Valentine’s Day Cookies

Say the sweetest “I love you!” with these soft, buttery, chocolate-dipped Valentine’s Cookies! This recipe is easy and budget-friendly.

The post Valentine’s Day Cookies appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Say the sweetest “I love you!” with these soft, buttery, chocolate-dipped Valentine’s Cookies! (Cookies > Cards 🥰 #Trust) This recipe is so easy and so budget-friendly. Have you seen what people are charging for a dozen cookies lately? Highway robbery!! PS when I tell you this is such an easy recipe, I mean it. You can even make the sugar cookie dough ahead of time, so all you have to do on the big day is cut, bake, and dip.

Overhead shot of Valentine's Day Cookies being held by two hands.

What You’ll need

You’re just seven ingredients away from the most magnificent, luscious, unforgettable Valentine’s Day gift!

  • Softened Butter helps create texture and mouth feel. You’ll know your butter is soft enough when you press your finger on it and it leaves an indentation.
  • Sugar helps sweeten the cookie and creates a crisper texture, so the cookies keep their shape. It also creates air pockets in the softened butter that lighten the dough.
  • Vanilla flavors and scents the cookie.
  • Egg binds the ingredients together and creates texture. It also adds moisture to the dough.
  • All-purpose flour creates a cookie that holds its shape. Bread flour yields a chewier texture with more spread. Pastry or cake flour yields crisper and more crumbly results.
  • Baking powder lightens the dough by creating air pockets that help it rise.
  • Melting chocolate dissolves easily and dries quickly with a satiny finish. Use white, dark, or milk chocolate. You can also use chocolate chips, but they dry with a dull, foggy finish.

make THE Dough Ahead of Time

It’s a genius move to make your cookie dough ahead of time and not just for convenience’s sake. Chilling the dough hardens the butter and helps prevent the spread of your cookies, so they hold their shape better. Resting your dough for multiple days also evaporates moisture, which concentrates flavors and creates a crisper cookie. You can refrigerate cookie dough up to 5 days in advance.

Make Cookies Without A Cutter

You don’t need to buy a special cookie cutter to create the loveliest heart-shaped cookies. Instead, draw or print a heart shape, cut it out, and use it as a guide. Then, all you have to do is trace your knife along the cookie dough to create perfect heart-shaped cookies.

Side shot of Valentine's Day Cookies.

How To Fix Cookie Shapes

If you open your oven to find that your cookies have lost their shape, it can be an easy fix. First, allow the cookies to cool on the sheet pan for a minute, then reshape them by pressing the cookie cutter into them or tracing a knife around the paper cutout. Work quickly; the more the cookie cools, the more likely it is to shatter.

How To Melt Chocolate

You can easily melt chocolate on a stovetop or in a microwave as long as you follow these three golden rules:

  1. Chop the chocolate into small pieces so it melts faster
  2. Create a gentle heat so it doesn’t burn
  3. Keep water out of it so it doesn’t seize


How To Melt Chocolate in A Microwave
Place the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in short 20-second bursts, stirring thoroughly after each burst until the chocolate has a syrupy consistency.

How To Melt Chocolate on The Stove
Add your chocolate to a heat-proof bowl and place it in a pan filled a third of the way with water. Bring the water to a boil over medium heat, then turn off the stove and let the chocolate melt until syrupy.

Storing Valentine’s Day Cookies

You can store these sugar cookies in an air-tight container for up to a week at room temperature. So feel free to make them a few days ahead. You can also freeze them in a freezer-safe container, separated with layers of parchment or wax paper, for up to 3 months. Don’t refrigerate sugar cookies, as it can dry them out and dull their flavor.

Overhead shot of Valentine's Day Cookies.
Overhead shot of Valentine's Day Cookies being held by two hands.
Print

Valentine’s Day Cookies

Say the sweetest I love you with these soft, buttery, chocolate-dipped Valentine's Cookies! Customize them with a white, dark, or milk chocolate dip.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Total Cost ($7.37 recipe / $0.61 serving)
Prep Time 50 minutes
Cook Time 7 minutes
Resting Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 27 minutes
Servings 24 cookies
Calories 233kcal

Equipment

Ingredients

Instructions

  • In a large bowl, use a hand mixer to whip the softened butter & cup of sugar until fluffy.
  • Add the beaten egg and vanilla to the creamed butter and mix to incorporate.
  • In a separate bowl, mix the all-purpose flour and the baking powder.
  • Add half the flour to the creamed butter and mix just until a wet dough forms. Add the second half of the flour and mix gently until a stiffer dough forms. Roll the dough into a ball.
  • Place the dough between two sheets of parchment paper and roll the dough ¼ inch thick. Cool for thirty minutes in the fridge. Preheat your oven to 350°F.
  • Once the dough has hardened, cut out the cookies, remove the scraps from the cookie sheet, and leave the cookies behind. Roll any scraps out on a separate piece of parchment, and chill before cutting them into cookies.
  • Place the sheet of parchment paper with the cookies on a baking sheet. Bake the cookies at 350°F for 3 minutes. Next, rotate the pan, so the front faces the back—then bake for 3 to 4 minutes until they slightly lighten in color.
  • Cool the cookies in the baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack. Decorate when cookies have cooled.

To Melt the Chocolate in the Microwave: Melt the chocolate in a bowl wide enough to dip the cookies into but small enough to create a deep pool of chocolate. If using a microwave, melt in 20-second increments, stirring after each.

    To Melt the Chocolate on the Stove Top: If using the stove, place a small wide-mouthed bowl in a pan filled a third of the way with water. Bring the water to a boil, then turn off the heat. Leave the bowl in the water and stir until the chocolate melts.

    • Dip half of the cookie in the chocolate and garnish if you'd like to. Then place back on the cooling rack, allowing the chocolate to harden.

    See how we calculate recipe costs here.

    Notes

    *If using unsalted butter, add 1/2 teaspoon of finely ground salt (like fine sea salt) or 1 teaspoon of coarsely ground salt (like kosher salt) to the butter
    *Use dark, milk, or white melting chocolate to decorate cookies. You can also use chocolate chips, but they will dry with a foggy finish.

