Friday, May 25, 2012

Iced Berry Pinata Cookies

What's a better way to celebrate spring then with fun, fruity and sweet cookies.  I was going to a party with friends and I decided I would bake these delicious, easy cookies.

The name comes from the retired Girl Scout cookies from many years ago.  Since it was my favorite cookie, I found a recipe from here to be able to enjoy the cookie now that they are no longer selling it.
 My variation of this treat is a little different from the cookie described below in that I use raspberries instead of strawberries and the topping is an almond glaze instead of sugar icing and cinnamon crumbs. If you remember these Girl Scout cookies, comment below.  Also let me know what you think of this variation.
The recipe is at the bottom for those interested. Let's get started.

I first used the following ingredients: a cup of margarine, 1/2 teaspoon of immitation almond extract, 2/3 cup of sugar, and 2 cups of all-purpose flour.

Next I got out my favorite handheld mixer. It is very old but has never let me down.

I used it to cream together the margarine or sugar. I chose to use margarine to make this recipe lactose free/ dairy free. If you prefer, you can use butter.

When I was done, it looked like this. Yours should look the same or similar, depending if you decide to use butter or margarine.

Then I added the almond extract into the creamed butter and sugar mixture.

I began to add flour to the mixture. I started by adding a little amount...

then a little more...

until all the flour is added.  It should look like this. 

In order to get the right texture for the cookies, you need to be able to form a ball.  If it is too dry and crumbles while attempting to do this, you might want to add more margarine.

I put the ball of cookie dough into a bowl and covered it with saran wrap.

I put mine in the refrigerator for an hour.  It needs to be in there long enough for the dough to become more managable.

When an hour has passed, I uncovered the ball and began to turn my large ball into smaller balls.  The size should be between 1-3 inches.

Before placing the little balls on the cookie sheet, I greased it with Pam.  It would be a shame for all the hard work to get ruined by all the coookies simply sticking to the tray while baking!!!

Now for the fun part! When all the dough is rolled into small balls, it is time to create the center in the middle for the jam.  I use my thumb to create the imprint.  Some people like using their knuckles or the end of a spoon.  Mine may not look the prettiest, but it will still taste delicious.

This is what my two cookie sheets look like when I am done with this step.  As you can see, I was able to get about 29 cookies.

Finally, I added the jam.  I used red raspberry seedless jam from Smuckers. I like this jam for cooking and for putting on toast and biscuits.  It is delicious.

I added a little less than a spoonfull into the whole I made with my thumbprint.

Some have more and other have less but it doesnt' really matter. It might also look messy, but whenI added the glaze, they looked very professional and visually appealing.

I put the cookies in the oven  and set the timer for 9 minutes.  I rotated them and then left them them in for another 5-10 minutes in order for them to cook all the way through.

I let them bake until they turn a little brown on the sides and bottom.

The last part is the glaze.  I mixed 1 cup of confectioner's sugar with 4 teaspoons or warm water and 1/2 teaspoon of almond extract.  I used a fork and just went back and forth to drizzle the glaze all over. I put them on wax paper for this step because it tends to get a little messy.  It's okay because my favorite part of cooking is getting a little dirty.

By itself, the glaze is super sweet.  But on the cookies, the taste of the raspberries, shortbread cookies and sweet glaze all come together to create this delicious cookie.

I hope you enjoyed this recipe.  I do not usually go for these sorts of cookies; I am a huge chocolate lover and tend to go for gooey brownies and blondies or simple chocolate chip.  Let me know if you want to see more unique dessert or if there is something else you are dying for me to cook. Here is the full list of ingredients if you are interested in making it:

1 cup softened butter
2/3 cup sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
seedless raspberry jam (at least 1/2 cup)

1 cup confectioner's sugar
4 teaspoons warm water
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Rachel <3

Friday, May 18, 2012

Chocolate-Covered Pretzels

When hanging out with friends, I decided to make an additonal treat. Chocolate covered strawberries are perfect for Valentine's Day.  Since I wasn't spending the weekend with a date, I chose to do something similar, but not romantic!

