I used to gift cookies to my kids teachers as gifts. They’re a lot simpler to make and transport than cup cakes so I’m always on the hunt for eye-catching cookies that are easy to make, which rules out iced cookies. Life’s too short to wait for icing to dry!
This article features my favourite design along with links to recipes were required. These images aren’t my own. I do upload images of my own baking on Instagram but the photo’s aren’t website-quality so I’ve robbed these much prettier images off the internet and linked them back to the original poster where I could find them.
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My favourite Cookie Recipes
The Teddy Bear Cookies , shown at the top of this article, are adorable and very tasty. I gave mine on the last day of school so as to avoid any nut allergies amongst the kids.
You can make these Cute as a button Cookies with any standard cookie recipes. I used this ‘best sugar cookie‘ recipe because it doesn’t need the dough to be chilled so it’s quicker. I pressed a slightly smaller cookie cutter into dough to create the inner ring and used a straw to make the 4 holes in the centre. Getting the holes in the centre and making the inner ring even was the trickiest part of this design. I tried weaving candy laces through mine but the holes were too small so I just iced the cross instead. They looked just as good!
I make one exception to my rule about iced cookies and that’s only because the end result is too cute to resist. To make these melted snowman cookies just use the sugar cookie recipe listed above and when the cookies are cool, pool a puddle of icing sugar on the cookie and top with a marshmallow. Let the ‘puddle’ dry and then add in the details with coloured icing. Some of the recipes I’ve seen have suggested melting the marshmallows in the microwave before putting on the cookie but I found it hard to control and to be honest it’s not really necessary. The only downside to these cookies are transporting them, without damaging them, so best to make them when you only have a handful to gift.
I made these two-tone heart cookies using the best sugar cookie recipe mentioned above and just dyed half of the dough a strong pink before rolling both out. It’s important that you roll the dough out to an even thickness to make sure the join between the two types of dough is as seamless as possible. Also better to under bake them because as they brown they don’t look as pretty. I also found it useful to chill the cookies once you’d pressed the heart cutter into the centre of the round cookie, it made taking it out to use as the centre of the opposite coloured cookie much easier.
The simplest cookie recipe I have and the one I go to over and over again is one for chocolate chip cookies. It’s so easy and the cookies are delicious. Here it is;
- 115g/4 oz butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
- 115g/4 oz brown sugar (or white if it’s all you have)
- 1 tbsp golden syrup
- 1/2 tbsp vanilla essence (optional)
- 175g/6 oz self-raising flour (works with plain too)
- 85g/3 oz chocolate chopped into pieces
- Set your oven to 180 degrees Celsius/350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Grease 2 baking sheets.
- Place the butter and sugar in a bowl and beat together until light and fluffy, then beat in the syrup and vanilla essence, if using.
- Sift in half of the flour and work it into the mixture.
- Stir in the chocolate pieces and the remaining flour and work the dough together, using a spatula.
- Roll the dough into 16 balls and place them on the prepared baking sheets, spaced well apart to allow for spreading. Do not flatten them.
- Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes or until pale golden at the edges.
- Remove from the oven and cool on the baking sheets for 2 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
I recently came across this guide from kitchenostalgia.com on how to adjust your cookies to suit your own personal taste buds. I’m going to have fun testing this out!
How to make baking more sustainable
To be honest I’ve struggled to make baking more sustainable, particularly birthday cakes which are just an endless run of butter and sugar. That doesn’t mean it’s not worth making improvements where possible. Here are some ways I’ve been able to make my baking more planet positive.
- Because baking paper, greaseproof paper and parchment paper is typically made using sulphuric acid and coated with silicone it is generally non-recyclable and non-compostable so I’ve ditched it. Now I bake without baking/greaseproof/parchment paper and simply butter and flour my cake tins and put cookie dough directly on a slightly greased baking tray.
- I had been using reusable silicone cupcake cakes to date but having recently read about the uncertainty around silicone at high temperatures I’m going to replace my silicone sheet with disposable cup cake cases from the brand If You Care. Unlike their greaseproof or parchment paper these aren’t coated with silicone and so are compostable. One tip to getting clean bottoms on your cupcake cases is to put rice under your cupcake case!
- I don’t use clingfilm and just rest pastry or dough in a bowl with a plate on top instead.
- I try to buy cookie cutters in charity shops and if I do need to buy a new one new I’ll opt for metal. Not only do they cut better, they’re more durable and can be fully recycled at the end of their life.
- If like me you don’t like smoothies, baking can be a great way to use up fruit that’s gone slightly over.
- Although I can now source package-free sprinkles in my zero waste store, homemade coloured sugar is an inexpensive decorating alternative to sprinkles. Just mix sugar with food dye!
- I now only use un-coated commercial grade aluminium baking sheets. We’ve removed all non-stick bakeware out of our lives for health reasons but only as the item wears out. I would have preferred stainless steel versions of baking sheets but couldn’t find them in Ireland. I got my baking sheets in Sweeney O’Rourke on Pearse St, D2.
Hope you enjoyed some of those tips. Happy Baking!
More Staple Food Recipes
You can find some more of my staple food recipes here