We’ve made it to the third and final week of our Christmas Cookies in July series! I was hoping to get more varieties in, but 3 is a good start. For the third entry in the series, I decided to make watermelon smile cookies. After all, what is more summery than watermelon?
When I decided to make these cookies, the first thing I did was google “watermelon cookies.” Surprise surprise, there are a lot of variations out there. I settled on this recipe from Taste of Home to base my cookies on. I felt it made more sense to flavor them with watermelon instead of almond extract, and before I even saw the recipe, I knew I wanted to use chocolate-covered sunflower seeds for the watermelon seeds. The watermelon flavoring I used tastes more like a watermelon lollipop than it does actual watermelon, but I still found it pleasant. If you’re not into that flavor, you can use ½ teaspoon of vanilla or almond extract in its place, or surprise your
cookie receptacles taste testers with a completely different and unexpected flavoring (lemon, root beer, grape, the possibilities are endless).
You will need the following ingredients (the canisters in the back are flour and sugar):
For the cookies:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ tsp. baking powder
- ⅛ tsp. salt
- ¾ cup (1½ sticks) butter, softened (here’s a tutorial on softening butter for those who forgot to plan ahead)
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- ⅛ tsp. watermelon flavoring (the link takes you to an assortment of flavors, but I was able to find this in a two-pack in Michael’s for not too much money)
- red and green food coloring
- brown or black chocolate-covered sunflower seeds (optional)
For baking ambiance:
- I was also making Spanish rice for dinner while working on these cookies, so I decided to go with Santana since I was clearly in a Latin mood. Old Santana, new Santana, ’90s Santana, it’s all good. It probably also helps that my dad liked to blast Abraxas from the PA system when we had outdoor parties, so I can’t think summer and not think Santana.
Without further ado, let’s bake some watermelon smiles!
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.
In the bowl of a stand mixer or other large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar.
Add in the egg and watermelon flavoring and beat the mixture until it is well-combined.
Working in batches (I used two), slowly mix in the dry ingredients until they are fully-incorporated. Be sure to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl so you don’t miss anything.
Reserve ⅓ cup and ⅔ cup of the dough in separate bowls. In the remaining dough, make a well with your finger in the center and squeeze 10 drops of red food coloring into it.
Knead the dough with your hands until the color is even throughout the dough. Do the same with the ⅓ cup of dough you put into another bowl, using 4 drops of green food coloring instead.
Form the plain dough into a small rectangle (this makes it easier to roll it into a rectangle) and wrap it in plastic wrap. Do the same with the green dough. Form the red dough into a 3½”-long log and wrap it in plastic wrap as well. Refrigerate all of your dough packages for 2 hours.
When your dough is nice and firm, remove the plain dough from the plastic wrap. Roll it out into an 8½” by 3½” rectangle on a well-floured surface. Be very gentle, as this dough is a little brittle. If you have it, you can use powdered sugar instead of flour to keep your dough from sticking because it keeps your dough from gaining too much flour, which can make it taste gross. That said, in this instance, flour versus powdered sugar won’t make that much of a difference because these are such small pieces of cookie dough.
Now take the red dough roll out of its plastic wrap, reshaping it into a cylinder if necessary, and place it on the short end of the plain dough. Very carefully roll the plain dough around the red dough until it is completely covered (to me, it looks like a deranged pig in a blanket). Roll the green dough out into a 10″ by 3½” rectangle and and roll the log inside it.
Wrap the whole long in plastic wrap and refrigerate it overnight. If you don’t have the time to wait, you can freeze it for 1-2 hours instead (this is what I did and it worked fine).
Preheat your oven to 350°F. When your multi-colored dough chub is nice and hard, unwrap it, cut off and discard the rough ends, and cut it into 3/16″ thick slices (mine might have gotten a little thick). Arrange them on greased or foil-lined baking sheets. Gently press the sunflower seeds into the red part of the cookies to make your watermelon seeds.
Bake the cookies for 9-11 minutes, or until the they have hardened a bit and are no longer shiny. You don’t want them to brown because that defeats the whole purpose of watermelon cookies.
Immediately slice the cookies in half with a sharp knife. Let them sit for 5 minutes on the cookie sheets, then remove them to cooling racks to cool completely. Enjoy!
You can download the PDF recipe here: Watermelon Slice Cookies