Friday, June 26, 2009

Sugar Cookies Part 2

Ok...I am finally getting around to posting the recipes I used for the sugar cookies. The actual cookies are courtesy of Laurie Van Schaik. I swapped out her frosting recipe though for a royal icing recipe I got from Martha Stewart. Let me know if you find yourself making decorated cookies - could come in handy for a 4th of July party!

White Velvet Cut Outs

1 8oz package of cream cheese, softened
1 lb unsalted butter, softened (Laurie said she used margarine but I had a hard time with the dough I made with margarine so I am sticking with butter)
2 egg yolks
2 c. sugar
1 t vanilla
4 1/2 c flour

1. Beat together cream cheese and butter/marg
2. Add sugar, egg yolks, and vanilla
3. Add flour and mix thoroughly
4. Chill at least one hour, but overnight is best
5. Roll dough on well-floured surface and cut in desired shapes. You will need LOTS of flour - flour the counter, your hand, rolling pin, cookie cutters, etc. Make sure dough stays cold so re-refrigerate if it gets soft and sticky. It should be somewhat tough when you are rolling it out.
6. Bake 10-12 minutes at 350 or until edges start to brown
7. Cool cookies prior to decorating (note: cookies aren't that tasty out of the oven, so hold off until you frost them)

Frosting (this is not the one I used but it is much yummier than royal icing, but not sure if it hardens like royal icing so feel free to experiment)
2 c. powdered sugar
1 t vanilla
1/2 t almond extract
2 T hot water
Food coloring
**Adjust water amount as needed to make frosting thin enough to "paint" on cookies. Let cookies drip dry on cooling racks

Royal Icing
2 egg whites (or 5T meringue powder)
1 box confectioners sugar
1/2 c water

1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine sugar and meringue powder. If using egg whites, beat the egg whites a little first until bubbly then add powdered sugar.
2. Mixing on low speed, add a scant 1/2 cup water. For a thinner consistency, usually used for flooding, add more water. A thicker consistency is generally used for outlining and adding details.
3. Mix until icing holds a ribbonlike trail on the surface of the mixture for 5 seconds when you raise the paddle.
*Check out for royal icing decorating tips and other ideas

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

(Peanut butter cup cookies on the left)

I remember eating these cookies for the first time my sophomore year of college when my friend Laney lived across the hall. Luckily for me, she was one of my roommates fall term of junior year and she shared the recipe with me. You will be amazed at how easy these cookies are, and what rave reviews you will receive. Don't reveal how easy they are to make or you will ruin the secret. :)

Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

Chocolate chip cookie dough (Store bought break and bake is the easiest, but you can make your own too)
Mini peanut butter cups (Reeses are the best)
Mini cupcake liners

1. Preheat oven to 350
2. Line the mini-cupcake pans with the paper liners
3. If using the break and bake dough, cut all the squares in half to total 48 cookies (I've determined this makes the perfect amount of cookie; I think Nestle makes a mini sized break and bake, and if you are using that then don't cut in half)
4. Roll the dough squares into a small ball and place one into each liner; make a thumbprint on the cookie dough, slightly pressing down into the liner
5. Bake cookies for about 10 minutes...try not to overbake
6. While the cookies bake, unwrap the mini peanut butter cups
7. Once the cookies come out of the oven, press a peanut butter cup down into the middle of each cookie
8. Cool and enjoy!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Sugar Cookies

My latest challenge to myself has been to create cute sugar cookies. Why you ask? Here is the back story:

Bride-to-be Valerie (the cupcake lover referred to in the red velvet cake post) and I have been trying to come up with some cute party favor ideas for her friend's bachelorette party, and maybe something I could make for her wedding. Valerie is always lighting a fire under me to boost my confidence and helping me come up with baking ideas. Well, we somehow got on board with the idea of sugar cookies with her monogram.

Growing up we would always bake cookies at Christmas for Santa, but I wouldn't say any of them were ever worthy of giving to anyone who doesn't come down a chimney in the dark. Therefore, I was starting this venture with no recipe and just the archive of Martha Stewart shows in my brain where she made gorgeous cookies. Valerie and I decided we would have a girls night and attempt to make these cookies. It was fun, but we definitely didn't produce any cookies I would want to put my name on (taste or appearance). This led me to try to find other recipes, and I remembered my mom had a friend, Laurie Van Schaick, who used to always provide decorated cookies for school events. I got her recipe and set out on my own one weekend to try to make pretty cookies. This time around I had some success, and have to admit I made a pretty darn good looking cookie with Valerie's future monogram. I sent her a picture, along with anyone else who I thought might want to see it, and got the feedback that it wasn't only me who thought it was cute.

In the meantime of this cookie baking experimentation, I was gearing up to go to NC for a party to celebrate the upcoming wedding of friends Parker and Brandi. The successful monogram cookie was made the weekend before their party, so I thought I would be brave and offer to make cookies as party favors. This turns into what I call "Project Cookie." I offered up this idea 5 or 6 days before the party, after only producing ONE pretty cookie the prior weekend. I'm not sure if I was crazy, but I know I was close to it. I got home from work on Monday and starting rolling out cookies and baking them. The idiot that I am thought I would have enough leftover dough from my weekend experimentation. Turns out I only got about 15 cookies from that, and needed 60. This lead to me making the dough again, only this time I tried margarine instead of butter like Ms. Van Schaick said she did. I whipped up the dough Monday night and let it chill until Tuesday after work. I go to roll out the cookies and this dough is just plain mush - there is no way I am going to be able to cut out cookies from it so I panic and stick it in the freezer to harden up. In my panicked state, I quickly whip up another batch of dough using butter as I originally had, and throw that in the freezer as well so it can chill to be baked that night.

That night my kitchen never saw so much mess in its life. I started rolling out the dough and by the time I got the cookies cut out it was soft again so would have to stick it back in the freezer, grab another batch and repeat the process. Thank goodness I had Kris to help as this was not an easy task. I eventually got enough cookies to call it a night, so the decorating process could start on Wednesday. The decorating was fun yet stressful at the same time. I am not the most artistic person so I was nervous that all these cookies would turn out horrible. I went with the colors white, blue, and yellow, and wasn't so pleased with the way my blue and yellow worked, but that is just the perfectionist in me. I ended up getting the base layer of royal icing done on Wednesday night in 6 hours. This then had to dry a full day so I did the letters (A for Ariail, BP for Brandi and Parker) and other piping on Thursday night. The cookies then traveled with me to NC, where we tied them with bows and took them to the party Saturday night. Needless to say I was nervous that they wouldn't like them, but everyone said they were pretty (but who would say "oh what an ugly cookie"). As for the taste, most people said they were good, but I did watch one man take a bite and put it back!!!

That is the story of "Project Cookie" in a nutshell and hopefully I will have more adventures like this to share in the future. :)

*** For some reason when I upload pictures to this blog it will rotate them and I don't like that. I have lots of other pictures to post but they are all rotating themselves so this is all you get for now. If anyone knows how to fix that problem please let me know!

** Cookie recipe to come later