Ok, we’ve been out of touch for a while, I’ll admit that. We’re heartily sorry, etc., etc. I’ve been exhausted and crazy busy but other than that have had zero excuse not to at least post this recipe. Emily, however, has been both crazy buzy with work and spearheading what I can now officially refer to as the Best Bachelorette Party Ever. The menu Emily planned for my bachelorette party this past weekend would make Julia Child blush. And our friend Sarah planned awesome decorations and a couple of tasteful yet hilarious games. And I still haven’t taken down some of the decorations . . . And I’m still finding little feathers from the feather boa in random places. And I’m still drinking out of my bride cup, although now I’ve switched to water.
I’m also still crazy busy and exhausted, but at the moment I’m just slightly too exhausted to write another page of my monstrous paper, so here I am, telling you guys about these adorable penguin cookies we made weeks ago.
These penguin cookies are pretty adorable, and I wanted us to make them because I was about to visit the beloved carnivore, who is also the beloved one-who-is-obsessed-with-penguins. Last year, I painted him some penguins:
This year, I just gave him some of the cookies Emily and I made. I think he was just as happy, although he can’t hang a cookie on his wall and wake up looking at it every morning – at least not sanitarily.
There was another reason I wanted to make penguin cookies and share the recipe with you guys. A friend of mine is participating in the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Run for the Wild later this month. This year, the funds from that event are going to be dedicated to adorable penguins (and all penguins are adorable). So, if you think live penguins are just as cute if not cuter than these penguin cookies, or if you just generally care about preventing bad things from happening to animals regardless of their level of adorableness, consider donating by clicking here.
Anyway, while I’m writing up this recipe because of my general affinity for penguins, Emily’s the real hero of this recipe. Without Emily, the whole process would have ended very early. There was a point in the process where I was reading the recipe directions from another site and just making a pouty face like a two year old. Luckily I added an, “Emily! Help!” and she saved the day and figured out a better way to do it.
Adapted from Diamonds for Dessert
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup butter (2 sticks), softened
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- blue or black food dye
- yellow food dye
- white chocolate chips or white chocolate candy melts
- black non-pareils or chocolate/black sprinkles (if using sprinkles, you’ll have to sift through them to find the tiniest bits of the sprinkles, or cut the sprinkles into smaller pieces – you want to use these for the eyes of the penguins, and little round non-pareils are far superior, but I couldn’t find any in the tiny grocery store near me).
Special Equipment: lots and lots of toothpicks
In the large bowl of a stand mixer, cream together softened butter and granulated sugar. Sift powdered sugar into the bowl, mix until well-blended. Add egg yolks and vanilla extract and mix until well-blended. Gradually add the flour in approximately 3 batches, mixing after each addition.
Remove one third of the dough, wrap in plastic wrap, and place in the fridge. To the remaining dough, add a few drops of the blue or black food dye, and mix. Add more drops of dye if needed and mix–repeat, adding only a drop or two at a time, until you achieve the desired color. Wrap this dough with plastic and put it in the fridge.
Here’s the part that sent me crying to my mommy. I mean, to Emily, although if my mom had been there, I totally would have gone crying to her. Luckily, Emily figured out a much easier way to do this, so you can benefit from my pain.
Remove the un-dyed dough from the fridge and roll it into a log. The diameter of the log should be about 2 cm or 3/4 of an inch. Set aside.
Remove the dyed dough from the fridge and break it into two pieces. One of the pieces should be about 1/3 of the dough, and the other piece should be about 2/3 of the dough.
Take the larger piece and roll it into a log, then flatten it – you may need a rolling pin for this part. It should look like this:
Then, take the smaller chunk of dough, and roll it into a log that’s the same length as the flat piece. Lay it on top of the flat piece, in the middle, and press it down gently. Then use your fingers to smooth the gap between the round piece and the flat piece, so that they become connected – use your first grade art class skills.
