Monday, June 27, 2016

Graduation Cake for a Future Doctor!

My friend's daughter got accepted into medical school! She's going to be an Ob-Gyn, so my friend asked for a themed graduation cake.

I was fighting humidity again...I'm going to stop doing graduation cakes because I can't deal with the melting fondant. :-(

Anyhoo, strawberry cake with hand-sculpted fondant decorations.

That's all for now.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Chocolate Chunk Cookies

OK, people. I would just like to say that I recently found a new recipe for chocolate chip cookies, and these cookies are the real deal.

I didn't have particularly high hopes. I didn't even take any pictures of the process. I mean, a chocolate chip cookie is a chocolate chip cookie, right? Maybe. Maybe not.

I have made these approximately 8 times since discovering them on Smitten Kitchen last month. (And yet, somehow, I still only have the one photo.)

Anyhoo, I tinkered with the recipe a little bit, just because that's who I am these days. The one thing I need to stress is that you should use a chocolate bar, cut into chunks. Chocolate chips work, but the cookies are better with chunks. So far I've used Ghiradelli, Hershey Special Dark, and a Spanish baking bar I received from a friend. If I could easily get the Spanish chocolate, I would use it again, but since I can't, I've been using the Hershey bar. It's bigger than the other and cheaper. And just as good.

I made these with gluten-free flour once, too; I added a scant half teaspoon of xanthan gum. They were delightful. Nobody could tell they were gluten-free.

And you don't have to use the raw sugar, but it gives the cookies a little something extra.

Chocolate Chunk Cookies

1/2 cup butter, softened
2 Tbs sugar
2 Tbs raw sugar
165 grams dark brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 tsp baking soda
heaping 1/2 tsp sea salt
220 grams all-purpose flour
8 oz chocolate chunks

Preheat oven to 360 F. (Yes, that says 360. It is not a typo.)

Mix butter and sugars in the bowl of an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

In the meantime, mix the flour, salt and soda in a small bowl. Set aside.

Add the egg to the butter and sugar and mix until combined. Stir in the vanilla. Pour in the flour mixture and stir until incorporated. Remove the bowl from the mixer and gently fold in the chocolate chunks by hand.

Scoop cookies by 1 1/2 Tbs scoops onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 12 - 14 minutes. Makes about 24 cookies.

Well, that's all for now.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Teal, Yellow, and Gray Baby Shower Cookies

A friend had a baby shower and I got to bring cookies and cupcakes! We were very excited for her, as this baby has been a long time coming.

Unfortunately, I got ZERO good photos of the cookies. And I mean ZERO-er than normal.

Made some onesies...

Some bottles, rattles and bibs...

 A plaque or two...

And then I also made some cupcakes! I used my usual go-to chocolate cake, plus some white to go with them. Half the chocolate cupcakes were filled with dulce du leche (the ones with the dollops on top) and half of the white cupcakes were filled with lemon curd (also with the dollops on top). They were pretty darn tasty. Again, not a good photo, but you get the idea. They're cupcakes. :-)

The little one arrived a few weeks ago and mom and dad couldn't be happier!

Well, that's all for now.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Honda Odyssey Cookies

So this was kind of weird. A friend of my mom's asked me to make some Honda Odyssey cookies for her. Basically she was looking for an excuse to have a celebration, and she decided to throw her minivan a birthday party.

So, I present to you a 2004 Honda Odyssey in royal icing! On a candy corn cookie!

I ended up doing royal icing transfers for the vans. They weren't great, but they were recognizable, at least. And I'm happy to say that after about 30 RI transfers, I can spot an Odyssey from 100 paces. Or more.

Well, that's all for now.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Valentine Love Birds

The girl saw the Valentine Love Birds floating around the interwebs and decided she needed them for her class Valentine's Day party. (Yes, I do realize it's almost summer.)

Her teacher is (was) gluten-free, so I made them with gluten-free ingredients. They tasted pretty good. And they were cute.

I kept asking the girl if she wanted the birds to be pink and blue instead of the original white and blue, but she insisted they be exactly like the photos. I don't know if I got them exactly, but they're pretty close. And I got to use my new(ish) petal dust palette on the cheeks.

Well, that's all for now.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Mother's Day Flower Cookies

Now that it's almost Father's Day, it seems like a good time to post some Mother's Day cookies.

