When given a slice of cake, some people view the frosting as the main attraction and the cake as only a convenient serving tool. Others (I have even seen kids do this) scrape the frosting off completely and just eat the cake.
When my son was in preschool, he was in the no frosting category. He would go to his friends’ birthday parties and either decline the cake altogether or ask me to scrape the frosting off for him. His best friend in preschool was his perfect cake match. She would eat only frosting and leave the cake. At her birthday party, her brilliant mom, aware of the culinary preferences of the small guests, offered each child a choice of plain cake, a bowl with just a scoop of icing, or for the adventurous, a slice of frosted cake.
My own preferences lean toward plain or lightly frosted cake. I am not a frosting snob (at least I don’t think I am), but I am not usually a big fan of supermarket bakery frosting or frosting in a can. When I am going to indulge in frosting, I prefer homemade buttercream. Not often and not a lot, but buttercream is my frosting of choice.
Frosting, or the lack of it, is a major issue in care package goodies. Royal icing on cookies travels well, but fluffy or gooey frosting is a mess. I have seen frosted cupcakes from bakeries, ensconced in special scaffolding and custom made packaging that have made it through the mail intact. I have mailed homemade ganache covered cupcakes (a short distance and in the dead of winter) successfully. Frosted cakes, however, tend to arrive as trifle, a big pile of mushed cake chunks and frosting.
Consequently, I am willing to concede that there may occasionally be a good reason to use canned frosting. When you are baking for a frosting lover’s care package, especially in the summer or for distant destinations, including a can of frosting in the box could elicit a gleeful, enthusiastic response.
These Chocolate Cookie Frosting Dippers are for those who would like to eat frosting with a spoon but are concerned that it might not be socially acceptable. Use a dipping cookie to scoop up some frosting and you are safe from Miss Manners censure. These cookies are firm enough for dipping. They can be made crunchier with longer baking and may become crunchier with longer storage times. These are a mildly sweet cookie in order to let the sweet frosting take center stage.
For care package mailing, include a can of whipped (its softer and easier to scoop) frosting. The commercial packaging and preservatives will keep it safe from spoiling. For enjoying these cookies at home, there are limitless dip possibilities. Try frosting, whipped cream, melted chocolate, pudding, or fruity yogurt. The cookie dippers in the photos were made with desert safe vegetable shortening. The original recipe called for butter, so that is an option as well. These cookies will stay fresh for at least 2 weeks stored in an airtight container at room temperature.
Note: I photographed these cookies on a very humid day. After the cookies had been in the humidity for awhile, they began to break when dipped in the frosting. At that point the frosting worked best when spread onto the cookie with a knife. Thinning the frosting by heating in the microwave would also work. These are meant to be “eat as you frost” cookies rather than “frost a pile of them and display them on a plate” cookies.
Adapted from The Decorated Cookie
Makes about 28 cookies
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup baking cocoa
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup vegetable shortening *** or unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or paste***
***Desert Safe Adaptations: Use vegetable shortening and vanilla paste.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the shortening/butter and sugar.
- Add the egg and vanilla and continue mixing (3-5 minutes) until light and fluffy.
- Gradually add the flour mixture until combined.
- Form the dough into a disc, cover in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours.
When ready to bake:
- Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Remove a small chunk of dough (about 25 grams) and knead in your hand until smooth.
- Roll into a ball (about 1” diameter). Then, on the counter, roll the ball into a log about 4”-5” long. It will look like a long Tootsie Roll. If the dough becomes hard to work with, re-chill.
- Place the logs on the prepared baking sheet 1-2 inches apart. These cookies spread only minimally.
- Bake for 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely on the baking sheet. (Hint: If the top surface of any cookie appears cracked, carefully and gently press the cracks closed immediately after removing from the oven. The cracks will magically seal, leaving a smooth surface.)
- Cookies will remain fresh 2 weeks or longer when stored at room temperature in an air tight container or zip lock bag.
Packing tips: Double wrap pairs of cookies (with bottoms together) in plastic wrap, then place in an airtight container or zip lock bag. Pack firmly so that there is no movement of the cookies within the container. Include a can of frosting, a container of sprinkles, and a plastic knife.