I’ve been absolutely addicted to Neko Atsume, a cute mobile game that centers around attracting and feeding stray cats. Subsequently, when a different project from last week left me with a bunch of cat-shaped butter cookies, I couldn’t resist the urge to paint them like my favorite Neko Atsume cats. I took a lazy low quality photo of the cookies next to my cat, Eggs Benedict, and posted it to Tumblr.
It. Went. Crazy.
The post is up to nearly 15,000 notes as I’m writing this. Truly, I have underestimated the internet’s love for cats-shaped cookies (and real cats named after breakfast foods). Who am I to keep the internet from getting what it wants? Cat cookies it is!
Neko Atsume Butter Cookies
Yields: Approximately 30 Cookies
Special tools: Cat cookie cutter, food-safe brushes of varying size for painting
250g (1 cup + 1 tbsp) butter
250g (1 1/4 cups) sugar
2 pinches cinnamon
1 pinch ground clove
1 tbsp lemon extract OR zest of 1 lemon
500g (4 1/2 cups) flour
1/2 tbsp baking powder
Additional flour for dusting
Marzipan mass, approximately 250g or 9 oz (You can use fondant if you want a pure white finish, but I prefer the taste of marzipan for this recipe)
Gel food colors for whatever cats you choose – I used black, teal, yellow, brown and orange
2 tbsp apricot preserves mixed with 1 tbsp water
Triple Sec (or other strong liquor for painting)
1. In a mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add in the lemon extract and beat until combined.
2. In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, clove and cinnamon. Add it to the butter mixture and mix until just combined into a smooth dough. Take care not to overmix. Cover the dough in saran wrap and refrigerate it for about an hour, or until firmed up.
3. Preheat your oven to 375°F/190°C and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to about 1/4″ thickness. Using a cat shaped cookie cutter, cut out your cookies and place them about 1″ apart on your cookie sheets. Bake them for 10-12 minutes or until just barely browned on the bottom. You don’t want them to darken very much at all. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
1. Note: I chose to pre-color my marzipan before rolling it out because I’m pretty good at estimating how much I’ll need for each cookie. You could just as easily paint on the base colors without dyeing the marzipan, and it might be less confusing that way. On a surface dusted lightly with powdered sugar, roll out your marzipan very thinly. You want it to be so thin you could almost read a newspaper through it, so the marzipan doesn’t drown out the flavor of the cookie. Punch out enough cat shapes for all your cookies with the cat cookie cutter and set aside.
2. Brush the tops of your cooled cookies lightly with the apricot preserves, and immediately stick on one marzipan cutout. Repeat.
3. Mix the gel colors you’ll be using for the base coat of the cats with your liquor. Test the color concentration out on marzipan scraps before you paint on the cookies, so you can add liquor to lighten it up or gel to darken it. Paint the base coat or any spots or markings on the cookies. If you’re painting a cat with multiple colors, paint the lighter color first and let it dry before painting on the next color.
4. Using the back of your brush, poke eye holes into the cookies and swirl a little them to make them bigger if necessary. Now use your gel colors to color a little marzipan for the eyes (most will be yellow or black, but for Odd-san you’ll need teal as well). Roll tiny balls and place them gently into the holes. Allow the cookie to dry completely.
5. Using a fine brush and some barely diluted black gel coloring, paint the outline and the features of each cat. Refer to the tips below.
TIPS FOR THE FACES
Sometimes the simplest designs are hardest to get right, so I thought I’d throw in some simple guides to make things easier.
First of all, if you’re doing Tubbs you’ll need to cut his face out a bit differently. I set my cookie cutter on the marzipan and cut around it to make his cheeks more bulbous while keeping his ears the same size. Here’s a comparison of Tubbs vs. normal cat face shapes.
The rest of the advice is for the normal cats. To locate where your eyes should go, imagine that your ears extend symmetrically into the head. For the nose and mouth, it helps to envision two lines bisecting the head shape. The vertical line is a simple split down the middle. The lower line starts at the center of the cheeks and meets at the true center of the entire head. The whole face is situated quite high up on the head.
Finally, when you paint it can help to start with simple lines just to mark the locations of everything, and then fill them in. Take your time and have fun with it!
And that’s it! With these instructions you can make any non-rare cat from the game.
So, to all you other Neko Atsume addicts out there… who’s your favorite kitty? Who’s given you the most trouble? I’d be interested to hear in the comments! I think Eggs Benedict has decided Tubbs is his favorite. He relates to him on a deep and personal level.
IN THIS ENTRY (Affiliate links):
The above link is for 10 of the small cutters I used, but commenters Emma and Crystal have found an invidivual cookie cutter in the right shape! It does appear to be significantly larger than the one I used, I am guessing about 3 times as large. You can expect the recipe yield to decrease accordingly, but the shape looks perfect so this is a good option. Thanks, both of you! Emma found the cutter at Global Sugar Art and Crystal at Amazon: