A couple of weeks ago we received Christmas gifts from some friends of ours. They swung by the house with a bag of wrapped goodies and left quickly so as not to play host to any of the yucky germs that were in residence at the time.
Christmas in March? Sure, why not?
I received, in part, a set of seven sea creature cookie cutters (which includes a dolphin, as you've no doubt figured out on your own) and a cookbook entitled Best of the Best: the best recipes from 25 of the best cookbooks of the year. It's put out by the Food & Wine magazine people and includes recipes from notables as Jamie Oliver, Bobby Flay, David Pasternack, Alice Medrich, and Kylie Kwong.
On this most recent Saturday morning, when, at long last, everyone in the house was healthy again, I found the recipe for these Coconut Shortbread Cookies, decided they'd work well with the sea creature cutters, and proceeded to whip up a batch. I should have doubled it. They're pretty tasty.
But that comes later.
The recipe is by Jill O'Connor, author of Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey, and was created exclusively for this compilation. Thanks, Jill!
As you can see above, it's a pretty simple recipe with very few ingredients. Quick and easy to prepare.
Here's what you need – coconut, butter, flour, confectioners' sugar, vanilla, and salt.
First, you place your room temp butter in the bowl of your mixer.
Then you add in your sifted confectioners' sugar…
(which has been measured out by your able assistant, if you've got one)
And then you beat together the butter and sugar together until they're pale and creamy.
Then you add in your vanilla…
And then you take the remaining ingredients (flour, coconut, salt) which your little assistant has whisked together…
and you add those to the butter mixture and blend just until everything is combined. You form that dough into a ball and refrigerate for at least an hour. Or, if you're pressed for time, as I was, you can take your chances after half an hour.
I rolled the dough out to between a quarter and a half inch thick and cut out an assortment of sea creatures. The dough isn't the easiest to work with when you've got cookie cutters with narrow parts, like the base of a tail. But with patience and a skinny knife, you can make it work.
While the cookies were baking, and smelling very, very good in the process, and while, because of the delicious aroma, Alex was moaning and whining in agony "When can I eeeeeeeeeeat one? I'm staaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrvvvvvvvvvvvvvving!" because of course we only feed him once a week, food prices being what they are, Julia and I put together the royal icing in a variety of mouth-watering hues.
Once the cookies had cooled sufficiently, the kids and I gathered 'round the table to play.
(And for those of you concerned with Alex's growling tummy, yes, he got to sample a cookie before we started decorating the rest of them.)
These are Alex's works of art:
And this is Alex eating some cereal, because a boy cannot live on cookies alone. At least not if Mommy's around to stop him from trying.
Inspired by the adorable photo in this post, I did a bunch of dolphins and that was enough for me.
Julia had done a bunch on her own, but then wanted to try to make some like mine, using a paint brush.
In order to create the look of my dolphins, I just piped the icing on either in stripes or concentric circles or stripes and dots – whatever struck my fancy as I was makikng them.
Next, to achieve the swirly or tie-dyed looks, I dipped a small paintbrush in water and just brushed the top of the iced cookie go gently drag some of the color into the adjoining color. I rinsed the brush off frequently so the colors wouldn't get muddy looking by the end of the process. I used a dot of black for an eye, and that was it.
I showed Julia what to do, and she made a few painted swirly creatures herself.
We've still got a lot of icing left over.
I should probably make more cookies.
You know, just so the icing doesn't go to waste. Because waste is bad.
And decorating is fun!
(The cookies themselves are pretty tasty, too!)