Getting Crafty with Cookies

Do you like monkeys? How about cookies? If you're not very good at piping out frosting embellishments, you can still get creative with decorating a cake on a budget! This project is easy enough that the preschooler requesting monkeys on his cake can also take part in making them! 

Easily create friendly faces of smiling primates with no baking required using store-bought cookies and a few other ingredients you may already have on hand! 

Here's what you'll need:

  • 1 box original size plain vanilla wafers 
  • 1 box mini plain vanilla wafers 
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder to dust and color the monkey faces brown (if you can find chocolate wafers that's even better!)
  • 1/2 tsp cocoa in a small bowl
  • a Q-tip for painting the smiles and nose dots with cocoa
  • 1/4 cup powder sugar to mix with water for the sugar-paste glue to adhere the eyes and muzzle
  • flat tooth picks, coffee stick or small utensil for stirring and applying sugar-paste
  • a serrated edge knife to cut the wafers into desired shapes 
  • 1 package small pre-made sugar eyeballs. These are available at the big craft stores and at your grocer in the baking aisle near birthday candles and pre-made cake decorations.
  • a sweet tooth to nibble the cookie cut-off bits and to sample an eyeball or two

Let's begin! Start with a work surface and a plate to catch the cut off bits and crumbs. You'll use 1 big wafer and 3 mini wafers and two eyes to make each face.

Step 1: Coloring Wafers with Cocoa

  • In a plastic sandwich bag add 1/3 cup cocoa powder.
  • Place 1 or 2 big wafers in at a time and gently press the cookie into the cocoa powder.
  • Tap off the excess cocoa and place these velvety brown bases to the side. 
Cocoa & Cut No SmileCredit: Sharon Rico Young

Step 2: Making Ears and Muzzles

  • Create curved half-moon shapes with two of the mini wafers evenly carving away enough to fit the shape of the main cookie. You can create a cutting guide by overlapping the big wafer over the mini about a third of the way and running a toothpick following along the edge of the top cookie marking the mini with a cutting-guide line.
  • Set the ears aside. Head and ears will be held in place by the frosting on the finished cake.
  • The muzzle is easily made by sawing off a little less than 1/4 of the cookie straight across the edge. 

An adult should do the cutting. Children can take part in this project by gluing the muzzle and eyeballs to the brown base using the sugar-paste, painting the smiles and nose dots and placing the finished faces on the frosted cake. 

Step 3: Making Faces

  • Add a few drops of water at a time to 1/4 cup of powder sugar in a small bowl and mix until a soft and pasty consistency forms. This is your glue!
  • Dust away some of the cocoa from the area that will have glue before adhering the eyes and muzzle to make sure they stick!
  • Apply a small dollop of the paste to the back of the muzzle and place just below midline of the cocoa covered base allowing the chin to extend past the bottom. Center the eyes on the cut edge of the muzzle!  You are now being watched. . . 
Paint and Glue FacesCredit: Sharon Rico Young

Step 4: Bring on the Smiles

  • Stir a few drops of warm water at a time into 1/2 tsp of cocoa and mix until it's dark and a watercolor-like consistency. Use your Q-tip to paint the smile and nose dots! 

  • Rolling the cocoa-dipped wet end of the swab along the flat of the plate will bring the cotton to a point.

Step 5: Admire Your Amazing Work!  

  • Now go bananas and put your little friends on your cake and dress it up!
Finished cookie closeupCredit: Sharon Rico Young

Lucky for me in the eyes of a 4-year-old child this cake is a masterpiece!!

Michaelangelo's CakeCredit: Sharon Rico Young