Saturday, April 30, 2011

Cameo Cookies

I didn't do anything for my son for Easter. It's not like I didn't know it was coming...it's just that somehow....yeah, I'm a bad person. I took the Easter Eggs filled with candy that my mother sent and hid those. Yes, my son knew exactly who had sent those eggs. And that is why he loves my mother so much right now. And why he made her the best Mother's Day gift ever. And I'm totally planning on signing my name to his gift. Man...its a good thing those two have each other. I can retain their love just by existing between them.


So...I'm a bad mother and offspring. But I make a mean bowl of cereal, and I'm not too bad at cameo cookies either. That's got to count for something, right?


Before you ask...I used a mold for these cookies. Two molds actually. I squished some cookie dough into a setting mold and then popped it out onto a cookie sheet to bake. (Can I say just one more time how much I love my chocolate cookie recipe? Seriously -- look at the details that stayed in while baking!) And then for the cameo itself I used a different mold and some white chocolate and fondant.

Seriously... easy-peasy. No talent required. Unless you wanted to hand sculpt them or something. And then, that would be insane. And hard. But it would make me feel better about the amount of time I spend on baked goods. So, you know, let me know how that goes for you.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Markers + Cookies = Excellent Idea

Guess who just got her first real set of food color markers? It's ME! It's ME!! I picked up a partial set in a clearance bin a few years ago and I've been using those randomly. But NOW everything is different. NOW I have a brand new complete set of food markers that will bring me magic and happiness in every cookie bite.

I'm not exactly what you would call "good" at drawing. But...that's never really stopped me from doing what I want. (Seriously, this is something I just don't understand. I can NOT draw. Sure, I can make a cake that looks exactly like a cowboy boot. But DRAW a boot? No can do.)

This is my favorite cookie. There's a lot of  4 year old love in that cookie, I think. (He also did one with his own name. And then ate it. Before breakfast. Don't tell my husband.)

These cookies were much easier than I thought they would be. I mean...you just draw on some stick people and you're done. So I had a lot of left-over "empty" cookies. I just sat there staring at the blank cookies. And then at my markers. And then at the cookies again...and then...I realized -- the possibilities are ENDLESS. I'm going to keep a stack of spare cookies around all the time for those last minute cookie emergencies.

You know, like -- "Sorry I set your pants on fire while you weren't looking."

Or cookies for that person who is going on their one millionth vacation to some exotic island while you stay home working. All day. Every day. For the REST OF YOUR LIFE.

Umm...I mean....

This one. This is what I meant.

Or cookies to say -- "Thank you for doing all those awful things that mothers do for their children that no one else will ever do. And for still loving me even when I set fire to my brother's pants while he wasn't looking." **

Yep. I think that sums it up right there.


** This statement is in no way a confession. I'm just saying that mothers love their children no matter what, right? There is no way I'm getting pinned with that after all these years.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Daffodils

I love daffodils. They are my favorite spring flower. I have planted daffodils in every place I've lived that they allowed me to plant flowers. (And in some places where they didn't.) And in every place but one...I've moved before I saw them bloom. I'll probably never stop planting daffodils on the chance that I might be around in the spring. And I hope that I will never get tired of planting them for strangers.
 
Besides this weird daffodil planting disease, I also have a problem with recipes. My husband teases me about it...but we both know its a problem. I can NOT, for the life of me, use a recipe as it is written. I try...but at the last minute, when no one is looking... my hands move of their own free will and change it.  I tell them to stop, but they won't listen to me. Even macaroni and cheese. From a box. I can't do it.

These cookies are no exception. I got the recipe from Sugarbelle's blog. It is Sugarbakers Chocolate Chip Mini Chip Cookies. My husband said that the experimenting was okay this time. Because these are his favorite cookies ever. EVER. He likes them better than my chocolate cookies. Which made me a little sad in my heart, because as you know, I'm somewhat obsessed with those chocolate cookies.

It made me even more sad though when he and my child ate every last crumb within hours of them being finished.  Didn't they know I was going to LOOK at those cookies?! I'm sure it didn't help that I had paired the chocolate chip cookies with a white chocolate candy clay. Poor daffodils. They didn't stand a chance. Maybe I should look into purchasing some plastic flowers.