    Nutrition

    Serving: 2cookies | Calories: 233kcal | Carbohydrates: 26g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 13g | Sodium: 63mg | Fiber: 2g
    Side shot of Valentine's Day Cookies.

    How to Make Valentine’s Day Cookies – Step by Step Photos

    Overhead shot of sugar being mixed into softened butter.

    In a large bowl, use a hand mixer to whip the 12 tablespoons of softened butter & cup of sugar until fluffy.

    Overhead shot of egg and vanilla being mixed into butter.

    Add the beaten egg and the teaspoon of vanilla to the creamed butter and mix to incorporate.

    Overhead shot of dry ingredients.

    In a separate bowl, mix the 2 cups of all-purpose flour and the 3/4 teaspoon of baking powder.

    Overhead shot of hand beater mixing dough.

    Add half the flour to the creamed butter and mix just until a wet dough forms. Add the second half of the flour and mix gently until a stiffer dough forms.

    Overhead shot ofof two hands holding a ball of dough over a bowl.

    Roll the dough into a ball, but do so quickly. You don’t want to overwork the dough, as it will create a tough texture.

    Two hands rolling out cookie dough between two sheets of parchment.

    Place the dough between two sheets of parchment paper and roll the dough ¼ inch thick, or about the thickness of an ear lobe. Cool for thirty minutes in the fridge. Place a rack in the center of your oven and preheat it to 350°F.

    Overhead shot of dough being cut with a heart-shaped cookie cutter.

    Once the dough has hardened, cut out the cookies, remove the scraps from the cookie sheet, and leave the cookies behind. Roll any scraps out on a separate piece of parchment, and chill before cutting them into cookies.

    Overhead shot of raw Valentine's Day cookies.

    Place the sheet of parchment paper with the cookies on a cookie sheet or sheet pan. Bake the cookies at 350°F for 3 minutes. Next, rotate the sheet pan so the front faces the back—then bake for 3 to 4 minutes until they slightly lighten in color.

    Overhead shot of baked Valentine's Day cookies.

    Cool the cookies in the sheet pan for a few minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack. Decorate when cookies have cooled.

    Overhead shot of milk chocolate being melted and stirred in a white bowl.

    Melt the chocolate in a bowl wide enough for to dip the cookies into but small enough to create a deep pool of chocolate. If using a microwave, melt in 20-second increments, stirring after each. If using the stove, place the bowl in a pan filled a third of the way with water. Bring the water to a boil, then turn off the heat. Leave the bowl in the water and stir until the chocolate melts.

    Overhead shot of Valentine's Day cookies dipped in white and milk chocolate and decorated with sprinkles.

    Dip half of the cookie in the chocolate and garnish if you’d like to. Then place it back on the cooling rack, allowing the chocolate to harden. Give these amazingly cute Valentine’s Day cookies out to your loved ones, but make sure to save some for yourself!!

    Overhead shot of Valentine's Day Cookies.

    The post Valentine’s Day Cookies appeared first on Budget Bytes.

    Caramel Popcorn Snack Mix

    Move over puppy chow; this caramel popcorn recipe with pretzels and cereal mixture is addictingly delicious. A perfect snack for movie night,
    The post Caramel Popcorn Snack Mix appeared first on Salty Side Dish Recipes.

    Move over puppy chow; this caramel popcorn recipe with pretzels and cereal mixture is addictingly delicious. A perfect snack for movie night,

    The post Caramel Popcorn Snack Mix appeared first on Salty Side Dish Recipes.

    Vegetarian Valentine’s Day Dinner Ideas

    Valentine’s Day is a great time for couples, families, and friends to celebrate and show their love and appreciation for one another. However, many traditional Valentine’s Day dinners are meat-based and unsuitable for vegetarian diets or those with var…

    Valentine's Day is a great time for couples, families, and friends to celebrate and show their love and appreciation for one another. However, many traditional Valentine's Day dinners are meat-based and unsuitable for vegetarian diets or those with various diet sensitivities. So whether you're already vegetarian, looking to try something new, or just want some...

    Read More

    This article was written and published by Oh My Veggies. It may not be reproduce or republished without permission of the author. The original article can be found here: Vegetarian Valentine’s Day Dinner Ideas.

    Snickerdoodles

    Score all the bear hugs from the cinnamon lover in your life with this easy recipe for tangy, chewy, cinnamon-sugar-crusted snickerdoodles.

    The post Snickerdoodles appeared first on Budget Bytes.

    Score all the bear hugs from the cinnamon lover in your life with this easy recipe for tangy, chewy, cinnamon-sugar-crusted snickerdoodles. The best part is that you probably already have everything you need to make a quick batch right in your pantry!

    Overhead shot of snickerdoodles next to a glass of milk.

    What Is A Snickerdoodle?

    A snickerdoodle is a sugar cookie made with cream of tartar. The dough is rolled in cinnamon sugar before baking, creating a crackly pattern all over the surface as it cooks. Some historians say the snickerdoodle scored its name from the German term schnecke knödel which translates to “snail dumpling.” Others say the cookie was named by New England cooks that loved to give baked goods goofy names. Either way, it’s a must-have recipe in your cookie arsenal.

    Why Cream Of Tartar?

    Cream of tartar stops the sugar in the dough from crystalizing, yielding a chewy cookie instead of a crunchy one. It’s also what gives snickerdoodles their signature tang. Since most snickerdoodle recipes use a combination of cream of tartar and baking soda, I used baking powder to reduce the list of ingredients. Baking powder is a combination of baking soda and cream of tartar, with a touch of cornstarch thrown in to keep the two powders from clumping.

    Overhead shot of a hand holding two snickerdoodle cookie halves and showing off the inside crumb.

    How To Know When Snickerdoodles Are Done

    Snickerdoodles are made from pale white cookie dough, so it can be hard to tell when they’re done, as their color won’t deepen much. It’s best to set a timer, so you don’t have to play a guessing game about when to pull your cookies from the oven. There are also two visual cues that you can look out for:

    • the edges darken a touch
    • the top of the cookie will crack slightly

    Can I Freeze The Dough?

