These are absolutely adorable cookies, great to share with kids or any adults with a sense of humor. They’re not especially quick to put together, but the end result is well worth it.
Makes about as many cookies as your sugar cookie recipe, usually 40-48.
Minimum total time from start to finish: 7-8 hours, about half active.
This can easily be spread over a couple of days, and several of the steps (snake rolling, decorating) would be fun and easy to share with kids.
Original credit for this recipe goes to Instructables user kristylynn84 and her instructions for unicorn poop cookies.
- One of everything sparkly from the baking section of your local craft or, in a pinch, grocery store.
- This can be a number of items, including but not limited to sparkly color powders, sparkling gels, sprinkles, “disco dust”, glittery food spray paint, etc. I would say it’s essential to have at least one each of sprinkles and some sort of sparkling powder or gel, so that you can have chunky sparkles and a glitter coat on the final product. This is the fun part though, so go nuts.
- A collection of food colors; high-quality will make a bigger impact, and think bright colors for best effect (if you’re using the “standard” liquid grocery store kind, make sure to have at least the regular and neon assortments).
- One sugar cookie recipe, and the ingredients to make it.
- At least one, preferably two, baking sheets of any kind
- A clean, open counter space for rolling out cookie “snakes”. I would say the ideal counter space is at least 3-4 feet wide and at least 2-3 feet deep, but you can work with a smaller space if you need to (it’s just a lot more work).
- Several plastic bags; ziplock sandwich bags are pretty ideal
Optional but Helpful
- A food-safe small paintbrush, usually easily found in the baking section of your craft store
- A collection of extra mixing bowls; one for every color you expect to use is really nice
- A kitchen scale
- Begin by making your sugar cookie dough.
This usually requires letting the butter sit out for an hour or two at room temperature to let it soften, then mixing up the ingredients in a specified order, but your recipe may vary, so follow it. (I mention the butter because it’s really handy to take that out before the jaunt to the craft store). Stop following your recipe as soon as you have a dough (before any steps calling for refrigeration or baking).
- Divide the dough.
Now that the dough is ready, we want to decide how many colors our poop will have. I’ve found that 7-8 colors is a good number for look, but more colors are going to take longer, so take that into account. Once you know how many colors you’re making, divide the dough as equally as possible into that many pieces. If you have a kitchen scale, it’s easy to do this by weighing the dough, dividing that weight by the number of colors you plan for, and making pieces that are that result. If you don’t have a scale, just work by eye to the best of your ability. If you have a large enough number of bowls, put each piece of dough in its own bowl. If not, you can do the mixing in your plastic bags, so put the dough in there.
- Color the dough.
Add food coloring to each piece of dough and mix, adding more color as needed, until you have something satisfyingly bright. Usually a ‘kneading’ motion (but don’t use your hands directly on the dough, as you’ll dye your fingers that way) is a good way to mix the color in. I’ve found that making sure to have at least one yellow-ish color, one red/pink, one blue, and one green (with the addition of purple, more blues & pinks, etc.) gives a good balance in the final colors. A rainbow of Roy G. Biv + Pink is a nice mnemonic and a good base color set.
- Refrigerate the dough.
Put each piece of dough in its own plastic bag (if it’s not already there) and place in your fridge for at least an hour. As long as 2-3 days should be fine, if you’re not ready to start the next steps yet.
- Roll snakes!
Take one color out of the fridge and begin by rolling it into the longest, thinnest snakes you can manage. I find that to get the best snakes I need to break the dough into several equal pieces; 8 is a convenient number for the rest of this process. As you finish each snake in the first color, place it off to the side, out of the way of your continued rolling surface, with a fair bit of space between each snake.
- Roll the rest of the colors.
One color at a time, break the dough into the same number of equal pieces you used in your first color (8 is convenient because you break the dough in half, then each half in half, and finally once more in half) and roll out a snake of about the same length (and hopefully width) as your first color snakes. I find that it’s easiest to take the colors out of the fridge one at a time, roll them into a 8-12 inch snake, then break them into pieces and roll thin snakes one at a time. This is the most time-consuming part of the process; it takes me about 15 minutes per color.
If you have sparkly food powders, it can be fun to roll each snake in a reasonably corresponding (or contrasting) sparkling color before sticking it to your growing rainbow. This will make your cookies sparkle on the inside as well as the outside, although the effect is pretty subtle, so if you’re worried about the cost or don’t want to take the time for this step, don’t bother. If you decide to do this, I think the easiest way is probably to use a brush to spread a thick layer of powder on a plate or some parchment paper, and then roll the snake directly through the powder (the time I’ve tried it, I painted powder directly on each snake with the brush, and it was a pretty big pain, so I don’t recommend that method).
- Build dough rainbows.
