Friday, May 14, 2010

Baby Shower Cookies

I was recently asked to make cookies for party favors for a baby shower.  I decided to make sugar cookies shaped like onesies and decorate with royal icing.  I then bagged each one and tied with pink ribbon.  They were a huge hit.  Below is the recipe for the sugar cookies and icing.  Enjoy!

Rolled Sugar Cookies
(Makes 4-5 dozen - depending on cookie cutter)

2 1/2 c. butter (softened)
2 c. sugar
2 large eggs
3 tsp. vanilla
5 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt

Cream butter and sugar on low with paddle attachment for about one minute.  Scrape the sides of the bowl and mix for a few more seconds.  Add eggs one at a time mixing between each addition.  Add vanilla and mix.  Sift flour, baking powder and salt.  Add all of the flour mixture to the wet mixture.  Mix on low for 30 seconds.  Roll dough between two sheets of parchment paper and put in refrigerator on a baking sheet.  Chill for 1 hour.

Remove from refrigerator, roll out more if necessary.  Cut into shapes and place back in refrigerator for 10 minutes to 1 hour.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Bake for 8-12 minutes or until edges are light brown.  Cool completely before icing.

Royal Icing

3/4 c. warm water
5 Tbls. meringue powder
1 tsp. cream of tartar
2 lbs. powdered sugar

In a mixer bowl, whisk water and meringue powder for 30 seconds or until slightly thick.  Add cream of tartar and mix for 30 seconds more.  Pour in all powdered sugar and mix using paddle attachment on low for 10 minutes.  Add water, if needed, to thin out. 

Note:  For decorating cookies using the flood method the icing will need to be thin.  Use the 10 second test.  Run a knife through the icing, if the line fills back in within 5-10 seconds the consistency is right.  If sooner than 5 add more sugar.  If more than 10 add more water.

Note:  The flood method is piping an outline around the cookie and then immediately filling in the outline.  This makes for a smooth professional looking cookie.  You can also pipe lines in other colors (working quickly before the icing dries) and drag a toothpick through it to give it a nice marbled look (below is an example).

Monday, May 10, 2010

Max & Ruby Cake

After creating my first birthday cake for my son's birthday I decided to try again for my daughter's birthday.  Max and Ruby is her favorite t.v. show so I decided to create a Max and Ruby cake.  The cake was a chocolate cake and the filling was a pecan praline filling.  I covered this cake in fondant and created the characters & decorations out of gum paste.  I had so much fun creating this cake!  I am addicted!

Chocolate Cake

1 c. butter, softened
1/2 c. shortening
3 c. sugar
5 large eggs
2 c. cake flour
1 c. Dutch process cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/4 c. buttermilk
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Beat butter and shortening at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy; gradually add sugar, beating until blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended.

Combine cake flour and next 3 ingredients; add to butter mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed until blended after each addition. Stir in vanilla.

Bake at 350° for 35 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack 15 minutes; remove from pan, and cool completely on wire rack.

Pecan Praline Filling

1/2  cup  firmly packed dark brown sugar
3/4  cup  dark corn syrup
1/3  cup  cornstarch
4  egg yolks
1 1/2  cups  half-and-half
1/8  teaspoon  salt
1  cup  chopped toasted pecans
3  tablespoons  butter or margarine
1  teaspoon  vanilla extract
Whisk together first 6 ingredients in a 3-quart saucepan until smooth. Bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly; boil 1 minute or until thickened. Remove from heat.

Whisk in pecans, butter, and vanilla. Place a sheet of wax paper directly on surface of mixture to prevent a film from forming; chill 4 hours.

Monkey Cake

My son had his 1st birthday in February and I was determined to make him a birthday cake.  I love watching all the cake shows on t.v. but had never tried actually creating a multi-tiered cake.  So, I bought supplies, did a little reading and set off on a cake creating journey.  I admit it was a little ambitious but I think it turned out well for my first cake.  The cake was a chocolate chip cake with fresh strawberry and whipped cream filling.  The decorations (except the monkeys) are fondant.  The monkeys I hand molded out of modeling chocolate.  Below is the recipe for the cake.  It was a fun experience!

Chocolate Chip Cake

(Note:  this recipe make 1 6in cake, 1 9in cake and 1 12in round cake.  I had to make 2 recipes for 6 cakes total)

1 2lb. box of cake flour
2 Tbls. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
3 sticks of butter, softened
5 c. sugar
3 1/2 c. water (room temperature)
6 large eggs
12 oz. chocolate, cut into 1/4 inch pieces

Position 1 rack in top and 1 rack in bottom of oven and preheat to 350 degrees.  Line pans with parchment and spray with cooking spray.

Sift flour, baking powder and salt.  Beat butter.  Gradually add 3 cups of sugar.  Beat in flour mixture in 5 additions with water in 4 additions.  In a clean bowl, beat egg whites until medium firm.  Gradually add remaining 2 cups of sugar and beat for 5 minutes.  Fold 1/3 egg whites into batter.  Fold in remaining whites.  Fold in chocolate pieces.

6 inch pan uses 2 cups of batter, 9 inch pan uses 4 cups of batter, 12 inch pan uses 9 cups

Place 6 & 9 inch pans on top rack and 12 inch on bottom.  Bake for 50-55 minutes (until toothpick comes out clean).  Let cool before removing from pan.

