Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Space Cake


As I've said before -- late nights/early mornings are a real thing for me these days. I don't think I've EVER seen that side of midnight so many days in a row before. Not even in college. We would have loud parties at our house that involved half of the young-adult population of my town and made us un-friends with the neighbors and I would be downstairs, in my bed, sleeping. And I'm not just saying that because I know my mom reads my blog --  I LIKE TO SLEEP.

Anyway...up late with a newborn for days on end... About 4 days ago she started actually sleeping. I was SO excited until I realized that my oldest child was having a birthday party on Saturday and...I still had to make cookies and a cake. The cookies were easy. The cake, however, I put off until the last possible minute. For two reasons. One -- I'm really good at putting things off until the last possible minute. And two -- actually, there was only one reason.


So at 3am the morning of his party (and not the kind where our neighbors will un-friend us,) I was sitting at my kitchen table making my little planets.  (I decorate cookies standing up and cakes sitting down. I will NEVER understand myself.) I set the last one on the cake and went to bed. I was pretty proud that I had managed to pull it off. And then in the morning when I looked at the cake again, I realized that the cake was a bit shorter than I wanted and kind of lopsided and  just generally a little weird looking. Basically, I had created the cake version of bangs. And since I didn't really have time to let it grow out, I did what most people with bad haircuts that they gave themselves do. I told everyone I meant for it to look all wobbly. You know outer-space and all. It gets a little messy.


PS -- I made a little planet Earth. So cute, right?

PPS -- I KNOW that technically Pluto is a dwarf planet. So does my now 5 year old. But it was still important to him that it was there. And I'd like to stay on his good side until he's at least 9.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Space Cookies

I'm not a good Let-It-Goer. Maybe its because of my magnetic personality. Things just don't want to leave. I have to force them away. Its too much work. I can't do it.

Remember that snowman celebration back  in January? I had one more cookie I wanted to make. It didn't happen. But guess what? I STILL HAVE THAT COOKIE. Its still in my "to decorate" cookie box. If I let it go, it would be like giving up on it. That poor, helpless cookie that never did anything wrong, never spoke up out of turn or got things messy or sat down in the middle of the parking lot, started screaming and refused to come with me even though my hands were completely full and I had no way of picking up said...umm....cookie and taking it into the building. I can't just walk away from innocence like that. That cookie is not going anywhere.

For the record-- I also don't walk away from chewy chocolate chip cookies.

Anyway, these cookies are a prime example of my not letting-it-go-ness. I wanted a rounded rocket shape. I don't have a rocket cutter of any kind. BUT... a pennant cutter is basically a rocket. I kept trying to make it work for me. I told myself it would be just fine. I held the cutter over my newly rolled out dough and ...just hovered there. I couldn't do it. I couldn't let go. I stood there just holding the cutter, knowing I would never use it, but still trying to MAKE MYSELF do it. It got all tense for a minute. I wasn't sure what would happen next. And then my memory is kind of a blur, but I remember the pennant cutter landing in the corner and my entire bin of cutters being emptied onto the floor as I searched through bag after bag for the pieces to my rocket.

In the end....I squished a football cutter, added some rocket boosters with a triangle and the fire came from that other weird cutter up there. (Anyone know the name of that thing?)

OHHH! -- And do you know what would be really cool? You should use a 3-4 count icing to make the craters in the planet. Because it really would sink and make it look like a crater!! That's it. I have to try these again.



PS -- I made these for my very own child's birthday party, so I'm totally going to go link it up on Cookie Crazie's Birthday Party Link-Up

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Let's talk about eyeballs.

So...I put eyeballs on cookies. I'm usually kind of weirded out by food that looks at me. I don't really know how I got to this point in my cookie decorating life. I mean, I never meant to be an Eyeball Cookie Maker. I remember the first eyeball cookies. I was thinking, "Just this one time won't hurt. I don't have to do it again." But then, I LIKED it. A lot. I tried to stop thinking about it. I started actually doing my laundry just so I could distract myself. I contacted relatives I hadn't talked to in years. I even renewed my efforts to learn Korean. For a few months, I thought I had moved on. But then the late nights started to wear on me. Staring into the blackness in the early hours, I started thinking about those eyeball cookies. So I made just one more. Just ONE more eyeball cookie and then I would move on for real.  Except that now I can't move on. They moved into my cookie decorating closet and are holed up in the corner. Literally. In multiple little plastic containers. They're not going anywhere.

