Lunar Surface Effect on Cookies

Do you need some easy, fast, inexpensive moon cookies for an event, party, or school bake sale? No time to go shopping for moulds or spend hours doing multiple layers of piping? Well I’ve got you covered!

moon cookies

Step 1: bake some round cookies. Use whatever recipe you like and make whatever sizes you need. In the photos here I’ve used my regular go-to sugar cookie recipe by The Pink Whisk because it’s written for UK flour and butter (US flour and butter are different than UK stuff so recipes tailored to your local ingredients will get you better results), and because no chilling is required so I can get a batch of these mixed and baked very quickly with consistent and delicious results.

Step 2: make some homemade sanding sugar. Store-bought sanding sugars are more evenly-coloured and sometimes fancier, but in this case making your own is cheaper, faster (unless you already have grey sanding sugar on hand and I bet you don’t!), and the variations in colour will make these cookies look more rocky.

I used to make my homemade sanding sugar in a plastic baggie using Sweet Sugarbelle’s method but I’m working to reduce single-use plastics, so now I do it in a washable tub with my fingertips. You can use granulated sugar for big sparkles or caster sugar for a finer texture. In this case I used caster. US folks: you can make caster sugar by putting regular granulated sugar in your food processor for a bit of a whiz until it’s ground as fine as you’d like.

Put about a half cup of sugar in a tub and add a drop of Americolor Super Black (or other highly concentrated black food gel). Then quickly massage that drop into the sugar, constantly bringing in more sugar so the initial goopy stuff gets distributed and dries out over the whole amount.

grey sanding sugar

I could have kept mixing this further to get it more evenly distributed but I wanted this more natural, rocky look.

Step 3: make some grey royal icing. The photo at the top of this post shows three different tones of grey plus some white ones as well. The white ones just have plain caster sugar on them and are sparkly but less moon-ish. So you can make multiple tones of grey if you want, or pick a shade you like and go with that.

Step 4: decorate!

You will do this in a bit of an assembly line so have everything ready to go.

mise en place

Some of the sanding sugar in a bowl suitable for dipping, light grey royal icing in a bag with a tiny snipped tip (you can use a piping tip if you want but it’s not necessary), and my first two experimental cookies on the board shown as an example. All of my other cookies are on a tray next to me just out of the photo, and on the other side are trays ready to take cookies as they’re done so they can dry safely.

Flood a cookie with the grey royal icing.

flooded cookie

See you don’t even have to mix your grey royal 100% evenly because it’s going to be covered and multiple tones just add to the effect anyway. And I didn’t bother making perfectly round edges on any of these because there’s no need.

Then either dip the cookie into the sanding sugar or if you feel too fumble-fingered or worry your royal is too runny to do that, sprinkle the sanding sugar over top. Both methods work. Dipping will give you a nice, flat surface but you’re going to deliberately mess with that in the next step anyway so the only benefit to dipping versus sprinkling is a bit less mess. Go with whatever works for you.

sanding sugar on cookie

Dip or sprinkle, whichever you prefer.

Wait about 5-10 minutes, depending on your icing consistency and room humidity, for the royal icing to start to set up. You don’t want it fully set, but just enough that you can push the sanding sugar through a drying surface to make craters. So really, just keep flooding and dipping/sprinkling a bunch of cookies and then come back for the next step when the first ones are setting up.

Then take any rounded tool you have (I used the back end of my cheap needle tool because it was right there but probably if I had to do a lot of these I’d use a ball tool or Sugar Shaper) and simply go around making dents in the icing.

making craters

Start by gently indenting part of the surface with the round tool.

making craters

There’s the first indentation, not too deep but starting the texturing. Here it’s a bit wetter than I’d like because I didn’t wait long enough, but it still works.


Keep going around making indentations until you’re happy with the result, then stop.

Here’s a video of mediocre quality because I came up with this whole technique while decorating cookies with other people in the room and decided to take a video on the spur of the moment:

Then just let them dry hard like any other royal iced cookie.

Voila, easy peasy lunar surfaces!

moon cookie

The random ridges and craters are really effective.

moon cookie

Same cookie as above but held up so the light highlights the texture more.

darker cookie

A bigger cookie with a darker grey flood, but again from the side you can really see how rocky it looks.

If you make some, post them in the comments below. This is also a fun activity to do with kids as part of a science module or just for space-loving lulz on a rainy day.

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