My daughter loves, loves, loves cats. So for her 8th birthday, she begged me to make calico cat cookies for her classroom treats at school. As much as I enjoy baking, I REALLY hate frosting. (The thought of decorating 30+ calico-patterned cookies sent my hands into carpel-tunnel spasms.) Think. Think. Think. There just had to be an easier way to make them look “calico” without spending hours in the kitchen. Ta-da! Guess what? There is an easier way. I’m happy to share my secret with you, as well as a bonus cookie idea for dog-lovers: Dotty Dalmatians.
So what’s my secret? Let the dough do the work. Simply add food coloring to the sugar cookie dough, roll the colors together somewhat strategically, and flatten them out to bake. There’s a fun element of surprise in every one because no two are the same.
And the only decorating that’s necessary is to add candy eyes and noses.
This particular sugar cookie recipe is one of my family’s favorites – very crispy, with a hint of almond flavor. They absolutely melt in your mouth. But if this isn’t to your liking, you could certainly try this technique with your own sugar cookie recipe.
What You NeedMakes approximately 36 cookies
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup unsalted butter
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 4 1/2 cups flour
- 1 tablespoon vanilla (I use clear vanilla to keep the dough as white as possible)
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- Orange, brown and black food coloring
- 1 additional cup of sugar for dipping the glass
For decorating faces:
- 1 cup of white chocolate chips or vanilla candy melts
- Pink candy melts
- Black candy melts
- Black decorator candy balls
- Black food coloring marker (for whiskers)
In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugars. Beat in eggs and oil. Combine the dry ingredients. Gradually add it to the wet mixture. Mix in the vanilla and almond extracts. Split the dough into three parts – two smaller, and one larger. Add orange and brown food coloring to one of the smaller dough parts, mixing well. Add black food coloring to the other small dough part mixing well. Leave the largest dough portion uncolored. Cover the doughs and refrigerate overnight or at least 4 hours.
Remove the chilled dough from the refrigerator. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Roll the white dough into 1-1/2 inch balls. To make calico cats, add small bits of the orangish-brown and black doughs to the outsides of the white dough balls. Roll gently into a ball again with your hands and place on the parchment-lined cookie sheets. Press the dough balls flat using the bottom of a drinking glass, dipping the glass in granulated sugar each time before pressing. Bake for 12 minutes. After you take the cookies out of the oven, and while they’re still warm, make a small cut in the tops of each cookie with a 2-inch round cookie cutter to form the ears of the cat head.
To make the dalmatian dogs, use the same kind of technique but add only black dough bits to the white dough balls. Also, you will need to add some elongated, tear-drop shapes of dough on the sides, for the dogs’ ears. Press the dough balls flat using the bottom of a drinking glass, dipping the glass in sugar each time before pressing. Bake for 12 minutes.
To add the eyes and noses, melt about 1 cup of white chocolate chips or vanilla candy melts in the microwave. Pour into a small squeeze bottle. For the cats: squeeze small circles onto the cat cookies for the eyes. Add the black candy eyeballs. Cut tiny hearts from pink candy melts for the cat noses and attach with the melted white chocolate. If desired, draw on cat whiskers using a black food coloring pen. For the dogs: attach two black candy melt circles, squeeze circles of melted white chocolate and add the black candy balls. Cut tiny hearts from black candy melts for the dog noses and attach them with the melted white chocolate.