I never thought of myself as the type to put food on a stick. I avoided making cake pops during the trend. I thought, “Cake… on a stick? Why?!” But I guess people can change.
The impetus for my change of heart? I wanted to make favors for my son’s 5th birthday party which we had at the local jumpy house place. 5-year-olds love jumpy houses and having the party there prevented me from fussing over lots of party details that my kid doesn’t even care about. They jump, eat pizza and cake, and leave happy. Baking is a hobby, though, and I enjoy the details and putting my own spin on things. I thought of making “number” cookie pops and searched for it on Pinterest and Google and didn’t find any of the sort I was thinking. I made a test batch the week before the party to hone some skills and watched a bunch of 5-minute videos from the University of Cookie (check them out!). My taste-testers approved and I really enjoyed myself. You start to think of all the possibilities for cookie decorating. It seems a bit fussy for something that just gets eaten in two minutes but piping is kind of like painting. After doing it for awhile and hitting my stride I got immersed in the moment. I was in the zone. The royal icing zone. It was great. Thank goodness the little one was asleep, otherwise it would have been a big, big mess.
Some things I learned along the way regarding the cookie dough:
I like the large size (almost 5 inches) for a single cookie pop favor like this but most cookie cutters are 2 to 3 1/2 inches. This was one huge 5-dollar cookie cutter. I got it from cheapcookiecutters.com
. It required more rounds of baking because only a few fit on a baking sheet.
– In hindsight, I think the thickness of the cookie should be somewhere between 1/4 and 3/8ths of an inch thick (mine are 3/8ths). I used my kid’s “training wheels” for our rolling pin (link
), but you don’t need them. I just used them because they were there and I wanted a consistent batch. I had to choose a size and chose 3/8, and that was a hair thicker than ideal. A 1/4 inch cookie pop of this size would have been too thin. None of mine broke, by the way, unless dropped on the floor (“Oops!” said my kid).
– I stuck the lollipop stick into the dough before baking, after it was reasonably chilled, and already on my to-be-baked-on cookie sheet.
– Again, the Youtube videos from University of Cookie were great: I especially liked the tip from blogging superstar Tidymom about rolling out your cookie dough straight from mixer between two pieces of wax paper. It made things go super quick and easy.
– The cookie recipe I used
had good texture and wasn’t too hard. I would however like to try a recipe without baking powder next time. The cookies spread a little more than I would have liked. But the flavor was there. Almond extract. It’s your friend.
– You need room in your fridge or freezer for chilling cookies. Baking a chilled cookie is critical if you want to avoid spreading.
Some thoughts on using royal icing:
– Here’s the link to the royal icing recipe I used from “Bake at 350”.
It’s an easy recipe to follow, just a little messy if you don’t properly hold a tea towel over your mixer every time. Every
time. My mixer is on the smaller side and I don’t use the lip attachment. So that could be part of the fear of puffs of powdered sugar blanketing my kitchen.
– I used a size 2 plain piping tip for outlining and I like a size 3 tip for flooding (some people use a size 4). I used disposable piping bags I had in my pastry stash. I stood them up in a glass while filling and in-between takes, so they wouldn’t make a mess. It’s the little things.
– Another little thing: I kept a skewer and a damp paper towel nearby during decorating. The skewer was for any bobbles, and the paper towel to wipe the tip in between cookies to avoid any unwanted drying out globs. The damp paper towel was a big help. Royal icing is like cement when it dries.
– Those leftover chopsticks in your kitchen drawer are great for mixing your colors in the icing.
– I put the jimmies on about 30 seconds to a minute after flooding the cookie. After flooding about 3 cookies it was time for the jimmies, any sooner, they’d sink a tad.
– I was going to use nonpareil sprinkles (those round ones), as I like the idea of them, but realized after my test batch that an entire cookie of nonpareils is just not tasty. Jimmies aren’t actually that tasty either but at least they are not as crunchy or hard. Neither are quality foodstuff, but yeah, I went there in the name of party favors.
– Near the end, I was running low on icing in my piping bag so I didn’t flood the cookies with as much icing. They just didn’t look as plump and nice. Lesson learned, don’t be skimpy with your flood icing. I’m sure no one noticed, but I did.
Some thoughts on packaging and storage:
– The cookies were fine several days in advance. A good thing because you really need to do this in stages; cookies must be chilled before baking, cookies must be cooled before icing, icing must harden overnight before packaging…. I could see the window being a week with no problems. Certainly 3-4 days, properly stored, is absolutely perfect. I tried one a week later and it was okay.
Since I already had my cookie workshop in gear I decorated the family celebration cake with cookies. My son helped decorate by piping butter cream rosettes and placing his “letter” cookies on the cake.
He also made some heart-shaped party favors with the leftover dough for the visiting family members. (I put his icing in a squeezie bottle instead of a piping bag because I know better. And I had a squeeze bottle.) Full disclosure: shortly after the sprinkle pic below, things got way messier and he almost choked on a handful of nonpareils he decided to eat. He was fine, had a great birthday but he no longer likes nonpareils. Neither do I. I’ve joined the jimmie camp.