Ever since developing the projects for Ultimate Cookies, I’ve been smitten with the notion of 3-D cookies. (You’ll see everything from 3-D lizards and peacocks to handbags and other edible bling in my new book!) These treats are as tasty as everyday 2-D cookies, but their added dimension lends a touch of the unexpected – something I always strive for in my sweets. Here’s a very simple 3-D cookie – an outtake from Ultimate Cookies, actually – that makes a wonderful baby shower or birthday party favor.

What you’ll need for 1 rattle:

  • 4 (2- to 2 1/4-inch) plain or fluted round cookies, topcoated with Royal Icing
  • A baby-themed stencil sized to fit your iced cookies (see Step 2)
  • About 3/4 cup thick Royal Icing, for stenciling, beadwork, and “glue” (allow at least 1/4 cup per color)
  • Soft-gel (aka liqua-gel) food coloring in soft baby shower colors
  • Trussing needle or toothpick
  • Small (about 3/4-inch-wide) offset spatula
  • Assorted small (about 1/2-inch) readymade royal icing do-dads in the baby theme (optional, instead of stenciling)
  • Parchment paper pastry cones (or substitute disposable plastic piping bags)
  • Scissors
  • 1 or more plastic coffee stirrers or cardboard lollypop sticks
  • About 8 inches thin (1/4-inch-wide) ribbon in the baby theme (think: pink or blue, polka dots, flowers . . . you get the picture.)
Great Shakes
Great Shakes Photo by Julia M. Usher

To make:

1 | Air-dry the topcoated cookie rounds. After you’ve smoothly topcoated your cookies with Royal Icing, let them air-dry until the icing has dried all the way through. (I allow the cookies to sit uncovered at room temperature overnight, sometimes longer if it’s particularly humid.) The icing will have crusted and dulled to a matte finish a lot sooner, but don’t let these looks fool you into thinking you can quickly move forward. It’s crucial not to rush the drying time or you will crack the underlying icing when you apply pressure to the cookie top while stenciling in the next step.

Closer! Photo by Julia M. Usher

2 | Select a right-sized stencil and go. Choose a stencil with some room to spare around the cookie edge. If you select one that comes too close to the edge, the icing can sneak underneath the stencil perimeter, leaving a messy or uneven finish around the cookie.

Steady, Now!
Steady, Now! Photo by Julia M. Usher

Divvy up the 3/4 cup icing into three portions. Use soft-gel food coloring (a relatively concentrated coloring) to tint one portion to contrast your cookie top coat and thin the icing to stenciling consistency. Tint another portion, as desired, and thin it to beadwork consistency (until it flows readily off a spoon, but still has some body). This icing will be used for dots around the perimeter of the cookie. And, lastly, leave the third portion at its original thick, “glue”-like consistency. This portion will be used in the last step to stick the cookies together, and onto the stick or rattle “handle.”

The Big Reveal!
The Big Reveal! Photo by Julia M. Usher

Center your stencil on the cookie top and hold it firmly in place with your fingertip. Or if there’s little room on the stencil top, steady it with the tip of a trussing needle (third photo, right) or toothpick. Carefully spread a very thin layer of the stenciling icing over the openings in the stencil. Take care not to move the stencil or the resulting image will be blurred. The stenciling icing needn’t be applied any thicker than the thickness of the stencil; if the icing is thicker, you’ll create peaks in it when you lift off the stencil. Also avoid making too many swipes across the stencil. I always choose an offset spatula long enough to cover the entire stencil opening so as not to leave spatula marks in the end pattern. Carefully lift off the stencil for the big reveal (fourth photo, right)!

All The Pieces . . .
All The Pieces . . . Photo by Julia M. Usher

Note: For a shortcut, skip the stenciling and glue ready-made royal icing embellishments, such as the baby faces pictured in the bottom two photos (right), on the rattle cookies instead. (Use a dab of the reserved thick icing for the “glue.”)

Almost Together . . .
Almost Together . . . Photo by Julia M. Usher

3 | Add icing details, such as beadwork. Fill the parchment cone (or disposable plastic piping bag) with the loose-ish icing for beadwork, and cut a tiny (less than 1/8-inch) hole in the tip. Hold the bag at a 90-degree angle to the cookie and pipe small dots around the cookie edge, and anywhere else you’d like detail on the cookie top. If the dots flow too readily into one another, your icing is likely too thin. Stir in additional sifted powdered sugar to thicken it and try again. Conversely, if the dots end up with peaks on them instead of being perfectly rounded on top, thin the icing with a tad of water and give the dots another shot. Let the decorated cookies sit at room temperature until the icing is completely dry.

Done and Displayed with Cookie Blocks, An Ultimate Cookies Outtake
Done and Displayed with Cookie Blocks, An Ultimate Cookies Outtake Photo by Steve Adams

4 | Assemble the rattle. Use the remaining thick icing to glue two decorated cookie rounds back-to-back to each end of a coffee stirrer or short lollypop stick. (I usually cut stirrers/sticks to about 4 inches in length first, and sometimes double up two stirrers in one rattle to make a more rigid handle.) Set the rattle on bubble wrap or mounded paper towels (so as not to disrupt the decorations on the underside of the cookies) and let the “glue” dry completely. Tie a small piece of ribbon into a bow at one end of the rattle, and this edible gift is ready to enjoy!

Note: The baby blocks pictured in the last photo are also made of stenciled cookies! However, you’ll have to wait for my sequel to Ultimate Cookies to see how they’re made!