I love decorating cookies for the holidays – and that includes all holidays – but I don’t decorate them on a daily basis. The unicorn food trend has gotten me thinking about color, though, and I couldn’t help jumping on the bandwagon with these easy to make Unicorn Sugar Cookies. You will need a unicorn-shaped cookie cutter and some paste/gel food colorings, as well as some standard cookie ingredients and a little bit of spare time.
This is one of my favorite cut out cookie recipes. The dough is easy to make and does not need to be chilled before rolling it out because it is not overly sticky. That said, you should flour your work surface well before turning the dough out, as it can stick a bit at first. The dough can handle a good amount of extra flour, so use enough to ensure it doesn’t stick, as it will not impact the finished cookies. The buttery dough uses both vanilla and almond extracts, a combination I use in a lot of vanilla recipes and “white cakes”. If you prefer to use vanilla alone, feel free to omit the almond extract completely, or substitute it for additional vanilla extract. Vanilla bean paste can be used in the cookie dough, if desired.
Once the dough is prepared and rolled out, it’s time to cut out your unicorns. Again, make sure your dough isn’t sticking to your work surface before you start to cut, so the cookies get a clean release as you cut them out. The dough will not spread much during baking, but it is still a good idea to allow a few inches between cookies just to be on the safe side. Look for the edges of the cookies to turn golden brown. If you make your cookies thicker than I did, they might need a few additional minutes in the oven.
The cookies are slightly crisp and sturdy enough to hold their shape well during baking and decorating. They aren’t too sweet – which means that they won’t give you a sugar rush even after all that icing is in place – and they have a nice vanilla flavor They’ll remain fresh tasting when stored in an airtight container for several days after baking. That said, the glaze will need to dry completely before the cookies are stored and that can take up to 12 hours. Don’t put the cookies away while the the glaze is still wet, or it may run.
The glaze is where things get fun. I used a simple mixture of confectioners’ sugar and milk, flavored with vanilla and dyed with a lot of food coloring. You want the colors to be rich, so use extra. I used so much that my tongue was still blue the next day – but I also sampled a lot of the glaze as I worked, so perhaps that isn’t so surprising! I prefer to pipe an outline onto my cookie, then flood it with a piping bag that contains a mixture of purple, pink and blue colors. Alternatively, you can combine all three colors in one bowl and carefully pour it over the cookie to make a glaze that covers both the top and sides.
No matter how you do it, you should have fun with it. These are colorful cookies that are meant to be eaten, not just instagrammed, and they taste even more delicious than they look.
Classic Cut-Out Sugar Cookie Dough
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 large egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
1 tsp salt
2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg, vanilla extract and almond extract.
With the mixer on low speed, mix in the salt and gradually blend in the flour until it is completely incorporated and the dough comes together into a smooth ball.
Divide dough in half and gently knead if dough is not completely smooth.
Place half of the dough on a well-floured work surface and roll out to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut out desired shapes with large (2 1/2 – 3-inch) cookie cutters and transfer cookies to prepared baking sheet. Gather and reroll cookie dough scraps. Repeat with second half of the cookie dough.
Chill cut out cookies on the baking sheet for 10 minutes before baking.
Bake for 14-18 minutes, depending on the size of the cookie, until cookies are set and very lightly browned around the edges.
Allow cookies to cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Makes about 3 dozen large cookies.
4 cups confectioners’ sugar
4-5 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
purple, blue and pink food coloring
Combine sugar, 4 tbsp milk and vanilla extract in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Add in additional milk until the glaze is smooth and not too thick. If you plan to try a pour-over glaze, add a little extra milk to help it flow.
Divide the icing into three bowls (four, if you want white to be a color in your design). Add purple, blue and pink food colorings each to one bowl and stir until the colors are vibrant.
Option 1: Place a little pink or purple glaze in a piping bag (or a ziploc bag) and cut a very small opening. Pipe an outline onto a cookie. In another piping bag, use a palate knife to combine a dollop of blue, pink and purple icings. Cut a slightly larger opening and pipe the mixture in to the cookie’s outline to fill. A toothpick can be used to fill in any gaps.
Option 2: (Note that glaze should be on the thin side for this option) Combine all three colors carefully in a large bowl and swirl very slightly with a knife. Pour over the cookies, allowing the glaze to cover the top and drip down the sides.
Allow cookies to dry for up to 12 hours, until icing is set, before storing cookies in an airtight container.