Actually – insomnia and cookie cutter crafting. Not a craft for kids, and perhaps not the smartest thing to do when you are sleep-deprived… oh well.
I’m a night owl at the best of times, and I suspect that this 20 hours of darkness thing could be making it even worse. Tonight, I was having trouble sleeping. When I finished browsing cookbooks and choosing recipes for Christmas party baking, I decided to see if I could save the $25 that a set of cookie cutters would inevitably cost me at the Northern store, by crafting my own.
STEP 1: browse around in your recycling bin for a clean can.
I chose a fairly big tin can (800mL crushed tomatoes) but it turns out a soup can would make a cute cutter, and a half of a beer or soda can works, too.
It turns out that your star will fit, points and all, exactly within the circle you make it from (isn’t geometry fascinating?). Arm yourself with this knowledge while choosing the appropriately-sized can to give you the right-sized cookie.
STEP 2: If you have tin snips, use them to make a smooth, even cut about 1″ down from the rolled edge of the can. If you don’t have tin snips (or, if they are in a closet in the bedroom & you would have to wake up your partner to find them) you can use the can opener to cut a straight edge as far below the rim as it will reach. Mine gave me a “wall” of about 1/4″ which is no good for thick cookies, but might just work for sugar cookies. The cutting edge also ends up with tiny scallops from the crimping action of using the opener.
STEP 3: With a tape measure, get the circumference of your can, and mark off ten equal sections along the rim for a five-pointed star (for a 6 pointed star you’ll need 12 equal segments; for 7 points, 14 segments, etc.). If you don’t have a tape measure, use a ruler to estimate the diameter of the can’s circular opening, and math to calculate the circumference. [Circumference = 2*pi*radius = pi*diameter] (pi = 3.14…etc.) in case you’re up as late as I am and a bit more groggy.
Divide by ten to get your star edge segment lengths and mark ‘em off as best you can with your ruler. The more precise, the better, so you may want to mark something flexible (like a scrap of paper) to the right segment length and use that as a flexy ruler on the side of your can. If you get it right, your last mark will match up the correct distance from your first mark. If it’s not exactly precise, don’t worry about it… it’s just a cookie cutter.
STEP 4: Crimp a pair of needlenose pliers tightly at an angle perpendicular to the rim of your can at one of your marks, and use your finger to crease the tin against their edge. *be careful!*. Alternate the direction of the crimp at each mark to form the inner, then outer angles of your star. When you are done crimping, lay it down on the counter to test it’s flatness, and adjust as necessary with your pliers.
OTHER SIZES & MATERIALS: I used the same steps to make a smaller cutter from an aluminum can. The bonus here is that one can easily cut an aluminum can with a sharp knife, tidy up the edge with a pair of scissors, and crimp the sides with any rigid straightedge (pliers not needed). keep the top or bottom of the can in tact, as the rolled edge adds architectural strength to your cookie cutter when in use.