Beautiful Cookies for the Artistically Inept (Brown Sugar Molded Cookies)

Written by Lynn Craig of Cookie Baker Lynn.
This is undeniably the season for making cookies. Cookie swaps, cookie plates for the neighbors, gifts of cookies for teachers, and nostalgia all demand that we spend some time in the kitchen. Even people who rarely bake the rest of the year will dust off their old, faithful cookie book and bake up a batch or two of the family favorites.

Because I bake cookies all the time, I like to create something different, really beautiful and special for gifting. Unfortunately I have the decorating skills of a four-year-old on a sugar high. Lots of enthusiasm, not so much art.

I don’t have the patience or steady hands to intricately frost a cookie, let alone a dozen cookies! Fortunately there is a way to make gorgeous cookies for the artistically handicapped, like myself, that doesn’t take days and days of work.

Cookies molds enable the artistically challenged

You can take advantage of the artistic skills of someone else by using cookie molds. Molds are available in clay, ceramic, wood, and acrylic, and can be found in just about any pattern you can dream of. Once you bake your cookies, they are works of art as is, but you can also hand-paint them with food coloring, or guild them with edible gold luster dust, if you need them to  be extra fancy.

Whether you’re baking molded butter cookies, springerle, shortbread, or speculaas, using a mold will help you to make memorable, beautiful cookies, with almost no extra effort. And when you’re done baking with your mold, you can use it to make paper ornaments, beeswax ornaments, or just hang it in your kitchen to admire year round.

Tips to Working with a Cookie Mold

Here are just a few things to keep in mind when you’re using a cookie mold:

  • Most important is mold preparation. By greasing and lightly dusting with flour or cornstarch, your mold will release the cookies easily. It’s important to dust the mold before shaping each cookie.
  • Keep the dough cold. Take out only what you need for one cookie at a time. Warm dough is stickier and doesn’t hold its shape as well.
  • And lastly, if the cookie design seems to be losing its crisp definition, take a look at the mold. If the small carved details are filling up with flour or dough, the design won’t show up as well. Clean it out with a toothpick, then redust with flour before using it again.
  • Cleaning the mold is a simple matter. Run it under warm water and scrub gently with an old toothbrush. Allow to air dry.

Recipe: Brown Sugar Molded Cookies

  • 1 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 3 Tbsp light or dark corn syrup
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, slightly softened
  • 2-2/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, approximately
  • Additional flour or cornstarch for dusting the mold

1- In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar, corn syrup, salt, egg, and vanilla. Mix them together till blended and then let the mixture stand for 5 minutes to allow time for any lumps of brown sugar to dissolve.

2- Add butter and mix gently until incorporated and smooth. If the mixture appears curdled at this point, don’t be alarmed. It will come together when the dry ingredients are added.

3- Stir in 2-2/3 cups flour. If the mixture seems too soft to handle, work in an additional 1 to 2 Tbsp flour.

4- Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 2-1/2 hours, or up to 48 hours.

5- Preheat the oven to 350°F with a rack in the upper third of the oven. Spray several baking sheets with cooking spray.

6- To prepare the mold, very lightly brush vegetable oil over all the inside surfaces using a pastry or basting brush, being sure to reach into all the crevices and indentations. Lightly sieve flour or cornstarch over the mold, tipping it to ensure even coverage. Turn the mold upside down and tap lightly against a surface to remove all excess flour or cornstarch.

Note: The mold only needs to be oiled once, but the flouring needs to be repeated each time a cookie is formed.

7- Break off a piece of dough large enough to fill the mold, leaving the rest of the dough in the refrigerator. On a clean counter, roll the dough briefly to approximately the size of the mold. Press the dough into the prepared mold.

You want to be sure the dough is pressed into the details of the mold, and no air pockets remain. Use a rolling pin to roll over the back of the mold, smoothing and evening the dough. Remove any dough that extends out over the edges.

8- Rap the mold on an edge to unmold the cookie, catching the dough as it peels out with your hand. If the dough sticks, carefully loosen it with the point of a small knife. Lay the cookie on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat the process, dusting the mold before each use, until your baking sheet is full, with the cookies spaced about 2-1/2 inches apart.

9- Bake the cookies for 10 to 14 minutes, or until cookies begin to brown around the edges. Baking time will depend on the size and thickness of the mold used. While the first batch is baking, repeat the process with the remaining dough.

10- Remove the finished cookies from the oven and let them stand on the baking sheets for several minutes. Slide a narrow spatula underneath the cookie to loosen it from the baking sheet and use a wide spatula to transfer them to wire racks to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining cookies.

Store cookies in an airtight container for up to a week or freeze for longer storage.

