Decorating Cookies With The Keiki

Diana Helfand
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Wednesday - April 08, 2009
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With Easter on the way, bunnies come to mind. One of my favorites is the young rabbit who’s being lulled to sleep in the lovely, lilting children’s classic, Goodnight Moon.

For more than 60 years, moms and dads have read this beautiful story to their sleepy keiki, and now Margaret Wise Brown’s unforgettable book has been adapted into a shimmering new musical for the stage. Honolulu Theatre for Youth presents the Hawaii premiere April 17-May 16, for which Tenney Theatre’s stage has been transformed into a magical, life-size reproduction of the famous Great Green Room.


This column is dedicated to Junior Tesoro, the seasoned HTY company actor who plays the oh-so-not-sleepy young bunny. A father himself, Junior and wife Heather often read Goodnight Moon to their own little bunny, 2 1/2-year-old Keone “Little Dragon” Tesoro. Junior says he’s actually channeling a lot of Little Dragon’s antics for his role, which has him wrestling a pillow, playing musical chairs with the Three Bears, losing a tooth, cheering on the Cow as she jumps over the Moon, diving under the bed and floating up into the stars - all in the course of the one-hour musical.

Parents, grandparents and, of course, all those little keiki bunnies, hop on over to HTY now. You won’t want to miss this one!

Get the keiki involved in making and decorating these yummy cookies! I prefer to use Smart Balance margarine, as it has no trans fats; use the regular Smart Balance because the light variety does not cream well with the sugar. Although pure extracts are a bit more expensive than the imitation flavorings, I think they are worth the extra expense, as the flavor is more robust. These basic cookies can be decorated in a variety of ways: Instead of frosting, you can decorate the cookies before you bake them. Sprinkle on coarse colored sugar, nuts, colored sprinkles or other small candies. You also can make designs on the unbaked cookies by painting them with a mixture of egg yolks beaten with food coloring; the finished cookies will be glossy.

Use powdered sugar (about 3-4 cups) and add flavored extracts such as vanilla, lemon, orange or almond. It’s fun to make a different flavor for each color. The icing can be colored using liquid food coloring. When adding color, mix the color into about 1 tablespoon of icing, then blend that into the rest of the icing. Happy Easter!


* 3 3/4 cups unbleached flour
* 5 teaspoons baking powder
* 1/2 cup Smart Balance margarine
* 3/4 cup granulated sugar
* 1 egg plus 4 egg whites, beaten together slightly
* 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
* 1/4 cup skim milk
* 1/4 cup canola oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat cookie sheets with cooking spray. In medium bowl, sift flour with baking powder; set aside. In a large bowl, cream together margarine and sugar until fluffy. Beat in egg mixture and stir to combine. Stir in vanilla extract, milk and oil. Stir flour-baking powder mixture into the wet mixture until well-combined. Chill dough for about a half hour in the refrigerator. With floured hands, roll dough into 1-inch balls and, on a lightly floured surface, roll the balls out into ropes about 4 inches long. Form into wreath shape and press ends together. Put cookies 1 inch apart onto the coated cookie sheets and decorate before baking (see above), if desired.

Bake for about 10 minutes in the middle of oven, until the bottoms of the cookies are golden brown. If decorating after baking, cool, and dip into icing.

Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

Approximate Nutrition Information Per Serving (without decorations or icing):

Calories: 130
Fat: 3 grams
Cholesterol: 2 milligrams
Sodium: 85 milligrams

(Diana Helfand, author of “Hawaii Light and Healthy” and “The Best of Heart-y Cooking,” has taught nutrition in the Kapiolani Community College culinary arts program.)

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