This recipe was significantly more humbling than I expected it to be.
I saw these fantastic piñata cookies in an article of festive Cinco De Mayo recipes. As soon as I saw it I knew I wanted to make these donkey sandwich cookies, containing a little M&M surprise inside. So when Jack’s day care asked for parents to sign up to bring treats for Teacher Appreciation Week this week, I thought these would be timely and perfect. They were more than I bargained for.
First, this dough is sensitive. Very buttery and soft, it needs to be pretty well chilled in order to make it manageable. I tried to add the gel food pastes right after pulling the dough out of the mixer and it was too soft to maneuver, I had to stick it into the fridge for a while to firm up. Then after layering I thought it best to freeze overnight, rather than for just a few hours, to make it easier to slice and cut.
Second, I wasn’t diligent about layering the dough to be the right width for my cookie cutter. After freezing overnight and slicing, I realized that my block of dough was not tall enough to cut out a full donkey. So I had to choose between a different cookie cutter (aka a different shape for the pinatas), or meld two slices of the dough together. I went for the latter. Not ideal, but I wasn’t about to give up on my donkey cutter.
Third, I don’t realize how much dough is wasted. The striped nature of these cookies make the cutouts a one-time-use-only situation. In other words, you can’t roll out your dough, get as many cutouts as possible, then gather all the extra pieces and re-roll to make more. You get one cut and then the extra pieces around the edges are basically donezo.
Finally, turning flat cookies into little stacks with a hollowed out space and filled with a surprise is not super easy. Exhausted and already facing a mountain of dishes, I wanted to be finished with this project after these came out of the oven. But that would be like getting to mile 22 of a marathon and just stopping there, deciding that the finish line just wasn’t worth seeing. So I made adjustments from the original recipe to make it more manageable for a single mom working in her kitchen at 11pm on a Tuesday night. I just used some white chocolate ganache to make a little resivoir, filled it with sprinkles, and sandwiched another cookie on top. This negated the need for a third cookie in the center and while my technique didn’t leave enough room for mini M&Ms. On the bright side, it still offers a surprise when you break apart the two cookies, it gives a pretty decent piñata effect, and it allowed me to get to be before midnight.
All and all, I may have bitten off a little more than I could chew with these treats, especially on a week with Josh in Australia and Jack and I both recovering from illnesses. But, live and learn. Tonight the only thing we’ll be making in the kitchen is a margarita. Olay!