Science cookies

6 July 2012
by Phuoc

A girl from uni in our department is leaving to go back to her homeland soon and a way to see her off was to have a farewell morning tea for her. We were asked to bring something in but were overwhelmed by the sheer amount of desserts that made its way into the table that morning.

I stumbled upon these science-themed cookie cutters a while ago on Think Geek but haven’t been able to find an appropriate occasion to use them. However, when this event was announced I knew immediately that they would be appreciated by everyone if I made them. It was particularly funny seeing the senior scientists being amused by them on the day.

It appears that there’s a story behind these cutters. There was a physicist/chemist who grew tired of hand cutting shapes for her cookies so one day, she set out to get a set of cookie cutters custom-made. However, the only catch was that she had to have a minimum of 2000 sets made. Since then, she has been selling the remaining cutters to the public.

Whilst researching decorating ideas for these science cookies lead me to discover the food blog, Not so humble pie; which features plenty of science-themed desserts that she has or others have made. Lab rat cookie anyone? What about periodic table cookies? Or brain hemorrhage cake? I am particularly fond of this set of cookies as they are red & white blood cells (the bane of my PhD existence!!); I can’t get over how detailed they are. It’s ingenious! Ok I’ll stop now…

The set of cookie cutters I bought included cutters for a beaker, conical flask, tube and atom but seeing as I had a circle cookie cutter and a gingerbread woman cutter, I thought I might as well make a scientist wearing a lab coat cookie and a petri dish of bacteria cookie.

Having only made sugar cookies once before, I found and followed Bridget’s of Bake at 350 excellent tips on royal icing as her creations are something to truly marvel at. The last time I made royal icing was with raw egg whites, which I know some people may have issues with so it a relief to discover her recipe actually uses meringue powder (though you would also be able to use powdered egg whites as well). What I liked most about this recipe was that there was no need for 2 recipes for the outlining & flooding icing. The icing you start with is used for outlining the cookies and all you have to do is water it down to the right consistency to the flood the cookies. Simple as that!

It was fun decorating the cookies but it was extremely messy as I had royal icing everywhere.

Sweet shortcrust pastry cookies (PΓ’te sucrΓ©e)

Recipe from Pastry: Savoury and Sweet by Michel Roux

Makes roughly 1.5 dozen 9cm/3.5inch cookies


250g plain flour

100g butter, cubed and slightly softened

100g icing sugar, sifted

Pinch of salt

2 eggs, at room temperature


  1. Combine flour, icing sugar and salt in a mound on a work surface and make a well. Rub butter into the dry ingredients until dough forms into fine breadcrumbs. Β (Alternatively, combine all the ingredients, except for the eggs, in a food processor until dough forms into fine breadcrumbs).
  2. Add eggs and mix until dough begins to hold together.
  3. Knead the dough a few times with the palm of your hand until well combined and smooth.
  4. Roll the rough into a flat disc, wrap in cling wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours before using. (Dough can be made in advanced and kept in fridge for several day, or frozen for up to 3 months).
  5. Preheat oven to 180C (360F) and line baking trays with baking paper.
  6. Roll dough on a lightly floured surface to a thickness of 5mm/0.2inch.
  7. Bake for 15mins or until slightly golden.
  8. Cool completely before decorating with royal icing (recipe below) and sprinkles.

Print this recipe

Royal icing

Recipe by Bake at 350

Makes enough to cover about 1.5 dozen 9cm/3.5inch cookies


2 tbsp meringue powder (I used “Pavlova Magic” but you can also use powdered egg whites as well)

scant 1/4 cup water

225g icing sugar

1/2 tsp light corn syrup

Food colouring


  1. Combine the meringue powder and water. With the paddle attachment of an electric mixer, beat until combined and foamy.
  2. Sift in the powdered sugar and beat on low to combine.
  3. Add in the corn syrup and increase speed to med-high and beat for about 5 minutes, just until the icing is glossy and stiff peaks form.
  4. Divide and colour icing with food colouring, and cover with plastic wrap so that it touches the icing.
    • This “stiff” icing is for outlining the cookies.
  5. To fill in your cookies, add water to your icing a teaspoon at a time, stirring with a rubber spatula, until it is the consistency of syrup. (Bridget has a video tutorial showing how this is done)
    • This “thinned” icing is for flooding the cookies


  1. Tina@foodboozeshoes

    OMG – too cute!!! Looks like a great icing too – where do you get meringue powder? I love an iced cookie πŸ˜‰

  2. Tina @ bitemeshowme

    These are super cute and so you Phuoc! Maybe I should do this for Andrew.. hahaha

  3. Ai-Ling@blueapocalypse

    You did a great job icing the cookies. I love how you used the sprinkles to represent bubbles. I’m adding the Not So Humble Pie blog to my food blog reading list, her creations look awesome.

