a tale of two cookies

Weeks ago I talked to two different friends about making some cookies for them. The timing seemed perfect – we’d be past the girls’ big birthday weekend, and I’d also be past a big project deadline at work on July 31st. Then that deadline got pushed back to yesterday (thank goodness), but that also meant that I had taken on extra projects on top of my real work – work that required some pretty late nights (and early mornings) in the office. After I sent off the documents around six-thirty on Friday night, I headed home for dinner and then a marathon cookie decorating session. Well, two sessions to be exact. I was operating on about four hours of sleep from the night before, but the load on my shoulders felt lighter, and I was actually looking forward to the task.

First up: Donut cookie favors for a very special one year old.


Maybe a month ago, I saw the cutest donut cookie-making video ever. As soon as my friend mentioned that she was throwing a donut party for her daughter, I asked her if she might want some sweet-themed favors. You know, because platters of donuts just aren’t enough! Sometimes I just need to create a reason to try out something new. It never ceases to amaze me that I can find a willing volunteer to humor me.

Earlier in the week, E and I tried out the recommended recipe for these piped butter cookies. (The recipe makes a small amount – maybe 40 tiny cookies – so when we finished piping one batch, we’d mix up another.) I think we made four batches in the end – you really have to make it as you go – the dough gets really tough to pipe after a few minutes. But fresh out of the bowl, it was really easy to work with.

E and I came up with a list of the donut types we wanted, and then I piped enough of the various styles to make them. Most used a round tip, but the crullers used a star tip. They baked up buttery with a little crisp (perfect) hot out of the oven. We sampled plenty of “testers”.

I roughly followed the icing recipe, although it’s really hard for me to not use my tried and true royal icing recipe with meringue powder. So I used a little powder, for glossiness and stability. These sprinkle donuts got a layer of icing before being dropped face down in the dish. When we flipped the first one over we squealed. So, so cute. (These are just a tiny bit larger than a quarter, for scale.)


I made white icing, pink icing and chocolate glaze (by adding cocoa powder). The crullers got white icing thinned with a little more water to form a glaze. The cinnamon rolls had cocoa powder “painted” onto the swirls (E did that job), and then the same thinned glaze in the rest of the swirls. Even the long johns / eclairs got a tiny piping of white where the cream goes in!


Around midnight I finished these up and left them to dry while I started on the second project of the night…


Lavender whales and teal narwhals for a baby girl shower! I had also made these cookies earlier in the week – they were not as fun to make as the donuts. I used my very favorite, perfect for cutting dough, ready and chilled overnight in the fridge. I thought making 42 of these might take an hour from start through cleanup – I’ve really got a good system down. But the cookie cutters that my friend found were plastic, and appeared to have been made with a 3D printer. And while it was incredible that she actually found a narwhal cutter, the shape of these cookies was not ideal for cut cookies. I realized this the first time I lifted the whale cutter from the dough and attempted to release it onto the tray. It wasn’t budging. The tiny little grooves in the plastic were hanging on, and that thin little bend in the tale? Not releasing. I took one look at the more intricate narwhal and knew I was screwed.

M helped me troubleshoot the issues, and after a lot of trial and error, I managed to use a combination of pre-spraying the cutter with cooking spray before each cookie, and then using a chopstick to gently coax out all the tiny little appendages. Half the narwhals looked like they had suffered horrible poaching injuries on the first round. Slowly but surely I managed to get them out. I’ve never been so glad to finish a set of cookies!

Decorating them was a breeze though – I loved the way the colors turned out, and when I finished them up just before four (in the morning), they looked so cheerful sitting out to dry.


I set my alarm for six and got up to finish off the details – just a few little bubbles and water swirls and pink flower to up the baby cute factor. My friend had the tags made and the twine ready, and they came together in a cute little package. I dropped them off and headed home to survey the damage.


This is what a crazy week and an all night icing session looks like.


But man, those cookies were cute!

12 Responses to a tale of two cookies

  1. So glad to see my kitchen isn’t the only one to look like this. The cookies are adorable. You do such great work.

  2. I am so thankful you hooked us up with the cutest donut cookies ever! But I am sorry you had to lose so much sleep over your cookie project (I’m also astonished and jealous of how good you look on two hours of sleep).
    Brooke recently posted…On Coco’s First BirthdayMy Profile

  3. I hear the cookies taste great on top of looking adorable! Amazing work.
    Caroline recently posted…WimpyMy Profile

  4. Wow these are so cute! I love to bake but have no decorating talent (or interest, if I am being totally honest), but love to see what others can do. I don’t have anything to contribute except to say that yours are amazing!!!! Both the donuts and whales sets are so adorable!

  5. Amazing! Hope you are getting to relax the rest of the weekend!

  6. Curse those plastic cookie cutters!!! I feel seriously awful you were up so late and haven’t the slightest clue how you function on so little sleep, but your cookies were SO beautiful and were a huge hit at the shower. The parents-to-be were quite impressed with the narwhal horns! You are the best, thank you!! Maybe next time I’ll actually get to see one in person. 🙂
    Becky recently posted…Summer Snacking with ReSqueezeMy Profile

    • Do not feel bad at all! I enjoy it, and I’m glad they were a hit. Thanks for trusting me with them. Every project needs a little excitement and trouble shooting or where’s the learning? I had never really thought about the difference in cutters making a huge difference, but now I do. Years ago I had to make fleur-de-lis cookies and they kept breaking at the bends. That experience sent me searching for a stronger dough and I love the one I use now.

  7. Project deadlines? All nighters? Trashed work space? Time warp to the mid-90s. It’s Lee Hall, and the studio is hoppin’. Pick a week. Any week. Thanks for the nostalgia, sweets. 🙂

  8. amazing. please shoehorn a nap in there somewhere,

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