Cookies are a classic treat that never seems to go out of style. There’s just something so nostalgic and comforting about a fresh-baked cookie. While chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin varieties may be familiar favorites, there are so many more creative ways to top your cookies and take them to the next level.
Whether you’re a beginner baker or cookie connoisseur, you’re sure to find inspiration in these 5 great recipes for interesting cookie toppings. From sweet to savory, fruity to salty, these creative combinations will upgrade your cookie game and impress any crowd.
So preheat that oven and get ready to explore the delicious possibilities that lie beyond the basic chocolate chip. Your new go-to cookie recipe awaits!
1. Royal Icing
Royal icing is a classic cookie decorating essential that every baker should know how to make. While you can always opt for store-bought, homemade royal icing takes your cookies to the next level. This versatile white icing can be piped into delicate patterns, used to adhere edible decorations, or simply spread or drizzled over cookies for a light, sweet icing texture.
Royal icing comes together by whipping egg whites or meringue powder with lots of confectioners’ sugar to form a thick, pipeable consistency. Learning how to make royal icing yourself allows you to fully customize the flavor and consistency to your liking. A touch of cream of tartar helps stabilize the icing, while extracts like vanilla, almond, and lemon add flavorful nuance.
Though simple in ingredients, properly proportioning each element and whisking to just the right airy texture takes a bit of practice. Don’t be discouraged if your first batch isn’t perfect! You’ll soon get the hang of making this icing that dries with a smooth, bright white finish.
What better way to decorate cookies than with everyone’s favorite colorful candy: sprinkles! These small granulated sugar decorations add pops of color, crunch, and fun, flashy style. While classic rainbow sprinkles are a beloved go-to, don’t be afraid to venture into more unique sprinkle territory.
Try coating peanut butter cookies in chocolate sprinkles for the perfect mixture of sweet and salty. Adorn snickerdoodles with cinnamon sugar sprinkles that complement the warming spice in the dough.
To make your own homemade sprinkles, start by mixing powdered sugar with milk and vanilla extract. Stir the ingredients until you achieve a thick, pourable glaze. If the glaze is too thick, add more milk gradually to reach the desired consistency. Next, divide the glaze into separate bowls for each color of sprinkles you’d like to create.
Add food coloring to each bowl and mix thoroughly to achieve the desired colors. With your colored glazes ready, prepare a baking tray with parchment paper. Fill piping bags or plastic squeeze bottles with the glaze and create thin, straight lines or any sprinkle shape you prefer on the parchment paper. Allow to dry for several hours or overnight until they become firm to the touch. Store your homemade sprinkles in an airtight container until you’re ready to use them for decorating your cookies.
3. Cookie Dough
For the ultimate cookie creation, turn to one of the most crave-worthy ingredients of all: raw cookie dough. Scoops of unbaked cookie dough atop a freshly frosted cookie make for next-level irresistibility. The combinations are endless, whether pairing chocolate chip cookies with peanut butter cookie dough or sugar cookies with a vanilla dough topping.
Chill the dough thoroughly before scooping it onto frosted cookies to help hold its shape. Bake the finished cookies just until the dough on top is slightly set but still retains that signature soft, doughy texture.
In addition to plopping scoops atop cookies, you can roll balls of dough in chopped nuts or sprinkles for even more texture and flavor in each bite. However you choose to bake it up, topping your cookies with cookie dough is sure to impress those with even the biggest sweet tooth.
4. Jam or Preserves
If you’re looking for an easy way to elevate basic cookie recipes, reaching for a jar of jam or fruit preserves can do just the trick. A dollop of your favorite jam delivers natural sweetness and fresh fruity flavor to cookies in seconds. Try apricot, raspberry, strawberry, or cherry varieties for a burst of summery taste.
To make delicious homemade jam, begin by selecting your favorite fruit or berry, such as strawberries, raspberries, or peaches. Wash and prepare the fruit by removing any stems or pits, then chop it into small pieces. In a large saucepan, combine the chopped fruit with sugar. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice to enhance the flavor. Cook the mixture over medium heat, stirring regularly, until the fruit softens and the sugar completely dissolves.
As the mixture thickens, you can use a masher or immersion blender to break down larger fruit pieces. Continue to cook until the jam reaches your desired consistency. Pour the hot jam into sterilized jars and seal them with lids immediately. Allow the jars to cool at room temperature, and you’ll have a flavorful homemade jam to enjoy on toast, in desserts, or as a tasty topping for a variety of dishes.
5. Candied Nuts
For a topping that adds crunch and flavor intensity, look no further than candied nuts. These nuts roasted in a sweet glaze lend nutty richness along with a crisp candy coating. The candied nut possibilities are nearly endless, from pecans to almonds, peanuts to walnuts, and beyond.
To make delicious candied nuts, start with your choice of nuts, such as almonds, pecans, or walnuts. In a large skillet, nuts, granulated sugar, a pinch of salt, and a dash of water over medium-high heat. Stir the mixture continuously as the sugar begins to melt and caramelize. Keep a close eye on it to prevent burning, and within a few minutes, the sugar will coat the nuts in a rich caramelized glaze.
Once the nuts are evenly coated and the sugar has fully melted, quickly transfer them to a sheet of parchment paper, separating them to prevent clumps. Allow the candied nuts to cool and harden for about 15-20 minutes. You can customize the flavor by adding a touch of cinnamon, vanilla extract, or a pinch of cayenne pepper for a spicy twist.
A great cookie design all comes down to the topping. Whether you’re baking for a special occasion or just want to revive a traditional recipe, these 5 creative topping ideas will take your cookies up a notch. With endless combinations of colors, textures, and flavors to play with, the options are unlimited for whipping up showstopping cookie creations. So grab your preferred baking supplies and let your imagination run wild as you dream up the most interesting toppings.