Right now I have this big desire to learn the ukulele, which is strange since I'm not really a musical person. Not to say I didn't try. I played piano for most of my life, but since I really don't like classical music, it never became a big passion of mine. I tried the flute for a while, but that really didn't work out from, well, a lack of skill. Neither did the recorder nor the harmonica. But I think all my recent dreams of lounging on a tropical island (due to a summer stuck inside taking classes and filling out med school secondaries) has gotten to me.
While I usually don't enjoy instrumental music (ie. music with no words), I find myself feeling relaxed when I hear ukulele music; the mellowness is just infectious. I think it's a combination of liking the sound of the instrument itself and the image of the beach and palm trees that automatically pop up in my mind through association. Thus, I was inspired to make ukelele cookies. They're basically chocolate-dipped shortbread, but fancily ukulele-shaped.
adapted from 101cookbooks
16 tbsp (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 cups flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
pearl milk tea straw
(spoons for method 2)
Cream butter with sugar. Add the vanilla extract and mix. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add these dry ingredients to the butter/sugar/vanilla mixture. Mix. Gather the dough in a ball and split in two. Place one of the halves between two sheets of plastic wrap. Cover the other half and set aside.
Use a rolling pin to flatten the dough to 1 cm thick. Print out one of the ukulele stencils (for stencil 2, use only the body stencil, leave the head/neck stencil for later), cut it out, then spray with nonstick spray (so the paper won't stick to the dough). Use a knife to trace out the stencil on the dough. Carefully move the dough cut-outs to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Take the pearl milk tea straw and cut out holes in the cut-outs where the ukulele sound hole should be. Repeat all of this with the other half of the dough. Gather the leftover scraps and repeat until all the dough is shaped.
Refrigerate cookie cut-outs for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350°F. When the half hour is up, place in oven and bake 10-12 minutes, until the edges begin to brown. Take out of the oven and let cool on tray. Make sure cookies are totally cool before decorating them.
Decorating the Cookies
I have two different methods for decorating the cookies. One takes less hassle, but in my opinion, doesn't look as good (but it's also less fragile). This is method 1, shown in the first photo in this post, which uses stencil 1. The other method takes more work and produces a more fragile cookie, but I think it looks more ukulele-like. That one is method 2, shown in the last photo in this post, which uses stencil 2. Pick whichever method you would prefer.
To use the stencils, copy and paste the one you want onto MS Word (or similar program). Crop out the extra background and stretch the stencil out to the indicated dimensions. Measurements are taken at the extreme points of the stencils. So for the length of stencil 1, it would be from the pointy top to the round base.
Stencil 1 - 3 1/2 x 1 1/4 inches
Stencil 2 - Body: 1 3/4 x 1 1/4 inches
This step is fairly straightforward. Melt the semisweet chocolate. Use a toothpick or a spoon to spread it in the head and neck area of the cookie. Then, use a toothpick to trace out the bridge of the cookie. Melt a little bit of white chocolate and use a toothpick and make four dots in the head area. Let dry before proceeding to the string step.
While waiting, use a toothpick to trace out the bridge on the cookie bodies. When the chocolate on the parchment is totally dry, carefully remove the chocolate head/necks from the parchment paper. Melt some more semisweet chocolate. Dab a bit of chocolate in the top center of each cookie body, above the sound hole. Place a chocolate head/neck on top of the chocolate blob and use a spoon to hold the neck in place until the chocolate blob is dry and holds the chocolate pieces in place, seen in the photo above.
Strings & Sound Hole
This step is the same for both methods. Cut out little rectangles of parchment paper that fit over the ukulele cookie sound holes. Cover the sound hole of each cookie, as seen in the photo above. Melt white chocolate and place it in a piping bag. Cut a tiny hole in the piping bag and test drawing lines on a piece of parchment.
When ready, pipe four strings on each cookie. Start with the middle two strings, piping from the bottom of the bridge to the top two white chocolate dots on the head. For the outer two strings, start from the bridge bottom and pipe to the bottom two white chocolate dots on the head. Trace over the four strings again with white chocolate to strengthen them. Then pipe a horizontal line of white chocolate across the bridge (over the four strings). Let the strings dry.
Once the strings are totally dry, use a toothpick to carefully poke loose the small pieces of parchment paper, push them toward the back of the sound hole, and carefully use your fingers to pull out the piece of parchment from each cookie. To finish, the sound hole should be covered. Melt semisweet chocolate and use a spoon to place small blobs of it on a piece of parchment, seen in the photo above. Then place a cookie on top of each blob, let the chocolate dry, then carefully pull the cookies off the parchment.
Makes 30-35 cookies