20,000 Leagues Under the Sea Cookies!


I have a good friends who every few months have “Movie Night” at their house.  It’s well organized as he does themes for the year and usually starts with some interesting information about the film that I never knew.  The folks who come are all interesting to talk to as most are interested in culture; there’s a few retired professors from the local University and even some that come down from Canada just to attend!

Glazed and waiting to be eaten

This year it’s Sci-Fi and last night was “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” by Jules Verne, a Walt Disney film. I won’t go into the detail of cool things I learned about the movie but just tell you about the cookies I made. They were a real hit and everyone loved them! It took a bit of effort on my part but I’m glad I took the time as everyone had a good time talking about them (and eating them!)

Use waxed paper between layers.

It’s a basic Butter Cookie dough that I’ve used for cut out cookies, and you can too. But you can also play around with the dough as I did and shape them by hand. I’ll give you tips under each photo that will help you make them successfully. I do hope you try them or at least creating something then let me know how it went for you.

Glazed with yellow sugar-milk-vanilla glaze

To glaze the cookies wait until they are totally cool, this insures less breakage when you handle them. Make a drippy glaze in a cup by putting about 1/2 c confectioner’s sugar in then drizzle in some vanilla (I didn’t measure, just don’t overdo it) maybe about 1 tsp or so, and start mixing; now add a drizzle of milk, just a tad! Mix it up and you’ll be surprised at how little milk will make it runny. You want it sort of runny so it glazes easier. Add a drop or so of food coloring and mix. Using  a spoon gently touch the cookie as you let glaze drizzle out, I keep contact with the spoon and it helps to guide the glaze where you want it to go.  Don’t put so much that it runs down the sides only because it’ll make it harder to move them without breaking tentacles later!

Dusted with powdered sugar for something different

Besides glazing you can leave the cookies plain or dust with confectioner’s sugar. With any you can still taste the yummy goodness of this basic butter cookie. My favorite part was nibbling off the tentacles! They are crispy golden and when you pick up a cookie it’s the first thing you want to eat! How fun! If the cookies aren’t too ‘detailed’ you can also brush with egg white and sprinkle with colored sugar then bake; this is usually what I do for cut outs.

whoa...a whole bunch of squid monsters!

These are cooling from the oven…can you see how each one is different? This is what makes them so fun. Now my boyfriend saw them and said if you look at them upside down, they could be a Medusa head! Oh…what a fun idea! Can you picture it?

So, onto the cookies! I’ll put the recipe here then below pictures with detailed explanation and tips.

Butter Cookie Dough (for cut outs or hand shaping):

1 c butter (2 sticks or 8 oz) softened
2/3 c sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 c sifted flour

1. Preheat oven to 350F / 180C.
2. Cream butter and sugar well.
3. Beat in the egg and vanilla.
4. Sift the flour, measure and add a bit at a time mixing in well each time.
5. On floured surface roll dough out and cut with cookie cutters. Lift the dough and move it around a bit and re-flour if needed before you cut out, this way they don’t stick to the counter as much. Or just follow my directions below to hand shape them.
6. Bake on ungreased cookie sheet 8-10 minutes depending on their size, look for edges to get golden . For shaped cookies, let them cool for 3 minutes on the pan before removing them.

I sifted flour right in my flour container

I’m pretty laze about sifting flour first for recipes, especially cookies, but for this one it says ‘sifted flour’ so I just sifted a pile into my container then gently scooped up to measure. I then sifted more and repeated until I had enough, it wasn’t a big deal to do it this way.

Start with a walnut sized ball

Ok, so first step is to start with a walnut sized ball. See how my hands are floury and the ball slightly floury? That’s how you want it, NOT sticky.

With flour dusted hands roll it into a log

Roll the ball into a log with your hands, if it feels at all sticky, just dust your hands with flour again or roll the log on the counter to pick up flour then roll it in your hands and the flour will disappear. It shouldn’t feel sticky is the point.

On a floured counter pat it out into an oblong shape making it wider at one end.

Now place the log on the floured counter and using your finger tips gently pat it out flat. You will coax it into shape by patting flat with fingers of one hand while the other hand will push the edge to make it into a shape. Like here my left hand is keeping the bottom from spreading and the dough will go wider as I press with my right hand (fingers). Of course I’m holding the camera so you can’t see it in action!  You can see it looks a bit squareish on the right, I then used my fingers to push it in and round it.

(I’m sorry if it seems I’m over explaining this to those of you who ‘get it’, I like to give a full description for those who have little experience in the kitchen, I guess it’s the teacher in me!)

Cut in the middle leaving 1/3 uncut.

Lift the piece of dough and lay it near the edge of the ‘floured’ counter like so. It helps to lift with an icing spatula, you can see mine in the picture above showing the ball of dough. Take a sharp knife or use the edge of the spatula to cut the dough up the middle, cut 2/3 up. The top is the head so how ever long your shape is will determine how long the tentacles are.

Cut each side piece into three

You’re going to cut each side into three parts, just keep the dough straight and make two cuts. BUT first! Here is the important tip!! When you cut, the dough will want to stick to your knife. As you lift it out, lift from the handle first in a rocking motion so the dough falls away from the knife and won’t pull on the dough near the tip of the knife. This is important because the trickiest part of making these is not pulling the tentacles off! You don’t want to ever pull the dough at the base of the tentacles, you’ll see what I mean when you do it. Wipe the blade off between cuts and use some flour on it if you want.

Six tentacles for a squid, but I don't think it matters, they are what you tell people they are, squid or octopus!

It’s really not that hard once you start doing them.

Lift gently and lay on cookie sheet

Use your icing spatula to help you lift the head then it’s easy to get your fingers under and lift the whole thing up. Gently lay on an ungreased cookie sheet. I put four on each sheet only because while some were baking I’d be working on them and it’s hard to get more done than that.

Gently pinch tentacles to make them more rounded.

After you lay it on the COOLED sheet, start with the outer legs and gently round each tentacle by lightly pinching with your fingertips then curve them up by the head. Then you do the rest of the legs being careful always not to pull on the legs at all.

Make eye holes with the end of a chop stick.

Use a pointed end of a chopstick or something similar to make holes for eyes. Stick it into the dough then make a circular motion to push the dough aside and create a hole, don’t make it too small or it’ll puff shut when you bake it. I found it helpful to hold the dough in place with the other hand while doing it. Do one cookie start to finish because the dough may get sticky if you let it sit on the cookie sheet waiting.

Put them in the oven for 8-10 minutes, mine took 10. Check to see if they are golden on the tips of the tentacles, give the cookie sheet a turn when you check them for even baking. When you remove them from the oven, set the timer for three minutes and let the cookies cool for that long. I found they were cooled enough to let them slide off easily but still just warm enough that they didn’t want to stick to the pan. Use the icing spatula to lift them off, making sure first that every tentacle etc is loose.

Close up of a scary squid...I'm not afraid, I'll eat his arms off! mmwahahahaha

I hope you’ll try to make something with this dough and let me know! I’ve even used it at Christmas or St. Patrick’s Day by tinting some of the dough then making striped candy canes or shamrocks….hm…I may have to make them again just so I can photograph them and show you. Click the picture below to see the recipe and photos as a glossy note card you can send or keep!

The next movie night is March 31 and it’s Ulysses so my imagination is already having fun thinking of what I can make! Sign up on the left sidebar to follow my posts if you like and leave me comments if you want! Now time to get back to my painting…and eating cookies…

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One Response

  1. This is THE cutest thing ever. EVER! :) I love how you do this completely cutter free too. Makes me think of all the possibilities that can be done without cookie cutters… Thank you for this! xo

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