Friday, April 22, 2011

S'mores Eggs

Oh dear. Easter is just about here. I have so many more grand ideas.... and I'm running out of time...and I'm doing absolutely nothing about it. I have stacks of baked cookies. I have designs drawn. I even have the right color of icing just waiting. But they probably won't ever happen. I'm not usually the kind of person to abandon a project after starting it. I mean, I have definitely spent more than my share of nights staying up until 3 or later because I HAD to finish something.

But, something is preventing me from making those cookies. And I'm just going to have to take care of it before I can do anything else.

These must be made. And they must be eaten. If you have the ingredients...don't even hesitate. Just make them now before they ruin your productivity. (As an added bonus... you don't even have to put down your Easter egg cookie cutter!)


S'MORES BARS

Honestly, I adapted this recipe from one I saw on the internet somewhere a long time ago before I cared about where I got recipes from. I'm pretty sure the original was a Kraft recipe though.

1 c (2 sticks) butter
1 1/2 c sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
2 1/2 c flour
1 1/2 c graham cracker crumbs
1 bag chocolate chips
10 oz bag mini marshmallows

Cream butter and sugar together in a large mixing bowl until well blended. Add eggs and vanilla and mix well. Add baking powder and salt and stir. Stir in flour 1 cup at a time. Gently stir in graham cracker crumbs. Spread 2/3 of the mixture into the bottom of a lightly greased 9X13" dish. Sprinkle the marshmallows on top. Eat some chocolate chips and then sprinkle the rest on the marshmallows. (You really only need 8 ounces of chocolate, but they don't sell 8 ounce bags of chocolate chips.)

(Let's ignore the weird chocolate I'm using here, okay?)
 Drop the remaining mixture on top of the marshmallows and chocolate spoonfuls at a time. It won't quite cover the top, but try to space the drops evenly. Bake at 350F for 20 minutes. If you want, you can broil it for 2 minutes to brown up the marshmallows. Or you can just take it out at the 20 minutes and eat until you are sick. It's your choice.

Let it cool for at least an hour before slicing it, or cutting out shapes with a cutter. I find it helpful to rinse the cutter in water between cut-outs.


Seriously, I'm putting these in cute little bags and depositing them straight into my children's Easter baskets. And then eating all of the "scraps" so they don't see them and ruin the surprise. (Because that's the job of a mother. You've got to look out for your kids.) 

May your Easter be full of sugar and happiness and mashed potatoes. (Man, I love mashed potatoes. Do people exist in this world that don't like mashed potatoes? Feel free to give me your mashed potatoes if you don't want them. And any Cadbury eggs you don't want. And...Happy Easter anyway!)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Chicky Cookies 2.0

I know -- I've already made a gajillion chicky cookies. I should move on. But I'm pretty sure I've already told you that I have this little problem where I just make cookies because I want to. Besides...these are totally different. I mean -- look-- there are flowers on these.

I love how one design looks completely different with a change in colors or a different shape of cookie. Sometimes though, it takes me forever to decide on the colors and the shape because of that. I get so nervous. What if I choose the wrong shape? Someone might be offended. Everyone would hate me. No one would eat the cookies and I would have to leave the country -- NOT ideal.

Oh, and apparently, I add flowers to my cookies all the time. I didn't realize this. Someone mentioned it a couple of weeks ago and it surprised me. And I told my husband and he agreed. Not about being surprised, but about the adding flowers all the time. I can't believe I am doing this without even thinking about it! It kind of makes me wonder what other great things I'm doing without knowing. I could be inventing a new kind of space travel and I wouldn't know it unless one of you tells me.

In case you are wondering about these flowers -- they take almost no time and no skill to make. I use a veiner. Which is a totally weird word for a piece of silicone that makes fondant into an instant flower. I got mine HERE from Decorate The Cake. I've never regretted owning it. (How else would I have made all those cherry blossoms?)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

how I made the colored eggs

So many people have asked about the multi-colored eggs, that I've decided I'm just going to have to tell everyone how I did it. It's not that I mind sharing (at all) -- I just feel a bit presumptuous because I certainly haven't been decorating cookies long enough to be telling anyone what to do.  So let's not look at this like I'm telling you how YOU should make them... I'm just showing you how one person made these one time. (And that person is me and I adore being not hated. So... you know...keep that in mind. )

Okay, so ...clearly I started with some egg shaped cookies. (Chocolate egg shaped cookies, in case you were wondering why my cookies look burnt to a crisp.)

