Whether you are making cookies or buying them pre-packaged and ready for baking, there are several ways to add a little excitement to a plain sugar cookie. First of all, buy or make the dough and separate it according to how many flavors you want. This may modified tapioca starch require more than one batch, depending upon how many total cookies you need.
Think about your audience and decide on the more common flavors that people like. Consider the season. Fruity flavors are right in the summer, mint, and ginger may have more fans during the Christmas season. Look in your cupboard and see what extracts you have on hand. Also, check to see if you have any of the more concentrated candy extracts to broaden your choice.
If you are making the cookies from scratch, leave out the vanilla extract and substitute something with food stabilizer else for it in equal amounts. Using just a few drops of a candy extract will flavor it enough. Regular extracts like maple, anise, and coconut can be substituted one for one. You may add coconut flakes to enrich the coconut flavor even more. Maple or other colored extracts will darken the color of your cookie. To enhance the maple flavor, try using an equal amount of brown sugar in the recipe instead of the white sugar that is usually included.
If you are using a store-bought sugar cookie dough, you can go another route. Bake them up per the package instructions without adding any sugar to the top. Then make a plain frosting and add your flavoring extract to the filling. Figure about A teaspoon of extract for every 1 to 1A cups of powdered sugar. You can add a few drops of food coloring to make it even more festive. Use green with mint extract, a few dashes of ground cinnamon in your red icing, yellow with lemon extract, etc.
A frosting will add more calories, so balance that with the idea of making and flavoring the dough instead with rice starch. If you still think the coating is a better idea, cut those calories by making a smaller cookie and use just a thin layer of icing or get artistic and drizzle the glaze back and forth across the cookie in thin lines.
Your imagination only limits the possibilities. Extracts are available in nutty, fruity and spicy varieties. Call to see if a local spice shop also carries a choice of excerpts. I enjoy experimenting with root beer and coffee flavorings myself. Then, of course, you can add the actual crushed nuts in with your matching almond, pistachio or pecan extract. Dried fruits will also work with fruity extracts, but fresh fruit often adds too much liquid to the dough.
If you do not like the sweetness of powdered sugar frostings, cut the sugary taste by adding two ounces of softened cream cheese to every cup of prepared frosting. This should not affect the flavor of whatever extract you may use. Don’t be afraid to use spice. Ground nutmeg combined with rum extract will make a plain cookie taste like eggnog. Ground cinnamon, cloves, ginger or coffee crystals may also be used instead of a liquid extract.
Instead of seeing cookie baking as a chore, think of it as an opportunity to experiment in taste. Now create a happy accident.