Decorate and enjoy!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Amazing Cinnamon Rolls

I love a nice, hot cinnamon roll in the morning.  The canned variety are okay but nothing beats a hot, sticky homemade roll.  Here is an easy recipe that is sure to become a family favorite. 

Cinnamon Rolls
Makes 15

2 packages rapid rise yeast
1/4 c. warm water
1 1/2 c. buttermilk
1/2 c. vegetable oil
6 c. all purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 c. butter, melted
1 1/4 c. dark brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in water.  Let stand until mixture is creamy (about 10 minutes).  Meanwhile, in a saucepan, heat the buttermilk until warm (about 2 minutes).  Pour buttermilk and oil into yeast and mix.  Combine flour, salt & baking soda.  Gradually add flour mixture into yeast mixture a little at a time (about 1 cup).  Mix until a soft dough forms.  Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead 20 times.  Cover and let rest for 15 minutes.  In a small bowl mix brown sugar, cinnamon and butter.  After dough has rested, roll dough, on a lightly floured surface, into a rectangle.  Spread brown sugar mixture over entire surface.  Roll into a log.  Slice into 1 inch pieces and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet.  Cover and let rise for 30 minutes.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Bake for 15 - 20 minutes. 


1 c. sugar
1 Tbsp. Karo syrup
1/3 c. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 Tbsp. butter

Boil all ingredients except butter in a small saucepan until it reaches soft ball stage on a candy thermometer.  Add butter and immediately plunge pan in a bowl of ice water.  Beat until white & smooth and pouring consistency.  Spread over hot cinnamon buns. 

Triple Chocolate Sandwich Cookies

These little sandwich cookies are easy to make a absolutely delicious.  They also store well and taste great up to a week after making.  I hope you enjoy!

Chocolate Cookies
Makes 30 cookies (15 sandwiches)

1/2 c. butter, chilled and cubed
1 1/4 c. all purpose flour
2 Tbls. dutch processed cocoa powder
1/4 c. sugar
Melted chocolate chips
Put butter, flour & cocoa in a food processor.  Process until mixture is crumbly.  Add sugar and process again until mixture forms a dough.  Transfer the dough onto a floured surface and knead lightly (note:  the dough will be very crumbly).  Put in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Roll out the dough on a floured surface and cut in small bars.  Placed on parchment lined cookie sheet.  Prick each cookie with a fork.  Bake for 12-15 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack. 

For Topping:

Melt 1 package of chocolate chips over a double boiler until spreadable consistency.

To Assemble:

Spread desired amount of Nutella on one cookie.  Top with second cookie.  Top with melted chocolate.  When all are assembled place in freezer for a couple of minutes to set the chocolate. 

Monday, January 25, 2010

Brie en Croute

Brie is one of my favorite cheeses, so mild and creamy.  It is especially delicious topped with jam, wrapped in a pastry and baked.  This recipe is very simple and makes an impressive appetizer for parties. 

Brie en Croute
Serves 8-10

2 Tbls. butter
1/4 c. sliced almonds or chopped pecans
1/2 c. jam (I like blueberry)
1 small wheel of Brie
1 sheet of frozen puff pastry
1 egg

Thaw pastry for 20 minutes.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. 

In a small skillet melt butter & saute nuts for about 5 minutes over medium heat.  On a floured surface roll out thawed puff pastry (increase 1 - 2 inches in each direction).  Place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.  Brush inside of pastry with egg.  Place brie in center of pastry.  Top with nuts and jam.  Gather pastry in a bundle around brie.  Tie with kitchen twine (note:  if you do not have kitchen twine you can use toothpicks to secure.  Just be sure to soak them in water for a couple of minutes first).  Brush the top with egg.  Bake for 20-25 minutes (until top is browned).  Slice open and serve with good quality crackers. 

Saturday, January 23, 2010

When Life Gives You Lemons....

Hold fast your dreams.  Push aside the naysayers.  Don't let anything stand in the way of your dreams.  All great advice.  Advice that is not easy to follow especially when the naysayer is someone you love.  My dream?  To go to pastry school.  This week I realized that someone I thought supported me in this dream does not.  Not only doesn't support me but tried to crush my happiness by calling my goal selfish.  Selfish to have a goal for myself when I have kids to raise.  I believe that you can have goals AND raise kids.  It's important to let kids see that there can be a balance and that it is never too late to realize your dreams and see them through.  Oh well, just a little bump in the road.  It will all work out but in the meantime I will keep baking.  When life gives you lemons make blueberry-lemon cookies!  I hope you enjoy!

Bluberry-Lemon Cookies
Makes about 2 dozen

2 c. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 stick unsalted butter
1 c. sugar
1 egg yolk
1/4 c. whole milk
2 tsp. lemon zest
1 c. blueberries (if frozen, thaw and drain)

In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking powder and salt.  In another bowl, cream butter and sugar.  Add egg and beat.  Add milk and lemon zest.  Stir the dry ingredients into the butter mixture.  Gently fold in the blueberries.  Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes. 

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Place spoonfuls of dough on a parchment lined cookie sheet.  Bake until brown around the edges (about 15 minutes).  Cool on a wire rack.