September 30, 2011

Soft Rainbow Sugar Cookies

{printable recipe here}
You know those soft, brightly frosted sugar cookies at the grocery store? My kids can't resist the bright colors and ask for them every time at the store but lucky/not so lucky for them, their mom likes to make cookies from scratch. I hear they have a pretty strong following but I've never been a huge fan because of the frosting (Bleh!) When I saw this knock off recipe at University of Cookie I knew these were going to be a hit. These sugar cookies are made just like chocolate chip cookie dough- cream, add the eggs, add the dry team, and scoop/roll. Cut out cookies are a lot of fun but a lot of work too. This recipe is quick enough to do with the kids and have a yummy treat right away. The cookies are soft, buttery, and delicious. It's a win win.

I love the rainbow colored frosting Shelly used and mixed up a few colors of my own using Americolor Gel Food Coloring and the regular liquid coloring you can get at the grocery store. I just made one batch of my favorite frosting, divided it into six kids bowls, and colored them until we liked it (making about 1/2 cup of each color). I used a table knife to frost them and hoped that the messy would look intentional enough. I just have to keep telling myself 'It doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful.' (or taste good!) I added some edible glitter to make them feel a little extra special. I hope that stuff is really not too bad for you because it's kind of addicting- what doesn't feel a little fancier with some glitter on top?

I bake all my cookies on a regular half sheet pan lined with a Silpat. You can read more about those here. I used to have a lot of different sizes and shapes of pans but consolidating to one type saves a lot of space and has made me so much happier. It's really worth it if you bake a lot (especially since I use them to roast veggies, cook chicken, and a million other things!)

Soft Sugar Cookies
{printable recipe here}

adapted from Shelly   

Makes about 5 dozen cookies (depending on their size). I scooped up a few dozen and froze the balls of dough to take out and bake another time without any work.

1 Cup Butter (Salted is fine), Softened
1 Cup Plain Shortening (I like the blue Crisco, none of that icky 'butter flavor')

2 1/4 Cups Sugar
3 eggs
1 Tablespoon Vanilla
4 3/4 Cups All-Purpose Flour

1 Tablespoon Baking Powder
1 1/2 Teaspoons Salt (I used Kosher)

Preheat the oven to 350°.

Cream butter, shortening and sugar together until light and fluffy (one or two minutes). Add one egg at a time and beat for one minute afterwards. Beat in the vanilla. Reduce the mixer to low speed and carefully add the dry team (flour, powder, salt). I usually turn it off first, pour them all in, cover the mixer with a dish towel and turn it on low. Mix gently- only until the flour is barely incorporated. Give it one last stir with a rubber/silicone spatula to get everything off the bottom.

Roll into balls, placing about 2 inches apart on Silpat/parchment lined/greased cookie sheet. I used a regular cookie scoop to get each cookie uniform (about 2 Tablespoons of dough in each). It will be a little sticky, don't be surprised!  If it's too tacky to work with, add a little more flour or chill the dough in the fridge for a few minutes.

Bake the cookies for about 8 minutes, or until they start to brown slightly on the edges. I wanted mine extra soft and nice so I err on the side of under done. Take them out of the oven and transfer to a cooling rack after a couple of minutes. Frost with your favorite frosting (mine is below). 

Anne Strawberry's Favorite Frosting

1/2 cup butter, softened (one stick)
1 package of cream cheese, softened (I like to use Neufchatel, less fat and I don't notice much difference)

2 Tablespoons milk
2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or the seeds of one vanilla pod, scraped
dash of salt
6 cups of powdered sugar (more or less to achieve desired consistency, this is a baseline)
1 Tablespoon meringue powder (optional but very helpful! you can find this in the cake decorating section at walmart, michaels, or joann's)

In a mixer with the whisk attachment, combine the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Add in the milk, vanilla, and salt, and blend.

Next, add the powdered sugar and meringue powder, cover the bowl of the mixer with a dish towel, and turn it on low until everything is combined. Then increase the speed for a minute or so until the frosting is light, fluffy, and delicious. The meringue powder will help set the frosting after it dries so it holds its shape.

Add 1 T. Lemon or orange zest and substitute juice for the milk to make a tangy citrus frosting. Alternately, you can flavor with mint extract or almond extract. 


  1. So cute! I also hate the ones from the store- waaaay too sweet. But I love the idea of making my own! And they're so pretty! I hope edible glitter is okay, too :)

  2. These are absolutely the prettiest cookies - and all wrapped up with a bow - you could sell them for a fortune! So delicious and lovely

  3. So pretty Anne! I love that you used so many different colors for the frosting. I'm usually too lazy to do more than 1 or 2 :)

  4. These cookies were soft, delicious and fresh. They hadn't been sitting in the store for who knows how long! Your colors were so pretty, nothing neon and freaky. Just a yummy cookie. It doesn't get much better.

  5. So so good my mouth is watering looking at your pictures!! And so adorable, you are the sweetest friend.

  6. I'm really looking forward to making these for V-Day - I keep clicking on that post - they are cookie-porn!

  7. Hope they turned out great for you Suddenly, I think I need to make them again myself! The rainbow frosting is just too had to resist!

  8. they look yummy,um,does the frosting eventually harden? i noticed you stacked them on top of eachother when you wrapped them up.

  9. looks yummy,um, does the frosting eventually harden?i noticed you stacked them ontop of eachother when you wrapped them up. And can you cookie-cut them?

  10. Anon- I'm sorry about the delay answering but your comments were stuck in my spam folder.

    Yes the frosting will harden very quickly with the meringue powder. It's still soft and yummy but dry to the touch so they are totally stackable. Hope that helps!

    I'm sure you could cookie cut them but the beauty of these is how easily they scoop out and bake (so much less labor intensive than traditional sugar cookies!) I would recommend not rolling them out and using a traditional sugar cookie recipe instead and underbaking them if you want to roll them.