To most people, this past Saturday was the Fourth of July. But to me, it was my nephew’s third birthday party. (And also the Fourth of July; it’s one of my favorite holidays). Last year his birthday was Sesame Street themed, so I made sugar cookies with Cookie Monster and Big Bird faces on them. This time around it was dino themed, and I initially had no idea what to make. I perused Pinterest for recipes, but mostly found complicated fondant* cakes and cake pops, which I wasn’t in the mood to experiment with. Also, it seems there’s a divide in dino party concepts: some are scarier and more Jurassic Park-like, while others are more cartoonish and friendly.
^Cookie Monster cookies from last year^
^Big Bird cookies… a little sadder looking than their Cookie Monster counterparts^
Finally, I came across a picture of some dino cake pops that I realized I could make using an Oreo truffle recipe that I use every Christmas. As with most Pinterest recipes, mine didn’t come out exactly how the originals looked, but they’re still very cute, if I do say so myself. Over time it’s occurred to me that unless your family is brimming with Martha Stewarts and Julia Childs, whatever you make will probably be impressive to everyone, even if it’s not one hundred percent perfect. So, relax. Make what you want to make. Try something that’s a little out of your comfort zone; make the dino truffles. And if they come out poorly, eat the evidence.
I think this recipe, if we can even call it that since it’s really a rough outline of what I did and in what order, makes about 14-16 dinos. Mine were on the large side, so if you want to make more with the same amount of ingredients, just form the heads to be a little bit smaller.
*Fondant is basically equivalent to the f word in my family. Every time we watch “Cake Boss” and Buddy uses fondant (which he always does) my family screams, “ew! Not the fondant, it’s so dry!”
1 package Oreos (I used regular Oreos since I needed to use white chocolate, but if you’re using milk or bittersweet chocolate I recommend trying mint oreos)
1, 8 oz. bar cream cheese, room temp.
1/2 regular sized bag of M&M’s
1, 12 oz. bag of white chocolate chips
1 tbsp. black frosting
Blue food dye
Put the oreos into a Ziploc bag and seal tightly. Put on a cutting board, and whack with a meat pounder until crushed into small bits. I used a hammer since I just moved into a new apartment and was not successful in stealing my mother’s meat pounder while packing. Once the Oreos are adequately crushed, carefully pour them into a medium-large mixing bowl. Add the cream cheese and mix with a spoon or your hands until combined.
Cover a baking sheet with wax paper. Roll the Oreo mixture into balls a little bit smaller than ping pong balls. Use your best judgment. Then, roll a much smaller ball for each large one, and stick the smaller ball into the side of the larger one. This will be the dino’s nose, so make sure it’s firmly packed onto the head, or it will come off when you’re coating them in chocolate. Also, try to flatten the smaller ball a bit so that it looks more like a nose. Put each complete head on the wax paper tray.
Once you have as many complete heads as you’d like, place the baking sheet into the freezer for at least an hour, or overnight.
Using a toothpick, dot the flat side of 36-40 white chocolate chips with black frosting– these are the eyes. I made a few extra since I knew a couple would probably come out wonky. When my roommate saw the eyeballs on the dinosaurs she said, “some of these are gonna go extinct sooner than others”. Case and point.
Melt about half of the white chocolate in a microwave safe bowl, 30 seconds at a time on high, stirring in between. White chocolate takes a little bit longer to melt than milk, and also hardens more quickly. As soon as it’s adequately melted, add the blue food dye. You can add as little or as much as you’d like; mine was sort of baby blue, but I think a darker, more neon blue would have looked even better.
Once your chocolate is blue, pick up an Oreo head and gently paint it with the chocolate using the backside of a metal teaspoon. Don’t worry about getting the bottom, or making the chocolate perfectly smooth. Once it’s sufficiently coated, put the dino back on the tray, and stick on a row of M&M’s (these are the spikes of the dinosaur) from the top of the head to the base of the neck. Add the white chocolate chip eyes just above the nose, then add two brown sprinkles to the flat protruding part of the nose, giving the dinosaur nostrils. Repeat with remaining dino heads.
You can put each dino in a cupcake liner for an easy cleanup, or put them directly on a serving tray. I cut up some green peeps in an attempt to make grass, but it wound up looking more like tentacles, according to my friend Emily who came over to help.
^Emily helping/dancing/hair whipping.^
The white chocolate will harden on its own, so no need to freeze the dinos again. But, remember to refrigerate them if you’re not serving them immediately, as they do contain cream cheese.
^My scrumptious nephew. He called the M&M’s “dinosaur hair”.^