Sprinkles are adorable.
I’m not gonna lie. They’re cute as hell, but they’re totally not my thing.
You see, I’m a drop cookie fan. They’re easy, unfussy and if we’re talking about baking, those are two words I can get behind. Anyone who knows me knows I don’t like to decorate. I try and keep it simple, but I thought maybe, just maybe…I’d get a bit crazy with this one. And when I write ‘crazy’ I mean sprinkles galore! My goal was to make sugar cookies: simple, sweet and delectable. I kicked it up a bit with the sprinkles. As you can see from the first pic those things got away from me.
I read somewhere that bakers use honey or corn syrup to get the sprinkles to adhere to the cookie. I chose honey. That’s where it all went wrong. Honey is fantastic in my tea but most certainly not for decorating purposes. It was a nightmare. One I would never subject myself to again. In the future, I will use a simple icing made of powdered sugar and water. I’ve worked with that before and it’s a bit more manageable.
The upside of my minor dilemma is this is the best sugar cookie I’ve ever tasted. It comes together easily and keeps its shape, if rolled and chilled. It has the perfect amount of sweetness and is lovely with a cup of tea. Honestly, I prefer them unadorned…naked, if you will. It’s fun to dress things up but sometimes plain is just as adorable.
Sugar Cookies Photo Notes
I now have a lot more respect for Jackson Pollock. This was supposed to be a quick shoot, but minutes turned into hours when we introduced chaos into the mix.
Mondo and I had high hopes for this shoot. With the bright colors and cool design, we thought these sugar cookies would look amazing on a pink or yellow surface.
Unfortunately, these looked awful on pink and yellow. In fact, the variety of colors clashed with everything. With my technicolor dreams quickly fading, I decided to move on to a neutral white acrylic.
Everything went well with the first setup, but the second shot with the sprinkles was a mess. As Mondo was setting up, I told her to leave the half empty cup on the table and took a quick test shot. The shot looked great, but I wanted a better composition and asked her to rearrange the sprinkles. This is when things took a turn for the worse.
No matter what Mondo did, the rearrangement never looked as good as the test shot. This normally wouldn’t be a problem, but trying to get a bunch of chaotic sprinkles into an organized design is friendship ending nightmare. After an hour or so of Mondo giving me the stinkeye, we finally got the shot with our friendship intact.
This one was pretty simple. For the main light, I used a large light panel placed 45 degrees behind the sugar cookies to create texture and shape. The shadows were filled in with a white bounce card. To create a bit more specularity, I also added light from a silver umbrella for on-axis fill. Here is a lighting diagram with all the details:
Camera: Nikon D90
Lens: Tamron 17-50mm 2.8
Strobes: White Lightning x1600
Focal Length: 48mm
Sugar Cookies Recipe
Recipe slightly adapted from CakeWalk
- ½ c + 6 T unsalted butter, room temperature, 200g
- 3 c + 3 T all purpose flour, 400g
- 1 c superfine sugar, 200g (place regular sugar in food processor for about 1 min)
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 1 t vanilla extract or 1 vanilla bean
- Cream together the butter, sugar and any flavorings you’re using. Beat until creamy. Don’t over mix.
- Beat in the egg until well combined, make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Add flour and mix on low until a non sticky dough forms.
- Knead into a ball and divide into 2 or 3 pieces.
- Roll out each portion between parchment paper to a thickness of ⅓ inch. (I used seran wrap)
- Refrigerate dough for 1 hr or place in the freezer for about 30 minutes.
- Once chilled, peel off parchment and cut out shapes with preferred cookie cutters.
- Preheat oven to 350°F
- Arrange cookies on parchment lined baking sheets and freeze for 5 minutes. (It’s very important you chill them again otherwise they’ll spread while baking.)
- Re-roll scraps and repeat process.
- Bake until golden around the edges. Rotate sheets halfway through for even baking.
- Cool completely before decorating.