  4. Jacq

    omg I love these! Especially love the sprinkles on the cookies and the cute little safety goggles on your scientist hehe

  5. Anna@ The Littlest Anchovy

    These are just gorgeous! Your photos capturing the detail of the sprinkles are lovely too!

  6. Paula

    Very clever designs Phuoc! I’m sure that these were a big hit!

  7. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella

    They are SO cute! If I ever have a Big Bang Theory party, I’d want these πŸ˜€

  8. tastyfoodsnaps

    what a cute idea!!

  9. Food is our religion

    SO cute and SO you! Your scientist is uber cute hehe

  10. Phuoc

    Tina: The meringue powder I used was “Pavlova Magic” (lol) but I’m sure you can use powdered egg whites as well πŸ™‚

    Tina: Hehe I’m sure he’ll like them if he is as nerdy as me πŸ™‚

    Ai-Ling: Thanks!

    Jacq: Hehe I lost count of the times I squealed at them

    Anna: Thanks Anna πŸ™‚

    Paula: Cheers! They were indeed. One of the senior scientists took two test tube cookies home for his kids and he told me they said that they were the “bestest” cookies they have ever had πŸ™‚

    Lorraine: Thanks! They would be perfect for a BBT party πŸ™‚

    Tastyfoodsnaps: Cheers!

    Food is our religion: HAHA that is why I loved creating them so much.

  11. Alana

    TOO CUTE! You did such a great job with the decorating!

  12. Trisha

    HAHAHAHA they look so cute and fun to make!!! Plus love the test tube and burette filled with sprinkles!!! We’re such nerds @_@

  13. Phuoc

    Alana: Thank you πŸ™‚

    Trisha: Ummmm… You mean beaker right? Burettes are like pipettes with the tap at the end of it (think high school chemistry) :p Either way, thanks!

  14. SarahKate (Mi Casa-Su Casa)

    These are AMAZING! You are so clever. I love the little gingerbread scientist lady… she looks very happy!

  15. Helen (Grab Your Fork)

    omg these are so awesome. I definitely love the lab coat cookie the most! And lol, all I can hear in my head right now is the Big Bang Theory theme.

  16. catty

    Hahahaha these are so cute and totally speaks to my inner geek!

  17. Peter G | Souvlaki For The Soul

    Too cute! Geeky cookies rule!

  18. Emma @CakeMistress

    OMG, I can think of a few people who’d go nuts at these cookies! Love the use of 100s & 1000s for the bubbles

  19. Phuoc

    SarahKate: Thanks! I was about to make some that had the head/limbs bitten off, it thought it would’ve been more appropriate as that’s how we feel sometimes doing science… :S

    Helen: Thanks πŸ™‚

    Catty: Glad you approve πŸ™‚

    Peter: They do indeed!

    Emma: Yes, me too! Sprinkles make everything great

  20. milkteaxx

    omg this is amazing! does she have anymore cutters? ive always loved nerdy and quirky stuff! so much love!

  21. Phuoc

    Milkteaxx: I think you can email cookie cutter suggestions over to her πŸ™‚

  22. Sara (Belly Rumbles)

    Gorgeous, these are just so gorgeous and totally you!!!!

  23. Phuoc

    Sara: hehe I loved making them

  24. Nic@diningwithastud

    OMG so cute πŸ™‚ total geek foodie chic πŸ˜‰

  25. Phuoc

    Nic: Hehe thanks!

  26. Mary

    They are fabulous!! I love the colours and presentation and I’m guessing they’re very tasty too!

  27. Phuoc

    Mary: Thanks!

  28. The Cooking Chook

    Love the cookies! Very very cute….

  29. Phuoc

    The cooking chook: Thanks πŸ™‚

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