Anyway, I was thinking that maybe you would like to keep me company on my little eyeball cookie journey. You're going to need some eyeballs.

I make two different kinds of eyes -- black/white eyes and colored eyes. They are both made nearly the same way, but you know, with different colors and all.

First, you have to start with the right consistency of royal icing. If it is too thin, the eyeballs spread and sink and deform, and unless it is Halloween, that is NOT the look we are going for. If it is too thick, your eyeballs will be pointy. Again -- not ideal. I judge consistency for eyeballs a little differently than for piping. Dip a toothpick into the icing and pull straight up. The peak should disappear in 10 seconds.

Put some wax paper on the back of a cookie sheet and start piping dots like a crazy person. I usually do about 15-20 white dots at a time. Place the tip just barely above the wax paper and squeeze without moving it. The icing will pillow out away from the tip creating a near-perfect circle. Lift straight up and move on to the next one.

Using the same consistency of black icing, pipe a much smaller black dot onto the white. I usually use a #3 tip for the white and a #1 tip for the black. But... what YOU use should depend on the size of the eyeballs you are making. Do you see how the black is above the white? That will go away in about 30 seconds because we made our icing the perfect consistency, and the top of the eyeball will be completely smooth.

Oh, and for some reason, I pipe my black dot in the lower half of the white dot. I feel like it looks less buggy-eyed that way. And it may or may not be true.

The colored eyes have a couple more steps. Start as before by piping white dots all over the place. Come back and pipe in the eye color of your choice. Again, I have this thing about not piping the dots in the exact center, but by all means - do whatever you want.

Pipe a much smaller dot inside the colored part of the eye. If you have previously piped your dot in the very center, then pipe the black dot in the exact center. If you have piped your color dot in the bottom half, make sure your black dot is in the bottom half as well. You could be done right here if you want to. Or...

you can add the shine dot. Dip a toothpick into some of the white icing and pull it out at an angle so it has a tiny little tail.

Touch the tip of that tail to the eyeball where the color and black dots meet. I always do mine on the top right, but that's because I'm obsessive.

Anyway...let your eyeballs dry at least over night, if you are going to use them right away.  If you are going to store them, you should probably let them have a full 24 hours of drying. To remove them from the wax paper, pull the wax paper away from the eyeball and gently encourage it to just pop right off.

I keep my eyeballs in recycled baby food containers. I know, I'm super classy. But as long as they stay dry and out of humid environments they will keep for a real long time. So...basically the perfect addition to any cookie.

NEED MORE?




Royal Icing Recipe with Dried Egg Whites.








 My favorite piping tips.









Use your new eyeballs to make these guys.







Or these guys.


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

St. Patrick's Day Cookies


I was going to say something funny and educational and totally informative in a way that would stick with you for the rest of your life. And you would love me forever. And totally print out pictures of my cookies and my big ol' huge head and tape them over the gorgeous Caribbean Island photos in your calendar, just so you could remember how much you like me on a daily basis.

But I didn't because I got tired. Like, actually tired. Okay, look -- I haven't really slept in kind of a long time. All 3 of my children have apparently been talking to each other and have decided that they will get up at random, yet completely spaced out intervals through out the night. I think they are trying to get more movie time, but they haven't really given me a list of their demands yet, so there's nothing I can do about it.


So I was thinking that maybe today can be kind of like casual Friday except that its not Friday, and there are no jeans involved. At all. Because really, jeans aren't THAT comfortable. Anyway...not my "A" game today. (PS -- What does that even MEAN?) I'm just going to tell you a joke and go home.

