Tag Archives: Cookies

Baking backlog

So for my birthday a few months ago Mr. R gave me this AWESOME new stand mixer.  Man.  How did we ever bake anything without it?  Truly a life changer.

So with the various holidays, weddings and babies I’ve celebrated over the spring (did I mention how busy the spring was?), this thing was put to good use!

On Easter (yes, yes I’ve been that slow with updating), I made a cake inspired by the Washington Post’s peep diorama contest.

If you look real closely and use your imagination, you can kind of see it bears a resemblance to peeps engaged in an Easter egg hunt!  Ha.

I honestly don’t remember what cake recipe I used, but obviously any kind will do.

I will, however, say that with my stand mixer I was able to try a REAL buttercream icing — one that is meringue-based, not just butter and sugar — and let me tell you, I will never go back.  This stuff is like heaven.  And I’m not even a huge cake person.

Here is an overview of the various buttercream icings with a tutorial on Italian buttercream.  I made a Swiss buttercream using this recipe.  Pretty simple with fantastic results.

I also had to give this thing a try on royal icing — which was always a huge pain with just a handheld mixer.  AMAZING difference.  The most beautiful royal icing I have ever seen, with hardly any of the effort of before.  Again, life-changing!

It made these Easter-themed sugar cookies a breeze!  Well…..sorta 😉

I also could not resist making a batch of cookies for the baby shower of a dear family member of mine.  I mean…how cute are they?

Here is my post on baking and decorating sugar cookies with royal icing.  The Wilton website is also a great resource, which is where I got the idea for the teddy bears.  Of course, theirs looks much better than mine!

Tonight I’m going to put the mixer to use again in making pizza dough for my favorite pizza with radicchio and onion-balsamic marmalade.  But this time we’ll cook it on the grill!  Yum, can’t wait!

-R

 

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Halloween!

I love holidays.  Any excuse to indulge in sugary confections and partake in somewhat silly traditions (see above jack-o-lantern) is okay in my book!  With the temperatures dropping rapidly, whipping up a warm batch of cookies is always a nice distraction.

To be honest, baking is definitely not my forte — I’m just not one for following directions —  but I can never resist the lure of cutesy decorated sugar cookies.  Mr. R and I make them every year at Christmas, but this year, inspired by this blog post, I decided to make some for Halloween as well.

I use Alton Brown’s sugar cookie recipe, which is simple enough, and roll them out with the help of these rubber bands and a heavy-duty rolling pin.  And of course, copious amounts of powdered sugar.

I picked up pumpkin and ghost cookie cutters, and then used a biscuit cutter to make circles.

I used this method of making and decorating with royal icing.  I have tried numerous royal icing recipes and this one has been the most successful for me.  You just have to be careful not to add too much water (as you can see from the sloppy leaves on the pumpkins below!) I don’t have any special decorating equipment; I just used a plastic bag with a hole cut in the corner and some plastic squeeze bottles.  I am not the most artistically inclined person, so maybe investing in a real icing bag with piping tips would help?  Maybe some day.

Perhaps not professional quality, but still delicious!

I realized at the last minute that I didn’t have any black food coloring — but, randomly, did have black sprinkles!  These sugar cookies are so sweet and fluffy, and just melt in your mouth.  Mmmmmm.

Well given the number of Alton Brown recipes  I post in this blog, I suppose I have revealed myself as an avid follower of Good Eats.  Watching his latest Halloween episode the other night, I was astonished to see him MAKE candy corn!  I didn’t even know that was possible!  Obviously, I had to try it.

Here is the recipe.  I have never ventured into the art of making candy before.  But this looked simple enough. Heat some sugar to 230 degrees, and add yet more sugar to make a candy “dough.”

Divide into three sections, add food coloring, roll into snakes, press together, and slice!

The reality was a bit harder than he made it seem on the show.  The dough quickly hardened and was difficult to work with toward the end. I am not sure if something went wrong in the prep, or if that is how it is supposed to be.

Either way, I thought the candy corn was delicious — a bit harder and chewier than store-bought, but it had a lovely flavor that certainly surpassed that of the soy protein,  “confectioner’s glaze” (what on earth is that??), dextrose, artificial flavor, and titanium dioxide that comprise your average candy corn.

Well I may have a stomach ache tomorrow after all these sweets, but it will be so worth it.  I hope that everyone is enjoying a safe and happy Halloween!

-R