Thursday, April 8, 2010

Secret Decoder Cookies

You know when you see the words SECRET, DECODER, and COOKIE together you already want to try this.  I know you do.  At least I did.  When I saw this online I had to try it out...and give it my own little twist to make it really intriguing for my oldest child too.  It had great lunch box love note potential. It's really quite easy but there are a few tricks that I found out on the way.  Ready, let's make em'

First, gather your supplies. You'll need:
Your favorite sugar cookie recipe
and the ingredients to make them

 (Here's mine, they are super soft and delicious)

A bag of red,clear, hard candies. 
Jolley Ranchers were reccomended and I think they would actually work best. They are more transparent that what I ended up with. But, I couldn't find packages that had ONLY red at my local Wal-Mart.  So, I bought a package of red cinnamon discs instead and I actually quite liked the cinnamon taste.

Two cookie cutters of the same shape that fit inside one another (or you could use jars, or cups, or whatever you have that will make a nice ring shape after you use both'll see below)

Rolling Pin

Large Ziploc Bag

My Secret Decoder Messages

First, unwrap all of your hard candies and put them in a large ziploc bag.  Seal the bag and place it on a heave cutting board.

Now, if you are feeling really brave or really generous or really illogical, give your child a hammer and tell him that he gets to break those candies to smitherines.
Try to read his facial cues to see if he is going to be dangerous...does he look like he will be dangerous?
 Now would be a good time to go over safe hammering rules and the importance of retaining all fingers and eyes during the process...or maybe you could do the hammering.  But, he will think it's so fun.
You can use the rolling pin to crush the pieces some more.
Now once those candies are all crushed you have what my son affectionately calls "DECODERANT".  Sounds like deodorant but it's so much more delicous.  And, it will soon be the "DECODER" part of the cookie.
Make your sugar cookie dough and roll it out to about 1/4".
Now get out your two cookie cutters.  Or, in my case, a jar and a measuring cup.
All that matters is that the two circles fit nicely inside each other to make a ring shape.

Cut our your ring shapes
and place them on a COOKIE SHEET THAT HAS BEEN COVERED WITH TINFOIL AND GREASED.  Do not skip the greasing.  See this pan. 
 It's not greased.  It didn't go well. Hard candy can be very sticky.  Which bring us to the next step.  Spoon the decoderant into your little sugar cookie rings. 
But don't put too much in.  If you fill the rings to the top you will end up with a very thick decoder window that is hard to see through.  See, it's tasty but it's a wall, not a window.
Take it easy on the DECODERANT...just enough that it will melt and create a very thin window.
Now put it in the oven at 350 degrees for 9-10 minutes and watch it transform into this:

And now you're ready to decode.  The concept is that the message in written is light blue but surrounded by lots of print that is in red, orange and pink which makes it hard to read the message.  The decoder is placed over the message and kind of drowns out all the "noise" so you only see the message written in light blue.  Like this:

I sent the "coded" messages to school with my daughter today along with two decoder cookies.  She came home saying that everyone at her lunch table thought it was so cool and that they all took turns using the decoder and reading the messages. To which I responded "You passed your cookie around the table and everyone touched it and then you ate it?"  To which she responded with a huge grin and said "Yeah, they LOVED IT!" And I felt grossed out and pleased at the same time.
So, mission accomplished.  A lunchbox love note that made everyone happy and satisfied their sweet tooth too.

P.S.-A note on storing these cookies.  The decoder windows do not like heat or humidity.  They became sticky and foggy when I sealed them all in a plastic bag together and put them on top of my fridge. So, if you aren't going to use them immediately I would at least reccomend that you:

1-Don't store in an air tight container that will hold in all the moisture.  Maybe it's just the humidity here but it left them way too moist.  You want that red window to stay dry.
2-Don't stack them on top of each other
3-Keep them cool

But, all the cookies were gone quickly so you may not have to worry about that at all.
And here's some decoder messages just for fun.

And, here's a blank one if you want to make your own.  Use light blue lettering.  (My lettering was just a light blue outline and white filling)  I did this in PICASA so you can play with it a little until the lettering looks transparent enough that you can't read it well without the decoder.



  1. How do I access that sugar cookie recipe? They really are the best! I really want to try this craft.

  2. Is there a way to personalize the messages? This is such a great idea, but my oldest daughter's in high school and might appreciate a teenage-appropriate message. Thanks!

    BTW, I just stumbled across your blog. Wow is all I can say. :) You're amazing!

  3. I added the blank decoder image that I used to the bottom of this post. Try typing your words in light blue (mine were light blue outline with white filling) and then printing the image over the top of the words. Hope it works for you!

  4. Actually come to think of it I may have put the words over the top of the decoder paper and then increased the transparency of the letters (I did this in PICASA) so that they didn't stand out so much . Hmmmm. If you can't get this to work email me and we'll figure it out.