We’ve been packing and unpacking a lot over the last week or two, and so life has been somewhat crazy (and exhausting) for Julian, Napoleon and I. Only one of us is complaining, and it’s not Julian or I. This is the first post I’ve shot at the new place and I thought what better way to celebrate moving out of a tiny apartment and into a house than by making cookies. It seemed like the right thing to do. It seemed like something Ina Garten would do. These are cookies on top of cookies though, with sprinkles thrown into the mix, and so life really doesn’t get any better than this moment right here. I’m currently writing this post in my new home office, making a promise to myself to actually use this space to work. In the old place I ended up working on the couch instead of on my desk and while I enjoyed working and watching TV at the same time, I felt like it wasn’t always the most productive thing to do. Everything seemed to take twice as long to complete. Now that I have a dedicated space to work, however, I think I owe it to myself to actually use it. So let’s see how long I can keep this up. Back to these circus animal sugar cookies though. I got this idea from one of those video ads that play on Facebook out of nowhere. The video was promoting Cheeto flavored cookies from a bakery in Santa Monica, California. You read that right, savory cheeto flavored cookies. I’m not too sure about that. I was intrigued enough to continue watching the video I guess, which was a good thing because at the end they showed all the different cookies this bakery makes and one of them was a circus animal cookie. Being that frosted circus animal cookies are one of my guilty pleasures, I figured I needed to recreate them at home. I subsequently ate them all. That’s how I fell down this cookie on cookie inception rabbit hole and I’m not looking back.
This is a pretty basic sugar cookie dough recipe. Although we’re not going to be rolling out the dough and cutting the cookies out because who has that kind of time? Instead, we’re just going to scoop out the dough onto baking sheets and bake them like that. The first thing you want to do is cream together the butter, shortening and sugar until light and fluffy. Then stir in the egg and vanilla extract.
**Tip: Some of you might be put off by the addition of shortening, but I promise you it has a purpose in this recipe. The shortening ensures that these cookies stay as soft as possible after they’ve baked. If you are completely adverse to it, feel free to just use all butter instead! Keep in mind that the texture of the cookie will be crispier instead of soft and chewy.**
In a small bowl, sift or whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add it to the creamed butter mixture and stir until just combined. You want to make sure you don’t over-mix the dough at this point because, again, soft and chewy cookies are our end goal.
Stir in about 1/3 cup of multi-colored sprinkles, adding more or less as you see fit. You might want a ton of sprinkles in your cookies, or you might want less. Since frosted animal circus cookies are studded with sprinkles, I think it’s crucial to add them to your sugar cookie dough as well. It’ll tie our cookie on cookie inception together.
Using a small cookie scoop, portion out the dough into equal sized balls and then roll around between your palms to smooth them out. Place on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
**Note: These cookies spread out while they bake so be sure to leave about 2 to 3 inches of space between each ball to ensure they each have room to move around while baking.**
Bake the cookies in a preheated 350 degree F oven until lightly golden brown around the edges and the center of the cookies have set (i.e. don’t look raw anymore), about 10 to 12 minutes. Make sure to rotate the pans top to bottom and front to back, halfway through baking to ensure even cooking.
Remove from the oven and immediately place a frosted circus animal cookie in the center of each cookie, pressing down slightly to ensure that they stick.
**Tip: You need to do this right away after baking because the heat from the sugar cookies will slightly melt the frosted cookies in place, ensuring that they down move once cooled.**
Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheets for about 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Please note that the frosted part of the animal cookies will soften and melt a bit but once the cookies have cooled the frosting will firm up once again.
Any leftover cookies can be stored in an airtight container or large zip-top bag at room temperature for up to 3 days. Although when have we ever known a cookie to last more than three days anywhere?
If you want to store them for longer than 3 days, you can freeze the baked and cooled off cookies in a freezer safe bag or container and keep them in there for several months and just have them ready for whenever you’re in need of something sweet. Thaw overnight in the fridge or for a few hours at room temperature and you’ll be good to go. Future you will thank past you forever and ever.
When I was a kid (and truthfully now) all I ever wanted to eat were these frosted animal cookies. Now it’s like a dream come true because I can have sugar cookies topped with circus animal cookies and it’s like all my prayers have been answered and all my wishes have been fulfilled. If you want to get in on this cookie inception too, all you have to do is grab the recipe below and make them for yourself. You won’t regret it. As a bonus, you won’t use up all the frosted animal circus cookies for this recipe, so that means you’ll have some in your pantry for midnight snacks. It’s the gift that just keeps on giving.
- 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
- ½ cup vegetable shortening
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ⅓ cup multi-colored sprinkles
- 24 frosted circus animal cookies
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, sift or whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter, shortening and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add in the egg and vanilla and stir until well combined. Stir in the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined. Be careful not to over-mix the dough at this stage. Stir in the sprinkles.
- Using a small ice cream scoop (about 1½ tablespoon size) portion out the dough into balls and roll between your hands, placing them on the prepared baking sheets. Make sure to leave about 2 to 3 inches of space in between each to allow the cookies to spread while baking. Bake until lightly golden brown around the edges, and the center of the cookies have set, about 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and immediately place one frosted circus animal cookie on the center of each cookie, pressing down slightly. Allow the cookies to cool for about 5 minutes on the baking sheets, before transferring to wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining dough. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Enjoy!