I use only one consistency of icing. It's 12 count thick. I start by outlining a section of the cookie for the first line of color.

And then I immediately fill it in. I kind of like the look of lopsided lines...but you know...make them uniform and even and perfect if lopsided drives you crazy.

It's important to make sure the top part of your line reaches to the edge of the cookie and comes to a point there. That way there will be no gaps in the "outline" of the final cookie. Sometimes I'm really careful and I can get it perfect just by piping. But a lot of times, I just use a toothpick and pull it through the icing to make a point. (Seriously -- I should buy stock in toothpick companies. I use those things ALL THE TIME.)

I make these in an assembly line. I arrange the cookies in the order I pipe them. Usually...with all the normal daily distractions, by the time I get done with the last one...the first one is dry enough to add another stripe. It doesn't have to be completely dry and hard, it just needs to be crusted over. If it is still shiny -- take a break and call your Aunt Sarah. She probably hasn't heard from you in a while anyway.

When the first line is crusted over... I continue on with the next color. And the next...and you know....all of them until  the cookie is full of colors and stripes and icing and happiness.

The End.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Cherry Blossoms

Where I live, cherry blossoms are kind of a big deal. Like, a really big deal. They have trips and tours and festivals all centered around cherry blossoms. Cherry blossoms are their own season. Like winter. A pale pink, cotton-candy winter. The blossoms even dance through the sky and pile up in drifts on the side of the road. It's lovely.

Except in my neighborhood. My neighborhood is barren of these pink little gems because of some strange, cosmic imbalance that maintains my dwelling at a temperature at least 10 degrees colder than the rest of the town. And I will have to wait at least one more week to see them from the comfort of my pajamas. Unless, of course...I cheat and make some out of cookie branches and fondant.

These were a struggle between form and function for me.  In order to make the branches edible they had to be twice the diameter of a regular branch. Otherwise, they wouldn't hold the weight of the blossoms. They would have been prettier if I'd just made them thinner and baked them longer so they were hard and crunchy.

But then when my 4 year old ate them as a special treat after finishing his very healthy macaroni and cheese... he would have cried because they tasted slightly of charcoal and he would have run to his room and cried some more and then when I tried to read him a book to make him feel better, he would have sobbed to me,

"Why don't you love me?" 

and I would have spent hours trying to console him, rubbing his back endlessly while speaking comforting words just above a whisper and then my arm would have gone numb from his head pressed against it and I would have tried to find a way to extricate it while still reaffirming my love to him and it wouldn't have worked and we'd have to start the process all over again.

So...I had to go with thick branches. I hope you understand.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

pysanky cookies

These cookies were a long time coming. (And by "long time" I mean that it took more than an hour before I HAD to make them.) A few weeks ago, I saw a beautiful egg design and I was determined to make it into a cookie. And then, while over at MegaCrafty, I learned that the design was called "pysanky." And I was even more determined to make them into cookies.

And THEN, I found Sugarbelle's Easter cookie round-up and  saw that Haniela had made some beautiful pysanky cookies last year. And then I didn't want to make pysanky cookies anymore. I mean, seriously -- have you seen Haniela pipe?!

And then Haniela told me to do it anyway. So I did. You know, because I'm totally susceptible to peer pressure like that.

PS: I have a theory about tiny little spaces and the dreaded dents. I tested it with these cookies -- and NO dents. It doesn't prove anything, but I'm going to share it with you anyway. My theory is that in small spaces, the top of the icing meets before the bottom does and creates an air cavity which later sinks and creates the dent. So I just swirl a toothpick into the small area real quick. And I didn't have a single crater. And there was kind of a lot of small spaces on these cookies. I'll let you know if my theory fails me. But until it does...you can be sure I will be keeping my toothpick in its very special place called "my cupboard."

