Made for Each Other

Some things are just meant to be paired up – peanut butter and chocolate, oil and vinegar, sneakers… You get my point.

I’d made some cupcakes for my friends to nosh while we watched the Giants game a couple of weeks ago. I didn’t take pictures because they were pretty ugly in my opinion, and certainly nothing special. (I used a cake mix. Half were chocolate and half had vanilla frosting, and the vanilla were covered with red and blue sugar. Adorable, in theory, but also lazy.) I guess I’ve never brought cupcakes to these people before, or maybe they don’t often experience frosting that isn’t out of a can, but it was a surprisingly huge hit.

It was just a classic buttercream. I make it for everything, cakes, cupcakes, more cakes.  In the Wilton classes, they encourage you to use shortening. I totally get it, that stuff holds its shape on a cake! For these cupcakes, however, I was going for flavor and not just decoration, so I used all butter. They couldn’t get enough. There were threats of licking the tops off the rest of the cupcakes. Really, it was fine by me since I didn’t run the risk of grabbing a pre-licked cupcake.

This all led to a discussion about frosting, which led to reminiscing about frosting, and one of our favorite childhood snacks – Dunkaroos. You’d buy some little prepackaged cookies which came with their own little tub of frosting for you to dunk. YUM. I remember them fondly. One of my friends asked if I could just make her a bowl of frosting for her  so she could dip cookies in it. I told her I’d do one better and make the cookies as well.

They debuted this past weekend at her holiday party down in Manhattan Beach. Everyone asked me for the recipe, so here it is! (I can’t think of a better name.)


(Adapted from this recipe on NPR’s website)

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (unbleached), and more for rolling
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup unsalted butter – 2 sticks – at room temp
  • 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey

Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl. In a mixer on medium, combine butter, sugars, and honey. Add the dry stuff in 2 additions, let the first incorporate fully before adding the second.

Smush the dough into a rectangular shape, wrap tightly in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. If you’re making bigger cookies, you won’t need the dough to be too cold. If you make smaller ones like I did, you’ll have to keep popping the dough back in the fridge to get all the cookies out in one piece.

So, as you can already tell… here’s where I deviated. I made what seemed like 100 little cookies. I wanted them smaller for dunking, and also I wanted to give them cute holiday themed shapes.

Preheat your oven to 350°F when you’re ready to take the dough out from the fridge.

I rolled it out on this super cute mat I got from Target – not pricey at all and totally worth the investment and not having to clean up a bunch of flour from my countertop. I got the kid’s sized one because a)my counters aren’t that big and b) it’s prettier.

After rolling out the first batch to 1/8″ thick as was recommended, I realized that with such tiny cutouts I needed the dough a little thicker. For the rest of them, I rolled the dough out to about 1/4″ so I could actually pick the cookies up and get them on the cookie sheet. If you make the cookies thinner, just adjust the cooking time down by about a minute.

Towards the end, with all the rolling and re-rolling, I had to keep popping the dough in the freezer to firm up a bit. Otherwise it was just too hard to work with because it was sticking to the mat.

I baked 2 sheets at a time, as close to the middle in the oven as I could. Halfway through bake time, about 8 minutes a batch, I swapped the trays from the top and bottom shelves, and turned them around back to front. If you see them getting a little brown around the edges, they’re done. They’ll continue to cook on the sheet while they’re cooling, so you won’t want to overbake them in the oven. These aren’t supposed to be soft cookies, but you don’t want them super crispy either. (You can see the more well done ones on the edges. They were thinner cookies.)

These cookies didn’t spread much while baking, they just puffed up a bit, so I put as many as I could onto the sheet. There were so many cookies that even baking 2 sheets at a time I probably still did like 6 batches (and you can see how many cookies I was squeezing in there). In the end I gave up with the shapes, and started using a pizza cutter to make strips instead of shapes. The leftovers from that bunch were actually baked as a lump of dough. I’m sorry I didn’t take a picture, it was delicious.

How cute they are 🙂

VANILLA BEAN BUTTERCREAM FROSTING – For dunking and general frosting enjoyment

  • 1 cup butter, salted or not (can’t remember which I used)
  • 1 lb powdered/confectioners sugar (one box) – roughly 4 cups
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp meringue powder (not really necessary unless you’re frosting a cake)
  • 1/2 leftover vanilla bean (you could use a full bean if you want, but I’d still throw a bit of extract in there for more flavor)
  • 2-3 tbsp water to thin it out for dipping. You can add more if it’s still too thick, you don’t want the cookies breaking off into the frosting!

Cream the butter, vanilla, and water in a mixer. Add the meringue powder and then the powdered sugar a bit at a time, otherwise you’ll inhale a cloud of sugar dust. Not really as pleasant as it might sound. Scrape down the sides and beat a bit more.

Transfer to another bowl for eating! If it’s too thick, add more water (you can use milk too) a tablespoon at a time. Stir in with a knife.

If you want to make chocolate frosting, add 1/2 cup cocoa powder to the icing while mixing, add more to taste. If you’re doing half and half, use less chocolate to start and, again, add to taste. You’ll probably have to compensate for the extra dry ingredients by adding extra water. You can also use melted (and slightly cooled) chocolate instead of the powder.

You can put this in the fridge if you’re not using it right away, but it will harden. Make sure you take it out with time to “thaw” and stir it around with a butter knife to get it to a dip-able consistency.

I’m sorry I don’t have pictures of people enjoying this winning duo of sweetness, but since there’s none left, you’ll just have to believe me that they were a hit!

Happy Holidays!

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