How to Make Zebra Stripe Cookies
For a birthday party, shower, bake sale, or any event where you want to make a statement, zebra stripe cookies can definitely do the trick. Whether you want to make zebra-shaped cookies that have stripes baked into them or create plain butter cookies and add the stripes with icing, you can customize the look of the cookies to fit your occasion to a tee. The stripes aren't just for horse-shaped cookies either -- add them to simple round cookies to spice them up!
1 ¼ cups (285 g) butter, softened
1 cup (200 g) sugar
⅔ cup (83 g) confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
3 cups (375 g) all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon (1 ½ g) salt
¼ cup (30 g) baking cocoa
1 pound (454 g) confectioners’ sugar
3 pasteurized egg whites
1 teaspoon (5 ml) fresh lemon juice
Black food coloring
Making the Cookie Dough
Combine the butter and sugars.Add 1 ¼ cups (285 g) of softened butter and 1 cup (200 g) of sugar to a large bowl. Use a hand mixer to cream the ingredients together on medium speed until the mixture is light and fluffy.
- You can mix the cookie dough in a stand mixer if you prefer.
- You can also mix the dough by hand, but it will take a little longer.
Beat in the egg and vanilla.Once the butter and sugar mixture is combined, add 1 egg and 1 teaspoon (5 ml) of vanilla extract. With the hand mixer on medium, blend until they’re fully incorporated.
Mix the flour and salt.In a separate bowl, combine 3 cups (375 g) of all-purpose flour and ¼ teaspoon (1 ½ g) of salt. Toss the two together until they’re well mixed.
- If you’ve used salted butter in the dough, you can omit the salt if you prefer.
Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture.Once the flour and salt are mixed, add it to the butter mixture in increments. Blend with the hand mixer on low until the dry ingredients are fully incorporated.
- Be careful not to overmix the dough, or you may wind up with tough cookies.
Divide the dough in half and add the cocoa to one half.When the dough is completely mixed, separate it into two bowls. Leave one half as is. Mix ¼ cup (30 g) of baking cocoa into the other bowl until it’s completely blended. You’ll wind up with a bowl of cream colored dough and a bowl of chocolate colored dough.
- You don’t have to add the cocoa to color the dough if you plan to make the zebra stripes with icing. Instead, leave all of the dough cream colored and decorate the baked cookies with the royal icing as described below.
Shaping and Cutting the Cookies
Preheat the oven.To ensure that the oven is hot enough to bake the cookies, it’s important to preheat it. Set the temperature to 375 degrees (190 degrees Celsius), and allow it to heat fully.
- Pay attention to your oven so you know when it’s ready. It will probably flash an indicator light or beep as an alert.
Roll each half of dough into a square.Place the cream colored dough between two pieces of wax paper, and place the chocolate colored dough between another two pieces of wax paper. With a rolling pin, roll each piece into a 9-inch (23-cm) square.
- You can substitute parchment paper for the wax paper.
- If you don’t have a rolling pin, you can use a wine bottle, thermos, or glass.
Cut the squares into strips and then into rectangles.After you’ve rolled the dough out into squares, use a knife to slice each one into 3-inch (8-cm) strips. You should have 3 strips for each square for a total of six. Next, slice the strips in half lengthwise to create rectangles.
- The rectangles should be approximately 4 ½-inch by 3-inch (11-cm by 8-cm). You should have a total of 12 rectangles.
Alternate the cream rectangles and chocolate rectangles.Set a piece of plastic wrap down, and place a cream square on it. Layer a chocolate rectangle on top, and repeat the process until you’ve used up all of the rectangles.
- If you’re going to use the royal icing to add zebra stripes, there’s no need to do these layering steps. Simply roll out the dough, and use the cookie cutters to cut the horse shapes.
Refrigerate the dough.Wrap the plastic wrap around the layered dough to cover it completely. Place it the refrigerator to chill for 2 hours.
Cut the dough into slices.When the dough is properly chilled, remove it from the refrigerator and unwrap it. Use a knife to cut it into slices widthwise that are approximately ¼-inch (6-mm) thick.
