It seems to be one of those days where all things in relation to Pandas and Sweets finally come together! As some of you might remember I offered a blog post on how to make your own Happy Panda Tea Cookies (link here -> http://www.craftzies.blogspot.com/2012/06/happy-panda-cookies.html) but since those took nearly forever to make I really wanted a simpler cookie. I mean, how hard is it to make cute Panda Sugar Cookies that don't take hours and hours in which to make? Seriously, this is not rocket science…
Well, I am happy to report that unlike rocket science I have succeeded in making the Perfect Panda Cookie. I had a few really great web pages to help me along and I will link those as well with a few notes on areas I altered slightly based on personal preference but I think these will be perfect for bringing about a bit of cheer to your day and though the recipe I am going to link is not gluten free you can try substituting the flour for a gf mix and it should work. I am trying it now so I will keep you posted on my success there but honestly these are my very favorites so far!
Here’s the recipe I used -> http://www.food.com/recipe/kittencals-buttery-cut-out-sugar-cookies-w-icing-that-hardens-261889
I also found this to be a helpful site when attempting to make my own Happy Panda Cookies -> http://cupecakegang.blogspot.com/2011/11/panda-cookies.html
*I made a few adjustments to the recipe and style of my cookies however and those are mentioned below.
I added green food coloring to the dough because I really liked the look of the panda face with the green background. I rolled it up in wax paper and chilled it overnight. The next day I removed the dough from the fridge and let it warm up a bit while rolling the dough into a more rounded position. The dough had been soft when you placed it in the fridge rolled out into a log so once you remove it from the fridge you do need to roll it around a bit to make the shape more rounded. Then while still wrapped up in the wax paper I took a sharp knife and cut slices (and removed any wax paper pieces as needed-we don’t want to cook those) and put them on a buttered cookie sheet and cooked them on 350 for about 10-12 minutes. As soon as the bottom edges start to darken slightly remove them from the oven and if more time is needed, allow them to cool slightly before taking them off the cookie sheet. If they look perfectly done then remove them from the cookie sheet onto a cooking rack or other flat surface in order to cool.
I also added chocolate to the bottoms and edges of the cookies so allow them to cool fully and then melt the chocolate chips, stir the chips and make sure they are fully melted, and then dunk the cookie bottoms in the chocolate and lay each one out on wax paper. If you have decided not to color your cookies with green colorant then you can skip the cookie chocolate dunk part but when coloring the cookies green I found the cookie looked nicer in appearance (and taste obviously) with the chocolate around the edges. Once you have added the chocolate allow the cookies to cool a bit.
*I was out of almond extract so I substituted it with Vanilla extract and I never use corn syrup in my food so I substituted with a dash of vanilla and milk for the frosting. I found 3.5 cups of sifted powdered sugar, vanilla and 3 tbs. of softened butter were the perfect start and then I added a smidge more milk and stirred, and then just to get it perfect I added a tiny smidge more powdered sugar. Do that and test the consistency on a test cookie and you’ll get it perfect ;)
Once you are finished adding the chocolate to the cookies then we are going to add the Panda Faces. Grab a cookie to test your design, and when making up your white frosting make sure it is thin like an icing rather than a frosting but do make sure that frosting is not too runny. You will know if the icing is too runny, in which case add the smallest amount of powdered sugar while stirring until it is perfect. The perfect consistency is when you can add a small spoonful to the middle and then carefully move the spoon in a circular motion to level the frosting. It should make a nice round circle without running over the edges and yet also be thick enough to cover up the green cookie color below and dry smoothly. Don’t worry, you will find the perfect balance. I ended up with two test cookies in the end but I did find the right consistency for the frosting and the face design.
For the black parts I went with a black food colorant I picked up in the baking section of Michaels craft store and when I made up some of the white frosting I just added a little to a small dish and mixed in some black until I got the right color I wanted. If you cannot find or don’t want to use black food coloring you can probably use melted chocolate though I admit I have not yet tried it myself. One thing I did realize, and honestly didn’t care because of the yummy factor, was that the chocolate on the bottom of the cookies was a brown milk chocolate and the face pieces were a black. If you want the dark areas to match then I would say either add melted chocolate to the face to match or go with dark chocolate for the bottom of the cookies so the colors are all similar. I added the smaller face areas with a bamboo skewer, the ears and eyes with the flat bottom and the nose and mouth with the pointy end of the skewer. Once finished with the faces I put the plates in the fridge to chill for about an hour.
nom nom nom…
Have a fabulous day & Happy Baking!