Yesterday I surprised the kids with a special outing into town to watch the new animated movie The Guardians of Ga'Hoole based on the book series by Kathryn Lasky and to get a chance to see a real live owl!! The MARS (Mountainaire Avian Rescue Society) was at the theater to do a little talk all about owls and what their rescue society does and they brought along 'Shakespeare' a Barred Owl who is their educational ambassador. The kids loved it! Both the owl and the movie :)
As soon as we returned the home the kids began pretending they were owls and so far it hasn't stopped *grin*. So I thought it would be fun to make some owl cookies and owl masks to keep on with the owly fun!
I had ran across a picture of owl cookies on craft gossip but they were made from store bought sugar cookie dough and since we don't have anything like that readily available here I thought that it would be just as easy to whip up a batch of sugar cookie dough :)
So here it is... the make your own dough version of it *grin*.
Trust me if you can make cookie dough and know how to wield a rolling pin then this is going to be easy LOL.
2 cup sugar
2 cup unsalted butter
Cream the butter and sugar together. Add one egg at a time and beat really well until the butter mixture is super light and fluffy.
1 tsp. baking powder
5 cups all purpose flour
Add the flour and baking powder to the butter mixture and mix just until combined. You don't want to over mix or it will start to turn your dough tough. Once you've got it all combined, scoop out roughly 1 third of the dough into a separate bowl. Don't worry about being completely accurate, just eyeball it up. This is going to be the center of you owls eye :)
1 cup unsweetened cocoa
to the remaining 2/3 of your dough and mix until the cocoa is blended in evenly. This is going to be the outer part of your owls eye.
Now comes the fun part of shaping your plain white dough into a big snake shaped log. On a piece of wax paper, saran wrap or a non stick silicone mat (whichever you have will work) roll and squeeze your dough outwards in a log shape until it is about 18 inches long. By the time I had the length my roll was about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. As soon as you have finished wrap your log in saran wrap or wax paper and place on a flat surface in your refrigerator for about 10-15 minutes to firm up so you can handle it without worrying about dimpling or breaking it.
Next is to take your chocolate colored portion of the dough and shape it into an 18 inch long by 8 inch wide rectangle. Of course the kids couldn't resist squeezing and squishing the dough so this was a perfect job for them *grin*.
We did it on another sheet of wax paper and then I put an additional piece on top and ran the rolling pin over it to take all of the humps and bumps from the hand prints out of it :) Do not refrigerate this portion of your dough. You want it nice and soft for the next step!
Your log of white dough should be firm enough now to take out of the fridge now. Unroll it and place it on top of your chocolate rectangle and you are going to roll the chocolate layer around the white just like you were rolling up cinnamon buns :) Use your wax paper on the bottom of the chocolate layer to keep your hands from getting sticky and to aid in the smooth rolling of it. Don't worry it is definitely not hard to do and once it is all rolled up you can roll the whole log around on the counter in the wax paper a couple of times to make sure the two layers stick together nicely and you get a nice round shape. Place the entire log in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes to firm up again.
Now that you have one multicolored log of sugar cookie dough you're ready to put your owl faces together! Take your knife and slice off rounds of your dough roughly 1/4 - 1/2 inches thick...
and place in pairs on your cookies sheet. Make sure that the two pieces touch each other in the center and you will find that there will be a slightly flat side on each of your rounds caused by the pressure of cutting your log on the counter so place those flatter sides together in the middle :)
For the beaks use unsalted or raw cashews. Press them into the lower part of your center seam leaving the pointier part of the cashew out of the dough so that it looks like a hooked owls beak. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 350 degrees fahrenheit for 10 - 12 minutes or until just starting to brown and firm up around the edges and the centers are slightly puffed up.
As soon as your owl faces are cooled you can use your favorite icing recipe or frosting from a can if you like *grin* and add your eyeballs and lashes. I used reeses pieces because we had them on hand but you could use smarties or m&m's if you like to.
Just in case you want to know what my icing recipe is it's a simple butter frosting of 1/4 cup of butter and 1 1/2 cups icing sugar beat together with 2-3 tablespoons of milk until it comes to a squeezable consistency that you can squeeze through your piping bag. Another super quick way to create your chocolate icing would be to melt chocolate chips or bakers chocolate squares in a heat proof bowl. This works really well in a pinch *grin*. Another tip is if you don't have an actual piping bag you can use a regular ziploc baggy and just cut off one of the bottom corners and voila you have an instant piping bag :)