Set the white log alongside the blue dough – make sure they’re about the same length. If the white log is shorter than the blue, roll it a little bit more to lengthen it. If it’s longer, just cut off a little piece of the dough and don’t even consider eating it because that’s unhealthy (ahem).
Cut the white log and the blue dough into three pieces – making sure that each blue piece has a white log of equal length – basically, cut them at the same time, while they’re lined up, so you know the pieces will be the same length.
Now for a tricky part – you want to wrap the blue around the white. This isn’t easy, but just know that if you mess up, it’s fixable. And know that it’s much easier to do this when you’re working with three sets of dough thean when you’re trying to do it with one long white log and one long blue piece.
Turn one of the blue pieces of dough upside down. Gently, without crushing the blue dough, place the log of white dough directly in the center of the blue dough, so that it’s centered above the thickest part of the blue dough (otherwise you’ll have lopsided penguins). Then bring the flatter sides of the blue dough around the top of the white dough log, and smooth the sides of the blue dough together with your hands, so that it completely surrounds the white log. Then smooth out any cracks in the dough.
Repeat with both remaining sets of blue dough and white dough. Wrap in plastic wrap and return to the fridge for 15 to 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
Remove one of the logs from the fridge. Slice the log into 1/4 inch to 1/3 inch slices and place on a parchment-lined or greased cookie sheet. You’ll want to squeeze the sides of each slice with your fingers a bit, to make the penguins taller and less round. Place two black non-pareils or two bits of black or brown sprinkles (see note above) in the upper portion of the blue dough, where the eyes of a penguin should go. Press them in gently so they won’t fall out during cooking.
Unfortunately, the dough slices pictured above are a little too thick – but they’re the only ones I took photos of before the cooking. So only use them as models of where to put the sprinkles or non-pareils.
Bake cookies for 12-15 minutes, or until a toothpick placed in the middle of one of the cookies comes out clean. Using a spatula, gently move cookies to cooling rack and let cool.
Repeat with remaining dough until all of it is cooked. When cookies have cooled completely, you can move onto the decorating step.
To decorate, melt about half a bag of white chocolate chips in the microwave–heat for about one minute and thirty seconds, stirring every thirty seconds. Using a toothpick, draw the wings on either side of the penguin cookie – you’ll have to try out different methods to figure out what method works best for you, but I found that I got the most success by sort of letting excess chocolate drip from the toothpick onto the cookie while moving the toothpick in a swooshy wing shape. Yeah, so, there’s no really easy way to describe this process – just do your best to make the wings look like this:
I also had to change toothpicks frequently. Once you’ve drawn wings on all of the penguins, add a little yellow food dye to the remaining white chocolate. Depending on how long the wing-drawing took you, you may need to reheat or remelt the white chocolate before adding the food dye.
Using another new toothpick, draw the beak and little round feet onto the penguin with the now-yellow melted white chocolate. The feet are pretty easy – you just need to drop a few blobs of yellow chocolate onto the penguin where the feet should go. The beaks are a little harder – sometimes I was able to draw perfect little triangles using the tip of the toothpick, and sometimes I had to just drop some yellow stuff where the beak goes and then use the clean end of my toothpick to scrape off the excess and form a cute little triangle.
Once you’re done, let all of the cookies air-dry until the decorations have hardened. This only took about thirty minutes, in my experience.
Leave the cookies out for the first day, because putting them in an air-tight container at this point will make them sort of sweat (like bread). But after the first day, store the cookies in an air-tight container.
As a side note on food-dye, I tried using Emily’s fancy food dye gel stuff, that’s normally the better route to take when it comes to food dye. However, for some reason, it didn’t like the white chocolate. I wasted a lot of white chocolate before giving up and using the cheaper, liquid yellow food dye. I have no idea what caused these troubles, but on the off chance it’s a universal thing rather than a some-mistake-I-made-without-realizing-it thing, I thought I’d share my experience.