Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Colorful Sugar Cookies

Colorful sugar cookies make me happy. So happy.

If you're thinking that these cookies look like they'd be complicated to make, you would be correct.  They're not impossible, just a little bit labor intensive.  They taste great, and they're so much fun to look at that I will continue to try and post my different attempts at being creative with these cookies.  That being said, here is how I came up with the idea:
I recently rediscovered a cookie that is in the form of chocolate chip shortbread, but upon that rediscovery, I realized how much I really just like that cookie dough for a sugar cookie.  It's a pure, sweet, buttery, tender cookie, that I figured would hold up well to forming into a log and slicing.
How do they make the pics so clear?
As I've mentioned elsewhere in this blog, I'm a little obsessed with rainbow coloring my food and my quilts.  As I was snuggling with my boys under my favorite rainbow quilt, gazing at one of the mulit-colored fabrics in particular, I had a brainstorm about how to make a colorful sugar cookie that was fun and tasty.  If you've ever watched those Food Network  or How It's Made shows that tell you how they make those cool Christmas candies or taffy with the pictures inside them, you'll understand what I started thinking.  I was going to use that method to form my roll of dough which I could then slice into a work of art.  
As I try this recipe again and again (over the years, I'm sure), I will post some pics so you can see different patterns I've tried. 
P.S. One of my summer school students, a fourth grader named Nicholas made these cookies and was kind enough to bring me a few. They tasted perfectly delicious and were uniquely colorful as well (See pic below).  It's so exciting to see one of my recipes replicated--and by a fourth grader!  I'm so impressed! 
P.P.S. Well, three years later, I'm finally making these cookies again. I meant to take more pics of the process, but my sister-in-law was over and I was so happy about the way the dough was turning out that I got over excited and didn't take pics of a couple of the steps. If you give this a go, you can play with shapes and sizes. Some things I've learned is that the outer layer of white can be rolled out nicely between sheets of parchment paper. The pics at the top are my second attempt (from today), and the ones at the very bottom are my first attempt. I think as long as you color the dough, these are bound to turn out pretty.

Colorful Sugar Cookies

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 2 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour, plus more for dusting
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • Gel food colors (red, blue, yellow, purple--you can mix your own green and orange, but purple is difficult)
· Preheat oven to 325°F.
· Cream butter and sugar.
· Add vanilla and egg. 
· Sift dry ingredients together and add to mixture.  Mix completely, but take care not to over mix.
AmeriColor Food Color
· Scoop out about 3 to 4 tablespoons of dough into six different containers to mix in the food coloring.  Using gel food coloring (I recommend AmeriColor in the squeeze bottles), color the dough orange, red, yellow, green, blue, and purple.  When making the orange and the green, make the dough mostly yellow with just a touch of red or blue, depending on the color, adding more of the red or blue as needed for your desired green or orange.  (You can always just purchase green or orange, and I did just purchase violet because it was too hard to get the right purple.  I'll let you be the judge on that.)
· Wrap each color of  dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30-45 minutes, just to tighten it up.
· On a lightly floured piece of wax or parchment paper, shape/roll out two thirds of the remaining uncolored dough into a rectangle that is about 11 inches by 8 inches.  If it seems too thin, don't roll so large.  
· On a lightly floured surface,roll out the blue dough into a thin 11 inch by 2-ish inch rectangle.  Then roll the green into a rope and put on the blue dough.  Wrap the blue around the green and set it on top of the uncolored rectangle.  Do the same with the red and orange.
· On lightly floured surface, roll the red and the purple each into their own ropes and place on the uncolored dough too.  
· On lightly floured surface, roll the remaining uncolored dough into two or three thin ropes to fill in blank spaces.  
· Carefully roll all the ropes into the large rectangle, squeezing gently to tighten up what's inside.  Try to form it into a uniform log.  Wrap in wax paper or plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 2 hours.
· Remove log from plastic wrap.  With a sharp knife, slice log into 1/4 inch slices.  If you notice gaps between colors, gently squeeze the log to tighten them up, and then keep on slicing.  Place slices on a wax paper lined cookie sheet as they await baking.
·  Place on a parchment lined baking sheet, leaving about 1 1/2 inches between each cookie, and bake at 325°F for approximately 18 minutes, or until edges are browned.
· Remove to wire rack to cool.  Then store in an airtight container.  These cookies remain good for about a week.  They're one of the few cookies I don't have to eat within one or two days.

First attempt. I think they're pretty.
Nicholas's colorful sugar cookie.  Great work, Nicholas! (It was delicious too!)


  1. i definitely would not have the patience to make these. just reading it made me tired! you are one talented woman, kelly mcculley. thank you for sharing these cookies with me!

  2. They're beautiful!!! I'd definitely make these and I'm passing the link on to my rainbow-loving friends. :)

  3. I think my kids will love them,,,thanks for the idea!!

  4. Thanks for the positive comments! Kids do love them, by the way. The cookies pictured went to my summer school students who all loved them!

  5. Oh my gosh, I'm so impressed. Those look so neat!!!

  6. I made those cookies. I am Nicholas

    1. Hi, Nicholas! The cookies were delicious too! :)


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