Lemon cookies with lemon royal icing. Three dozen, if memory serves, in some fun spring colors.

Well, that's all for now. 

Monday, June 6, 2016

Penguin on an Angry Polar Bear Birthday Cake

The boy is mildly obsessed with penguins, what can I say? About half the time he wants a penguin on his birthday cake. And since he's my boy, I humor him.

So we saw the penguin cake on Pinterest and copied it, only he wanted it to be blue instead of black. I still don't know why.

Then he couldn't think of anything to put on the bottom cake, and he really wanted there to be a bottom cake. Since the day of his party was getting close, I suggested an angry polar bear face. He agreed (though he had his doubts) and I think it came out ok. It was definitely unique!

We had a combined party for both kids this year and the girl wanted a cat cake. First she wanted a cheetah, because she loves cheetahs, but then she saw a cat cake on Pinterest (I know, I know) and changed her mind. Which was good for me because it was the easiest cake ever.

And here they are together:

Not a bad day's work if I do say so myself. The penguin was coconut cake, the polar bear was lemon chiffon (it was amazing, I'll post the recipe sometime), and the cat was eggless chocolate cake, and it was actually very good. It's an old depression-era recipe. I'll post that one sometime, too, in case you know a vegan or someone with an egg allergy that still wants to have cake.

Well, that's all for now.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

How I Make Royal Icing

Hello again. I guess I'll celebrate the start of summer vacation with a blog post!

Anyone for another royal icing post? My recipe has evolved over the years; I started out using Antonia74's RI recipe, then I started adapting it to better suit my needs. First I added corn syrup for shine, then I started playing around with the amount of meringue powder. And then I started experimenting with flavors. I think I'm happy with where I've landed as far as a final product. So here's how I make it:

First, gather your ingredients. You'll need warm water, meringue powder, cream of tartar, lemon extract, vanilla extract, corn syrup and powdered sugar. Next, whisk the meringue powder with the warm water until it's good and frothy. Add the cream of tartar and keep whisking until soft peaks form.

*Free tip of the day: sift your meringue powder before adding it to the bowl. (I use a small sieve.) It's been my experience that the little lumps that clog the piping tips are from the meringue powder, not the sugar.

Dump in the powdered sugar, put the bowl on your mixer, and using the paddle attachment, mix the powdered sugar with the meringue on the lowest speed possible until it's all incorporated.

Be patient.

Stop the mixer and add the flavorings and the corn syrup. Start the mixer back up (still on the lowest speed) and mix for 10 minutes. It's going to look a little questionable at first. Don't panic.

I like to stop and scrape the bowl about halfway through the mixing. Just to be that way.

And when your 10 minutes are up, you'll have beautiful, creamy royal icing. Isn't it pretty?

I made this batch a little thick because I wanted to do more piping-consistency icing than I normally do. You can thin down the whole batch by adding a little warm water and mixing on low until it's all incorporated.

Normally, I'll color small batches then thin them as needed. Conversely, if you want to thicken it up, just add some sifted powdered sugar and stir. I never sift my powdered sugar before I make the RI, but I always sift if I'm adding to already-prepared icing. Trust me on this one.

And here's the finished product all colored and ready to go:

Another note: I don't tint my white RI. I prefer the sightly off-white color I get with the vanilla. If you want bright white you could add some Americolor Brite White.

So, there you have it, another recipe for royal icing. Due to the low meringue powder content and the added corn syrup, it doesn't dry super-hard, but still hard enough. I hope you try it and I hope it works for you. Here's the recipe:

CookieD-oh's Royal Icing

2/3 cup warm water
2 1/2 Tbs meringue powder
1 tsp cream of tartar
2 lbs powdered sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 Tbs vanilla extract
1/2 Tbs lemon extract

Sift meringue powder into the bowl of a stand mixer. Add warm water. Using a whisk, whisk until frothy, about a minute. Add cream of tartar and whisk until soft peaks form. Add powdered sugar all at once, put bowl on the mixer with the paddle attachment and mix on low for about 30 seconds. Add corn syrup and flavorings. Mix on low for 10 minutes, stopping once to scrape the bowl.

Color finished icing as desired and use to decorate your favorite sugar cookies.

Well, that's all for now.