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Monday, 25 December 2017

Graduation Hat Pinata Shortbread Cookies

I had a request for graduation themed cookies for a class of preschool kids who are entering Primary school next year. The idea of making the graduation caps pinata style came to mind because which kid doesn't like pleasant surprises ;).


These cookies are filled with sunflower seeds coated with chocolate. Different from the first pinata cookie I made for my kids two years ago which were filled with mini MnMs.

Recipe for Graduation hat pinata cookies
Ingredients ( makes about 22 pinata cookies):
Cookie dough
250g icing sugar
500g unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
725g plain flour
20g charcoal powder
5g dark cocoa powder/Dutch processed cocoa powder
1.25 tsp fine sea salt
2.5 tsp vanilla bean paste

Royal icing
250g Icing sugar
18g Meringue powder
Pinch of salt
50g water (more as needed)
Red gel food colouring
1 tbs + 1 tsp Charcoal powder
1 tsp dark cocoa powder

Additional items
Chocolate coated sunflower seeds
Red sour candy gummy strips

Steps:
1. Sift together flour, icing sugar, cocoa powder, charcoal powder and salt in a large mixing bowl.

2. Add in butter and use finger tips to rub butter into flour mixture until it resembles breadcrumbs.

3. Add vanilla and mix well. Press the mixture together with your hand and lightly knead to form a ball of dough.

4. Divide the dough ball into two or three and roll each one between two baking sheets until about 5-6mm thick. Chill in fridge or freezer until firm. At least 15 minutes.

5. Each pinata hat is made up of three layers of cookies: a 5cm circle, a 5cm ring with 1cm thickness and a 6-7cm square. I use a 5cm and 3cm diameter circle cookie cutters to create the ring. Place the cookie cutouts into baking tray lined with baking sheet. Chill the tray of cutouts until firm. Place only same shaped cutouts in each tray as baking time varies for different shapes. Note that if the dough is too firm, it may crack more easily when cutting. Simply gently press the dough around the crack together of that happens and wait for a while before attempting to cut another one out.


6. Bake in preheated oven at 160℃ for about 14 min for the ring, 20 min for circles and 24 min for the squares. Use the timing as a gauge only as each oven is different. Bake until the cookies appear dry.

7. Let the cookies cool completely before assembling.

8. Prepare royal icing while the cookies cool completely. You may store the cookies in air right container if not assembling immediately. Sift together icing sugar, meringue powder and salt into mixing bowl. Add water and use a spatula to mix until the powdered mixture is thoroughly wet.

9. Use an electric mixer and beat at medium-low speed for 2 minutes. Scoop out about 2-3 tbs of royal icing and colour it red with red gel colouring. Add cocoa powder and charcoal powder to the remaining icing and mix well with mixer for another 1-2 minutes. Check the consistency of the icing it should form peaks that disappear within 10 seconds. If too thick, add more water a few drops at a time and mix well with spatula. Cover the icing with cling wrap touching the surface to prevent it from hardening.

10. Cut the sour candies into tassle shapes using scissors like the picture below. You may wish to cut a shorter segment to add more "threads" at the end of the tassle. Pipe black royal icing to secure one end of the tassle to the middle of the hat. Pipe a little red icing to make the "knot" of the tassle. Let it dry completely.


11. Assemble the pinata as shown below. Glue the ring onto the circle using black icing. Put the candy in the middle before sealing the pinata with the top square piece.


I used a butter knife to smooth the sides of the pinata to hide the seams between the different cookie layers. This step is optional but it keeps kids guessing how you stuff the pinata with the goodies ;).

All done!

I know this post comes a little late in the year, not in time for most kids' graduation parties. But hopefully this blog post leaves a lasting impression and you may refer to it next year to make some yummy surprises for kids who are moving on to the next phase of their lives :).

With love,
Phay Shing


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