    You can absolutely freeze snickerdoodle dough. First, shape it into two-inch dough balls, but do not roll it in the cinnamon sugar mixture. Freeze the balls on a sheet pan in a single layer, and once they are frozen solid, place them in an airtight container. Separate layers with parchment paper. Defrost them in the fridge in a single layer. When you are ready to bake, roll them in the cinnamon sugar.

    How To Store Snickerdoodles

    You have two options for storing snickerdoodles: keep them at room temperature or freeze them. Avoid refrigerating the cookies, as it can dry them out and dull their flavor. Wait for the cookies to cool completely before storing them in an air-tight container lined with a paper towel to soak up moisture. They’ll stay fresh on your countertop for up to five days and in your freezer for up to six months.

    Overhead shot of snickerdodle cookies, with one cookie with a bite taken out of it.
    Overhead shot of snickerdoodles.
    Print

    Snickerdoodles

    Score all the bear hugs from the cinnamon lover in your life with this easy recipe for tangy cinnamon-sugar-crusted snickerdoodles.
    Course Dessert
    Cuisine American
    Total Cost ($3.83 recipe / $0.24 serving)
    Prep Time 15 minutes
    Cook Time 10 minutes
    Resting Time 15 minutes
    Total Time 40 minutes
    Servings 16 cookies
    Calories 205kcal

    Ingredients

    • 8 Tbsp salted butter, softened $1.20
    • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar, divided $0.40
    • 1/4 cup brown sugar $0.18
    • 2 large eggs $0.78
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract $0.57
    • 2 tsp baking powder* $0.13
    • 1/2 tsp salt $0.03
    • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted $0.30
    • 1 Tbsp cinnamon $0.24

    Instructions

    • Place a rack in the center of your oven and preheat to 325°F. Add the softened butter, 1 cup of granulated sugar, and the brown sugar to a bowl.
    • Mix with a hand beater or stand mixer until the butter has lightened in color and has the consistency of a mousse, about 3 to 4 minutes.
    • Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add one egg. Mix to incorporate. Scrape down the side of the bowl again. Add the second egg and the vanilla. Mix to incorporate.
    • In a separate bowl, mix the baking powder, salt, and sifted flour. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in two batches, incorporating it fully between additions, until a dough forms. Rest the dough, uncovered, in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.
    • Mix the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar with the tablespoon of cinnamon. Shape 2-tablespoon portions of the cookie dough into balls and place them on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Roll each ball in the cinnamon sugar twice.
    • Bake for 5 minutes. Rotate the sheet pan front to back. Bake for 4 to 5 minutes more or until the sides of the cookies deepen in color. Wait a few minutes before placing them on a cooling rack.

    See how we calculate recipe costs here.

    Notes

    *Use aluminum-free baking powder; otherwise, you will have a metallic aftertaste. If you don’t have baking powder, you can make your own with 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp cornstarch, and 1 teaspoon cream of tartar.

    Nutrition

    Serving: 1cookie | Calories: 205kcal | Carbohydrates: 34g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 6g | Sodium: 180mg | Fiber: 1g
    Overhead shot of snickerdoodles.

    How to Make Snickerdoodles – Step by Step Photos

    White sugar and brown sugar with softened butter in a white bowl.

    Place a rack in the center of your oven and preheat to 325°F. Add 1 cup of softened butter, 1 cup of granulated sugar, and 1/4 cup of brown sugar to a bowl.

    Creamed butter in a white bowl.

    Mix with a hand beater until the butter has lightened in color and has the consistency of a mousse, about 3 to 4 minutes.

    Egg and vanilla being mixed into creamed butter in a white bowl.

    Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add one egg. Mix to incorporate. Scrape down the side of the bowl again. Add the second egg and the teaspoon of vanilla. Mix to incorporate.

    Dry ingredients being mixed into wet ingredients.

    In a separate bowl, mix the 2 teaspoons of baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 2 1/2 cups of sifted flour. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in two batches, incorporating it fully between additions, until a dough forms. Rest the dough, uncovered, in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.

    Balls of snickerdoodle dough being rolled in cinnamon sugar.

    Mix the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar with the tablespoon of cinnamon. Shape 2-tablespoon portions of the cookie dough into balls and place them on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Roll all of the cookie dough balls in the cinnamon sugar mixture once. Then repeat.

    Eight baked snickerdoodles in a sheet pan.

    Bake for 5 minutes. Rotate the sheet pan front to back. Bake for an additional 4 to 5 minutes or until the sides of the cookies deepen in color, and the tops have a distinctive crackle pattern. Cool the cookies on the sheet pan for a few minutes before using a spatula to place them on a cooling rack. Try not to eat them all in one sitting! (Beth and I failed.)

    Overhead shot of a hand holding a stack of snickerdoodle cookies.

    The post Snickerdoodles appeared first on Budget Bytes.

    Thumbprint Cookies

    Jam Thumbprint Cookies are a Christmas cookie classic made with a shortbread dough, sweet fruit jam, and a nutty coconut coating.

    The post Thumbprint Cookies appeared first on Budget Bytes.

    These jam thumbprint cookies have to be one of my favorite Christmas cookies ever. Do I say that about all the cookies? Maybe. But how could they not be my favorite with that snow-ball-like coconut coating and the little jewel-like dots jam in the center? But they’re not just pretty! These little show-stoppers are every bit as delicious as they are nice to look at. Plus, they’re SO easy, so make sure they’re on your cookie platter this year!

    thumbprint cookies lined up closely on a wire cooling rack.

    What is a Thumbprint Cookie?

    Thumbprint cookies are made with a rich shortbread dough that is shaped into small balls with small depressions, or “thumbprints,” in the center filled with jam or other sweet treats. The slightly salty shortbread is the perfect contrast to the sweet jam center and together they make beautiful little jewel-like additions to a cookie platter or afternoon tea.

    Coconut or no Coconut?

