Cute sheep sugar cookies are extra sweet and so easy to decorate. Nonpareils give them a ‘wooly’ appearance and add sugary crunch.
They say that inspiration has to find you working, and that’s how these cookies came about. I was asked to make an array of decorated dog breed cookies for a food styling gig last November, and during that endeavor I found that a simple sprinkle of nonpareils over royal icing made a fluffy, almost curly-looking dog coat. I bookmarked that idea in my brain for a different kind of cookie, and here they are. Cute, wooly sheep cookies for spring!
I’ve been longing for spring this week because we’ve had mostly dark, damp, and slushy days. These cookies cheered me right up, and made me look forward to sunnier times. I noticed that Easter comes early this year, and I think these would look extra cute in an Easter basket.
If you’re a cookie decorating novice, then these easy cookies are a good place to start. Flood consistency royal icing is fairly easy to make and you’ll need three colors: grey, black, and white. All of the sheep have grey faces and legs. You’ll pipe the faces first, and while the icing is still wet, add a single black sugar pearl to each face to create an eye.
The faces and legs need to dry before adding their wooly coats. It will take at least and hour for the icing to form a crust, and it’s best to wait a couple of hours until it is completely set.
When the grey icing is set, add the white royal icing to the centers of half of the cookies. I like to use a scribe to push the icing into place (see the video) but a toothpick also makes a good scribe tool.
Immediately and liberally pour on the sprinkles. (Whee! This is the fun part!) The wet frosting does a good job of catching them all, and the dry areas (face, legs) repel the sprinkles. Honestly it’s some of the easiest cookie decorating you can do!
I think the black sheep were my favorite. The other half of the cookies were frosted black and sprinkled with with black nonpareils. When all of the cookies were dry, I packaged one of each color sheep in cellophane bags and tied them with bright grass green ribbon. So very cute!
The simplicity of the decoration means that the task goes rather quickly. If you ever needed to crank out a whole bunch of these, then you could do so without much trouble.
I’m planning another batch closer to Easter, but they’d be wonderful for baby showers, too. If you’re like me and still keeping celebrations small, they are sturdy enough to mail as edible favors for birth announcements, or just a fun springtime greeting.
Hurry up spring!
Fluffy Sheep Sugar Cookies
- Sheep sugar cookie cutter
- 1 cup unsalted butter softened
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 pinch salt
Royal Icing and Decors
- 4 cups confectioners' sugar
- 3 tablespoons meringue powder
- 1/2 cup warm water plus more for thinning
- 1 teaspoon lemon extract
- 1-2 teaspoons black gel food color
- 36 black sugar pearls
- 6 oz white nonpareils
- 6 oz black nonpareils
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter and sugar together until just incorporated. Do not over-mix at this stage, or the cookies may spread while baking. Add the egg and vanilla extract. Mix again on low speed, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl intermittently as needed.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Add to the butter and egg mixture. Mix on lows peed until a dough is formed and there are no longer any streaks of butter in the mixing bowl. The dough will often clump around the paddle attachment while being mixed. This is normal and a good sign that your dough is the right consistency. If your mixture does not come together and is crumbly, add ice cold water 1 tbsp. at a time until the dough clumps.
- Roll the dough flat between sheets of parchment paper and chill until ready for use, at least 30minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Use a 4-inch lamb or sheep motif cookie cutter to stamp shapes from the dough and transfer them to the prepared pans. Chill the shapes in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. Bake cookies for 12-15 minutes, or until the cookies are lightly brown on the edges. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. Re-roll scraps and repeat process.
Royal Icing and Decors
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, stir the confectioners’ sugar and meringue powder on low speed until combined. Add the water and beat on medium-high speed until thickened. Mix in the flavoring. Scrape down the bowl and beat again. Divide the frosting into three bowls and cover them with damp paper towels. Tint one bowl with a tiny drop of black gel food color and mix until a medium grey color is achieved. Stir a larger amount of black into another bowl and mix until deep black color is achieved. Leave one bowl untinted. Mix in drops of water to each bowl and stir well, repeating this process until the icing thins to flood consistency. It should be thick and pourable like a milkshake. Run a spatula through the icing to check; the indention should disappear by the count of 10.
- Transfer the three flood frostings to disposable piping bags and close the ends with rubber bands. Use the grey icing to pipe the faces and legs onto the cookies. While the icing is still wet, place a black sugar pearl on each of the faces near the center. Let dry completely, about 2 hours.
- When the icing is set, flood half of the cookies with the white royal icing, piping the white icing well within the cookie’s edges and use a toothpick or a scribe to push the icing nearer to the edge (this prevents the flood icing from overflowing the sides). Immediately after piping one cookie, sprinkle generously with nonpareils while the frosting is still wet. Gently shake off the excess sprinkles and move to a cooling rack to dry. Repeat with the remaining cookies, black royal icing, and black nonpareils. Allow the cookies to dry uncovered at least 4 hours, but overnight is better.
- When the cookies are completely dry and firm, package them in cellophane bags for gifting, or store airtight.