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Tiger Slice-and-Bake Cookies

These impressive cookies are simpler than they look-- the stripes are made of stacked layers of colored dough. Slice them just before baking, add a few dabs of icing and you have a treat guaranteed to sell out at your next bake sale.
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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 4 hr 30 min (includes cooling, chilling and setting times)
  • Active: 1 hr
  • Yield: 24 cookies
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Ingredients

Cookie Dough:

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting (see Cook's Note)

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 large eggs, at room temperature

Orange gel food coloring, for the dough

1/4 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder

Royal Icing:

1 cup confectioners' sugar

2 teaspoons meringue powder

Black gel food coloring, for the icing

Directions

Special equipment:
a piping bag fitted with a number 3 round tip (optional); a piping bag fitted with a number 2 round tip (optional)
  1. For the cookie dough: Put 1 3/4 cups of the flour in a medium bowl and whisk in the baking powder and salt; set aside.
  2. Beat the butter and granulated sugar in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment on medium speed, scraping down the bowl at least once during mixing, until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the vanilla and 1 egg and beat to combine. Add the dry ingredients and beat on low until incorporated. Scrape down the bowl and continue to beat for 1 minute.  
  3. Remove half of the dough and set aside. Add the remaining 1/4 cup flour to the dough in the mixer with 5 drops orange food coloring. Mix, scraping down the bowl once halfway, until well combined, about 2 minutes. Remove the orange dough to a piece of plastic wrap and pat into a 1/2-inch-thick disc. Wrap well and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to overnight.
  4. Add the reserved plain cookie dough back to the bowl. Add the cocoa powder and beat to combine. Remove the cocoa dough to a piece of plastic wrap and pat into a 1/2-inch-thick disc. Wrap well and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to overnight.  
  5. Unwrap both dough discs and place on a lightly floured work surface. Cut a 2 1/2-ounce piece of dough (approximately 1 inch by 4 1/2 inches) from the orange dough disc. Cut this piece in half lengthwise to form 2 long pieces (1/2 inch by 4 1/2 inches). Roll each piece into a 11-inch-long snake, dusting with additional flour as needed, and transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet.  
  6. Whisk together the remaining egg with 1 tablespoon water in a small bowl for an egg wash.
  7. Dust the work surface and your hands lightly with flour, then press out the orange dough with your hands (see Cook's note) into a rectangle approximately 5 1/2 inches by 7 1/2 inches. Repeat with the cocoa dough. Brush the top surface of the orange dough very lightly with the egg wash (don't use too much or it might ooze out) and place the cocoa dough on top, pressing down gently to adhere. Cut the stacked rectangles in half lengthwise. Lightly brush the top of one of the cocoa dough layers with egg wash and place the second stacked layer on top. Press down gently to adhere. Repeat once more, cutting down the center, brushing, stacking and pressing. Use a piece of parchment to roll the stack into a log, gently squeezing the center to elongate it to 11 inches. Transfer to the parchment-lined baking sheet with the orange dough snakes and refrigerate for 1 hour.  
  8. Using lightly floured hands, gently pinch the top edge of each snake to form a triangular rope. Keeping the stripes of the dough log oriented horizontally within the log and with the orange side up, brush the top edge lightly with the egg wash. Adhere the 2 snakes along the top edge with about 1/2 inch of space between each to form the tigers' ears. Use your fingers to gently press and seal the edges of the ears to the orange side of the log. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.  
  9. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment.
  10. Trim about 1/8 inch from each end of the log to reveal an even and flat tiger face. Cut the remaining log into 24 pieces, each slightly thinner than 1/2 inch. Arrange 12 cookies evenly on each parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake, rotating the pans from front to back and top to bottom halfway through, until the cookies are firm to the touch and the bottoms and tips of the ears are just beginning to brown, 14 to 17 minutes. Let cool completely on the baking sheets. 
  11. For the royal icing: Combine the confectioners' sugar and meringue powder in the bowl of a stand mixer (or in a bowl with a hand mixer). Slowly add 1 tablespoon of water while beating; continue to beat on high for 1 full minute, scraping down the sides of the bowl. You're looking for an icing with a pipeable consistency. If the icing is too thick, add more water 1 teaspoon at a time. 
  12. Transfer half of the icing to a resealable ziptop bag or disposable pastry bag fitted with a number 3 round tip. Add about 6 drops of black food coloring to the remaining icing in the bowl and beat until uniform in color. Add more food coloring as needed to get the desired black. Transfer the black icing to a resealable ziptop bag or disposable pastry bag fitted with a number 2 round tip.
  13. Pipe a long white triangle on each cookie to form a muzzle for the tiger; let set. Using the black icing on each cookie, pipe 2 eyes with eyebrows and a triangle on both ears. Pipe an upside down triangle for each nose with 2 curved lines for a mouth. Let sit for 30 minutes for the icing to set up and harden before packaging or serving.

Cook’s Note

When measuring flour, we spoon it into a dry measuring cup and level off excess. (Scooping directly from the bag compacts the flour, resulting in dry baked goods.) Use your hands to press out the dough instead of a rolling pin. You want the dough to have some hills and valleys, creating more dynamic tiger stripes. Use the egg wash very sparingly; you do not want it to ooze out of the sides and create a sticky mess with the dough