Friday, April 8, 2011

colors and secrets

SURPRISE! My blog is all different and stuff. I kind of feel bad that I just switched everything up on you without giving you time to adjust. It was so hard to keep it a secret. And I didn't like it. Now I feel like I have to tell you a secret just to make up for it. So...

I like foaming soap. Like, LOVE foaming soap.  I think the person that invented it is just brilliant. I would like to make them cookies. How did people with children get along before foaming soap came into this world? Seriously, I love it so much that I may or may not have taken some with me when I moved across the world. Just in case they didn't have any there. (They do.)

You know what else? I'm a "non-outliner." I just can't handle adding one extra step to cookies. I probably could if I tried. But I just don't want to. It makes cookies like these a little easier actually. But then...the addition of 9 jillion colors sure doesn't help on the clean up end of things.

And I like candy. I'm going to be completely honest with you here and let you know that I used jelly beans in this picture just so my four year old and I could eat them. And then wash our sticky jelly bean hands with foaming soap.


Monday, April 4, 2011

using a stencil on a cookie

As requested...I am going to tell you everything I know about using stencils. This should take about 3 minutes. Seriously, these red egg cookies were the first time I had ever used a stencil. So I'm definitely not what you would call an "expert" or even "good" with stencils. This is just how I did it.

Some basic needs of stencil work:
1) A stencil. The stencil I used is part of a set called "Flower Explosion." It was designed for cake, not cookies. I do what I want. You can too.
2) Thick royal icing. THICK. Like cookie dough thick. If you think it's thick enough, turn the bowl upside down. If you hesitated -- it's not thick enough.
3) Some sort of flat edge to spread the icing -- spatula, scraper, firm ruler...
4) Cookies. You can stencil on a nekkid cookie, cover it in fondant, or flood it with royal and let it dry overnight before stenciling. I went with fondant because I'm impatient like that.

If you have never used a stencil before, just stop right here for a minute and breathe. Then put your stencil down on the counter. 

Then put some icing on whatever straight edge you choose. Hold the stencil down with one hand, and with the other hand that is holding the iced up straight edge at an angle, lightly sweep it across the top of the stencil. (It really should be angled. But I couldn't angle it AND take a picture. I'm not that capable.)

Try to make it smooth-ish. Its okay if its not perfect after the first swipe. As long as you are firmly holding the stencil to the surface, you can sweep your straight edge across again. Or switch it out and use a scraper to make it smooth. That's your choice. Don't let anyone else make it for you.

Holding on to both sides of the stencil, gently lift STRAIGHT UP. Gently. And you have a beautiful, if not weirdly incomplete, stenciled pattern on your counter. Easy peasy.

Just remember that you used thick royal icing. It gets dry quick. So as much as you want to just stand there and bask in the joy of your very first stencil work...better get to scraping that off soon.

Once you feel comfortable with your counter top designs, you can try it out on a real live cookie. Since I used a stencil that was not designed for cookies, it definitely hangs off the edge. (I like that look in the finished product...but its trickier to apply.) And since it hangs off the edge, I can't hold it firmly against the cookie. See that gap between the stencil and the top of the cookie? That is NOT ideal.

So...seriously...don't judge me for this. I put cookies on either side of the one I am going to stencil. And then I put notepads under each cookie that are the exact thickness of the fondant. Then I put the stencil on top of the whole shebang (actual, real word--look it up if you don't believe me) and press down on the edges of the stencil that are resting on the other cookies.

And then put the icing on just like you did when the stencil was on the counter. As much as I like being normal...I could sure use an extra arm sometimes. I tried to get my 4 year old to take a picture but he just wanted to eat the icing. So imagine a beautiful picture here that answers all your remaining questions. Got it?

As before, gently pull the stencil straight up. Then I take a toothpick and gently wipe off the icing that went over the edges of the cookie.

 And then just stand there and stare at the amazing-ness of your stenciled cookies. Your cookies, not mine. Don't look too close at these little gems. You all make me nervous.

And because I know you're going to *need* them --



Get the Tier 1 Stencil HERE.





Get the Tier 2 Stencil HERE.





Get the Tier 3 Stencil HERE.



Get the Tier 4 Stencil HERE.








Or get the entire set HERE.

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