Circus Animal Sugar Cookies

by Jillian
Soft sugar cookies loaded with frosted circus animal cookies, white chocolate kit kats, and colorful sprinkles!

Soft sugar cookies loaded with frosted circus animal cookies, white chocolate Kit Kats, and colorful sprinkles!

Guys, it has been a HOT MINUTE since I’ve incorporated my beloved Frosted Circus Animal Cookies into a recipe. I’m almost disappointed in myself for not including these legendary pink and white cookies in a recipe for over SEVEN months.

From cupcakes and blondies, to mini trifles and ice cream, I’ve definitely made my fair share of Frosted Circus Animal Cookie-themed desserts. You would think that after several recipes, I’d run out of ideas, but no. When you have the palette of a 6-year old, there’s ALWAYS going to be a way to add these highly-addictive cookies into something new. 

So this week, I thought I’d try cookies…

Soft sugar cookies loaded with frosted circus animal cookies, white chocolate kit kats, and colorful sprinkles!

These Circus Animal Sugar Cookies are perfectly soft, deliciously chewy, and absolutely LOADED with your favorite frosted circus animal cookies along with chunks of white chocolate Kit Kats. In fact, there’s probably way more animal cookies and Kit Kats than actual dough in these cookies. 

Soft sugar cookies loaded with frosted circus animal cookies, white chocolate kit kats, and colorful sprinkles!

No words can fully describe how heavenly my kitchen smelled as these were baking in the oven. There’s just something so intoxicating about that delicious vanilla sugar cookie dough aroma lingering throughout the house. Seriously, if I could bottle this exact scent, I’d be a baJillianaire for sure.

Soft sugar cookies loaded with frosted circus animal cookies, white chocolate kit kats, and colorful sprinkles!

The dough is pretty much your standard sugar cookie dough, but with the addition of one of my favorite ingredients–instant pudding mix. Being Team Soft Cookie all the way, I always want to make sure my cookies turn out thick, puffy, and pillowy. I also like them to have a little bit of chewiness since I don’t want them to be cakey either.

Since instant pudding mix contains cornstarch (a thickener), adding it to the cookie dough ensures that the cookies bake up nice and thick, so that you don’t end up with thin and overly hard or crispy cookies. For this recipe, I used a white chocolate instant pudding mix, but if vanilla is the only flavor you have, that works just fine too.

Another nice thing about adding pudding mix to cookie dough is that refrigeration usually isn’t necessary. The main reason why most cookie recipes involve refrigeration is because the dough needs time to chill and solidify, thus preventing the cookies from spreading too quickly in the oven. Adding pudding mix, on the other hand, slows that spreading WAY down. In fact, very little spreading occurs as these cookies bake, so I recommend rolling the cookie dough into balls, then flattening them into thick hockey puck-like discs.

Soft sugar cookies loaded with frosted circus animal cookies, white chocolate kit kats, and colorful sprinkles!

Now, I knew I wanted to add some kind of white chocolate candy to these cookies, but I didn’t want to add something boring like plain ol’ white chocolate chips. That’s when I decided to scavenge through my hoard of a candy drawer and ended up with white chocolate Kit Kats. Not only do they provide extra white chocolate richness to the cookie, but they contain that delicately crisp wafer, lending a nice contrasting crunch to the cookie dough.

Speaking of crunch, what I love about these cookies is that the circus animal cookies remain nice and crunchy even after they’ve baked into the dough. So you get that perfect texture explosion of soft and chewy dough with bits of crunchy animal cookie in every single bite.

As I mentioned earlier, these cookies are LOADED. That’s because immediately after they baked in the oven, I pressed a few extra pieces of circus animal cookies and Kit Kats into the top of each cookie. This not only makes them look prettier and more appealing, but it also gives me an excuse to add even more sugary goodness to each cookie.

Soft sugar cookies loaded with frosted circus animal cookies, white chocolate kit kats, and colorful sprinkles!

I can say with absolute certainty that these Circus Animal Sugar Cookies are by far the BEST cure for your quarantine blues.

Soft sugar cookies loaded with frosted circus animal cookies, white chocolate kit kats, and colorful sprinkles!

Soft sugar cookies loaded with frosted circus animal cookies, white chocolate kit kats, and colorful sprinkles!

Circus Animal Sugar Cookies

Soft sugar cookies loaded with frosted circus animal cookies, white chocolate Kit Kats, and colorful sprinkles!
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 26 Cookies

Ingredients
  

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup unsalted butter softened
  • ¼ cup cream cheese softened
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
  • ¼ teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 (3.56 oz) box instant white chocolate pudding mix*
  • 1 cup chopped Frosted Circus Animal Cookies plus more for topping
  • ½ cup chopped white chocolate Kit Kats plus more for topping
  • 3 Tablespoons multi-colored non-pareil sprinkles

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 350ºF and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt until combined; set aside.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, cream cheese, and both sugars together until lightened in color and creamy.
  • Beat in the egg, vanilla, and almond extract, followed by the pudding mix. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then dump in the flour mixture. Beat until just combined. Stir in the circus animal cookies, Kit Kats, and sprinkles by hand.
  • Scoop the dough out, roll into a ball, flatten into a thick disc, then place onto the lined baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until edges begin to turn golden. Centers may appear undercooked, but will set up as they cool.
  • Immediately after removing cookies from the oven, gently press a few bits of circus animal cookies into the top of each cookie along with extra Kit Kats, if desired.
  • Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Notes

*Vanilla pudding mix can also be used.
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