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Recipe: confetti cookies

Please tell me you are okay.

We are safe, but… I don’t feel okay.

So flowed texts and messages last Monday evening with friends and family checking on us, and for us checking on our people in Boulder after the mass shooting that afternoon. This, right on the heels of another mass shooting in Atlanta that included 6 Asian women in the death count. It’s been a lot to process as a Chinese-American woman living in Boulder County. Actually, it’s a lot to process if you are capable of empathy.

behind a snow bank on the side of a building in frisco, colorado

My fully vaccinated parents are starting to visit with their fully vaccinated friends in small numbers and I think it has really lifted their spirits. I know this because random urgent cooking question texts from my parents have begun popping up on my phone. In contrast, Jeremy and I continue to isolate, mostly because of the pandemic and partly because the absence of a social life is far less stressful for us. As many ski resorts and Nordic centers begin to wind down their seasons, we are hopeful more spring storms will deliver an extended backcountry season and boost the moisture our mountains desperately need.

glorious skate ski under the watchful eye of mount crested butte

the pups love a ski tour in fresh snow

powder day on the mountain

Guess who turned 6 years old this weekend? It’s hard to believe we’ve had Neva for nearly 6 years. The first three felt like an eternity, but the last three have flown by as Neva made enormous progress with her anxieties. Proper medication, training, compassion, and even Yuki (!) have all contributed to Neva living her best good girl life. We love her so and look forward to more adventures and butt rubs and special dinners and UPS/FedEx/school bus warnings and snuggles.

such a good and patient birthday girl

her favorites: beef, bacon, cheese, apple (the parsley, not so much)

what’s a birthday pawty without your little sister?

I’m pretty sure if it feels like spring around our mountains, the rest of you are immersed in the signs of the new season (unless you are in the non-tropical Southern Hemisphere). In addition to longer and warmer days, I relish the color explosion after our extended season of muted winter tones. Tiny new leaves catch the sunlight and glow like peridots suspended in the air. Flower blooms round out the rest of the rainbow. It’s festive, much like this confetti cookie.

I set about testing the recipe in December when there was a sprinkle shortage. I should have anticipated that the home-bound and pandemic-fatigued, plunging toward the darkest nights of the year, would reach for those tiny symbols of edible joy on the store shelves to get them through the holidays. A little tweaking and a month later, I was able to finalize our preferred version of the cookie and with a better selection of sprinkles.

almond extract, butter, flour, cream cheese, sugar, sprinkles, baking powder, baking soda, salt, egg

I admit, the sole reason I made these cookies was because I found the colorful sprinkles mesmerizing. I wasn’t expecting deliciousness, but they are that AND they are easy to make. Tasty, pretty, easy: three qualities that define a happy cookie, which is what we could all use about now. I doubled the amount of vanilla bean and almond extract for a more pronounced flavor, but you can dial that back if you prefer. And if the step of rubbing the vanilla bean seeds into the sugar is not within your time constraints, use vanilla extract.

rub the vanilla bean seeds into the sugar

whisk the dry ingredients together

add egg and extract(s) to the creamed butter, cream cheese, and sugar

Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until they are just combined. Have your baking sheets and bowl of sprinkles at the ready. Form a 1 1/2 tablespoon ball of dough and roll it in the sprinkles. If you live in a dry environment, I don’t recommend rolling all of the dough balls at once because the outer surface of the dough dries out and the sprinkles won’t stick. Sprinkles have a better adherence rate on a freshly formed dough surface. Even so, sprinkles will fall off and litter the baking sheet and your work surface as you prepare the cookies for the oven because… physics.

shape and coat the dough balls in sprinkles

arrange the cookies 2 inches apart and gently press them to 1/2-inch thickness

bake and let cool on the cookie sheet before removing

If you manage to source crunchy sprinkles (my favorite brand to date is from Hoosier Hill Farm), your cookies will benefit from the added crunchy texture to the firm exterior which balances nicely with the soft interior. Even if you use the soft sprinkles, they will be great. Stored in an airtight container, these cookies will keep for at least a week. I’ve shipped some and they survived the journey intact and performed their duty to spread joy.