A lady gets on a bus with her baby. The bus driver says, "Wow. That is THE UGLIEST baby I have EVER seen." The lady is MAD. Super mad. Like so mad, she's thinking about riding his bus all day long and then following him when he goes home just so she can toilet paper his house and leave old pumpkins on his doorstep. But she doesn't. She goes to the back of the bus and sits down. She turns to the guy next to her and says, "The bus driver totally just insulted me!!" The guy says, "What a jerk. You should go right back up there and tell him off. Go ahead. I'll hold your monkey." 




You might want to make some eyeballs ahead of time for these cookies. You don't have to, but why not have a little eyeball making fun? Click HERE to see how I make them. 
 
 
I used this super festive Wilton cutter for my shamrock cookies and then bent the stems a little bit when I put them on the baking sheet. I can't handle straight-stemmed shamrocks. It's nothing personal. I just don't like them. 



Here's the deal. I use ONE consistency of royal icing and a #3 tip to outline and fill. Its about a 12-15 count thickness of icing. But don't change on my account. Do what you like. I outline first...

 
...and then immediately go back and fill in the rest of the cookie. You know, with green icing. Let that dry for a jillion years or a couple of hours. Whichever comes first. If you wanted to be time efficient, you could just drop your eyeballs on right here at this step. I don't because I'm compulsive.
 

Using your stiff-ish white icing and your #1 tip, pipe tiny little stitch lines around the edge of the cookie. Sometimes I get little peeks. I use a toothpick to knock them off. It they seriously bug you, use a thinner icing. I use a thicker icing so that the stitches stay thin. But you know...clearly I have issues...so do what makes you happiest.


This is the point where I place my eyeballs. I'll tell you why I wait so long. I make a lot of eyeballs in all sorts of sizes. And I really like having the option to test out different sizes before committing to one. If you don't make eyeballs ahead of time, you could also just pipe some right on to the cookie at this point. 


And then I use a food color marker to draw the little mouths. I kind of like the mouths to be slightly off center. They look a little mischievous. And happy. And although its weird to be assigning personality traits to an object that is about to be eaten...I...actually, I have no excuse for being the way I am.
 


NEED MORE??





Get the shamrock cutter HERE.










Don't want to make your own eyeballs? Get some HERE







Use the same cutter to make RAINBOW SHAMROCKS HERE.








Learn how to pipe perfect shamrocks every time HERE.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Spring Cookies


So, one day this week I walked outside and the wind didn't immediately bite me. I'm going to call that spring and will commence to celebrate it.

Dear SPRING -- 

 I'm having a party in your honor. Please come. 

Love, 
Your biggest fan, 
No, seriously, I'm like your biggest fan in the entire world, 
Georganne

PS -- I have a blog and I'm making you cookies. You should check them out. They will totally be worth the trip.

PPS -- You don't have to RSVP or anything but it would be super thoughtful if you did. 


PPPS -- I know that you don't really get along with winter that well. So I didn't invite him. Promise. I know how he gets all in your face and just won't go away sometimes. I get that. He does it to me too. I've got your back and I'm ordering a jillion space heaters. That usually keeps him at bay. Just say you'll come.


PPPPS -- Did I mention that I'm a HUGE, big fan of you? (But not in a way that you should be scared of me at night or hide your children from me or anything. Just in the kind of way that I will cheer for you EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. you come. Every time. How can you resist that?) (Don't think of ways to resist that. Just come.) (And bring the sun with you. I sure miss that guy.)

Monday, February 13, 2012

Saltwater Buttercream Cookies


If you weren't with me this time last year....I revealed a super big secret on Valentine's Day. And I'm not going to repeat myself, so you're just going to have to scroll back through the last year and...okay, I'm just kidding. On basically every account. You can click here for the post. But honestly, I just rambled on for kind of a while and showed super weird pictures of cookies decorated with butter cream that did not look at all appetizing unless you were 3 years old. Oh, and my whole point was that my mom always made butter cream Valentine's Day cookies. And they were nearly as big as my head. Or the state of Indiana. So, you know pretty much the same size either way.

And I feel it is important that my own children get to experience this Valentine tradition. Without it, they could totally grow up to be responsible broccoli eating citizens, never knowing how their stark, sprinkle free lives could be different. I can't take that risk. And then I was thinking that maybe YOU shouldn't be taking that risk either. So I'm also including my recipe for Saltwater Butter Cream. 


