Party Panache, Sand Dollar Dessert

This little dish of lemony mousse is going to transport you straight to a sandy beach with an ocean breeze…

sand dollar dessert 12

The low tide has left an ocean full of shells washed ashore

sand dollar dessert 7

beached on pillows of sugar white sand…


the aquamarine waters sparkle in the sunlight…

sand dollar desserts 4

Sigh….. Okay, sorry, I got carried away.

The story is, this is an easy dessert to make, just takes a leetle bit of time, BUT you can make all the parts on different days and even assemble them one or two days in advance!

white chocolate shells

I made the chocolate shells a month ahead, experimenting with the cheap inexpensive candy molds widely available at the large craft stores


Just fill them about 1/3- 1/2 way or the candies will be too thick and you will feel like the candy is a rock, not a piece of chocolate!  I used candy melts purchased at the craft store and melted them in the microwave.  Using a teaspoon, drizzle  a scant portion of melted chocolate into the mold and tap, tap, tap, on the counter to level it out and get rid of any air bubbles.  Put the mold  into the fridge for 15 minutes.  Pop your perfect little candies out of the mold, they should fall right out when the mold is inverted,  and store in an air tight plastic tub until needed.

sand dollar cookies 2

The cookies can be made in advance and frozen if you wish.  I used good ole Pillsbury ready to bake sugar cookies.  Each package makes 24 cookies. Baked sugar cookies freeze really well.

sand dollar cookies

If baked on a silpat and they spread out beautifully into a large, thin, crispy cookie.


As soon as the edges begin to brown, remove them from the oven and work quickly with the end of a small straw to make 5 oval shaped holes

sand dollar cookies 1

Use a toothpick to make a small center hole.  Well, this is my interpretation of a sand dollar, so do whatever you think looks cool~


Don’t do this!  I thought, cleverly, that shaping the cookies before baking would produce a perfectly formed starfish and sand dollar cookie…

Let’s just leave it at NOPE!  That so doesn’t work!


This recipe makes 12 mini desserts.  Make 12 sand dollar cookies and then bake the rest and crumble them finely to use as “sand.”


To make the lemony layer mousse of the dessert itself, start with fresh lemon juice.  You will need about 5-6 lemons for 1/2 cup of juice

TIP: if you put lemons in the microwave for about 20 seconds each, they will yield more juice


Beat the egg yolks and add sweetened condensed milk


Put into a saucepan and add fresh lemon juice


Simmer 8-10 minutes until thick and velvety smooth.  Put filling into refrigerator to cool before assembling.


These are mini dessert dishes by Libbey, sold in sets of 12 with spoons, available at BBB


Divide cookie crumbs between dessert dishes, reserving some crumbs for final garnishing.  Add a dollop of lemon filling and top with a dollop of Cool Whip


With the back of a spoon, carefully spread the Cool Whip to the edges of the dish, completely sealing the lemon filling.

Note: if you substitute real whipped cream I don’t know if these can be assembled ahead of time, so my results are based on using Cool Whip only.

crumb topped lemon mousse

Sprinkle the top with reserved cookie crumbs and sparkling sugar

shells on the beach

add your cute little chocolate shells.   At this stage they can be covered and stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

sand dollar dissert 9

Right before serving insert 1 sand dollar cookie into each dish

sand dollar dessert 3

Smile, they’re gonna love it!

sand dollar dessert

Here’s the recipe:


These desserts make a WoW presentation
Course Dessert
Cuisine American


  • individual dessert dishes


  • 1 package Pillsbury sugar cookies ready to bake
  • white sparkling sugar {optional}
  • gold sparkling sugar {optional}
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice about 6 lemons if they are juicy
  • 1 regular size tub Cool Whip Lite
  • 1 pack white or turquoise candy melts
  • 1 plastic shell candy mold