it’s cookie time

Confetti Cookies
[print recipe]
slightly modified from Smitten Kitchen

3 cups (375g) all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp fine sea salt or table salt
1 1/4 cups (250g) granulated sugar*
1 vanilla bean pod or 2 tsps vanilla extract**
1 cup (8 oz.) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup (2 oz.) cream cheese, room temperature
1 large egg
1/2 tsp almond extract (optional)***
1 cup rainbow sprinkles, or more as needed

* Original recipe calls for 1 1/4 cups (250g) granulated sugar, but I prefer 1 cup (200g) and it works fine
** Original recipe calls for 1/2 vanilla bean pod or 2 tsps vanilla extract
*** Original recipe calls for 1/4 tsp almond extract

Preheat oven to 375Β°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a bowl. Set aside. If using a vanilla bean pod instead of vanilla extract, split the bean lengthwise with a knife and scrape the seeds from both halves of the pod into the sugar. Rub the seeds into the sugar. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter, cream cheese, and sugar together until fluffy. At this point, if you are using the vanilla extract instead of vanilla bean, then add that to the butter mixture. Add the egg and if using, the almond extract to the butter mixture. Beat until blended. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined. If the dough is too soft for handling, chill it in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.

Use a 1 1/2 tablespoon scoop (#40) to measure out the dough and shape it into a ball. Roll the dough ball in the sprinkles and place the cookies 2 inches apart on the cookie sheets. Gently press the cookies to 1/2-inch thickness with the base of a flat-bottomed glass or the palm of your hand. Bake 9-10 minutes (mine took 10 minutes), then allow the cookies to cool on the cookie sheets after they have been removed from the oven. Makes about 28 cookies (2 1/2-inch diameter). Store in an air-tight container after completely cooled, for up to a week.

more goodness from the use real butter archives

naturally colored homemade sprinkles almond lace cookies mallow cookies (db) raspberry cream cheese cookies

12 nibbles at “safe”

  1. Deb Bernhardt says:

    I’m glad you are OK. Take good care of yourself. Maybe make more cookies?


  2. Kristin says:

    So glad you’re ok. So glad my family in and around Boulder and my son’s friends are ok. So wish EVERYONE was ok. I’m so tired of my helpless and pathetic, “I just don’t underSTAND…” Enough. I got my first vaccine today, and my kids have both had their firsts. My husband has to wait because he just got his Hepatitis vax 1.5 weeks ago. I didn’t think we’d be vaccinated before fall, so I am thrilled. I was wondering what was up when I saw these cookies appear on Instagram today. I am excited that you’ve improved them, and will probably give them a try now. But I think I need to hunt for crunchy sprinkles, because I really don’t love the texture of our soft ones. Oh, and of course happy birthday to Neva. Seriously six??? I am trying to figure out how many years you have been bringing me joy, but I can’t. It has been many. Thanks Jen!

  3. E says:

    Sometimes I just really hate our society and want to move away. Posts like yours remind me of the gorgeous scenery and kind people. Oh, and cookies.

  4. Pey-Lih says:

    We’re doing just fine. I am still awaiting my vaccination or “jabs” they call it in the U.K., then I don’t have to be bound to this invisible rope around my neck. I am looking forward to the day when I can travel and go see my mom and brother.
    I am sorry you’re not feeling okay. The Bible does say that there is much happiness in giving than there is in receiving, so may your generous heart help you feel better soon. Hang in there!

  5. Mary-Karen Euler says:

    I’m happy for the timing of your beautiful and heartfelt post, Jen. Just when you think things can’t get any worse, they do. On a brighter note, I’m well past my 2nd shot as are some of my friends but am feeling, as you say, that the absence of a social life is less stressful so am really not sure about “re-entry” anytime soon. Meanwhile, just looking at those cookies is uplifting…though I really wouldn’t mind a nibble!

  6. denise says:

    Thank you for your words as I have been losing faith in humanity the past few years, and especially the past year. You have reminded me that there is a lot of good out there and even kinder people like yourself. I am so glad you and your loved ones are okay! Now to find these sprinkles so I can make some happy cookies!