Saltwater Butter Cream
1 Tablespoon warm water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter (room temperature if at all possible)
2 teaspoons vanilla
6 cups powdered sugar

Dissolve the salt in the water and set aside. Cream butter and 4 cups of powdered sugar together in a mixing bowl until they are well blended. Add the saltwater and vanilla and mix well. Add the remaining powdered sugar and whip on high speed for 2-3 minutes.

***You can make this frosting thinner or stiffer by leaving out some powdered sugar, or adding more. 


***This is a crusting butter cream. 

***You CAN make this with butter straight from the fridge. I do it all the time. Just be aware that your frosting will soften  about 20 minutes after you make it if you use cold butter. So make it a little stiffer than you want it to end up. 


*** For the BEST chocolate butter cream you have ever tasted -- substitute 1/2 cup of cocoa powder for the same amount of powdered sugar. (And if you want your frosting darker mix it with the saltwater first.) 




PS -- If you're worried about making ugly cookies like mine last year -- don't be. I'm pretty much already the champion of weirdy Valentine's Day cookies that no one but a child would ever even think about eating. Plus, you don't even HAVE to make butter cream cookies that look like butter cream cookies.

Feel free to make them your own style.


And as long as we're talking about your own style of butter cream you all should REALLY be checking out Kim's cookies!!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Wild Thing Valentine Cookies


I spend a lot of time awake between the hours of midnight and 5am these days. I wouldn't really call it quality awake time, but to be honest, I don't mind it so much. I can reload my facebook page endlessly -- while hoping that THIS TIME someone has left me a message -- to my heart's content. And I can eat ice cream straight from the container with the freezer door open and everything. Also, hypothetically, if I wanted to, I could do a work out video without anyone judging my complete lack of coordination. Sometimes I just stare at the wall though. And dream about sleeping. Its actually kind of disturbing to think about how often I choose that option.

Anyway last night while NOT working out at 3 am, I had this great idea. And let me just tell you, that I've had enough "good" ideas at 3am over the past couple of months to know by now that I need to just leave it alone until morning. But last night I threw caution to the wind and just went with it.



I made you some cookie bag toppers! (Click on the image for the pdf file.) At 3am. In my pajamas. What are you going to do? It seemed like a good idea.



And then when I woke up and saw what I had done, it was too late. I had only one choice. I had to make the cookies as well. Strangely though, all that purpose and direction from the early hours had  disappeared with the sunlight. And I was left with only a hazy memory of the cookie that could have been. I tried to re-create the quickly vanishing ideal from my memories, but ... whoa. Nearly fell asleep on you there. I guess I'm not really all that interesting to myself. Hmm. That's certainly something to think about.


What do you think? Fuzzy or smooth? Mouth or no mouth?




Oh, PS --


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

XOXO striped cookies

I am in LOVE (Like-love. Not love-love.) with make ahead royal icing details right now! As if you couldn't tell by the Fuzzy Heart eyeballs or the Tiled Hearts or ALL the eyeball creations coming 'round my blog this week. Oh! And the heart cookies yesterday. (Seriously, I may need an intervention soon. Please keep that in mind my dear Sugar Sisters.)

Well, these cookies are no exception. I made the Xs, the Os, and the hearts the day before. Or two days before. I lose track of time often. Especially when I have really cool things to do. Like taking a nap.

And then I just whipped up some cookies and stuck them on top. It was easier than...umm...doing something else that is really easy. So, you know, on a scale of easy to hard I would put it right next to eating cotton candy off a stick. Not the kind in the bag. Cotton candy on a stick and cotton candy in a bag are two very different things. Please don't be confused. 

Oooh, I have the BEST idea ever. I'm totally going to make these in pink, white, and blue and add cotton candy flavoring to my icing. And THEN when that doesn't satisfy my desire to eat cotton candy...I will buy myself a cotton candy machine. See? All great ideas. You really can't go wrong with make-ahead royal icing details. 


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