    If you’re not into coconut, you can absolutely make these thumbprint cookies without the coconut coating. Simply skip dipping the cookie in egg whites and rolling in the coconut, and continue with the rest of the directions as usual. Another great option is to roll the cookie in granulated or powdered sugar for an icy or snow-like finish!

    Close up of a jam thumbprint cookie with the rest of the cookies in the background.

    What Kind of Jam to Use

    This is where these cookies get fun. You can use any flavor of jam you’d like, so this recipe is a great way to use up the odds and ends of jam jars in your fridge. We used a combination of raspberry, strawberry, and orange marmalade for the cookies in the photos. You can also fill them with other spreads, like lemon curd, caramel, Nutella, or even candies like Rolos or chocolate kisses.

    How to Store Thumbprint cookies

    Make sure to the thumbprint cookies to cool completely to room temperature before storage. Once fully cooled, keep them in an air-tight container at room temperature for 3-4 days. For longer storage, the cookies can be frozen. Thaw the frozen thumbprint cookies at room temperature before enjoying.

    Overhead view of a pile of jam thumbprint cookies.
    Overhead view of a pile of jam thumbprint cookies.
    Print

    Thumbprint Cookies

    Jam Thumbprint Cookies are a Christmas cookie classic made with a shortbread dough, sweet fruit jam, and a nutty coconut coating.
    Course Dessert
    Cuisine American
    Total Cost $2.69 recipe / $0.17 serving
    Prep Time 25 minutes
    Cook Time 15 minutes
    Chill time 30 minutes
    Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
    Servings 16 cookies
    Calories 133kcal

    Ingredients

    • 8 Tbsp salted butter, room temperature $1.00
    • 1/3 cup granulated sugar $0.11
    • 1 large egg, separated $0.21
    • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract $0.14
    • 1 cup all-purpose flour $0.12
    • 1/4 tsp salt $0.02
    • 1 cup sweetened coconut $0.83
    • 8 tsp fruit jam $0.26

    Instructions

    • Add the room-temperature butter and sugar to a bowl. Use a mixer to cream the sugar and butter together on high speed until the mixture is light in color and creamy in texture.
    • Separate the egg yolk from the egg white. Add the egg yolk and vanilla to the butter and sugar mixture and mix to combine. Set the egg white aside for later.
    • In a separate bowl, combine the four and salt until evenly mixed. Add the flour mixture to the mixing bowl with the butter mixture, and mix on low speed until a slightly crumbly dough forms. No dry flour should remain on the bottom of the bowl.
    • Shape the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
    • When you're ready to make the cookies, preheat the oven to 350ºF and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Lightly whisk the reserved egg white until it's slightly runny. Place the shredded coconut in a separate bowl.
    • Divide the dough into 16 equal-sized pieces and roll each one into a ball. Dip each ball into the egg white, then roll it around in the shredded coconut to coat. Place the coated cookies on the prepared baking sheet.
    • Use the back of a round ½ tsp measuring spoon or your thumb to make an indentation in the center of each cookie. Fill each indentation with about ½ tsp jam.
    • Bake the cookies for 15 minutes or just until the coconut becomes slightly golden on the edges. Allow the cookies to cool before serving.

    See how we calculate recipe costs here.

    Nutrition

    Serving: 1cookie | Calories: 133kcal | Carbohydrates: 15g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 8g | Sodium: 102mg | Fiber: 1g
    Side view of thumbprint cookies on a cooling rack.

    How to Make Thumbprint Cookies – Step By Step Photos

    Creamed butter and sugar with egg yolk and vanilla.

    Use a mixer to cream together 8 Tbsp salted butter and ⅓ cup sugar until the mixture is light in color and creamy in texture. Separate one large egg and set the whites aside. Add the yolk and ¼ tsp vanilla extract to the butter and sugar and mix until light and creamy again.

    flour and salt added to the cookie batter.

    In a separate bowl, stir together 1 cup of all-purpose flour and ¼ tsp salt. Add the flour mixture to the bowl with the butter and mix on low speed until a slightly crumbly dough forms.

    Cookie dough in the bowl with the mixer on the side.

    The dough should be just slightly crumbly, but no dry flour should remain on the bottom of the bowl. If you squeeze the dough together in your hand, it should form a cohesive ball of dough.

    Dough wrapped in plastic.

    Shape the dough into a ball and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes.

    Dough being divided into 16 pieces.

    When you’re ready to make the cookies, preheat the oven to 350ºF and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Divide the dough into 16 equal-sized pieces. The easiest way to do this is to first divide it into four, then divide each of those pieces into four again.

    Cookies being dipped in egg white and coconut.

    Roll each piece of dough into a smooth ball. Lightly whisk the reserved egg white until it is slightly runny. Place 1 cup of shredded coconut in a separate bowl. Dip each cookie ball into the egg white, then roll in the coconut to coat. Place the coated cookies on the prepared baking sheet.

    Making indentations in the cookies.

    Use the back of a round ½ tsp measuring spoon or your thumb to make an indentation in the center of each cookie.

    Cookies filled with jam on the baking sheet.

    Fill each indentation with ½ tsp of your favorite jam (we used raspberry, strawberry, and orange marmalade).

    baked thumbprint cookies on the baking sheet.

    Bake the thumbprint cookies in the preheated 350ºF oven for 15 minutes, or just until the coconut becomes golden brown on the edges.

    A pile of jam thumbprint cookies with different colors of jam.

    Allow those beautiful little cookies to cool before serving! 😍

    The post Thumbprint Cookies appeared first on Budget Bytes.

    Sweet Potato Cobbler

    This non-traditional sweet potato cobbler is foolproof and incredibly delicious. A mouthwatering cozy cobbler, this simple sweet topping makes this dessert one
    The post Sweet Potato Cobbler appeared first on Salty Side Dish Recipes.

    This non-traditional sweet potato cobbler is foolproof and incredibly delicious. A mouthwatering cozy cobbler, this simple sweet topping makes this dessert one

    The post Sweet Potato Cobbler appeared first on Salty Side Dish Recipes.

