Here’s something you may not know about me: I’m a crazy, smothery, smoochy, obsessed aunt. My niece Sofia just turned one, and from the moment the party planning began I kept trying to figure out a way to sneak some of my baking into the day. It’s not that I wanted to crash the party or anything—it’s just that lately, I can’t go to a friend or family member’s event without showering them with love in the form of butter, sugar, flour, and eggs.
I *almost* committed to making the cake, but with a full work week and loaded weeknights, I worried I couldn’t do it. So after much consulting with Sofia, we decided on rubber ducky cookies for the favors. She’s obsessed with Sesame Street and with taking a bath, so what could be better?
I baked these cookies on Thursday night and stored them in Tupperware to keep them moist. They were iced on Friday, packaged on Saturday morning, and gone by the afternoon. They make excellent party favors, and all you truly need is butter, sugar, flour, eggs, and food coloring (okay, and vanilla). I have so many little ones coming into my life, I think I may transition from wedding cakes to these adorable guys.
Just in case you don’t know the legendary Sesame Street rubber ducky, made famous by Ernie himself, please don’t go any further before watching this. Then carry on with your baking.
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
In a large mixing bowl, blend the butter and sugar until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, until completely combined. Add the vanilla.
Add the flour in two batches, then the baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Remove half of the dough from the refrigerator and roll out onto a floured surface to about 1/4-inch thick. Flour your rolling pin as needed if the dough sticks to it. Cut into assorted shapes with a cookie cutter.
I found these really hard to move from my floured surface to the baking sheet. A trick to avoid breaking their shape is to roll small batches of dough onto a sheet of parchment paper large enough to fit your cookie sheet. Cut out two cookies at a time (or however many you can get from your small batch) and remove the excess dough around them. Continue rolling out small batches of dough onto the parchment and pulling away the excess without moving the cookies. When your parchment is full, transfer the whole thing to your cookie sheet. This way, you never have to move the actual cookies once they’re cut.
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool completely before decorating.
Makes about 30 cookies.
All quantities are approximate. Start with the sugar and adjust the liquid quantities as needed to get the icing to the consistency you need.
8 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup milk
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
yellow and red food coloring
Black licorice laces, cut into small dots
Make the icing by combining the confectioners’ sugar and milk in a large bowl. Gradually mix in the corn syrup, adjusting the quantity until you have the consistency you want. Start by making a very stiff icing to outline the ducks’ bodies and make the beaks. Set aside about ¼ cup of the stiff icing in a small bowl and dye it orange by combining five drops of yellow food coloring with two drops of red. Set aside another ¼ cup of stiff icing in a small bowl and dye it yellow with five drops of yellow coloring.
Return to your larger bowl of undyed icing and add another few teaspoons of milk and corn syrup to make a thinner icing. You want it to roll off the edge of a spoon, but not so much that it becomes runny. Dye with yellow food coloring.
Fill a pastry bag with the orange icing affixed with a small- to medium-round tip (it doesn’t have to be an exact size). Fill another pastry bag with the stiff yellow icing affixed with a small round tip. Finally, fill a third bag with the thin yellow icing affixed with a wider round tip.
Outline each duck’s body with the stiff yellow icing, except for the beak. Set aside to dry. Once you’ve outlined all your ducks, go back and fill them in with the thinner yellow icing. Finish by filling in the beaks with orange icing.
Push a bit of black licorice into each duck’s head to make the eye before the icing dries.
Leave everything to dry overnight, then package in cellophane treat bags and tie with a colorful ribbon.