One of my favorite elements from our recent Neapolitan ice cream April Fool's Day party was the recipe for cookies that looked like scoops of ice cream.
Several years ago, there was an Etsy seller who sold cookies that looked like these (she was shut down for running an unlicensed kitchen, unfortunately, so you can't buy them from her any more). I fell in love with the pictures way back then, and it's been my goal to figure out how to make these adorable little things ever since.
I tried a number of different recipes, but it turns out that my favorite recipe for making cutout sugar cookies is the best one for this job, too. Here's the basic recipe.
No Fail Sugar Cookies (NFSC)
6 cups flour
3t baking powder
2 cups butter (why do you think they taste so good?)
2 cups sugar
2 t vanilla
1 t salt
Now, when I make these cookies, I never end up adding all the flour as written in the recipe, or the dough gets too dry and crumbly. Very hard to work with. I live in Phoenix, though, where it's so dry that glasses of ice water don't sweat. I haven't used a coaster in years. I'm horribly out of practice, and if I come to your house, keep a close eye on me because I will forget to use a coaster and ruin your table. It's just not an issue in this dry, dry place. This arid environment also affects the water content in flour, and actually makes a notable difference in how much flour I need to use in recipes. So I'm going to try to describe the feel of the dough you want. Don't go on exact measurements here.
The basic technique is standard--cream butter and sugar, add eggs and vanilla, add dry ingredients. For these ice cream scoop cookies, here in Phoenix, the full six cups of flour as written in the recipe was perfect. The dough was almost too dry to squish together and hold its shape. That's the texture you're going for. It's miserable for doing actual cut-out cookies, but is just right for this purpose.
Once I had achieved that texture, I divided the dough into thirds. One third I left plain vanilla. The second third I added a box of strawberry Jello and some freeze dried strawberries and mixed it well in the mixer. The third third, I added about a half a cup of cocoa powder to the vanilla dough. If you don't have a stand mixer, don't try mixing the different flavors like this. The chocolate barely got incorporated completely, and it would have been a miserable mess trying to do this with a hand mixer. If you don't have a heavy duty stand mixer, make smaller batches of dough and incorporate the strawberry and chocolate flavors with the other dry ingredients.
If the dough gets too dry, and doesn't stick together, even when compressed with your fingers, never fear, just add a little bit of milk. I'm talking teaspoons at a time. Just enough for the dough to come together.
If you're only making one flavor of scoop, by all means, put all the ingredients in the mixer at once. No need to make vanilla dough and then augment with other flavors.
Shaping the dough was easy! I just used a very standard cookie scoop.
See how I kind of over-filled the scoop? I wanted that irregular edge at the bottom of the scoop. Very ice-creamy. I really packed the dough in tightly, too. That made a big difference in the finished product. I just scooped them all out and set them on a cookie sheet.
Now here's the really important part: freeze the cookie dough. The really great part about this is that you could do this part weeks ahead of time. You want the cookies to be completely frozen when you bake them. That's what helps them keep that perfect scooped shape until they're baked enough to hold the shape on their own.