New Fallen Snow Shortbread Cookies ~ these easy cookies are flavored with vanilla bean and peppermint, then coated with glittery sugar to mimic the look of fresh winter snow. Your Christmas cookie assortment isn’t complete without this sparkling sugar cookie recipe!
If you’re a Christmas cookie purist, you’ll love these classic vanilla sugar cookies.
Sometimes holiday cookies can get a bit…gaudy. But everybody can appreciate the understated beauty of new fallen snow 🙂 These sparkly cut out Christmas cookies are easy to make ~ just expect to get sugar everywhere (that’s half the fun!)
This dough is based on my tried-and-true shortbread recipe
I’ve adapted it countless times on the blog ~ my feeling is, when you’ve got a good thing going, repeat, and repeat often!! This time I’ve flavored it simply with with vanilla bean. The glaze is hit with a shot of cool, frosty peppermint extract. The combination of vanilla bean and peppermint is a little unusual, and really lovely. The vanilla tones down the peppermint, and the peppermint brightens up the vanilla 🙂
The key to the look of these cookies is definitely the sparkling sugar, which you can buy online.
Sparkling sugar is unlike any other sugar. I’ve been using it a lot lately, and love it for adding a little bit of extra glitz to a recipe. The extra sweet crunch is fabulous, too!
What is sparkling sugar?
- sparkling sugar, aka extra coarse or decorating sugar, is a coarse grained white sugar, specially made to decorate baked treats because it doesn’t disappear or melt during baking. Use it when you want some serious glitter on your cakes, cupcakes, and cookies.
- I think sparkling sugar is the perfect garnish for cookies because it gives a great look without being uncomfortably coarse to eat.
You can also look for another large-grained sugar, but steer clear of natural or raw sugars which have more of a brown/golden tone ~ nobody likes brown snow 😉 I think the combination of both the regular granulated sugar and the larger grained sugar also helps achieve the “new fallen snow” look, here.
Tip: wait until your glaze is partially dried on these cookies before adding the sugar, otherwise the sugar can sink right into the glaze.
I recommend letting them sit a couple minutes (the exact time will depend on how thick your glaze is). You ideally want the glaze to still be a bit sticky, but not liquid-y at all. That way the sugar should stick, but stay on top of the glaze and keep its sparkle!
If you think you waited too long and your glaze is a bit too hard, try gently patting the sugar into the glaze, it should still work.
The soft buttery shortbread cookies topped with the cool, fresh peppermint glaze and crunchy sugar makes for a delicious cookie with a lot of flavor and texture. They’re perfect for the cookie purists on your list.
To freeze these sugar cookies
As with many cookies, you can freeze these baked or unbaked, glazed or unglazed. Lay them out in single file on a baking sheet to freeze solid before transferring to a container.
Other pretty holiday cookies for your cookie swap or collection ~
- Soft Glazed Gingerbread Cookies
- Sprinkle Sugar Cookies
- Reader’s Recipes: Almond Lace Wafers
- Toasted Almond Russian Tea Cakes
New Fallen Snow Cookies
- 2 sticks (1 cup), unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 tsp vanilla bean paste, or vanilla extract
For the glaze
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1/2 tsp peppermint extract
- milk to thin
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup sparkling sugar
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, or by hand, cream together the butter and sugar until fully mixed.
- Add the flour, salt, and vanilla bean paste, and mix until the dough comes together. It may be quite soft.
- Place the dough in a covered bowl or a plastic ziplock bag and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
- Roll out the chilled dough on a lightly floured surface until its about 1/4 inch thick. Cut out the cookies using a round biscuit or cookie cutter. I used both a 2 inch and a 2 1/2 inch round cutter.
- Place the cookies on an unlined baking sheet, and bake 7-10 minutes. They will still be very pale and soft, but should firm up as they cool. Allow the cookies to cool completely before glazing.
- To make the glaze, whisk together the powdered sugar with a little milk or cream until it's smooth. Add the peppermint extract and whisk together. I found I liked 1/2 tsp of peppermint extract in my glaze, but if you're worried about it being too strong, start with 1/4 tsp and taste it to see what you think.
- Carefully dip each cooled cookie in the glaze (I like to transfer the glaze to a shallow bowl here). Allow the excess to drip off and place the cookies on a cooling rack or a tray to dry. If you are having a hard time lifting the cookies out of the glaze without breaking them, try thinning the glaze a bit with more milk.
- Allow the glaze to mostly dry before coating in the sugars. If it is too wet, the sugar will just sink right in. If you think you waited too long and the glaze is too set, try very gently patting the sugar on top, it should stick. If you catch it right in between, you should be able to sprinkle the sugar on top and have it coat the cookie nicely. For me, this was about 5-7 minutes of waiting before sprinkling with sugar.
Questions and Reviews
These were INCREDIBLE! I upped the peppermint extract a little because I love mint, and I used a blue sparkling sugar for an extra wintery effect. They were the most popular cookie I made this year – they are delicate, buttery, and even with the decorating sugar not too sweet. Loved the crunch from the decorating sugar to compliment the crumbly cookie. I’m going to make these every year!
Hi Sue, I’m so pumped to make this for Christmas! Do you think I can make the dough a couple of days in advance and keep it in the fridge until I’m ready to bake?
Yes, that’s no problem, keep it well wrapped.
These are our new favorite Christmas cookie! They are amazing. I added 1/2 tsp of almond extract to the dough and substituted almond extract for peppermint extract in the glaze.
These were such a hit, I want to make more. If I want to make a double batch, do I just double the recipe? Thank you so much!
I’m so glad you loved these Judith, and sure, go ahead and double the recipe. I love the idea of adding the dose of almond, yum!
So pretty! I don’t know quite what it was, but these beautiful cookies have really put me in the Christmas mood more than anything else so far, so thank you for that? Now I need some of that magical sparkling sugar to make these beauties.
These look so magical! My kids would love them! I like the touch of peppermint in the glaze!
These cookies look so good! I love how your photos capture the sugar on top!
These are the best shortbread cookies!! Thanks so much on the info on sparkling sugar – it’s made all the difference!
These are on my list..they look beautiful, and sound delish..I love sugar cookies..I might glaze them and use Christmas sprinkles!!?
You could definitely do that!
I’m obsessed with that sugar this year.
What a delicious Christmas cookie. I am definitely trying these.
The peppermint glaze is my favorite part!
What’s interesting is the peppermint/vanilla combo, it’s so delicious.