  7. Jill Hyde says:

    How long will we continue to accept this, as life in American in 2021? We have lost our way as a society. I’m glad you are safe. This used to be my “go to” store. I recognized one of the victims and mourn for all of them. A family friend had her grown out of town son and d-i-l visiting, and they had just returned from Table Mesa KS when the shooter started. This is too close to home.
    I’m so disgusted with our society, when we have to post signs and wear pins that say what we should know. Be Kind, Hope, …. We’re failing.

    But on a lighter note… I LOVE EVERYTHING ABOUT THESE COOKIES! Happy Birthday Neva girl. You make your pack so happy. xoxo, Jill

  8. Gretchen says:

    do you make adjustments to the recipe when baking cookies at altitude? I live in Pagosa Springs and for biscuits, scones, bread and the like I use half the baking powder and/or yeast, but with cookies the results are variable. Cutting back on sugar seems to work best but still, sometimes the results vary. I want to make cookies that look like your cookies!
    Thanks and best,

  9. jenyu says:

    Gretchen – I typically do the same as you and reduce the leavening agents first. But this cookie behaved rather well for me at 8500 ft. elevation, so I imagine you should be fine with the recipe as is (my in-laws live in Pagosa Springs, so your elevation should be similar to mine). I find cream cheese or sour cream in baked goods like cookies and cakes generally tend to be more stable for me at altitude. Good luck!

  10. Debra Cole Kelner says:

    I live in Boulder. I got those same texts and messages. How to answer? Yes, I am bodily unharmed. Am I safe? Well… I don’t feel safe. Am I O.K.? Hell no!
    What do we have to do to make this stop? (I know the answer, as do you, but I don’t know how to make THAT happen! America without guns?!) And you, as an Asian woman have all that extra bigotry, racism and harrassment to process and worry about. I am deeply sorrowed that this is what this country looks like. I’m rather enjoying being anti-social myself. I typically vacillate between extroversion and introversion but the past year hasn’t nurtured my desire to spend time with people.

    Cookies look delish! May happen this weekend. I’d like more snow too! Every foot of fresh white stuff makes me fear summer just a bit less.
    I hope you and parents and those you care about continue to find joy where you can (cookies do a lot for my joy quotient). Thank you, as always for your post, sweet doggos, beautiful photos, and yummy recipes.

  11. E. Thai says:

    Like you, I’m Asian and live in TN, about 2 hrs north of Atlanta. It’s where I go to shop for Asian groceries. Although I
    haven’t experienced any hostilities towards me, I do try to be mindful at all times. This morning I wake up to another shooting in Indianapolis! What is happening to our beloved adopted country?

    Your cookies are so cheery and pretty! Have you tried dipping the dough in egg white before rolling them in the sprinkles? It might adhere better.

    Cheers and feel better!

  12. jenyu says:

    Deb – Thank you. I’m definitely baking cookies to share with others and I think it helps to brighten someone’s day. xo

    Kristin – I’m really glad your family/friends were safe, too. I honestly believe to see the changes we want, we MUST vote for those people who will represent our interests and do the right thing. So happy your people are getting their shots. Here’s to a more hopeful future. And yes, crunchy sprinkles make all the difference! I mix half and half (for color) and it’s enough to give a nice texture to the outside of the cookie.

    E – Same here xo

    MK – Stay safe, friend. I think a slow re-entry is okay if that is more your pace. That’s what we’re planning, anyway :) xo

    denise – I really believe we have to vote for the people who will respect and represent our desire for change, at every level of government, and not cave to the minority special interests who value profits over lives. I hope you made some happy cookies! :)

    Jill – It’s heartbreaking and infuriating.

    Debra – Oh, I think it’s important to find the people who will be kind and gentle with you as your emerge from isolation. I’m going to take it slow and choose my interactions with intention. I sincerely hope that you can find some peace and beauty as spring unfurls in lovely Boulder right now. Be safe and be well, dear. xo

    E. Thai – I have not tried the egg white trick, but that’s a neat idea! Thanks xo

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