turn off your beaters and dip them straight down into the bowl. Lift them up and turn the beaters over. The egg whites on the tip of the beaters should be soft, airy, and begin to lose their form the longer you have the beaters facing up.

IMG_2837A

Soft, bubbly peaks

At this stage, we’re ready to gradually add the sugar. Start by adding in the sugar, while beating, by the tablespoon. Incorporate the sugar for about 10 seconds before adding another tablespoon. Keep going until all the sugar is completely incorporated. Turn your beaters on high and beat the whites into submission. The whites will have turned into meringue, thanks to the addition of the sugar. You’ll notice the mixture is now glossy, thick and slightly heavy. Continue beating until you have stiff peaks; meaning the meringue holds the peak when held up.

After you’ve reached this point, add your flavorings. I added about 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract to this batch but the sky’s the limit. You can add zest to make lemon, lime, or orange meringues. Mint, almond, or coconut extracts to make flavored meringues. You can also add melted semisweet chocolate to make chocolate meringues! The options are endless.

IMG_2851A

Now that you have your meringue, it’s time to portion them out on a lined baking sheet. You can portion out your cookies with two spoons, a piping bag, or attempt to use a disher, like I did. It went pretty well but after a few cookies, the meringue didn’t want to come out of the disher.  I coaxed them out of the disher with a spatula and continued to portion them out. I topped mine with some sprinkles but it’s totally optional.

Once all portioned out, place your baking sheet in the preheated oven for 1 1/2 – 2 hours. Yes, you read that right. This is by far, the hardest part of the recipe. I know it’s such a LONG TIME but the wait is worth it. The oven’s low temperature gently coaxes out the meringues’ moisture, leaving a crunchy, melt in your mouth cookie.

You’ll notice that the finished meringues’ shine has dulled and that they are super light in weight. That dull exterior is hiding a crunchy and sweet interior that tastes like vanilla flavored air. Weird description but I feel like meringues are what marshmallows would be if they ever got completely hard.

IMG_2911A

Now that I know how easy it is to make these, my favorite cookies won’t be out of reach anymore. I can now experiment with different flavors and make as many or as little as I want!

Meringues Without A Recipe – adapted from Food52

Makes approximately 19 meringues

  • 1/4 cup of egg whites (from two whites), room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/8 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 225F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place your oven racks in either the lower or upper thirds of the oven (for multiple sheets) or in the center of the oven (for one sheet).
  2. In a dry, clean, medium sized mixing bowl, beat the whites and cream of tartar with an electric mixer until foamy and can form soft peaks.
  3. Gradually add the sugar, by the tablespoon, waiting about 10 seconds before adding another spoonful. Continue beating until all the sugar has been incorporated and the whites are stiff and glossy.
  4. Add the vanilla (or other flavorings) and beat to incorporate. Drop the meringues onto the prepared sheet either with a piping bag, a set of spoons, or a disher.
  5. Bake your meringues for 1 1/2 – 2 hours, rotating the pan(s) halfway through baking.
  6. Turn the oven off and cool the meringues inside the oven until completely cool. Meringues should come off the parchment cleanly. Place in an airtight container to prevent softening.

Lucy’s Tips:

  • Egg whites are best separated cold but whip better when warm. Separate your eggs straight out of the fridge but leave them on the counter for an hour or so, until it’s room temp. In a hurry? Place your cold whites in an airtight container and sit the container in a bowl with warm water. Swirl the container in the water for a couple minutes or until the whites no longer feel cold.