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Dessert Hack: Fancy Sugar Cookies Under 5 Ingredients

image source: sheri silver
image source: sheri silver

I think we can all agree that when it comes to baking, “from scratch” is best. And I certainly try to do all of my baking just that way. But there are times when shortcut, ready-made, or pre-packaged ingredients can save time, minimize the mess and “up” the fun. This is particularly true around the holidays — when there is a seemingly endless list of parties and events to bake for, and teachers/coaches/family to gift with something homemade.

The good news? With just a few simple tweaks, you can make even a tube of refrigerated cookie dough look — and taste — like so much more.

I’ve got three easy recipes for sugar cookie dough “upgrades,” that your guests will think are all from scratch. The secret is in adding ingredients with robust flavors — cocoa, peppermint, or coconut — to take that plain dough to next-level delicious.

samoa cookies
Image source: Sheri Silver

These are also great for making with kids of all ages — as the dough is already “made,” you can get to the fun part right away. Store-bought cookie dough is much easier to roll out and work with than homemade, which means less flour, less sticking, less mess.

hot cocoa cookies
Image source: Sheri Silver

You will be proud to give these cookies as gifts, or put out on a dessert buffet — and YOU get the gift of time to spend on other fun holiday activities!

Peppermint Pinwheel Cookies

peppermint swirl cookies
Image source: Sheri Silver

These pretty cookies are a cinch to make — add 1/2 teaspoon of peppermint extract if you like, to boost the peppermint flavor!

Makes: 4 dozen

Ingredients:

  • 1 (16-ounce) package refrigerated sugar cookie dough, divided in half
  • 1/2 cup flour, divided
  • 12 peppermint candies, finely ground
  • Red food coloring

peppermint swirl cookies

Directions:

  1. Add 1/4 cup flour to half the cookie dough — mix until well combined. Add remaining 1/4 cup flour, crushed candies, and red food coloring to the remaining dough — mix until well combined (you may want to wear rubber gloves to prevent staining).
  2. Place the white dough onto a piece of parchment paper and roll out or pat into an approximately 12” x 8” rectangle. Repeat with the red dough. Using the parchment paper to assist, carefully invert the red dough onto the white dough.
  3. Starting on the long side, roll the dough up into a spiral, using the parchment paper to assist. Wrap the roll in plastic wrap and freeze for at least 2 hours.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 F. Cut dough into 1/4-inch slices and place 2-3 inches apart on parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until undersides are light golden brown. Let cookies cool on sheets for 2-3 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

peppermint swirl cookies

“Samoa” Cookies

samoa cookies
Image source: Sheri Silver

All the flavors of that iconic Girl Scout cookie are right here — crunchy toasted coconut and a chewy, chocolate-caramel surprise center. Utterly addictive!

Makes: 2 dozen

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup sweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 (16-ounce) package refrigerated sugar cookie dough
  • 24 chocolate-covered caramel candies (such as Milk Duds)

samoa cookies

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Spread the coconut onto one of the baking sheets and bake until golden brown, stirring occasionally (about 10 minutes). Transfer to a bowl to cool completely.
  3. Add cookie dough to cooled coconut and mix well, either by hand or with an electric mixer.
  4. Place rounded tablespoons of dough onto your baking sheets. Then press a candy into the center of each. Completely cover the candy with the dough and roll into a ball. Space the balls 2-3 inches apart and bake for 8-10 minutes, or until golden brown. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

Hot Cocoa Cookies

hot cocoa cookies
Image source: Sheri Silver

Yes you can have your hot cocoa and eat it too! These cookies taste like a cup of hot cocoa – toasted marshmallow included!

Makes: 3 dozen

Ingredients:

  • 1 (16-ounce) package refrigerated sugar cookie dough
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa, plus additional for dusting
  • 1/4 cup raw or sanding sugar
  • 18 marshmallows, cut in halfhot cocoa cookies

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Mix cookie dough with flour and cocoa. Shape into 36 balls. Roll balls in raw sugar to coat, and place on your prepared cookie sheets, placing 1-2 inches apart.
  3. Bake for 8 minutes and then place a marshmallow half atop each cookie. Return to oven and bake for an additional 3-4 minutes (watch carefully; marshmallows should just start cracking around the edges but still maintain their shape).
  4. Place trays on a cooling rack and let cookies cool completely. Dust with additional cocoa powder, if desired.
hot cocoa cookies
Image source: Sheri Silver
Article Posted 11 months Ago

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