I was about to make the same old favorite brown sugar cookies with royal icing. On the day that I decided to bake, I thought why not take the chance to bake something healthier since Keroppi is a very good candidate for this type of cookie with simple colours and shapes.
If kids were not consuming the cookies, I would jump at the chance to colour the cookies green using Matcha powder. Since this is not the case, I used a natural source of food colouring that makes use of cholorphyll to colour the dough. A teeny bit of gel food colouring was added as natural sources of food colouring tends to be a bit dull. Here's a photo of the natural sources of colouring that I used (charcoal powder not shown), and the simple tools I used to help to create the shape of Keroppi without a store-bought specialized cookie cutter.
Needle, round cutters, straw, homemade plastic template and natural food colouring
I made use of homemade template made out of clear plastic files for cutting out the Keroppi shape on the dough, and for positioning the various facial features.
I used a modified version of Kenneth Goh's easy to remember shortbread recipe with 1:2:3 as the ratio of icing sugar: butter:flour.
Ingredients (makes about twenty 5-6cm cookies):
50g icing sugar
100g unsalted butter, cut into small pieces (Use a good brand please! How good shortbread tastes depends on quality of butter.)
22g corn flour
128g minus 1 tsp plain flour
1 tsp Queen's natural green powder food colouring (sifted because it's lumpy)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
Teeny bit of green gel food colouring
Plain, pink and black dough
20g icing sugar
40g unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
8g corn flour
52g plain flour
Pinch of salt
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp Charcoal powder
1/2 tsp Queen's natural pink food colouring
Pink gel food colouring (optional but you may add a teeny bit to brighten up the colours a bit)
If you are using matcha, replace 2 tsp of plain flour with same amount of Matcha powder.
1. Sift flours (and green powder/ matcha powder), sugar and salt together. Add butter and rub in with finger tips. Add vanilla extract and knead until a ball of dough forms.
2. Add gel food colouring if you would like slightly brighter colours. Just a teeny bit will do if you are already using the natural colour sources. Portion the non-green dough in this approximate manner
3. Roll the dough between two baking sheets until 5 mm thick for green, 3mm thick for plain dough and 2-3 mm thick for pink and black dough. Chill the dough in the fridge or freezer for at least 30 minutes.
4. Use the template and a small knife to cut out the green dough. Line on baking tray. These don't expand much after baking so you may place them pretty close. Use a needle to trace the rosy cheeks and mouth with the help of the template.
Can't really see the needle marks but they are there.
5. On a separate tray, cut out the eyes using a round cookie cutter. Trace the position of the blacks of the eyes onto the whites using a needle and template. Use the straw to cut out the blacks of the eyes and attach to the whites. Chill the tray.
6. When the eyes have firmed up, carefully remove from baking tray and stick onto the face.
7. Cut out the cheeks with small round cutter or straw. Stick them on.
8. Finally cut some black dough for the mouth. This was tedious as I manually cut each black strand out. You may want to pipe/paint on the mouth after baking using a mixture of cocoa powder and charcoal powder mixed with hot water to form a paste.
-use freezer packs as your work surface to keep the dough rigid for a longer time.
- divide the dough into two portions before rolling it out such that at any time, you have a thoroughly chilled portion of dough to work with as the scraps from the other portion is gathered and rerolled.
9. Chill the tray of assembled Keroppis while preheating the oven to 150°C. Bake for about 15-17 minutes, rotating the tray halfway through baking. Watch the cookies carefully. As soon as the base is a little brown, they are done. You don't want to brown Keroppi's face too much.
10. Let the cookies cool on the tray for 5 minutes before transferring to cooling rack to cool completely.
Store in airtight container in a cool, dry place. Shortbread that has salt added can keep for a few weeks and tastes better with age.
Update: the recipient loved these cookies and loved the fact that they are not too sweet :).
Another update: I have another request for Keroppi shortbread cookies. This time I added the mouth after baking with charcoal coloured royal icing. Much easier to work with :p. Here are some freshly baked cookies...