    Sugar Cookies

    Sugar cookies are budget-friendly, simple to make, and a delicious way to make memories that will last a lifetime.

    The post Sugar Cookies appeared first on Budget Bytes.

    Sugar cookies are budget-friendly, simple to make, and a delicious way to create memories that will last a lifetime. Whipping up a batch of this sugar cookie recipe and spending the afternoon decorating them with family and friends is my favorite thing to do during the holidays.

    Overhead shot of round sugar cookies.

    Why These Are The Best Sugar Cookies

    • The dough comes together in minutes.
    • They have a subtle vanilla flavor and aren’t overly sweet.
    • They bake up firm but are still soft and chewy.
    • They don’t shatter when you bite into them.

    6 Tips For The Best Sugar Cookie

    1. Cream softened butter with sugar until it doubles in size and lightens in color. This creates air pockets in the dough, giving you a light and airy cookie.
    2. Roll the dough out to 1/4 inch thickness. Any thicker and the cookies will lose their shape. Any thinner, and they won’t be able to hold the weight of the icing.
    3. Chill the dough after you roll it out, and then cut it. Giving the butter time to harden will make the cookies easier to cut out and help your cookies keep their shape as they bake.
    4. Use simply shaped cookie cutters. Anything too intricate will likely break off or lose its shape as it bakes.
    5. Bake the cookies just until they’re set. You’re not looking for a golden brown; as they bake the cookies will lighten in color. Overbaking them leaves you with a dry, rock-hard cookie.
    6. Cool your cookies completely before decorating them with icing. Spreading icing on warm cookies will melt the icing, so it doesn’t hold its shape and drips all over.
    Hand holding a white sugar cookie with sprinkles in the foreground with red and white sugar cookies in the background.

    How To Soften Butter

    Perfectly softened butter will form an indentation when you gently press a finger into it—like play dough. Here are three ways to achieve this consistency:

    • METHOD #1 Pick a warm spot in your kitchen and leave the butter out at room temperature for an hour or two.
    • METHOD #2 Fill a large glass with boiling water. After a minute, carefully dump the water out. Stand the stick of butter (still in its wrapper) straight up on your work surface and cover it with the heated glass for five minutes.
    • METHOD #3 Chop the stick of butter into four pieces and place it in a microwave-safe dish. Microwave the butter in 5-second increments, being careful not to melt it. Press your finger into the butter after every five-second increment. As soon as there is any give to it, pull it from the microwave.

    How To Cut Sugar Cookies

    Traditionally cookie cutters are used to shape sugar cookie dough. While metal cutters are the most popular, I prefer plastic cutters, as they don’t bend or rust. Of course, you don’t need to invest in cookie cutters to shape your dough. You can use the mouth of a glass or the ring of a mason jar lid, as we did here. If you want to create a different shape, draw it on paper, cut it out, and place it on the dough. Use a knife to trace the outline. Always cut dough that’s been rolled out to 1/4 inch thickness and chilled to create clean lines.

    How To Fix Cookies That Have Lost Their Shape

    If you open your oven to find that your cookies have lost their shape, it can be an easy fix. First, allow the cookies to cool on the sheet pan for a minute, then reshape them by pressing the cookie cutter into them and using a butter knife to separate the trimmings from the cookie. Work quickly; the more the cookie cools, the more likely it is to shatter. Don’t throw out those trimmings! They’re crispy and a total delight.

    Overhead shot of round sugar cookies on a cooling rack. and a counter top.

    Decorating Sugar Cookies

    You can eat plain sugar cookies, but decorating them is always so much fun. Traditionally royal icing is dyed with food coloring and piped onto the cookies to decorate them. But if you prefer a simpler method, you can also garnish the cookies with a bit of icing, a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar, or a pinch of zest. They will still look and taste amazing. If you want to steer clear of food coloring, grate freeze-dried raspberries or blueberries into a powder and sprinkle them into the icing to create a vibrant pink or purple hue.

    How To Make Royal Icing

    Royal icing is a stiff white icing that’s dyed with food coloring and used to decorate pastries. It can be plain or flavored with vanilla extract, almond extract, lemon zest, or orange zest. When decorating cookies, there are three textures you should make:

    1. Stiff consistency: When you dip a spoon into stiff icing and lift it out, the icing will form a stiff peak that won’t disappear. Use this icing to pipe flowers, leaves, or ruffles.
    2. Piping consistency: When you drip a line of icing across the surface, it will take 20 to 25 seconds to disappear. Use this icing to outline the cookie and prevent flooding consistency icing from spilling over.
    3. Flooding consistency: When you drip a line of icing across the surface, it will take 15 to 10 seconds to disappear. Use flooding consistency icing to fill in the cookie quickly.

    How To Store Sugar Cookies

    Store sugar cookies in an air-tight container for up to a week at room temperature. You can also freeze them in a freezer-safe container, separated with layers of parchment or wax paper, for up to 3 months. Don’t refrigerate sugar cookies, as it can dry them out and dull their flavor.

    Overhead shot of round red and white sugar cookies, with a bite taken out of one of them.
    Hand holding a white sugar cookie with sprinkles in the foreground with red and white sugar cookies in the background.
    Print

    Sugar Cookies

    Sugar cookies are budget-friendly, simple to make, and a delicious way to make memories that will last a lifetime.
    Course Dessert
    Cuisine American
    Total Cost ($4.41 recipe / $0.37 serving)
    Prep Time 10 minutes
    Cook Time 7 minutes
    Resting Time 30 minutes
    Total Time 47 minutes
    Servings 24 cookies
    Calories 199kcal

    Ingredients

    • 12 Tbsp salted butter, softened* $1.50
    • 1 cup sugar $0.32
    • 1 tsp vanilla $0.57
    • 1 large egg $0.21
    • 2 cups all-purpose flour $0.24
    • 3/4 tsp baking powder $0.05
    • 1 lb. powdered sugar* $1.00
    • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar $0.10
    • 2 large egg whites $0.42