As you finish each snake, place it next to one of your set-aside snakes and then use your fingers to smoosh the two colors together. I’ve always gotten the best results from building each final cookie by placing all the colors directly on the work surface, so you get an effect like a laid-down rainbow. And in fact, working in rainbow order, so that ‘closer’ colors are next to each other, also seems to give the prettiest final cookies.
- Pre-heat the oven.
Around the time you finish rolling the last color into snakes is a good time to finally turn on the oven. If you start pre-heating your oven when you start rolling snakes, you’ll find yourself standing around in a kitchen with a hot oven for at least an hour, which is just plain silly. Use the temperature in your original sugar cookie recipe, or, if you’ve lost it, 400° F.
- Roll up the rainbows.
I find that this is the most delicate part of the whole process of building the cookies, so work carefully and try not to get frustrated. To start, give one rainbow a final smoosh to get all the colors stuck together as much as possible. Carefully move that rainbow to a more open work surface. Now, beginning at the left hand side (if you’re right-handed; it may be easier to start from the right if you’re a lefty), carefully take the end and start rolling it over the rest of the snake at about a 45° angle to make a spiral of the colors. Continue rolling until you get to the other end of the rainbow, then repeat with the rest of the rainbows.
- Divide and poop.
Now we’re finally ready to form poop. Take one of the spiral-rolled rainbows and break it into smaller pieces, about 1.5-2 inches long (I find that this makes 5-6 pieces from each of my 8 snakes, for a total of about 40-48 cookies). Take each of these pieces and smoosh it firmly in your closed fist for a moment, to completely seal all the colors. Don’t worry, this won’t destroy all the careful contrast you just spent the last couple of hours building.
Gently roll the smooshed piece together on your work surface until it is about 3x its previous length, or about ⅓ inch in diameter. If it starts to come apart, just press it back together. If the colors have straightened out as you roll (so you have stripes instead of a spiral) you can twist the piece after it’s rolled to re-create the spiral effect.
Finally, move the tight, rolled spiral onto the cookie sheet and form it into a poop shape. I generally use the classic dog-poop spiral, but any shape that makes you think of poop is totally, uh, kosher for this. (Pardon me for a moment while I twitch about that turn of phrase applied to poop). Fill up your cookie sheet(s), leaving about 2 inches between the poops in case of spreading.
- (Optional) Decorate!
If you have large sprinkles, I would say that now is an excellent time to apply them to the cookies so they are firmly stuck in the final product. However, my experience is that smaller sprinkles are better to apply later, after any sparkling gel (but before any glitter spray paint), so if you have only those, skip straight to baking.
Bake according to your sugar cookie recipe. If you’ve lost it, I would suggest about 6-8 minutes, probably on the upper end of that. The one thing that makes this hard is that the recipe usually calls for “until golden brown”, which these heavily colored cookies basically never become. I’ve had good luck baking to the middle-to-upper end of the prescribed cooking time and just taking the cookies out then; if your cookies are a lot larger than the recipe called for, then you might even need to add a minute or two.
Pro Tip: If for some reason you don’t want to bake the poops now (or don’t want to bake all of them now), they freeze beautifully at this point, just before baking. Put them on a parchment sheet on a cookie sheet and put them in your freezer for an hour or so, then transfer the frozen cookies to a plastic freezer bag to store for probably at least a month safely in the freezer. When you are ready to bake them, just put them in the oven directly from the freezer and add a minute or two to the baking time.
Now it’s time to go crazy with the sparkles. Depending on what you have, here are some thoughts:
- Colored sugars and food spray work well together. While the cookies are still warm, sprinkle liberally with the sugars and then spray with the food spray to set the sugars. This gives them an interesting texture and a delightfully sparkly color.
- On the same note, sparkling gel and regular sprinkles also make a nice combination. Apply the gel liberally to the whole cookie with your fingers or, better, with a brush, and then carefully add a few sprinkles (not too many, for best effect). I think white pearls near the top, and stick sprinkles closer to the bottom, probably make for good contrast and coloration.
- If you’re using sparkling powder, I’d say make sure to apply it with a gentle hand—either gently paint it on or lightly sprinkle, depending on the effect you’re looking for and what other decorations you’re using. Otherwise, you might obscure the actual cookie colors.
- But, really, the sky is the limit here. Try to make them look mythical, and attractive to you, and preferably blindingly sparkly, but let your own tastes and desires guide what you do.
- Eat and enjoy!
Fortunately, there’s not a lot to clean up from this recipe. You’ll need to wash one or two mixing bowls from making the cookie dough, your baking sheet(s), and the counter you rolled snakes on. You might need to wash the bowls you mixed the colors in, but they’ll fit easily in your dishwasher if you have one. That’s it!