Who needs candles when you have a fully-decorated saguaro sugar cookie? 

If you're counting from the time colonist Hugo O’Conor wrote that letter to Spain saying he wanted to move the presidio here, the city of Tucson is about as old as Chewbacca. (Which isn't really that old, compared to the actual millennia that people have been living here. But hey, cake!)  

August 20 is Tucson's 241st birthday, according to the official record. And we're just fine with that because we like to party. We were thinking about attending one of these 7 events, but then we had a rare spark of motivation and decided to bake a cake ourselves. 

Cactus cupcakes are all the rage these days, but took it up a notch by recreating the iconic Gateway Saguaro sign on the old Miracle Mile, at Oracle Road just north of Drachman. (The 30-foot tall neon sculpture was designed by local artist Dirk J. Arnold in 2010.)      

We're not pastry chefs, so we kept it really simple. First we baked a batch of chocolate cupcakes straight from the box. Then, using a friend's time-tested recipe for vegan sugar cookies, we whipped up some dough and cut it into little saguaros. Sugar cookie recipe here. 

Tip: We found saguaro cookie cutters — along with a bunch of Southwestern shapes like coyotes and cowboy boots — at the Ace Hardware at 6959 E. 22nd St. Depending on the size, they cost between 79 cents to a dollar each. 

Then it was time to decorate. We added different food colorings to the frosting (included in the sugar cookie recipe above) to design our cactus. We used piping bags for precision, but you can also use a ziploc with a hole cut in the bottom.

Finally, we stuck the cookies onto little skewers using the frosting as a glue. It does take a few hours to dry, so you might want to do this the night before your fiesta. Feliz cumpleaños Tucson! 

You can find the Star's digital food writer Andi Berlin at a taqueria near you, taking tiny bites and furiously scribbling into an old notepad.