Makes about 6 very large (6-to-8-inch) molded cookies.

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Do you give or receive cookies over the holidays? What is a favorite type?

About Lynn

Lynn Craig is a mother of four (two out of the nest, two to go) who homeschools, bakes obsessively, quilts sporadically, and occasionally finds time to clean the house. She and her husband live in Bellevue, Washington where she chronicles her kitchen triumphs and disasters on her blog Cookie Baker Lynn.

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Comments

  1. They’re really gorgeous! What a fun way to elevate a simple cookie.

  2. That is so awesome! I have never seen that before, so THANK YOU! I love learning new things to make food better!
    Jackie @ Crest Cottage’s last post: Pizza!

  3. Beautiful cookies!

  4. Those are beautiful!
    Rachel’s last post: Easy Fudge

  5. So very pretty!
    Jennifer Jo’s last post: In stages

  6. Very cool mold! Those are so pretty!

  7. these are so pretty!! I have never used a cookie mold before, but i will have to give it a try!!
    Cookbook Queen’s last post: Cookies with Royal Icing

  8. Love your line about how artistic you are! I feel the same.
    We make cookies year round, but at Christmas we make to give away. This year our girls decided to go caroling and we’ll give out treats to the neighbours.
    Cheryl Arkison’s last post: Kingsland Farmers Market Opens

  9. How very lovely!!
    Wenderly’s last post: Brown Paper Packages

  10. Ha, I totally have a gingerbread cookie mold…I just never knew what it was! (It has a hole in the top with a ribbon through, so I thought maybe it was some kind of freakishly heavy/ugly ornament!) :)
    Jessicah’s last post: Photo

  11. Those cookies are absolutely stunning! I remember my mom had cookie molds when I was a kid. I vaguely remember making a whole nativity set out of molded cookies. I will have to ask if she still has them!

  12. These are lovely! Is there a source you recommend to get cookie molds?
    Alicia’s last post: 25 Ways to green up your holidays

  13. These are so gorgeous… and such fantastic tips!!! I def. have to try this!
    Amanda’s last post: Red Velvet Fudge

  14. Beautiful! I love the old classic feel of these cookies. Great tips for working with them as well.

  15. If they taste half as good as they look I’m hooked. Thanks for the great recipe.

    Winston Rolbacher

  16. Jen @ Frugal Mommy Tips says:

    Beautiful cookies! Those would be great for Valentine’s Day.

    We use cookie stamps to make easy decorated cookies, but have never tried the molds before. I always thought they would stick. I am going to be on the lookout for a mold to try.

    With the cookie stamps, we use sugar instead of flour to keep it from sticking, because it melts into the baked cookies. Have you ever tried using sugar on the molds instead of flour?
    Jen @ Frugal Mommy Tips’s last post: Frugal Gift Tags and Other Uses for Last Years Christmas Cards

  17. Thank you so much! I have two gorgeous cookie molds I bought a few years ago, but I’d never found a good tutorial on how to use them. Your tips (and recipe) have inspired me to actually USE them! :)

  18. These are absolutely beautiful…and look delicious too!

  19. Wow! those are gorgeous! I love the intricate detail. Though I have molds, I don’t think I’ve ever been successful making them look so perfect.
    cakebrain’s last post: FESTIVE CHRISTMAS MACARONS

  20. lovely! thanks for the great tips on using the molds.
    Dina’s last post: Citron Cookies

  21. These sounds like a regular butter cookies, but with brown sugar. and i am infatuated with brown sugar!

  22. Melanie Schoenhut says:

    These are really nice cookies. Stunningly looks good and is perfect this valentine. I don’t know if I can make this perfectly even with a cookie mold.

  23. They will look so nice on my next christmas tree… Good job
    Paolo’s last post: La recette du brownie simple et facile a realiser

  24. Great post. Over the past few years I have gotten back to baking, mostly breads, but molded cookies are on my mind from time to time. All of the advisiories make good sense here – Thanks!
    Libby’s last post: Best Baking Links This Week 11/27/2011

  25. Penny Wolf says:

    These look lovely but how do they taste? I have tried molded cookies before
    but wasn’t thrilled with the flavor or texture. I have 12 molds that I would dearly love to use if I could find a flavorful recipe.My molds are from
    Longaberger, Hartstone, Brown Bag.

    • They actually tasted quite nice. Unlike many decorative baked items, these all got eaten. The flavor is subtle, but good; it goes well with a cup of tea or coffee. The texture is a surprise, too. They aren’t dry and nasty. Give them a try! You can always modify the recipe with spices to make it suit your palate.
      Lynn’s last post: Eureka!

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