Mike and I visited the National Aquarium in Baltimore last weekend after a family party. I love an aquarium – the serene sharks and stingrays gliding through enormous tanks, the colorful tropical fish, the varieties of coral. I don’t scuba dive, but aquariums make me want to. Actually, I always just want to hop into the big tank and swim with the sharks, but I realize such behavior is both a) frowned upon and b) likely dangerous.
This weekend’s baking is inspired by our aquarium visit in these travel-friendly sparking sea creatures, which are basic sugar cookies in aquatic shapes covered in sparkling colored sugar. Easy to make and ship, these treats are on their way to Maryland for Maureen and Margo along with some books. Although the pink ones were supposed to be starfish, they didn’t quite turn out the way I’d hoped – but fortunately, they could be any kind of interesting aquatic plant.
- ½ cup butter, softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 2 cups flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 3 teaspoons vanilla
- Pink and blue colored sugar
Stir together flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside.
Cream together butter and sugar until fluffy. Add egg and beat well. Add vanilla and about half the flour mixture, beating until combined; beat in remaining flour.
Note: if your dough is too crumbly, you can add just a bit of water or another ¼ teaspoon of vanilla.
Knead just slightly until dough sticks together, then flatten into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until just barely firm, about 20-30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Roll dough to 1/8 inch thickness and cut into desired shapes – I used crabs and what were supposed to be starfish, as I bent the tips of the stars a bit, but actually look more like some kind of aquatic plants. Place colored sugar on a plate and carefully dip each cookie into the sugar, pressing so the sugar sticks (this provides better coverage than sprinkling the sugar on top, but you could do that too if you prefer). Carefully place cookies on parchment-lined baking sheets and bake for 8-10 minutes, until edges are just golden brown.
Remove from oven and cool on baking sheets for about 4-5 minutes, then place on a wire rack to cool completely.
Quantity varies based on the size of your cutter; this batch yielded about 20 cookies because the crab cutters are pretty large.