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Cinco de Mayo piñata cookies

Sandra Denneler is a SheKnows Expert who's been making and doing her entire life. Growing up, her favorite book was the 1973 World Book Encyclopedia's Childcraft Volume 11, Make and Do. An art director at Wichita State University, Sandra...

Piñata sugar cookies with a surprise inside — olé!

It's that time of year again when you get to put on your party hat and celebrate Cinco de Mayo, commemorating Mexico's victory over the French army, on May 5. As you probably know by now, this means food, festivities and lots of fun — think confetti, margaritas and yummy Cinco de Mayo-themed goodies, and you're on the right track.
Piñata sugar cookies with a surprise inside — olé!
Image: Sandra Denneler/SheKnows

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.

Video how-to: Piñata cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 5 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • Mini M&M'S candies
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar, for the frosting
  • 2 teaspoons milk, for the frosting
Piñata sugar cookies with a surprise inside — olé!
Image: Sandra Denneler/SheKnows

1. Make the dough

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.

2. Color the dough

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.

Piñata sugar cookies with a surprise inside — olé!
Image: Sandra Denneler/SheKnows

3. Layer the dough

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.

Piñata sugar cookies with a surprise inside — olé!
Image: Sandra Denneler/SheKnows

4. Wait

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.

5. Bake the cookies

Remove the dough from the container, and unwrap it from the plastic. Cut it into slices of approximately 1/4 inch wide.

Piñata sugar cookies with a surprise inside — olé!
Image: Sandra Denneler/SheKnows

Place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and bake at 350 degrees F for 12 minutes.

Piñata sugar cookies with a surprise inside — olé!
Image: Sandra Denneler/SheKnows

6. Cut the cookies

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.

Piñata sugar cookies with a surprise inside — olé!
Image: Sandra Denneler/SheKnows

7. Create the hidden pocket

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.

Piñata sugar cookies with a surprise inside — olé!
Image: Sandra Denneler/SheKnows

8. Assembling the piñata cookies

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.)

Piñata sugar cookies with a surprise inside — olé!
Image: Sandra Denneler/SheKnows

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.

Piñata sugar cookies with a surprise inside — olé!
Image: Sandra Denneler/SheKnows
Piñata sugar cookies with a surprise inside — olé!
Image: Sandra Denneler/SheKnows

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.

Piñata sugar cookies with a surprise inside — olé!
Image: Sandra Denneler/SheKnows

9. Show off your finished piñata cookies

Piñata sugar cookies with a surprise inside — olé!
Image: Sandra Denneler/SheKnows

This recipe will make six to eight piñata cookies.

Piñata sugar cookies with a surprise inside — olé!
Image: Sandra Denneler/SheKnows

Check out our piñata cookie photo gallery with even more how-to images.

Piñata sugar cookies with a surprise inside — olé!
Image: Sandra Denneler/SheKnows

More Cinco de Mayo recipes and party ideas

Cinco de Mayo recipes: Fiesta food and drink
Host a Cinco de Mayo fiesta
Skinny margarita recipes

Updated by Bethany Ramos on 4/4/16

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