- You should wind up with a total of 18 slices.
Use a horse-shaped cookie cutter on each slice.Dip a horse-shaped cookie cutter in flour to coat it. Press it into the dough slice to create a shaped, striped cookie. Repeat the process with all of the slices.
- Be sure to use a horse cookie cutter that’s 4-inches (10-cm) or smaller.
Baking the Cookies
Transfer the cookies to a baking sheet.After you’ve cut out all of the cookies, place them on an ungreased baking sheet. There should be at least 1-inch (2.5 cm) between them to prevent them from baking together.
Bake the cookies until lightly golden.Place the baking in sheet in the preheated oven. Allow the cookies to bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until their edges become lightly golden.
- To ensure that the cookies bake evenly, use the center rack in the oven.
Cool the cookies on wire racks.When they’re finished baking, let the cookies sit on the baking sheet for 2 minutes to allow them to set slightly. Next, transfer them to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
- It should take approximately 15 to 20 minutes for the cookies to cool completely.
Mixing Up the Royal Icing
Combine the egg whites and lemon juice.Add 3 pasteurized egg whites and 1 teaspoon (5 ml) of fresh lemon juice to a medium size bowl. Mix until the two are fully combined.
- If you prefer, you can substitute 1 teaspoon (5 ml) of vanilla for the lemon juice.
Slowly add the powdered sugar.When the egg whites and lemon juice are combined, mix 1 pound (454 g) of confectioners’ sugar into the bowl. Use a hand mixer on low to blend it in until the sugar is fully incorporated. Turn the mixer’s speed up to medium, and mix the icing for approximately 5 minutes or until stiff peaks form.
- If the icing hasn’t formed stiff peaks, you may need to turn the mixer’s speed up to medium-high.
Divide the icing and add black food coloring to half.Remove half of the icing, and place it in a separate bowl. Add a few drops of black food coloring to the one of the bowls of icing, and stir to blend it in completely.
- Start with 2 to 3 drops of food coloring. Add more if the icing isn’t as dark as you’d like.
- You don’t necessarily have to use black food coloring. Get creative, and make zebra stripes in whatever color you prefer.
Refrigerate the black icing.Cover the bowl with the black icing with plastic wrap. Place it in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use it.
- Press the plastic wrap down onto the surface of the icing to keep it from forming a crust.
Frosting the Cookies with Zebra Stripes
Fill in the cookies with the white icing.Use a butter knife to spread the white icing all over the zebra cookies. If you prefer, you can transfer the icing to a piping bag and pipe it all over the cookies to fill them in completely.
- Make sure the cookies are cooled completely before frosting them. The icing will melt if the cookies are still warm.
- If you want to pipe the icing on and it seems too thick, mix a few drops of water into it to thin it out.
Allow the icing to set fully.Once all of the zebra cookies are filled in with the white royal icing, it’s important to allow the icing to set completely. Let the cookies sit for 12 to 24 hours so the icing has time to set completely.
Bring the black icing to room temperature and place in piping bag.When the white icing has set and you’re ready to add the zebra stripes, remove the black royal icing from the refrigerator. Allow it to sit out for 1 to 2 hours or until it comes to room temperature. When it’s soft enough, transfer it to a piping bag that’s fitted with a fine tip.
- Stir the icing as it’s warming to help it along.
- If the icing is too thick to pipe when it’s finished warming, add a few drops of water to thin it out.
Outline and fill in elongated, uneven triangles on the cookies with the black icing.With the black icing in the piping bag, carefully pipe the outline of elongated, irregular triangles over the cookie to create the stripes. Fill in the triangles with the icing too.
- For the best look, alternate the stripes from one side of the cookie to the other as you make them.
Let the cookies set before serving or packaging.If you plan to serve the cookies, allow the icing to set for 20 to 30 minutes. However, if you plan to package them to distribute as gifts, wait at least 12 hours before placing them in bags or containers.
- If you’re decorating the cookies with the royal icing to add the zebra stripes, you don’t necessarily have to use horse-shaped cookie cutters. Use any shape that you like, such as a heart or star, and add the stripes for a fun look.
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