One bowl, small batch birthday cookies. Reminiscent of 80s and 90s style boxed birthday cakes but in the form of a chewy cookie. These are made without a mixer and are ready in twenty!
Ever reached for a ‘birthday cookie” and found yourself biting into a simple sugar cookie with sprinkles? Maybe those have charm when you are just seeking to fill a sweet-craving; but a real birthday cookie, imo, should cause you to pause, bringing to mind memories of childhood birthdays and the wonderful taste of an old-fashioned funfetti birthday cake.
Small Batch Cookie Recipes
When I set out to create a small-batch recipe for birthday cookies, I wanted a cookie that packed that wonderful nostalgic flavor but also for it to be (and stay) chewy, a day or two later. This meant sticking with a sole yolk and just brown sugar like I did in these beloved one yolk chocolate chunk cookies. But, rather than just add sprinkles and imitation vanilla to that dough, I wanted to really drive the birthday cake flavor home so I reached for white chocolate.
White Chocolate and Sprinkles for “Birthday Cookie” Flavor
When did white chocolate and sprinkles become synonymous with ‘birthday cake flavor’? Idk but this trader joe’s birthday chocolate bar convinced us a few years back that white chocolate belonged with all things birthday (it is also, it turns out, a very good bribe for getting a 2 yo to take her medicine, lol). We can’t find those bar at TJ’s anymore (but I’m convinced it was made by these guys) though it appears that other brands like Godiva and Kitkat have gotten on the white choc/bday boat as well and I think this is a smart move; birthday cake with just vanilla and sprinkles is ‘okay’ but white chocolate gives it the zhuzh – exactly what we are going to do with our cookies today!
How to get the ‘Birthday’ Flavor in a Cookie: White Chocolate & Sprinkles
The first thing a baker will tell you about making something “birthday” flavored is that you need to use imitation vanilla (the fab Christina Tossi popularized this nugget). The sugars and flavorings from the sprinkles are also going to contribute to that flavor. But we like to go beyond the status quo here at buttermilk and so we’ll add some white chocolate to the dough itself. We’ll also use cake flour which will not only lend that signature taste but the starch will help us achieve our chewy texture.
Small Batch Birthday Cookies, aka Happy Cookies
These cookies make me HAPPY for so many reasons and I think they’ll have the same effect on you:
They are super simple to make: you won’t even need a mixer! The dough is one bowl!
They come together in ten, and bake for another ten. Yep – ready in twenty!
They look happy don’t they? It’s the power of sprinkles. Rainbow sprinkles.
They TASTE LIKE BIRTHDAYS SHOULD! I feel like a kid when I’m eating them. A happy kid who just had the best 9th birthday and is going to bed snug in my brand new bday pajamas. That happy!
Ingredients and Substitutions
Flour: Bleached cake flour is wonderful for – you guessed it – cakes! It does particularly well in white cakes lending them a fluffy, tight crumb. If you were curious to nerd out on how cake flour is made check out this KAF article. Basically, cake flour has a very low protein content, is very finely ground and has a higher percentage of starch added to it. Alternatively you can use a low-protein content all-purpose flour which would also work well here.
Vanilla: Imitation not pure (but if you only have the latter, use that). If you’ve made one of my white cakes, you’ll have seen imitation before. Watkins is my favorite brand.
Chocolate: I tried this with guittard’s white chocolate chips (above photo) and with a white chocolate lindt bar (rest of photos) and saw some subtle differences (since we are melting the chocolate into the batter it’s going to contribute to both texture and taste). With the bar the cookies spread more and maintained chewiness throughout. With the chips my cookies spread a bit less and gave a thinner, crisp edge (I suspect this has something to do with the added palm oils).
Butter: if you only have salted butter, just omit the salt from the recipe.
Sugar: Don’t substitute brown with white here, the white will cause the cookies to spread a lot and will change the texture.
Sprinkles: with cakes you need to be careful about using naturally dyed sprinkles because they bleed but this doesn’t matter as much in cookies (not enough liquid in the dough for this to happen) so use whatever you have! I used a mix of naturally-colored jimmies and some sequin circles.
Recipe for Small Batch Birthday Cookies
Small Batch Birthday Cookies
Chewy brown sugar and white chocolate cookies that explode with fun, and funfetti.
½cupplus 2 tablespoons cake flour or a low protein all-purpose flour85g
1/3cupwhite chocolate chipsor more white chocolate, chopped
Set a heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water. Into the bowl add the butter, white chocolate and brown sugar. Stir until melted. Alternatively, melt in the microwave or directly in a pot (over low heat).
Remove from heat and whisk until shiny and cohesive. Add the salt and vanilla and stir to combine.
Whisk in the egg yolk, until shiny.
Fold in the cake flour, baking soda, sprinkles and chopped white chocolate. Dough will be very soft.
Chill the dough for 4 hours (or orvernight) in the fridge in an airtight container.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Dough will be much firmer now. Scoop 1.5-2 tablespoons onto the cookie sheet and leave from for the cookies to spread. If you want more sprinkles on the top, dip the balls in a bowl of sprinkles.
Bake for 10-12 minutes, until edges are just beginning to turn golden. Let cool before lifting.
For the white chocolate I like using a Lindt white chocolate bar - it's good quality chocolate and not overly sweet. You can use more chopped up lindt as chunks to add in (they cookies might spread a bit more but it's fine) or use some white chocolate chips, I like Guittard. The added white chocolate & sprinkles amounts are suggested - use less if you like.