    Instructions

    • In a large bowl, use a hand mixer to whip the softened butter & sugar until fluffy.
    • Add the egg and vanilla to the creamed butter and mix to incorporate.
    • In a separate bowl, mix the flour and baking powder.
    • Add half the flour to the creamed butter and mix just until a wet dough forms. Add the second half of the flour and mix gently until a stiffer dough forms.
    • Place the dough between two sheets of parchment paper and roll the dough ¼ inch thick. Cool for thirty minutes in the fridge. Preheat your oven to 350°F.
    • Once the dough has hardened, cut out the cookies, remove the scraps from the cookie sheet, and leave the cookies behind. Roll any scraps out on a separate piece of parchment, and chill before cutting them into cookies.
    • Place the sheet of parchment paper with the cookies on a sheet pan. Bake the cookies at 350°F for 3 minutes. Next, rotate the sheet pan, so the front faces the back—then bake for 3 to 4 minutes.
    • Cool the cookies in the sheet pan for a few minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack. Decorate when cookies have cooled completely.
    • To make the royal icing, combine half of the pound of powdered sugar and all of the cream of tartar in a large bowl. Add the egg whites and whip the mixture to soft peaks.
    • Add half the sugar and mix it at a lower speed to keep the powdered sugar in the bowl. Next, increase the speed to medium-high and whip until the icing is stiff and fluffy, about 1 minute.
    • Thicken the icing with as much powdered sugar as necessary to create a piping consistency for outlining—thin the icing with a bit of water for flooding.
    • If coloring your icing, separate it into as many bags as necessary to create your palette. Then, follow the directions on the food coloring package to make your palette. Next, close the bag and squeeze and press it to disperse the food coloring throughout.
    • Remove as much air as possible and twist the top of the bag to close it. Secure the twisted end with a rubber band. Snip off the tiniest bit of the bottom corner of the bag.
    • Next, gently squeeze the top of the bag while moving it steadily to outline the cookie with the stiffer icing.
    • Then flood your cookie with the thinner icing. Allow the icing to dry before enjoying your sugar cookie!

    See how we calculate recipe costs here.

    Notes

    *If using unsalted butter, add 1/2 teaspoon of finely ground salt (like fine sea salt) or 1 teaspoon of coarsely ground salt (like kosher salt) to the butter
    *If you don’t have powdered sugar, you can make your own by processing a pound of sugar in a blender until it forms a fine powder.

    Nutrition

    Serving: 2cookies | Calories: 199kcal | Carbohydrates: 35g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 6g | Sodium: 66mg | Fiber: 0.3g
    Overhead shot of round red and white sugar cookies.

    How to Make Sugar Cookies – Step by Step Photos

    Overhead shot of creamed butter and sugar in a white bowl.

    In a large bowl, use a hand mixer to whip the 12 tablespoons of softened butter & cup of sugar until fluffy.

    Overhead shot of egg and vanilla being added to whipped butter.

    Add the egg and the teaspoon of vanilla to the creamed butter and mix to incorporate.

    Overhead shot of hands mixing flour and baking powder in a white bowl.

    In a separate bowl, mix the 2 cups of all-purpose flour and the 3/4 teaspoon of baking powder.

    Overhead shot of hands holding sugar cookie dough over a bowl of sugar cookie dough.

    Add half the flour to the creamed butter and mix just until a wet dough forms. Add the second half of the flour and mix gently until a stiffer dough forms.

    Overhead shot of sugar cookie dough being rolled out between two sheets of parchment.

    Place the dough between two sheets of parchment paper and roll the dough ¼ inch thick. Cool for thirty minutes in the fridge. Preheat your oven to 350°F.

    Overhead shot of sugar cookies being cut with a band and a mason jar lid.
    Once the dough has hardened, cut out the cookies. Remove the scraps and leave the cookies behind. Roll any scraps out on a separate piece of parchment, and chill before also cutting them into cookies.
    Overhead shot of naked sugar cookies in a sheet pan.

    Place the sheet of parchment paper with the cookies on a cookie sheet or sheet pan.

    Overhead shot of baked sugar cookies in a sheet pan.
    Bake the cookies at 350°F for 3 minutes. Next, rotate the sheet pan, so the front faces the back—then bake for 3 to 4 minutes.
    Overhead shot of egg whites being poured into powdered sugar.
    To make the royal icing, combine half of the pound of powdered sugar and the 1/4 teaspoon of cream of tartar in a large bowl. Add the egg whites and whip the mixture to soft peaks.
    Overhead shot of icing being mixed with a hand blender in a white bowl.
    Thicken the icing with as much powdered sugar as necessary to create a piping consistency for outlining—thin the icing with a bit of water for flooding.
    Overhead shot of icing being spooned into a plastic bag.
    If coloring your icing, separate it into as many bags as necessary to create your palette. Then, follow the directions on the food coloring package to make your palette. Next, close the bag and squeeze and press it to disperse the food coloring throughout.
    Overhead shot of hand piping icing onto a sugar cookie on a tray of sugar cookies.
    Next, gently squeeze the top of the bag while moving it steadily to first outline the cookie with the stiffer icing.
    Overhead shot of decorated red and white sugar cookies.
    Then flood your cookie with the thinner icing. Allow the icing to dry before enjoying your amazing sugar cookie!

    Other Great Cookie Recipes

    The post Sugar Cookies appeared first on Budget Bytes.

    Candied Walnuts

    Caramelized and toasted, these crunchy candied walnuts use brown sugar and spices to deliver the perfect snack or topping.

    Continue reading Candied Walnuts on 101 Cookbooks

    The best candied walnuts are oven-baked. Don’t let anyone tell you different. It’s worth knowing how to make them and there are many reasons to keep candied walnuts on hand. First off, buying them can be wildly expensive. Second, they’re infinitely snack-able. And, they have a knack for making salads, popcorn, crumbles and cheese plates extra special. Once you nail down a great base recipe and technique for candied walnuts you can tweak them a thousand different ways with different spices, herbs and flavors. Today we’re going to talk through all of this.

