Mehndi Inspired Spice Cookies

In mid 2009, my oldest and very dear friend told me she was having “one of those years”.  You know the kind. Your car starts making a noise, you find out you will be having surgery, the person installing the insulation in your attic falls through the ceiling and into your bedroom… that kind of a year. Unfortunately, it seems the same turbulence has spilled over into 2010.  She’s certainly aware that matters could be worse, but still, it just seems she’s due for some better luck. I figure she’s at least due some delicious cookies!

I wanted to make something fun and personal, yet artful and representative of good fortune.  Ann is a talented artist with an extensive background in print making.  Early in our friendship, we both were intrigued by the beauty of Mehndi design.  We even had a Mehndi/henna decorating party of our own. Mehndi is a form of temporary body art usually drawn on hands and feet with henna paste, most common in India. There are many meanings to its various designs and some are used ceremonially. It’s so beautiful, we both really fell in love with the aesthetic.

The idea came to me that I should do a Mehndi inspired cookie for her.  With our busy lives, we may not have the time, purpose, or even the right, to practice this intricate art form, but we can talk about how much we admire it over some delicious spiced roll-out cookies.

I found this recipe at Epicurious.com and it is so delicious, not to mention the perfect canvas for this project.  I was intrigued by the use of ground mustard in the dough.  I didn’t know what to expect flavor wise, but found that you really can’t taste it at all.  It enhances the other spices in the dough, which are too numerous to mention here. (see recipe)

After making your dough, you’ll divide it into two balls and roll out each between sheets of parchment.  It will need to chill thoroughly, and I would suggest overnight.

I made my own hand template. I didn’t have a hand cookie cutter, (although they are available) so I traced my own hand on a piece of heavy watercolor paper and cut it out.  It worked great! I’d say cardboard or poster board would work well also.

After rolling the dough a little thinner, lay the template on the dough and cut around it with a sharp knife. Set the template aside. Transfer hand(s) to parchment lined cookie sheet.  With the back of your knife make lines between the fingers, being careful not to cut all the way through.

After baking the cookies, you’re ready for embellishment!  I used a fine-tipped artist’s brush and a little brown/black gel food coloring.  You could also use the Wilton’s Food Writer in black or brown.

If you feel intimidated about painting the seemingly intricate patterns, I’d suggest starting small, in the middle of the “palm” and work your way out.  Most Mehndi designs are very organic, and easy enough to free-hand, or you can just leave the design to your imagination.

If you need additional help with design, there are multiple resources online if you search for “Mehndi“.  Here are some examples from a template that came with a kit I had years ago.  I can’t believe I still have it!

Some designs have specific meanings, but I didn’t decorate my cookies upon that premise. I did use the lotus design, because I found it visually pleasing.  The meaning has something do to with rising from the bottom of the pond, from the mud and muck. That may be appropriate, yes?

Time to package these for mailing! I hope to have them on the way by tomorrow.

Even if Mehndi hands are not in your cookie-making future, I’d suggest giving this unusual but very delicious spicy cookie a try – in whatever shape pleases you most!

Please note, I have no formal education in official Mehndi practices, I only know that it’s really pretty.

***These featured on FOODWHIRL, also on Craftzine!

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Sanjana
Sanjana
11 years ago

These are amazing! Wow! So creative! I can't wait to have a go!

Flirting with Flour
Flirting with Flour
11 years ago

Truly a work of art. These are beautiful cookies. I love that you portrayed culture in the design of something as basic as a cookie. Sometimes I see the recipes and creativity of other bloggers and just wonder how you come up with these things?! ๐Ÿ™‚ I think of myself as pretty creative – perhaps I am inexperienced. What an inspiration. I will DEFINITELY be making these in the future.

April
April
11 years ago

These are gorgeous!!!

the decorated cookie
the decorated cookie
11 years ago

Wow! That's what I just said out loud and no one is even in the room with me. So utterly fabulous and clever. (I posted a link to your site on my column, ediblecrafts.craftgossip.com)

Diana's Cocina
Diana's Cocina
11 years ago

Awesome! I enjoy a good spice cookie with a cup of hot tea.

a little bit of everything
a little bit of everything
11 years ago

These are magnificent! I imagine it would be hard to eat them and not just shellac them and use them as a decoration! You are very talented!
The recipe does sound tasty and I will have to give it a try.
I am following your blog and it would be great if you did the same.

Audacious Allure
Audacious Allure
11 years ago

Those are amazing! A friend of mine just had a mehndi party that I missed unfortunately but this would have been perfect to bring. Ill just have to find a reason to make these!

Sunday
Sunday
11 years ago

Heather these are just lovely and such a nice and thoughtful gift for a friend. Beautiful designs and interesting sounding cookies!

Ingrid_3Bs
Ingrid_3Bs
11 years ago

Those look amazing. How thoughtful of you, too!
~ingrid

Anonymous
Anonymous
11 years ago

i just want to cry, theyre so beautiful

Unknown
Unknown
11 years ago

Just found your website, I am beyond impressed. These are so pretty. In Indian cultures when they have mendhi ceremonies, this would be an awesome thing to serve:)
*kisses* HH

Gala
Gala
11 years ago

I love this idea, the cookies look gorgeous.

Bethie
Bethie
11 years ago

Beautiful!!

feasting.in
feasting.in
11 years ago

These cookies are absolutely stunning! They're definitely an eye catcher.

.:Kieran

cookies and cups
cookies and cups
11 years ago

How cool are these!?! Awesome job!

