Tuesday 29 September 2015

Purple Sweet Potato Rainbow Heart Pinata Cookies (Children's Day special)

This is a bake that was requested by my kids way before Children's Day and they were really excited about it! They were ooo-ing and ah-ing as they watched me decorate the cookies :). Presenting my first attempt at making cookies with hidden surprises!

Purple sweet potato shortbread pinata cookies with rose flavour and hidden MnMs!

My kids were more than happy to eat the broken up cookie that I used for this photo and both gave a thumbs up! I must put a disclaimer here that there are actually not that many MnMs inside each cookie. About 7-8 mini MnMs each cookie as they are not very big cookies to begin with. More MnMs in the photo just looks better :p.

I was really awed by the pinata cookies I saw here and here about half a year ago. I was so excited that I showed my kids and they wanted something like that for Children's Day. Yes, that's how long ago it was! But having to make enough pinata cookies for two classes of kids meant that I had to keep the design simple or I will kill myself making what you see from the two awesome posts above. This bake also coincides with my busy period with other orders and photoshooting sessions for the chiffon cake book so I was hard-pressed to create something simple but awesome.

Pinata cookies are basically cookies that are assembled from 3 separate pieces of cookies, with the center piece having a hole in the middle for storing the candies. It's a lovely idea but a lot of work for large quantities because you have to bake three times the number of the cookies that you want to give out.

I chose to colour the cookies naturally by using purple sweet potato powder, and flavouring it with something different other than the usual vanilla. Adding rose water gives the cookies a nice Bandung flavour.

Ingredients (makes about fifty 5cm heart pinata cookies):
250g icing sugar (I use homemade rose scented icing sugar)
500g unsalted butter
700g plain flour
50g purple sweet potato powder (bought from Akari at Anchorpoint. Replace with plain flour or cornflour if unavailable.)
1 tsp rose water (use 2 tsp if using unscented icing sugar)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
2 drops of purple gel food colouring

1. Sift together plain flour, salt, icing sugar and purple sweet potato powder.

Love the natural purple colour!

2. Cut the butter into the flour mixture with a pastry cutter or butter knife until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.

3. Add rose water, vanilla extract and purple gel food colouring (I added as an insurance against any browning that may occur after baking as natural colouring tends to brown after baking). Knead until a ball of dough forms.

4. Divide the dough into 4-5 portions. Smaller portions of dough are easier to work with. Roll each portion between two sheets of parchment paper until 5-6mm thick. Chill in fridge or freezer until firm, at least 30 minutes.

5. Use a heart shape cutter to cut out 100 hearts without holes and 50 hearts with hole in the middle. I used a combination of a smaller heart cutter and small round cutter to create the hole. Place the cutouts on baking tray lined with parchment paper.

6. Chill the whole tray in the fridge or freezer while you preheat the oven to 150°C. Bake for 14-15 minutes for hearts without holes, rotating the tray about halfway through baking. Bake the hearts with holes for 10-11 minutes. Cool on tray for 5 minutes before transferring to cooling rack to cool completely. Do note that baking times are approximate and may be different for you as each oven is different.

Freshly baked!

Store cooled cookies in airtight container lined with baking paper between layers of cookies if you are not decorating or assembling yet.

I decided to ice a simple rainbow on each heart with royal icing. I thought it would be a quick an easy job but I was badly mistaken! It took me about 4+ hours to finish icing all the rainbows! But this is definitely easier than preparing many coloured dough and having lots of dough wastage for the pinata cookies that I saw from the internet. I didn't want to waste royal icing either so I used ziplock bags with a hole cut for piping without piping tip attached. The result is less neat but I am not being a perfectionist here :p.

Halfway there! Hands shaking already...

Finally done!

Here comes the fun part. Assembly!

Gluing the middle layer on with royal icing. Make sure that the bottom piece is facing down instead of up such that the pinata cookie looks good on the underside as well.

Filling with MnMs

Seal the top piece with royal icing.

You may use a butter knife to gently scrape the sides of the assembled cookies to make the boundary between the layers of cookies less obvious but that's optional.

Happy Children's Day!

Update: these cookies were indeed very well received and could keep well for a long time! I was a bit concerned that the colouring on the MnMs would run during storage but it didn't! My elder kid tells me he is proud of me after he received many appreciative comments from his friends with some asking him to thank his mum for the cookies :)

With lots of love,
Phay Shing


  1. Hi, Can you provide the link to purchase the purple sweet potato . Thanks.

  2. Fantastic Post! Lot of information is helpful in some or the other way. Keep updating sweet potato powder