You can skip the fancy cookie cutters for these delightful little deer. They’re made from buttery sugar cookie dough and dressed to impress guests, hostesses, or even a jolly old
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If you’ve ever been stuck in a big group trying to figure out where to go for dinner you know just how impossible it is to satisfy everyone at once. Decisions can be hard, especially when there are lots of different opinions (and desserts!) to consider, but I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t love a good sugar cookie.
They’re simple but full of buttery flavor, with just a hint of vanilla, and cut into fun shapes, everything from dinosaurs and daisies to snowflakes and stars.
The shapes even get more interesting if there are kiddos involved!
The cookies may be glistening with sparkly sprinkles or covered in intricate icing work, but they all seem to bring back memories of childhood parties and happy holidays.
These Reindeer Sugar Cookies couldn’t be more festive, and they’ll be the hit of the holiday cookie swap!
German settlers in Pennsylvania get credited with the first sugar cookie sometime in the mid 1700s, one they named the Nazareth Sugar Cookie after the city it was first created in.
By the 20th century, kiddos figured out just how much Santa liked these treats too, and sugar cookies became so popular pre-made cookie dough hit the grocery store shelves.
I have it on the best authority that Santa does indeed love finding sugar cookies sitting next to cold glasses of milk on Christmas Eve, and I suspect he’ll be particularly enamored with these adorable reindeer-inspired buttery babies.
The dough is flavorful but pretty straightforward as far as cookies go. Unsalted butter is always preferable when it’s such a prominent flavor, and you’ll really be able to taste the difference in these cookies. In addition to vanilla, I add a touch of almond extract. No, it doesn’t actually taste like almonds, but it has a wonderful aroma (similar to Amaretto) that’s warm, and sweet, and plays well with vanilla.
You don’t actually have to chill this dough, but it’ll be a little easier to work with if you can give it 30 minutes or so in the fridge before rolling it out. That’s just enough time to get your antlers on!
There are lots of different melting chocolates, but Wilton makes some really spectacular colors.
No need to pull out your gel dye! Although we’ll just be using black for this recipe, there’s really a color for just about anything you can think of.
The candy melts have a mild vanilla flavor that will decorate without distracting from your perfect sugar cookies.
To make the antlers, pipe a line of the melted black candy, then add a few smaller lines connecting off the sides. There’s no real set size for these, but my cookies are usually ~ 3” and I like my antlers about 1/3 the size of the cookie. Just be sure to make a few extra sets of antlers since mine have been known to break (or disappear, depending on who’s wandering around the kitchen).
While these harden, you can bake your cookies.
I like to roll out the dough somewhere between ¼” and ½” thick. Otherwise they’re way too hard to move to the cookie sheet. Make sure once they’re baked you move them to a cooling rack.
While overcooked sugar cookies make a great crumbly topping for ice cream, they’re not what we’re after here. Once they’re cool, you can spread the tops with chocolate frosting and get ready for face time!
The edible eyes go on first. Wilton makes several sizes of these, even some with long eye lashes that would be super cute on the doe cookies. Next you’ll attach red M&M noses and the antlers.
You can try mumbling “abracadabra” while you’re pulling these off the parchment hoping a little magic will keep them from breaking, but rest assured the cookies will still be eaten and taste just as good even if they only have one antler!
All that’s left is the bows, and they also come in lots of colors. I like to use red for the does and black for the bucks, but feel free to use whatever you like.
An air-tight container will keep these fresh on your counter for a couple of days, but I highly recommend disposing of them (by eating them, of course), just as quickly as you can!
Butter – In case you’re wondering, you can over-soften butter. If your room temp is on the warm side (or you use the microwave to make up for the fact you forgot to take it out of the fridge), you may have some melted stuff. This makes for greasy cookies! The best way to speed up the softening step is to cut your butter into smaller pieces.
Perfect timing – As I mentioned earlier, you don’t want to overbake these. To make sure you get an equal bake, though, I suggest rotating the pan(s) 180 degrees about half-way through the baking process.
- 1 cup unsalted butter softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 container prepared chocolate frosting
- 1 package large edible eyes
- 1 box M&M's red's picked out
- 1 package Wilton royal icing bow transfers
- 1 package Wilton black candy melts
Make the Antlers:
- Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
- Melt the black candy melt is a double boiler, then spoon into a disposable piping bag.
- Pipe out antlers, approximately 1 inch in length. You will need 28 antlers but make extra, in case of breakage.
- Allow to cool completely and firm.
Make the Cookies:
- Preheat oven to 325°F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment or silicone baking mats.
- In a small mixing bowl, whisk together flour and baking powder; set aside
- In a medium bowl, using a hand mixer, cream together butter and sugar until thoroughly combined. Stir in vanilla and almond extracts.
- Blend in dry ingredients, just until incorporate (don't overmix!)
- On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into a 1/4-1/2 thick rectangle. Using a 2 3/4-3 inch diameter circle cookie cutter, Cut 12 cookies, and place on the prepared baking sheet.
- Bake cookies 8-10 minutes, or until cookies are lightly golden brown. Cool completely on the baking rack.
- Spread a generous layer of chocolate frosting over each cookie.
- Place 2 large eyes and 1 red M&M to create the face.
- Carefully peel of antlers and position 2 on the top corners.
- For the Does, place a red bow above the eyes and between the antlers.
- For the Bucks, place a black bow below the nose.
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