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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These Teddy Bear Cookies are irresistible. I gave mine on the last day of school so as to avoid any nut allergies amongst the kids.
Button Cookies. I tried weaving candy laces through mine but the holes were too small so I just iced the cross instead. Looked just as good! 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 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.
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 is as seamless as possible. Also better to underbake them because as they brown the look is somewhat lost. 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!
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 making it non-recyclable and non-compostable so I’ve ditched it. Now I 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 and so I’m going to replace my silicone sheet with disposable cup cake cases from If You Care. Unlike their greaseproof or parchement paper these aren’t coated with silicone and so are compostable. I know the risks are unproven but given what we’ve learned about BPA in plastic I’m not taking any risk.
- I ditched the 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 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.
- I don’t like smoothies so for me baking can be a great way to use up fruit that’s gone slightly over.
- I’ve switched to coloured sugar as an inexpensive decorating hack instead of expensive, wasteful sprinkles.
- I replaced my ageing, flaking non-stick baking sheets with un-coated commercial grade aluminium baking sheets. We’re trying to cut 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 but couldn’t find them in Ireland. I got my baking sheets in Sweeney O’Rourke on Pearse St, D2.