Merry MagAO-Xmas, and a happy 2023A/B!

This year has been a wild ride, which is to say, kind of on par with a normal pre-pandemic year. Conferences were held, telescopes were observed through, new people joined the program in real life (rather than Zoom™) and it wasn’t a big deal.

This post is not a retrospective, however. This post is to document the making of shortbread llamas, for anyone who fancies one. (Also, I owe Chef David Verdugo of Las Campanas Observatory a recipe in our exchange.)

Llamalmond Shortbread Cookies

Yield: 8-10 llamas
Time: 1 hour + time to decorate
Special equipment: llama cookie cutter

Received as a Christmas present

For the dough

  • 1 stick of butter (113 g)
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup almond flour (or almond meal)
  • 1/2 tsp salt

For the icing

  • Powdered sugar
  • Food coloring
  • Cocoa (for brown icing)

Make the llamas

  1. Set your oven to 350ºF / 325ºF convection and line a cookie sheet with parchment.
  2. Beat together the butter and powdered sugar using a mixer on medium-high (scraping the bowl with a flexible spatula as needed) until completely combined, with a texture like creamy frosting.
  3. Switching to low speed, add the all-purpose flour, almond flour (or meal), and salt. Mix until just combined, adding water a teaspoon at a time if needed. The dough may be crumbly, but should hold together if you press it together by hand.
  4. Form the dough into a ball or log and wrap tightly, then pop it in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  5. Unwrap the dough and place it on a floured work surface. Roll to 1/2″ thickness. (If it’s too hard to roll out, give it a few good whacks with your rolling pin.)
  6. Cut out your llamas. A floured bench scraper or thin metal spatula will help you lift them off, and transfer them to the parchment-lined cookie sheet.
  1. Bake for 15-20 minutes, rotating the pan around the halfway mark. The llamas are done when they show a slight hint of browning on their edges.
And this is what you get if you don’t rotate halfway through. Darned ovens.
  1. Let them cool for 10 minutes before removing from the sheet, or until they’re at room temperature before decorating.

Decorate the llamas

Powdered sugar, sometimes called icing sugar, turns into icing with only the slightest encouragement. Mix your food coloring (or 1-2 tsp of cocoa powder) with 1/4–1/2 cup of powdered sugar, and dribble in water a little bit at a time, stirring until you get a decently stiff paste of the desired color.

Put the icing in piping bags if you have them, or small zip-lock bags if you don’t. Cut off the tiniest bit of the corner, and pipe a bit onto a plate to test it out.

Decorate as you wish! (The icing will be dry within an hour or so, but maybe don’t throw the llamas into a cookie jar until it is.)

Song of the Day

I apologize in advance, but this has been stuck in my head for going on two weeks now and needs to get out.

“Llama Song (Llama, llama, duck)” by some internet wag idk

Bonus Andean ~vibes~

“Relato” by CERO39 feat. Buendia