Next up on my ever-growing list of cookies to try are these crispy sugar gem cookies. My grandmother happened to recommend this recipe to me, as she’s a huge fan of them. She loves a crunchy cookie, while I prefer a soft and gooey one, so I was a little skeptical at first.
Sugar gem cookies are almost like a mix between a shortbread and a sugar cookie, but with colored sugar sprinkles pressed on top. I tried my best to get festive with these, thinking I’d get red, green, and clear sprinkles. But I could only find red, so I made some… adjustments.
Since I lost out on the green sprinkles, I decided to make half the dough matcha-flavored. The nice thing about these cookies is that it’s a great base dough, meaning that you can add whatever flavors or colors you want. In my opinion, the amount of matcha powder added to the cookies were perfect. It starts with a burst of matcha and then mellows out to that amazing buttery flavor. Just make sure you’re using quality cooking matcha powder, and you’ll be good!
I also adapted some of these to include little “stained glass” candy windows, since I couldn’t find any clear sugar sprinkles. I had seen this technique so many times, putting a hard candy in the middle and letting it melt into a pane, but this was the first time I had ever tried it myself! I used some lychee candies that I had lying around to get this slightly opaque candy window. (I also tried it with the matcha cookies but I burnt those… but we don’t have to tell anyone about that, right?).
Although I’m not a huge crunchy cookie person, these are actually really delicious and kind of addicting. They’re perfectly crisp, buttery, and not overly sweet. Plus they’re great cookies to decorate. They keep their shape in the oven (although they slightly puff up so don’t try any super complex shapes) and are great with a little royal icing.
This recipe makes a rather large batch of cookie dough, so feel free to halve the recipe. I simply froze the rest of the dough so that I could use it later. Will these make it into this year’s Christmas cookie gift boxes? We’ll just have to wait and see!
Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to one week.
Sugar Gem Cookies
- 1 cup butter (2 sticks)
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 2 large eggs
- 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp cream of tartar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- colored sugar sprinkles (optional)
- 1 tbsp matcha powder (optional)
- Preheat your oven to 350°F. Prepare a couple of baking sheets with parchment paper.
- In a large mixing bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer), cream butter and sugars. Add oils and mix until well combined. Add eggs and vanilla and mix again thoroughly.
- In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking soda, and cream of tartar.
- Slowly stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Mix well until light and fluffy.
- If making matcha versions, cut your dough in half. Add 1 tbsp of matcha powder to one half of your dough now. Mix until evenly combined. (If you want to only make matcha cookies, add 2 tbsp of matcha powder).
- If rolling and cutting out cookies, chill the dough in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. If not, just drop a large scoop of cookie dough on the prepared cookie sheets, about 2" apart.
- Once dough is chilled, turn out on a floured surface and roll out to about a 1/2" thickness. Cut out with desired cookie cutters.
- Press colored sugar sprinkles on cookies lightly.
- Bake for about 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown.