These soft cut out sugar cookies with a hard set icing and loads of 100s & 1000s sprinkles will take you back to your childhood as they not only taste incredible but will also bring joy to those who eat them.
I dare you not to smile while eating something so colourful and fun.
These cookies are inspired by the Arnotts 100s & 1000s cookies. I used to love these as a kid. They were simple and sweet cookies which I could very easily put a dint in a packet in a single sitting. These cookies are very similar to those but with our cookie base being a little softer because that is surprising and provides the perfect texture.
They are every bit oh just one more though, which is why it is necessary that we make so many at once. Grab your favourite cookie cutter and let’s get started.
How to make Sugar Cookies.
Sugar cookies are one of those things that are really easy, but really time consuming. There is not a lot of active time, but there is a lot of waiting. For things to chill, to bake, to cool, to dry.
We start with a very basic biscuit dough flavoured with both almond and vanilla extracts to give it that unique sugar cookie taste. To make the dough, sugar and butter are beaten together, then we add in an egg, the flavouring, some flour and baking powder to ensure we get that softness.
Bring the dough together with your hands, lightly floured to make sure it doesn’t stick and roll out onto a floured surface. This dough can get sticky so just make sure you have the flour on hand to cover the surface and your rolling pin.
I like to seperate the dough into 2 to make it easier to roll. With a rolling pin, roll out the dough until it is about 3mm thick. Place into the fridge to chill for at least an hour. If you want, you can let it chill overnight.
When you are ready to bake, cut the shapes out of the cold dough. It is so important that the dough is cold as this will ensure the cookies bake evenly and do not spread in the oven. Wonky shapes will occur if the dough has not been chilled. At any time when the dough is not being used, make sure to put it back in the fridge so you are always working with that cold dough.
Now it will depend on how thick you roll out the cookies, and the size of the cookie cutter you are using, but my medium heart yielded 57 cookies from this recipe. Yes it’s a lot of cookies, but like I said at the start, once you start eating them you will be glad you have so many! Just keep gently rolling out the dough and cutting out your shapes until you have used all the dough up.
I have a pretty small oven, so I can only bake two small trays at a time. Know what works for your oven but don’t over crowd as you will end up with unevenly cooked cookies. Bake for around 8 minutes in batches until all dough is used up. Again this timing will depend on your oven, and the thickness and size of the cookies based on the cookie cutter you used. For my medium sized heart shape, 8 minutes was perfect for crispy edges and soft centres. Remember the the cookies will continue to firm up as they cool so you want to remove them as soon as the edges start to get a little brown.
The cookies need to be completely cool before icing, and I mean COMPLETELY. Any residual heat at all will mean that the icing will melt and it will become quite messy. For this reason, I usually bake one day, ice the next. Yes it means more time before I can have my cookies, but it also means that I know I am starting with a perfect base for piping.
Also, fair warning, the icing takes time so it’s quite nice to have a break between baking and icing.
So what about the Royal Icing?
Royal icing is quite special. It is sweet, shiny, and dries hard making it the best icing for cookies, particularly when wanting to pipe designs.
It is something that can be made from scratch, but I don’t technically do that, I use a shortcut. The shortcut is by using a packet royal icing mixture from the supermarket. Let me explain why.
Royal icing is made by mixing icing sugar and egg white powder (sometimes called meringue powder) together with water. Now I have never seen egg white powder for sale in the supermarket. As I understand, it is pretty easy to find in the US, however here in Australia it seemingly can only be bought at speciality cake shops.
I don’t know about you, but I am definitely not the kind of person to drive around in search of a special ingredient. I want it to be available at my local shop.
I did read a post online where someone mentioned you could use the Pavlova Magic mix, you know the one that comes in the weird egg shaped containers, however when I looked at the ingredients they contained a bunch of stuff including milk powder making it off limits for me so I have no idea if it does actually work.