La Table De Nana
La Table De Nana
11 years ago

Superb! How nice of you also~

Deana Sidney
Deana Sidney
11 years ago

Spectacular cookie!!! They are so unusual and I love the idea of writing/painting a cookie instead of regular frosting… really great!!!!!

veggie wedgie
veggie wedgie
11 years ago

Love these! Very unique ๐Ÿ™‚

Jane M
Jane M
11 years ago

Wow these cookies look fan-damn-tastick. I just might have to give them a try! I've never painted on a cookie before – I wonder if I'd be any good at.

Carolyn Jung
Carolyn Jung
11 years ago

Wow, these are such an elegant alternative to the usual, overly sugared and overly frosted sugar cookies. Just lovely! And what a thoughtful friend you are to have made these to cheer up a struggling soul.

Beryl
Beryl
11 years ago

So incredibly beautiful. What a wonderful gift.

Rachel@oneprettything.com
Rachel@oneprettything.com
11 years ago

These are AMAZING! So, so creative. I'm blown away. Thanks so much for this, I'll be linking.

Memรณria
Memรณria
11 years ago

You know that these are absolutely stunningly beautiful, right?! Sure you do. Wow. Great job.

Mara Campbell
Mara Campbell
11 years ago

These might just be too beautiful to eat. Absolutely amazing, what a creative and clever idea and you executed it beautifully. I love your blog!!!

the happy chef
the happy chef
11 years ago

WOW! I am indian, and I have NEVER though of doing this (perhaps because mehendi is such a daunting task!) This is quite innovative!! I've acutally been keeping up with your blog for sometime, but i haven't had the chance to acutally comment! I'm looking into starting my own food blog (even though my cooking is at a minimium since i am going to school and working!!) any tips?

Laura Bray
Laura Bray
11 years ago

Simply beautiful. What a good friend you are!

Laurie
Laurie
11 years ago

These are such a divine creation Heather. I am so impressed with your baked goods! This past weekend was my daughters birthday and I baked
the colorful spiral cookies. I posted them today with gratitude and a link to you. Grazi and Ciao! Laurie @ DMC

The Blonde Duck
The Blonde Duck
11 years ago

Those are amazing! They're so intricate!

Megan
Megan
11 years ago

Your not only a fabulous baker but a dear sweet friend. Bless you!
Cookies are awesome and a very interesting recipe to boot!

Anonymous
Anonymous
11 years ago

These are the most beautiful cookies I've ever seen!

Your blog is inspiring me to learn to bake!

Anonymous
Anonymous
11 years ago

Awesome idea. I like how the ingredients reflect the theme. Spicy and oriental, that's how I would imagine a mendhi hand cookie. I'm not a fan of artificial food colouring so I wonder if you could use black sesame paste or cocoa powder instead of the black food gel. I hope your friend gets better soon.

Lynnette
Lynnette
11 years ago

A very thoughtful project not to mention yummy and good looking!

Tasty Trix
Tasty Trix
11 years ago

I saw the photo on Refrigerator Soup, and I just had to click through, the image is so arresting! Very cool.

anna
anna
11 years ago

These are so beautiful – what a sweet idea!

Dot
Dot
11 years ago

These are so lovely! (Look for them to come up next week on foodwhirl.com!)

Nice to have found you…I've already added you to my twitter links.

dot
http://www.Foodwhirl.com

Dee
Dee
11 years ago

wow, those are quite impressive!

Laurie
Laurie
11 years ago

Heather these cookies are absolutely breathtaking. I would have been stoked.. as I'm sure your friend was to recieve these! Good fortune to both of you! And p.s. thank you! I saw the link.. you are so sweet!!
Mine pale in comparison though! ๐Ÿ™‚

Diane Schmidt
Diane Schmidt
11 years ago

These really are stunning!
You did a fabulous job ๐Ÿ™‚

Dot
Dot
11 years ago

Just to let you know, you're cookies are spotlighted today on Foodwhirl.com

http://foodwhirl.com/spotlight/spotlight-mehndi-cookies

M.
M.
11 years ago

so beautiful and creative….love the idea, I might even try it…
๐Ÿ™‚

Wendy
Wendy
11 years ago

Brilliant idea! And it's so funny because I just found you through foodwhirl and the banner on my site has a picture of my hands with almost this exact same design.

Peggy
Peggy
11 years ago

this is so cool!
They'd be great for a bridal shower. I'm saving this in my "I have to try" recipe folder.

Unknown
Unknown
11 years ago

Great idea. I wouldn't have considered this and it looks so lovely. I use Mehndi in workshops, this is another great way to get some of the children I work with to practice. Thank you!

Unknown
Unknown
11 years ago

these are amazing!!

Unknown
Unknown
11 years ago

p.s. I featured them on my blog this morning: http://puertabella.blogspot.com/2010/02/mehndi-spice-cookies.html

a
a
11 years ago

This comment has been removed by the author.

a
a
11 years ago

thanks for sharing the story behind your cookie making. i, too, have had "one of those years" for the past 18 months, and i appreciate your kindness to your friend. also: BEAUTIFUL work!

Whimsy Cookie Co.
Whimsy Cookie Co.
11 years ago

I love these!! Very creative!!

Ashley
Ashley
11 years ago

I featured these on my blog today! http://www.attention2detailblog.blogspot.com

Michigan Food Blog
Michigan Food Blog
11 years ago

these are very creative!ive never seen anything like this. lovez it!