There are some things in life I just don’t understand. Putting salt on watermelon. A Porsche minivan. How a TV can get 300 channels, and I still can’t find anything to watch.
But anyway . . . (throat clearing), there is another thing that, until recently, I couldn’t understand. How can people throw together amazing, homemade cookies with about 1 day of notice? This boggled my mind. How could someone hear about an event set for that evening, and show up bringing a platter of such amazing desserts that I could practically hear the angels sing?
It didn’t seem possible.
However . . . (drum roll) . . . the more cookies I decorated, and the more desserts I made . . . the more I began to implement my own time saving tips. And the quicker I got with those time saving tips, the more time I had to think about other time saving tips . . . you get the idea.
Here is a quick lesson on how to throw together immaculate, homemade cookies in as little as half an hour. Remember the chocolate chip cookies we made here the other day? If you want, you can freeze these little doughball gems in your freezer, and then, at a moment’s notice, you can pop the little darlings into the oven (still frozen) at 375, and about 25 minutes later, you have ooey, gooey, chocolate chip cookies fit for a king and a huge glass of milk. And here’s another gem: you can make yourself one decadent, single cookie. Anytime you want. Seriously. Have the oven on for supper? How convenient. Hot, fresh, chocolate chip cookie for one. Bliss.
Now, suppose you want to make SUGAR cookies quickly? Surely, these dazzling prisms . . . the Holy Grail of the cookie world . . . surely . . . THESE cannot be made in a hurry?
Before you picture adorable Swiss nuns toiling over churning butter in a verdant meadow, creating the perfect ingredients for your cookies . . . realize that it really doesn’t have to take a lot of time.
But what am I waiting for. We’re wasting precious time.
What are we waiting for? Let’s do this!
To begin with, I seldom need all the cookies that one recipe of dough makes. I could try making half a recipe, but it’s kind of hard to “halve” an egg. So I inevitably make an entire recipe . . . and then I have lots of cookies left over. Sometimes I decorate these and take them to church or over to friends’ houses, but at some point, your friends are going to wonder why you are bringing them baby shower cookies (again). And they are senior citizens. Sometimes you just have too much. But you don’t want to waste! What to do, what to do!!!!
I’ll tell you. Freeze a few spares.
The key to getting cookies out in a hurry is to have some spare ones up and ready to go at a moment’s notice. I’ll show you what I mean.
Each time I bake, I make a few generic shapes out of the leftover dough. I freeze these “naked” cookies for later. (What??? The poor little dears are naked? No wonder they’re freezing!). We’re getting off topic. Back to business.
It’s best to freeze generic shapes, like circles and rectangles, because you can make them into anything. If you know you have an event coming up– like a baby shower, for example– feel free to make some of those shapes. But do this sparingly– because if you don’t end up using them, your grandparent neighbors will be wondering, again, if you’re trying to tell them something.
These simple shapes were in my freezer, already baked and ready for decorated glory (a great cookie recipe and more on baking cookies here
). I needed a quick dozen cookies for a baby shower, so I pulled them out, and in 10 minutes (about the time it took to mix my icing), they were ready to roll.
Another easy tip to make a batch of sugar cookies quickly is to use fewer colors. I generally try to stick to 2 or 3 colors and invert the designs. This is not only easier (fewer bags to mess with), but it also pulls your cookies together nicely in a color matching theme. See my tutorial about how to make royal icing and how to get it the right consistency here
Don’t feel like you have to outline in the same color as you choose to flood your cookies, either. Sometimes a little pop of color on the edge of a cookie really makes it pretty.
When I’m making cookies in a hurry, I am usually doing it while also doing something else (like making supper or folding laundry, for example). Wash your hands each time you handle the cookies! I’m a big hand washer.
If you’re trying to do other tasks at the same time as you are decorating, here is another quick tip: flood everything first. That’s right. If you flood your bases, then they will be able to dry while you fold and put away the laundry . . . or while you make supper and do the dishes . . . or while you become pope in the mythical “free time” you supposedly have.
Since these are quick cookies, don’t make the designs too difficult. Since these are baby shower cookies, I’m doing a little baby foot. Allow the green to dry before adding the little tootsies.
Adding the baby’s initial is another quick and cute way to pretty up quick cookies.
You can also write a few words like “love” or “sweet” on some of the cookies. How about “Baby?” Try to stay away from longer phrases like “It’s a Girl!” These phrases can tend to run together when you’re dealing with a small cookie. Adding dots in groups of 3 always looks cute, too.
You can even add a little heart to the corner to make it extra sweet.
And there you have it. A nice little plate of cookies in complementary colors with minimal effort, and really not too much work on your part. As long as you get these finished now, they can dry overnight (or under a fan in about an hour, if you’re really in a rush), and you’ll be able to proudly bear your plate of cookies, after all.
Photo: Jill Lang
You did it. And I’m just so proud of you 🙂
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