BitterSweet

An Obsession with All Things Handmade and Home-Cooked

Cut-Out the Frustration

39 Comments

Right up there with piping frosting roses or rolling fondant, cut-out cookies are the bane of many dessert enthusiasts’ existence- At least as much is true for myself. There just aren’t enough hours in the day to fuss over one dough, just to beat it into submission so that it looks like adorable miniature people, or animals, or whatever else those metal torture devices otherwise known as cookie cutters so desire. It would be a whole different story if we were talking about a rich, buttery croissant, but all this hassle purely for aesthetic purposes? No thanks, I’d rather make something ugly but delicious in most cases.

There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to one’s tastes, however, and with a holiday as cutesy as Valentine’s Day right around the corner, it suddenly hit me that the time was right to tackle those most irritating cut-out cookies yet again. Because there have been requests, and because I love you guys, consider it an early V-Day gift to share and eat alike. The name of the game is to just keep it super simple.

So simple, in fact, that I didn’t bother decorating them after they were baked. To save time and misery, I piled on the colored sugar and sprinkles before the cookies hit the oven, so once the kitchen timer went off, they were completely done, ready to be wrapped up and given away. It’s a small suggestion, but perhaps it can save a fellow baker an hour or two from an already jam-packed schedule. For that reason alone it seemed worth sharing.

100% frustration-free, there’s no chilling of the dough, and for someone working at a steady clip, they can be ready for sampling within a hour. Go ahead, pull out your most intricate cookie cutters, make your own crazy shapes, slice that dough to within an centimeter of it’s sugary life, because it won’t spread for anything. No more blobby, over-weight looking forest creatures here, as every line stays as sharp and crisp as you originally intended.

However, soft and chewy sugar cookies these are not; for all that ease and speed, there is a small textural trade off. Though I much prefer a delicate, pillowy cookie with the barest toothsome bite, these morsels are Crunchy, with a capital “C”. Think of them more as crisp tea cookies, much like biscotti, and you will not be disappointed.

An unintended bonus of that solid composition? They’re fantastic candidates for shipping to loved ones afar! (Just make sure they’re better wrapped and protected than those pictured above… It’s just for illustrative purposes. Don’t send cookies in plain envelopes, folks!)

Crunchy Cut-Out Sugar Cookies

3 Cups All-Purpose Flour
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1/4 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1/4 Cup Non-Dairy Margarine
1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar
1/2 Cup Light Corn Syrup
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 – 2 Teaspoons Orange or Lemon Zest

Colored Sugar or Sprinkles

Preheat your oven to 350, and line two baking sheets either with parchment paper or silpats.

In either a large metal bowl or a stand mixer, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder. While you can certainly bring this dough together by hand, it will require some vigorous stirring, so I would advise bringing out the big guns for this one if you’ve got ‘em.

Meanwhile, combine the margarine, sugar, and corn syrup in a small saucepan and set over medium-low heat. Gently cook the mixture and stir occasionally, just until the margarine has melted and the sugar granules have dissolved. Pour the hot liquid into the bowl of dry ingredients, and mix well. It will become very thick and hard to mix, but give it all you’ve got and make haste- It will become only stiffer as it cools.

Turn out the smooth dough onto a lightly floured surface, press it into a ball, and roll it out to about an 1/8-inch in thickness. Cut it into your desired shapes with cookie cutters and transfer the cookies over to your prepared baking sheets. Sprinkle with colored sugar or sprinkles as desired, and lightly press the decorations in with the palm of your hand.

Bake each sheet individually for 8 – 15 minutes, depending on the size of your cookies. You should be looking for the barest amount of browning on the edges, but nothing that’s fully golden brown. Let the cookies sit for a minute before moving them over to a wire rack to cool.

Yield Varies Depending on Size of Cookie Cutters

Printable Recipe

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Author: Hannah Kaminsky

Author of My Sweet Vegan, Vegan Desserts, Vegan a la Mode, and Easy as Vegan Pie.

39 thoughts on “Cut-Out the Frustration

  1. What a great idea to bake with the sprinkles on! For some reason I assumed they would burn.

  2. How perfect! It’s funny you have to tell people not to mail cookies in envelopes.

    You’re so right, even though I’m a self-proclaimed dessert queen, even I can’t be bothered with rolling out dough! I can’t wait to try your recipe :)

  3. Omg I love those Valentines Cookies!! How cute for the holiday :D

  4. I just found your blog and I’m loving it! This whole week, I’ve been spending my nights making different types of raw cut-out cookies. There is just something so relaxing (imo) about rolling a dough and cutting it. Not to mention, the final outcome is so rewarding!

    Love your photos as well!

  5. I think a tea cookie is perfect! These are so beautiful and perfect-looking that they instantly made me think of having tea with the Queen of Hearts! tehe

    These are gorgeous. You are truly an artist.

