Everybody loves a piñata, and everybody loves sugar cookies — which makes the two things the perfect combo. So for your upcoming Cinco de Mayo party, why not make burro-shaped piñata cookies?
Yup, these colorful cookies are actually tiny piñatas filled with candy, and we promise they're not nearly as hard to make as they look. When you pull these baked goodies off, you'll be the talk of every Cinco de Mayo party from here to the border.
These multi-striped, burro piñata sugar cookies come complete with hollow centers that you can fill with a secret stash of your favorite candies. Break open or bite into these festive treats, and be greeted with a sugary surprise inside.
Cream together the sugars and the butter. Beat in the eggs. Add the oil. Combine the dry ingredients, and then gradually add them to the mixture. Mix in the vanilla and almond extract.
Split the dough into five even-size balls and one smaller ball (this will be the black one). Add food coloring to each dough ball until your desired color is achieved. Gel food coloring gives you more intense colors than liquid food coloring does.
Use a container the same approximate width of your donkey/burro piñata cookie cutter, and line it with plastic food wrap. Split all your colored dough balls in half (except for the black one), and layer the dough in the container, starting with the black dough on the bottom. Alternate the colors so you end up with two layers of each color by the time you're done.
Cover the layered dough, and freeze it for four hours or overnight. This is the perfect time to conserve your creative juices for what lies ahead.
Remove the dough from the container, and unwrap it from the plastic. Cut it into slices of approximately 1/4 inch wide.
Place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and bake at 350 degrees F for 12 minutes.
Immediately after you take them out of the oven, use your burro piñata cookie cutter to cut the cookie shapes. Working in sets of three, being sure to cut two burro piñata cookies in one direction and one burro piñata cookie in the opposite direction. (Just flip your cookie cutter over.) That way, when you go to assemble them, the finished cookie will look "pretty" on both sides because the baked bottom sides will be hidden.
For the middle cookies in each set, cut off the ears and legs, and cut out the center where the M&M'S will go. I used a small square cutter and made three cuts to get a narrow rectangle. Try to work quickly, because as the cookies cool, they are more likely to crumble or break. Let them cool on the baking sheet before you move them and remove the excess, outer cookie.
To assemble, take the first piñata cookie, and lay it upside down so that the baked bottom is facing up. Outline the center of the piñata body with a "frosting glue" mixture of milk and powdered sugar. (I used 1/2 cup of powdered sugar and 2 teaspoons of milk. If you put it inside a Ziploc bag and cut off a tiny tip of the bag's corner, you can pipe it onto the cookie easily.)
Put the middle cookie on top of the frosting glue, and add the M&M'S to the open center. Put another outline of frosting glue on the middle cookie.
Place the opposite-cut piñata cookie on top (so that the pretty side is facing outward). Let these sit and harden for at least 30 minutes before you stand them upright.
This recipe will make six to eight piñata cookies.
A version of this article was originally published in April 2012.
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