This is the royal icing I buy, it is found in the baking isle of the supermarket and I have never had an issue with availability. It contains egg white powder and icing sugar and all you need to do is add water and beat into soft peaks. I packet yields just about the right amount to decorate all of these cookies.
If you can find the egg white powder and want to make the icing from scratch, this is a great recipe on how to do it.
Also, I should probably note that technically you can make royal icing with real egg whites but it is apparently a lot more difficult and then there is the whole raw egg factor. If not just for the convenience, I don’t think I could improve on quality using an alternative, so I would recommend you give the Queen Royal Icing a try.
Decorating the cookies.
This is the most fun and the most time consuming part of making these cookies. It took me about 2 hours in total to ice these cookies but it is also extremely satisfying.
There are two steps when frosting sugar cookies. The outline, and the filling in or what’s called ‘flooding’. You first pipe the stiff icing around the edges of the cookies forming an outline.
Once that has crusted and is firm, thin down the remaining icing so it is a smooth consistency and pipe in the center of the cookies. The icing will spread so be careful not to over fill. Pop any air bubbles with a toothpick.
These cookies are great because they don’t demand perfection, making them perfect for those who are not comfortable with piping royal icing. We just have a single colour cookie, then we sprinkle over the 100s & 1000s while trying to avoid the inevitable mess of little coloured balls bouncing around the kitchen tiles.
Simple. But very tasty.
The icing will be firm after a few hours, but it really takes 24 hours to set hard. Leave the cookies out overnight to dry. The cookies will remain soft, and in the morning you can stack and store them in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
I make these cookies very sparingly but when I do they are always received with the best reviews. They seem to disappear a lot quicker than the time it takes to make, but if you are wanting to impress with a standout cookie, these are 100% it.
And yes, I’ve eaten a couple in the time it’s taken me to right this post. I don’t know that it would be possible to not!
100s & 1000s Sugar Cookies
- 3/4 cup dairy-free spread*
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp almond extract
- 2 1/4 cups plain flour
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 330 gram packet of royal icing mixture**
- food colouring
- 100s & 1000s sprinkles
- Preheat oven to 180°C and line 2 baking sheets with baking paper.
- Make the cookies. Using a handheld or stand mixer with the paddle attachment fitted, cream dairy-free spread* and sugar in a large bowl. Add egg, vanilla and almond extracts and continue mixing on high for 2-3 mins until fully combined.
- Mix in sifted flour and baking powder slowly until the mixture just comes together. If the dough is too soft add a little more flour until it is a better consistency for rolling.
- Divide dough evenly into 2 parts and roll each out onto baking paper. Place into fridge for at least 1 hour to chill. This step ensures the cookies hold their shape in the oven.
- Remove the dough from the fridge and use a cookie cutter to make shapes, rolling out again until all the dough is used. Anytime you are not actively using the cookies dough, such as while waiting for a batch to cook, cover dough with baking paper and place back in the fridge. You want to always be working with cold dough.
- Place cut out shapes onto the baking sheet and bake for 8 minutes or until cookies start to turn a light golden colour around the edges. They may still be a bit soft but will firm up as they cool. Let cool completely on a wire rack before icing.
- Make the icing. Using an electric mixer, prepare icing according to packet instructions ensuring you do not add too much water. I added 1 ½ drops of food colouring to get the soft pink colour. Once stiff peaks have formed, the icing is ready to be piped onto the cookies. This icing dries hard, so make sure to cover any left over icing with a wet paper towel.
- Decorate the cookies. Pipe an outline around the edges of the cookies. Once complete let dry for 30-60 minutes until the outlines have formed a crust. Squeeze remaining icing back into the bowl and add about 2 tablespoons more water to thin out the mixture. Place icing back into the piping bag and fill in the outlines of the cookies. Once the area is covered, sprinkle over 100s & 1000s and set aside on a wire rack to dry.
- Icing will crust after a couple of hours but needs to be left overnight to harden completely. The cookies themselves will remain soft and in the morning they will be fine to stack and store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.