  6. I love simple especially when it comes to sugar cookies. Very cute!

  7. It’s good to know that I’m not the only one who gets irritated with cut-out cookies. Or ornate decorations. I much prefer these bake and go cookies…they do look quite adorable!

  8. simple and elegant! great job!

  9. Those square cookies with the heart motif are absolutely gorgeous! So clever!

  10. YUMMY! <3
    I want to lick my screen!

    I think they look so pretty! I am in love with the cookie coming out of the envelope! So simple and chic!

    <3 Sydney

  11. They square cookies with the heart imprints look very pretty!

  12. I am still learning how to decorate cookies. Thank you for the tip on baking them with the sprinkles. I’ll do just that when I bake my batch this Sunday : ]

  13. simply gorgeous cookies, cant resist to bake my batch…too gud !

  14. Yes! *laughs and laughs* I always avoid cookies that involve rolling out. Drop cookies are definitely my style. These do look gorgeous though!

  15. I love that you pre-decorated. That is a fabulous idea! Now if I could only get the cookies pre-mixed, pre-cooked and pre-decorated I’d be all set. I would also be able to roll myself to work and back…

  16. Beautiful! I think I’d bake this for myself. LOL

  17. The cookies look beautiful!
    Can you substitute the corn syrup for something else, like coconut milk or cream? I have never seen corn syrup in our stores…

  18. Your cookies are stunning, Hannah! I love the idea of decorating them before baking — super cute, and such a huge timesaver! These defintely would make perfect gifts for Valentine’s…I think my niece would love to bring them to school…I think I see a baking project in my near future! ;)

  19. I really connected with you on this post! And although I’d never turn down a cookie if it’s soft and chewy, I must admit that crispy/crunchy cookies are my favorites! Also, I have, more often than not, decorated my cookies with colored sugar, sprinkles, etc. before baking. You’re absolutely right…it’s such a time-saver and they look pretty, too.

  20. I actually don’t mind making cookies. Though I hear you on things like piping and fondant. I can spend endless amounts of time perfecting my flavor combos but anything artsy fartsy can get a bit too tedious and frustrating for me.

  21. cut outs without the fuss! Count me in :) I love that you put the sugar on first too, such a time saver.

  22. I can’t wait to try these! I’m going to make them for my potluck this weekend along with these peanut chocolate chip! http://www.fourgreensteps.com/community/recipes/59/175

  23. This looks especially fun to cook and eat with the kids! Thanks for posting!

  24. These cookies are really pretty! I wish I could get such cute coloured sugar:D Thank you for sharing your recipe!

  25. Well for cookies that are ready and done within an hour they sure look wonderful!! And I can already picture how all those cookies would look like when shipped in a plain enveloppe… lol

  26. Gorgeous cookies! Melody saw them on flickr the other day and was so excited. She pretended to eat them from the monitor. Lol!

  27. These are so beautiful!!

    I have to admit that I own a ton of cookie cutters (they’re so darn cute) – yet I hardly ever use them because, like you said, I find it to always be more work/clean-up than it’s worth. But these look so easy – and delicious! Thanks for the recipe!

    <3

  28. Oh these are so cute! I like where you used smaller cutters to stamp bigger cookies. How clever. Happy early Vday, Hannah!

  29. what a beautiful & lovely idea !! happy valentine

  30. My grandma and mom always put the sugar on first so that’s how I learned to bake sugar cookies. I thought that was the ONLY way to do it! :) Yours are beautiful!

  31. Awww…so cute! Definitely a feat–I swore off sugar cookies after my last batch over year ago. I’m bookmarking this just in case I ever lose my mind and decide to tackle it again (so many cool cookie cutters).
    xo
    Eco Mama

  32. i tried your recipe as I’m searching for a crunchy cut out cookie recipe..but this one didn’t stay crunchy for me, it was more a really hard chewy texture. they are hard in a toffee feel but not crunchy. i think our humidity isn’t good for them :( i wonder what i can do to antihumidity the recipe?

  33. Pingback: Let’s Swap | Vaguely Vegan

  34. I have been searching for a hard, crunchy cutout cookie recipe forever. Fond memories from may moons ago got me on the hunt but to no avail until I fond your blog. I want to try this recipe but need to know can butter be substituted for the margarine and maybe lemon extract for the zest? I would like to use what I have in my fridge and pantry already. You cookies are absolutely beautiful and look really yummy too! I love hard crunchy cookies like biscottis but by my searching I can see they’re not so popular..most folks like the soft chewy cookies better..not this girl! Thanks for your response.

    • I’m afraid I’ve never used butter so I can’t say how that substitution would turn out. The same goes for the lemon extract- It can probably work, but it might make the cookies slightly softer due to the added liquid. You could just omit the lemon zest instead.

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