Creature Cookies

Here’s another great cake mix-based recipe for busy bakers. I found this recipe on several other blogs, so it’s difficult to give credit to whoever came up with it – I imagine it was an inventive test kitchen baker at a cake mix company.

I chose to add princess cake and cookie flavor to the dough, an amazing product available at King Arthur Flour that promises – and delivers – that classic “from the bakery” flavor. It’s kind of similar to the flavor of an animal cookie and makes a subtle yet wonderful addition to this dough. If you don’t have it, you can substitute vanilla extract if you like, or just leave the dough as-is.

Just a few notes about handling the dough: it’s incredibly sticky, so when you stir in your food coloring, you’ll want to use a mixer. I started out with three separate colors, then realized after some orange dough got into the green dough from my cookie scoop that mixing the colors would also be fun. Lastly, I used two different methods for placing the eyeballs; on the first two batches, I baked the cookies first, then pressed in the eyes when they came out of the oven (resulting in the look of the orange and purple cookies above). On the last batch, I pressed them into the dough before baking, and you can see the difference in the green/orange cookie above. Either method would be fine – you’ll just end up with a slightly different look based on what you choose.

Ingredients

  • 1 box white cake mix
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon princess cake & cookie flavor
  • Purple, orange, green, and yellow food coloring
  • Candy eyeballs

Preparation

In a large bowl, combine cake mix, vegetable oil, eggs, and flavoring; stir very well to completely combine. Divide dough into three portions. Tint one purple, one orange, and one green (I found that using both green and yellow yields a Frankenstein-like color, which is what I wanted); I used my stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, to really work the food coloring into the dough. Chill dough for 30-60 minutes, until easier to handle; it will remain quite sticky, but the chilling process does help.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 3 baking sheets with parchment.

Using a 1-inch cookie scoop, scoop portions of dough, then divide each portion in half – you want your portions to be about the size of a gumball. Roll into balls, combining colors if you like.

Place balls on parchment-lined baking sheets and press in candy eyeballs if you like, or wait until after baking and press eyeballs in then, whatever you prefer.

Bake for 9-11 minutes, until cookies are set. Remove from oven and allow to cool on baking sheets for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Makes 40.

 

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Confetti Cookies

As a busy working mother, my mom had little time for scratch baking, relying on mixes for many of our home-baked treats. Her peanut butter cookies involve a box of yellow cake mix, eggs, oil, and Jif peanut butter, and they are just as delicious to me as ones made completely from scratch.

Whether you bake completely from scratch or from mixes, what really matters is that you make things for the people you love. These cookies, adapted from a recipe from Better Homes & Gardens to include some vanilla extract, are bound for my goddaughter Maureen and her little sister Margo. I suspect they’ll enjoy them just as much as they would cookies made completely from scratch.

Ingredients

  • 1 box white cake mix*
  • 1 egg
  • 8 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup sprinkles

*I used Duncan Hines cake mix; your dough may take longer to chill depending on which brand of mix you use. 

Preparation

In a large bowl, stir together cake mix, egg, melted butter, and sprinkles. Cover and chill for 30 minutes or until dough is easy to handle.

On a very lightly floured surface, roll dough into a log about 2 inches wide. Wrap in plastic and chill until completely firm, about 30 minutes in the freezer or 1 hour in the fridge.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line three baking sheets with parchment paper.

Remove plastic wrap from dough and slice into 1/4-inch slices. Place cookies on prepared sheets, leaving about 2 inches between each cookie, as they spread when baking.

Bake for 9-11 minutes, until edges are light golden brown. Remove from oven and cool on baking sheets for 3 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Makes 30.