Thursday 9 July 2015

Checkered Racing Flag and Traffic Light Shortbread Cookiepops (icing-free)

I have a request for an assortment of cookiepops with the race car theme. These icing-free racing flag and traffic light cookies are two out of three types that I made. Keep a lookout for my third design - Lightning McQueen cookiepops :). I could have easily done these traffic lights and flags with royal icing but I prefer to work with icing-free recipes whenever possible. I am not a fan of too much sugar although I bake :p.

Both cookiepops are made using the shortbread cookie base. You may follow the same method of shaping in this post but with other cookie bases like sugar cookies. But I personally prefer the taste, aroma and simplicity of shortbread :).

The key to making good shortbread cookies is to use good quality butter. Try not to go for SCS as I find that it gives off a weird aftertaste. I am not the only blogger who thinks so.

No extra added artificial colouring is used to make these cookies. I rely on flavoured pastes and charcoal or cocoa powder to colour the cookie dough.

Recipe for traffic light shortbread cookies

You need ice-cream sticks, a small circle cookie cutter, a small knife and a homemade plastic template of the traffic light. You may make the template from cheap plastic files.

The template is about 11cm long and the circle cutter is 3cm in diameter. I may make a smaller traffic light if I ever make this again as the large cookie have to be handled with care so as not to break it.

Ingredients (makes 5 large cookies):
Red, yellow and green dough
20g icing sugar
40g unsalted butter
60g plain flour
1/16 tsp salt
1/4 tsp strawberry paste
1/5 tsp lemon paste
1 drop orange emulco
1/4 tsp Pandan paste

Black dough
50g icing sugar
100g unsalted butter
140g plain flour
6g cocoa powder
4g charcoal powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt

1. Sift together icing sugar, salt and flour (and cocoa and charcoal for black dough).

2. Rub in the butter with your fingertips, add vanilla extract (for black dough) and form a ball of dough. Divide coloured dough into 40g portions and add the various flavoured pastes.

3. Divide the black dough into two. It is easier to work with smaller batches of dough than one big portion for cutouts. Roll all portions of dough between two baking sheets until 3-4mm thick. Chill in the fridge for half an hour or until firm.

4. Use the rectangular template and a small knife to cut out the black base and lay out on baking tray lined with baking sheet. Place an ice-cream stick in the middle and gently press it down. At any time the dough is too soft to work with, put it back in the fridge or freezer. I find it helpful to use reusable freezer packs as my work surface to keep the dough firm for a longer time in hot Singapore.

5. Cut another rectangle piece of black dough but this time, use the circle cookie cutter to cut out 3 circles. Lightly brush the bottom rectangle with water and place the other rectangle with holes on top. Gently press the two layers together.

6. Use the circle cutter to cut out the traffic light colours. Brush a little water in the "holes" before carefully inserting the coloured circles in the holes. Gently but firmly press the circles down.

7. Chill the whole tray of cookie cutouts in the fridge or freezer while preheating the oven to 150-160°C. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until the cookie appears dry and the base shows telltale signs of browning. This may be a bit challenging to tell since the cookie is black. If the red, yellow and green colours start to dull and appear a teeny bit brown, the cookies are definitely done. Rotate the tray halfway through baking.

8. Leave the cookies to cool on the tray for 5-10 minutes before carefully transferring to cooling rack. Store in airtight container when cooled completely.

Checkered racing flag shortbread recipe
This is my second attempt at checkerboard cookies but this time round with more squares in the matrix.

Ingredients (makes 6 cookies):
White dough
15g icing sugar
30g unsalted butter
42g plain flour
3g cornflour (may replace with plain flour)
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
White gel or powder food colouring (optional)
1/16 tsp salt

Black dough
15g icing sugar
30g unsalted butter
42g plain flour
2g cocoa powder
1g charcoal powder (replace with cocoa powder if not available)
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/16 tsp salt

1. Prepare white and black dough following the above section.

2. Roll the dough to form a 1cm thick rectangle between 2 baking sheets. Chill the dough until firm. Cut to 6x8 cm rectangle with a knife. Do not discard the excess white and black dough.

3. Brush the surfaces with water and stack the rectangles (top left picture). Cut the rectangle into half to form two 4x6 cm blocks, brush the surface of one block with water and stack as shown on top right picture. Chill the whole assembly in the fridge for 15 minutes if the dough is too soft. The assembled block has to be fairly rigid although not rock hard for the next steps. If it's firm enough, proceed to cutting the block into 4 smaller blocks.

Flip the first and third block (top left picture below). Stack them together as shown but remember to brush with water any surfaces that are sticking together. Cling wrap the assembled block and chill in fridge until firm. You may freeze at this point too if you are not baking the cookies yet. Cut the block into 1cm wide pieces (top right picture) and lay out on baking tray (bottom left picture). Wrap the end of a wooden skewer with some leftover white or black dough and stick it to one side of the cookie cut-out (bottom right picture).

Close up view of a flag cookie cut-out

4. Chill the whole tray of cookie cutouts in the fridge or freezer while preheating the oven to 150°C. Bake for about 15 minutes or until the base of the cookies start to brown. Be careful not to brown the tops or the checkered patterns will not turn out nice.

Freshly baked! I was trying to see if I could make the flag a little wavy. Not so successful in my experiment :p. Better to leave the flags in a squarish shape.

All packed for the party!

With love,
Phay Shing


  1. hi hi! may i know where can we get the strawberry paste? thanks! :)

    1. Hi :)

      You may get it from Phoon Huat or any other shop selling baking supplies. I believe Cold Storage carries it too, including all the other flavored pastes.

  2. Hi what brand do you use for butter. I've President and don't really like it.

  3. Hi Wendy,

    I use Lurpak as it tastes good and is pale in colour so it helps my bakes to have less of a yellow tinge. I have tried a couple of other European brands that are cheaper. They are pretty all right as well but more yellow.

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