    Candied Walnuts on a Sheetpan

    What Makes Good Candied Walnuts?

    This is subjective, of course, but I like candied walnuts with a thick, brown sugar bark. So much coating it becomes hard to see the definition in the curves and swirls of the walnuts. The optimal size of the walnut pieces is up for debate. The merit of perfectly candied whole walnut halves is hard to argue with. It’s my preferred size for salads, snacking and the like. But, candied chopped walnuts, in smaller pieces, make a wonderful topping for scoops of ice cream, mixing into popcorn, integrating into fruit crumble and crisp toppings or adding to granola. This round I stuck with halves.
    Walnuts in a Bowl coasted with Brown Sugar Mixture

    Baking Versus Skillet?

    There are two common methods for making candied walnuts – in the oven or in a non-stick skillet. You will likely have success with either method, but let me tell you why I prefer baking the walnuts. Toasting walnuts in a skillet is always awkward. They’re craggy-shaped and where nuts touch the pan they either get too dark or the rest of the walnuts stay too light. It’s more challenging to know when your sugar is hot enough to set when using a skillet. It’s basically automatic in the oven, so you don’t sweat it as much. The oven envelops the walnuts in dry heat and you get much better toasting and browning. The dry heat of the oven also seems to strip the water from the egg whites while the sugar toasts resulting in crunchy snappy candied walnuts. Exactly what you want when they’ve cooled completely.
    Candied Walnuts

    Candied Walnuts: The Technique 

    I’m going to call out a few important techniques and tricks here. This way you won’t breeze over them once you’re deep in the recipe.  

    • Coating the walnuts: You are going to get in there and stir these walnuts at TWO points, for minutes at a time. Once to initially coat the walnuts with the egg whites. And again once you stir in the brown sugar mixture. Really go for it. See photo below.
    • Separate the walnuts for baking: Try to separate the walnuts so they don’t bake into clumps on the baking sheets.
    • Avoid under-baking: Use all your senses to know when to pull the candied walnuts from the oven. I look for a few things. Things should smell toasty when you open the oven. The sugar coating should be nice and deeply golden at the edges, where the coating touches the pan. You need to bake long enough that the sugars bake and will be snappy once cooled.
    • Let the walnuts cool completely: Let the candied walnuts cool  for ten minutes or so before moving them around or taking them off the pan. It will be easier to break them up, the texture is best and they won’t burn your mouth.

    Ingredients for Candied Walnuts

    Variations:

    There are endless ways to switch things up here. How about…

    • Add some zest. Avoiding the white pith, use a vegetable peeler to strip the zest off a lemon, Meyer lemon, or orange. Cut into the narrowest slivers. Stir into the sugar mixture.
    • Experiment with seasonings and spice blends. My rule of thumb here is…if it is good in a cookie or pie, it will likely be good here. Think gingerbread spices, pumpkin pie spice, Bahārāt, quatre épices.
    • Try an alternate nut. Pecans are a great substitute. Or a mix of walnuts, pecans, and hazelnuts. I also like to throw some sliced almonds (skins on) into the mix.
    • Crunchy Chewy Candied Walnuts: Add some dried or freeze dried fruit. You can use chopped figs or dates here. Or stir in chopped dried banana and/or pineapple before baking.
    • Rosemary Sesame Candied Walnuts: this is a version I used to make regularly. Add 1 teaspoon chopped rosemary leaves, 1/4 cup sesame seeds and 1/3 cup chopped dates or dried figs to the brown sugar mixture.
    • Less Sweet: Scale back the brown sugar to 1/2 cup.
    • Spicy Candied Walnuts: Add a scant 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Keep the curry powder from the original recipe or leave it out.
    • Espresso Candied Walnuts: add 2 tablespoons finely ground espresso powder to the brown sugar. Skip curry powder.

    Walnuts Coated with Sugar Mixture Before Baking

    How To Serve Candied Walnuts

    I’ve thrown out some ideas up above, but there are so many great ways to serve candied walnuts. Use them:

    • Always in salads. Use them in kale salad, apple salad, even this wedge salad as a finishing touch.
    • On their own or as part of a cheese platter or (these days) a butter board.
    • As a topping to add crunch to blended soups.
    • As a component in a yogurt or granola bar for brunch.
    • In baked goods. Work them into your favorite quick breads and batters. Imagine a favorite gingerbread or brownies dotted with candied walnuts!

    Two Pans of Candied Walnuts Cooling

    How to Store Candied Walnuts

    You have some options here. But the first step is to let them cool absolutely completely. Then store in any air-tight container, like a mason jar, or re-usable baggy. Always reseal the container tightly after snacking. You can also freeze candied walnuts, in a tightly sealed container, for up to a few months.

    Two Pans of Candied Walnuts Cooling

    The recipe makes a one pound batch, so you’ll have plenty to share or just keep on hand. Here’s a photo of little baggies filled with candied walnuts accented with rosemary and lots of sesame seeds. So tasty. Enjoy!

    Continue reading Candied Walnuts on 101 Cookbooks

    Peanut Butter Blossoms

    Peanut butter blossoms are a classic Christmas cookie that features a chewy peanut butter cookie topped with a sweet chocolate kiss.

    The post Peanut Butter Blossoms appeared first on Budget Bytes.

    Peanut butter blossoms, also known as “kiss cookies”, are a Christmas cookie favorite, but if you ask me, that classic peanut butter chocolate flavor combo is great any time of year! Plus, because these cookies so are so incredibly easy, they’re great for new cooks or baking with your kids. So pull out that mixing bowl and butter, and let’s go make some cookies!

    Overhead view of peanut butter blossom cookies on a wire cooling rack.

    What Are Peanut Butter Blossoms?

    Peanut butter blossoms start with a chewy peanut butter cookie that has been rolled in a little sugar to make a nice sweet and crispy exterior layer, then each cookie is topped with a creamy chocolate kiss pressed down into the center. They’re super easy to make (no need to chill the dough), and they have a super cute shape that just makes them fun to eat! Plus they look really good as part of a Christmas cookie platter.