These pretzels have rainbow sprinkles, pink decorating sugar, and coconut also added on top of the chocolate or white chocolate.  My color scheme sort of went a long with Valentine's Day but can really be used for any holiday.

When I was little, I loved helping my mom make this.  I loved dipping the pretzels in the chocolate...and dripping chocolate all over the house.  It does not alway s have to be messy and is truely an acitivity the entire family can take part in.
I followed the instructions from a wonderful blog, Love From the Oven.  If you are interested in seeing her step by step instructions, click here.

If you have any recipe requests or questions, please leave a comment below.


Conversation Heart Cakes

I am sorry it has been so long, but I am finally going to reveal the surprise dessert I made for my Valentine's day celebration.  Here is the finished product.

If it looks familiar, that is because it was inspired by the cupcakes in the book What's New, Cupcake?
If you are not familiar with the book, I will hopefully do a review of there book(s) in the near future.  To learn how I created this cute treat, keep reading.
First I took out the vanilla cake I made a head of time.  I removed them from the pan and put them on two cutting boards.

I then found cookie cutters that I wanted for the particular dessert I was creating.  If you wanted to create little cakes that looked like something in particular, there are a variety of differnt cookie cutters available to purchase.  I haven't bought any recently, but when I find a great selection in a particular store, I will be sure to let you all know.

In order to create an almost perfect heart from the cookie cutters, I firts insert the heart into the cake.
Then I gently remove it and use a knife to cut the cake even more.

I then gently pull away my heart-shaped cake from the remaining "loaf."  I used two different sized cookie cutters to add some variation to my little cakes.  I arranged them in an aluminum pan.

I removed each one and put it on a paper plate when I was decorating and put it back in the aluminum pan to be refrigerated.  I wanted the first layer of frosting to be hardened so when I added more, it wouldn't ruin the first layer.

After it is refrigerated for thirty minutes or more, I used a canned icing, like this one.  If I were to do this over, I would use a piping bag with a small tip to write on the cakes.  This is because I found that the can caused the icing to come out inconsistantly with multiple air bubbles.  Some of the writing got very sloppy because I had trouble finding control with this product.

For my particular dessert, I wrote cute sayings on it just like the ones on Necco conversation hearts. 


This the wonderful book I found this idea from.
This is the original idea.  As ou can see, the authors of the book decided to put the cakes on cupcakes.  I thought it was a lot of food and I prefered the way the cakes looked by themselves.  This way, my friends could have just one or a few, not worrying about taking one cupcake and not eating the entire thing.

All and all, this was a fun project.  I have had messy or chaotic experiences in the kitchen but this was very easy and the mess was easily controlled.  If you try this out, let me know what you think.


Saturday, February 18, 2012

Vanilla Cake

This weekend I plan on hanging out with friends to celebrate Valentine's Day. I know it is a little late, but this weekend worked better than last weekend and it is never too late for chick flicks, sweet treats, and a bunch of girl talk.

Well for dessert, I was planning on making something extra special and very cute to look at.  In order to make it, i needed vanilla cake.  I think a great vanilla cake recipe should be a staple in every cook's collection of cookbooks and recipes. I am going to share one of my favorite's with you.

I started off with the following ingredients:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups milk

I had already sifted the flour before I meausured it.  I sifted the flour again with the baking powder and salt to better combine the ingredients.
I then creamed together the egg and the sugar on medium high with an handheld electric mixer.

I added the eggs, a little bit at a time. Then I added vanilla and reduced the speed of my mixer to medium. I mixed in the flour mixture in 3 batches wit 2 batches of the milk to ensure that everything was well combined.  I raised the speed to medium high for 10-12 seconds.
Finally, I greased the pan. Depending on where the batter is going into, you will set the timer and the oven temperature accordingly.  It is also important that you preheat the oven for at least 15 minutes to ensure the cake will cook the entire time it is in the oven.

Do you have any more suspicions about what the sweet treat is?  Stay tuned to find out.