  • Lemon filling:
  • Beat egg yolks using a mixer for about 3 minutes. Add 1 can of sweetened condensed mild and beat another minute. Transfer the mixture into a medium size saucepan and heat over medium, stirring constantly. Add 1/2 cup lemon juice. Cook until it gently boils. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat when thick. Cool in refrigerator.
  • White Chocolate Shells:
  • Make the white chocolate shells by melting the discs in a measuring cup in the microwave on high for about 2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds until melted and of pouring consistency. Do only about 1/2 cup at a time so it will melt consistently. Immediately pour into candy molds filling only about 1/3 full. Tap mold lightly to eliminate the air bubbles. Refrigerate about 15 minutes to set. Remove candy by inverting mold and tapping gently. Repeat as necessary. This can be done days ahead, just store candy shells in a plastic tub in refrigerator.
  • Sand Dollar Cookies and Sand:
  • Bake 12 cookies and set aside to cool. When cookies are cool, pulse them to crumbs in a food processor. Bake remaining 12 cookies until just done and edges barely start to brown. Immediately sprinkle with white sparkling sugar. Working quickly use a straw end to make for small holes and one larger hole in a circular pattern, like the markings on a sand dollar. Use a toothpick to poke a tiny hole in the center. Let cookies cool thoroughly. These can be made ahead of time and frozen. Makes 12 Sand Dollar cookies.
  • Note: If you bake the cookies on a silpat they will spread more and be thinner. Direct baking on the cookie sheet keeps them from spreading as much. Choose your baking method according to the result you want.
  • Assembly:
  • Sprinkle the bottom of 12 dessert cups or dishes with a thick layer of cookie crumbs, dividing evenly among dishes and reserving some for the top. Top carefully with dollops of cool lemon filling, and carefully spread to a flat layer with the back of a spoon. Top lemon filling with a layer of Cool Whip. Sprinkle reserved cookie crumbs and gold sparkling sugar over all to look like sand. Garnish each glass with a sand dollar cookie and a white chocolate shell.
  • Makes 12 servings or mini desserts


These desserts are easy to make but do take some time.  I suggest spreading the prep over a day or two as several of the steps require refrigeration before proceeding
Keyword beachy dessert, bread pudding, individual dessert, parfait, sand dollar cookies, white chocolate sea shells



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18 Responses to “Party Panache, Sand Dollar Dessert”
  1. Oooohhhhh…how cute! The little cookies are so cute!!!!!! How creative!!! You just kill me with all this creativity, girl!!!!!!!!

  2. Mary says:

    Jenna~ I was totally captivated by the white sugar sand and aquamarine waters 🙂 I’m a big fan of portion control mini desserts! Your sand dollar cookies are so cute and the white chocolate shells and lemon mousse are the perfect accompaniment!

  3. Karen says:

    Oh…you are such a clever and talented girl. I love your dessert.

  4. laurie says:

    What a beautiful presentation they make, and it sounds delicious. Thank you for sharing this. laurie

  5. I am so loving this idea!! Come link up to my party on my blog right now and share this post with us!

  6. Tammy says:

    Now this is just too cute! I love this and will be pinning to try later! Thanks for sharing!

  7. What a GREAT party!

    • Yes, we had tons of fun! When I was writing the posts, I kept thinking, wow, the guests did bring everything, why was it still so much work? Ha! I loved every minute though, to me the most fun is the planning and prep! Thanks for visiting!

  8. Christina says:

    How adorable!- the cookies are so clever! and I bet everything tastes wonderful- I wish I had seen these before I did a sea themed tea party !

  9. What a beautiful dessert. Love the sand dollar cookies. That is a great idea!

  10. I highlighted this post on my blog tonight!! Loved your idea!!

  11. Shawna says:

    What a great theme for a luncheon. I love the tip about microwaving the lemons. I never new that and I cook with lemons almost daily. Thank you for sharing this on BBQ Block Party.

  12. Kim says:

    Wonderful, Jenna! My daughter’s boyfriend is on golf scholarship and leaves her school soon. I should give him a proper send-off with these sand dollar desserts! Thanks so much. They look great!

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