    What Kind of Peanut Butter to Use

    One thing I love about these cookies is that you can use either natural-style peanut butter, which can tend to be a bit runnier, or a commercial style like JIF or Peter Pan. Despite the texture differences between the two styles of peanut butter, the cookie still comes together well either way.

    While you can technically substitute other types of nut butter, keep in mind that a lot of other nuts and seeds have a much more mild flavor than peanut butter, so the cookies might not have quite as big of a flavor punch.

    Make them Festive!

    If you want to go all in on the holiday theme, there are a couple of ways to make these cookies look a little more festive. You can roll the cookies in red or green granulated sugar, or use a special holiday-themed Hershey’s kiss that has different colored chocolate so they stand out even more on that cookie platter.

    How to Store Peanut Butter Blossoms

    It’s incredibly important to make sure your peanut butter blossoms cool completely to room temperature before storage. Because the chocolate kisses are pressed into a hot cookie, the kiss will remain soft until the cookie cools, and you don’t want to mess up the shape of that cute kiss! Once the cookies are cooled and the chocolate is firm again, store the cookies in an air-tight container for about 5-7 days. These cookies also freeze very well!

    Side view of peanut butter blossoms lined up on a cooling rack.
    Side view of peanut butter blossoms lined up on a cooling rack.
    Print

    Peanut Butter Blossoms

    Peanut butter blossoms are a classic Christmas cookie that features a chewy peanut butter cookie topped with a sweet chocolate kiss.
    Course Dessert
    Cuisine American
    Total Cost $4.10 recipe / $0.23 each
    Prep Time 30 minutes
    Cook Time 10 minutes
    Total Time 40 minutes
    Servings 18 cookies
    Calories 203kcal

    Ingredients

    • 18 chocolate kisses $1.23
    • 1/2 cup salted butter, room temperature $1.00
    • 1/2 cup peanut butter, room temperature $0.61
    • 1/2 cup granulated sugar $0.16
    • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed $0.22
    • 1 large egg $0.21
    • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract $0.29
    • 1.5 cups all-purpose flour $0.18
    • 1 tsp baking powder $0.16
    • 2 Tbsp granulated sugar (for coating) $0.04

    Instructions

    • Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Unwrap the chocolate kisses and place them in the freezer.
    • Add the butter, peanut butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar to a bowl. Use a stand mixer or hand mixer to beat them together on high speed until the mixture looks like, creamy, and fluffy.
    • Add the egg and vanilla and beat until incorporated.
    • In a separate bowl, stir together the flour and baking powder. Add half of the flour mixture to the mixing bowl and beat over low speed until it is incorporated. Add the remaining flour and beat until a soft dough forms with no loose flour on the bottom of the bowl.
    • Divide and shape the dough into 18 balls of dough. Place the remaining 2 Tbsp of sugar in a small bowl and roll each ball of dough in the sugar to coat. Place the cookies on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
    • Bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes, or until they are slightly puffed, a few small cracks appear around the bottom edge, and they're just barely golden brown on top.
    • Remove the cookies from the oven and immediately press a frozen chocolate kiss into the center of each cookie.
    • Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire cooling rack using a spatula. Enjoy warm or allow to fully cool before packing and storing.

    See how we calculate recipe costs here.

    Nutrition

    Serving: 1cookie | Calories: 203kcal | Carbohydrates: 25g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 11g | Sodium: 105mg | Fiber: 1g
    Side view of peanut butter blossoms scattered on the cooling rack.

    How to Make Peanut Butter Blossoms – Step by Step Photos

    Unwrapped Hershey's kisses in a bowl.

    Start by preheating the oven to 375ºF. Unwrap 18 chocolate kisses, place them in a bowl, and pop them in the freezer. You’ll want the kisses to be frozen by the time you press them into the cookies.

    Butters and sugars in a mixing bowl.

    Add ½ cup room temperature butter, ½ cup peanut butter, ½ cup white sugar, and half cup light brown sugar to a bowl.

    Creamed butter and sugar in a bowl with a hand mixer on the side.

    Beat the butters and sugars together on high speed until they appear light, creamy, and fluffy (about 3 minutes).

    egg and vanilla added to the butter and sugar.

    Add one large egg and ½ tsp vanilla extract and beat on high speed again until well combined (1-2 minutes).

    Flour added to the batter in the bowl.

    In a separate bowl, stir together 1.5 cups all-purpose flour with 1 tsp baking powder. Add about half of the flour mixture to the bowl and beat on low speed until incorporated. Add the remaining flour and beat again until combined.

    Peanut butter cookie dough in the bowl with a spatula.

    When all of the flour is incorporated, the dough should form a soft dough, similar in texture to play dough, with no dry flour on the bottom of the bowl.

    Cookie dough being rolled into balls and coated in sugar.

    Place 2 Tbsp granulated sugar in a small bowl. Divide the dough into 18 portions, about 1.5 Tbsp each. Roll them into a ball, then roll the ball in the small dish of granulated sugar to coat. Place the rolled and coated cookies on a parchment-lined baking dish.

    cookies on a cookie sheet ready to bake.

    Space the cookies out about 2-inches from each other (I did 12 on the first sheet, six on the second). Bake the cookies in the preheated 375ºF oven for 8-10 minutes, or just until you see a little cracking around the bottom edge and only a slight golden browning on the top, but no more.

    Kisses being pressed into the cookies.

    The cookies won’t spread very much, they mostly puff up into nice little dome shapes. As soon as they come out of the oven, press a frozen chocolate kiss into the center of each cookie. It’s important to do this while the cookies are still hot and very soft.

    peanut butter blossoms scattered on a cooling rack.

    Allow the cookies to cool for 5-10 minutes on the cookie sheet so they firm up enough to be able to pick them up with a spatula without bending. Once slightly firmed, transfer them to a cooling rack to finish cooling.

    Side view of peanut butter blossoms on a cooling rack, lined up together.

    Enjoy the cookies when still slightly warm and soft, or wait until they cool completely! YUM!

    The post Peanut Butter Blossoms appeared first on Budget Bytes.