These festive little lovelies have been circulating my facebook of late, and I naturally couldn’t resist the temptation to give the recipe a try. I didn’t use to be that into sprinkles (on the principle that they don’t taste that great), but they’re so damn joyful! I had to give these a shot.
Certainly, compared with the Triple Birthday Cookies I made in the same week, these win. Hands down. No question. But that’s because they’re the creation of Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen. She knows what’s up with baking, in the sense that recipes that look/seem over the top still have to taste good. She did all the testing, we get to bask in the results.
Flavor and texture-wise, these are too dry to meet my “chewy” cookie criteria, but they’re soft and crumbly in a way that shortbread isn’t. So they’ve got a somewhat unique and overall pleasing texture. The sprinkles add a nice outer crunch to the soft-ish inner cookie.
I would suggest avoiding using nonpareils (the tiny, pearl shaped ones) as the sprinkle, since it turns out the sprinkle texture is an important part of these cookies. The original recipe didn’t forbid the use of nonpareils, I just had an inkling. So I had to make an extra trip to the store to track down the regular sprinkles and found by them ice cream toppings rather than on the baking aisle. I’m not in love with the color combo, but I also wasn’t committed enough to trek to a specialty store.
Perelman recommends rubbing the vanilla bean seeds right into your sugar, and I do think it makes a flavor difference. They’ll be super-tasty even if you just have vanilla extract, but the bean is particularly yummy. So, if you’re like me, and stock up on baking supplies at Costco and happen to have vanilla beans on hand – DO IT. If not, I’m not sure you need to run out and buy a bean.
Confetti Cookies (from Smitten Kitchen)
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon fine sea or table salt
- 1 cup (or 2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 1/4 cup (2 ounces, or 1/4 of an 8-ounce brick) cream cheese, softened
- 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract or 1/2 a vanilla bean, split and scraped
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
- 1 cup rainbow sprinkles
*The original recipe contains instructions for making these with a food processor if you don’t want to wait for the ingredients to soften.
Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Line two baking large sheets with parchment paper.
If using a vanilla bean, scrape the vanilla bean seeds right into the sugar, and stir together to distribute it evenly/rub out any clumps.
In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer (or in a large bowl using an electric mixer), beat cream cheese, butter and sugar until fluffy (2-3 minutes). Add egg and extracts and blend again, just until blended.
Add the flour mixture and beat just until flour disappears. In some cases, this dough will feel too soft to roll into balls in your hands; if so, let it chill in the fridge for 20 minutes or so before using.
Scoop balls of dough — fairly large scoops, roughly 1 1/2 tablespoonfuls are a good size — and roll them briefly in the palms of your hands before dropping them in a bowl of rainbow sprinkles and gently rolling to coat them evenly. I find that the sprinkles adhere much better to tacky exterior of balls of dough that have been briefly warmed by your hands.
Transfer balls of sprinkle-coated dough to baking sheets at least two inches apart. Use the bottom of a drinking glass to press down on the cookies until they are about 1/4 to 1/2-inch tall.
Bake for 9 to 10 minutes until they look underbaked but lightly golden underneath. [If they’re not quite soft in the center, they will be fully crisped through the next day.] Let set on the baking sheet on a rack for a few minutes before transferring to cooling racks to cool the rest of the way. Repeat with remaining cookie dough.