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SNOWFLAKE COOKIES/ Polar Vortex



Polar Vortex … whoever heard of the term before this winter? It has now become part of the vernacular and even late night comedians use it in their stick. It’s a crazy phenomenon that usually hangs out closer to the North Pole providing bone-chilling temps to Russia and Canada, but this year dipped into Dixie with temps colder in Georgia than Alaska.

We have had a normal winter in Northern Virginia but for the Midwest, Great Lakes Region and New England it has been a grueling winter, wearing out nerves and snowblowers. Just as one storm passed another was on its heels. Maybe it wasn’t such a goofy idea for The Weather Channel to name the storms so as to differentiate between them. Although, where did they come up with those names? ... Boreas, Cleon, Kronos, Quintus … sounds like Gladiators meet Star Trek. We’re currently up to Storm Seneca but hold on, winter may last long enough to see Storm Vulcan and Zephyr. Hang in there … Spring is just around the corner.

Here is a complete list of winter storm names and their meanings.


Snowflakes are my favorite cookies to decorate and I wait all year long until winter arrives to make these cookies. This design comes together quickly and is fun to decorate. I cannot decide whether I prefer them with or without sanding sugar. Which do you like? 

Snowflake Cookies
Daisy Shortbread Cookies [The daisy cutter doubles as a Snowflake]
Royal Icing for outlining and flooding tinted White with AmeriColor Super White
Royal Icing for outlining tinted Purple with AmeriColor Electric Pink, AmeriColor Super Red and AmeriColor Turquoise
Disposable piping bags & couplers
Squeeze bottles
Wilton Decorating Tip #2
CK White Sanding Sugar

View Video Tutorial




Outline cookie with # 2 tip in white icing.

Flood cookie in white icing. Let sit 30 minutes.

Pipe plus sign and X sign with #2 tip in purple icing.

Pipe detail with #2 tip in purple icing.

Pipe dots with #2 tip in purple icing.

Sprinkle white sanding sugar on some cookies. Leave others plain.
Let cookies dry overnight.



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GLITTERY SQUARE COOKIES/ Luster Dust


 
I’m coming clean with you about decorating with luster dust … I’m still learning and I have made mistakes …Gasp! Luster dust adds the finishing touch and creates a shimmer to a cookie but it can be tricky to work with. Dry luster dust is applied with a small paintbrush, creates a matte finish and is easy to apply. A shiny finish is achieved by adding liquid to the luster dust to create a paint-like consistency. This method can be challenging and has a bit of a learning curve.

Brushing too much wet luster dust onto a cookie can degrade the royal icing as in this photo.

Dab the excess from the brush before application to achieve a better result as in this photo.

To conceal mistakes on a cookie as in the first photo, 
turn to a cookie decorator’s friend ... sanding sugar. No sign of a mistake here!

These cookies were inspired by the December issue of Bon Appetit Magazine.


Glittery Square Cookies
Square Shortbread Cookies
Royal Icing for outlining and flooding tinted with Wilton Ivory
Disposable piping bags & couplers
Squeeze bottles
Wilton Decorating Tip #2
Gold Luster Dust
Paintbrushes
Vodka

Outline cookie with #2 tip in ivory icing.

Flood cookie with ivory icing. Let dry overnight.

Paint dry luster dust onto cookie.
Mix a few drops of vodka with gold luster dust to create paint consistency.
Paint gold luster dust onto cookie to create designs. Let dry 30 minutes.
 (See a tutorial by Amber of Sweet Ambs on mixing luster dust).



MORE COOKIE DESIGNS

PAINTED COOKIE SQUARES 

 PINK BRUSH EMBROIDERY COOKIES

 
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MINI VALENTINE CAKES/ Cake Love



Every year on Valentine’s Day I bake a heart cake. It’s a tradition my Mom started before I was born. Instead, this year I made mini heart cakes. It was a bit of an experiment never having made these before.

I baked two layer cakes. Then using a heart cookie cutter I cut out heart shapes. It was a little tricky as the cookie cutter is not as thick as the cake, and will not cut all the way through. So, I pushed the cake up through the cutter. Then I frosted the top of the cake with pink-tinted buttercream frosting. The sides were left unfrosted so the cake can be held and eaten like a cupcake. Also, the raw crumb edge on the sides of the cake would be difficult to frost. No one likes crumbs in the frosting! I piped a fancy edge with a star tip along the edges of the heart. Lastly, the mini cakes were placed on cupcake liners. 


I would describe these Mini Valentine Cakes as rustic. That is the term The Barefoot Contessa uses when something doesn’t turn out as pretty as imagined. All in all, the experiment was a success!


Mini Heart Cakes
Vanilla Cake
Buttercream Frosting
Heart Cookie Cutter (3 inch)
AmeriColor Deep Pink Gel Food Coloring
Wilton Star Tip 106
Cupcake Liners


Vanilla Cake
2¼ cups Softasilk Cake Flour (or 2-1/8 cups Flour), sifted
1½ cups Sugar
3 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Salt
2/3 cup Crisco Shortening
1 cup Milk
1½ tsp Vanilla
3 Eggs

In a separate bowl mix Flour, Sugar, Baking Powder and Salt. Add Shortening.
Pour in a little over half of the Milk to the dry ingredients. Add Vanilla. Add remaining Milk and Eggs.
Pour batter into two 9-inch layer cake pans.
Bake 30-35 minutes at 350 until cake tester comes out clean.
[This is the Rich Golden Cake recipe from the 1950 Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook]

American Butter Cream Frosting
1 cup Butter (2 sticks) softened
4 cups Confectioner’s Sugar, sifted
1 tsp Vanilla (use clear extract for white frosting)
2-3 tbsp Heavy Cream or Half & Half or Milk

Cream
Butter until completely smooth.
Gradually add Confectioner’s Sugar stirring alternately with Vanilla and Cream until desired consistency. Add coloring.


MORE CAKE

 MINI CHOCOLATE HEART CAKES

CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES

 FROZEN CUPCAKES
 
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CHOCOLATE SPRINKLE COOKIES/ Valentine Hearts



Looking for something sweet for Valentine’s Day? A special homemade treat certain to bring a smile? These Chocolate-Dipped Shortbread Cookies are irresistible and simple to make. No piping bags, tips or royal icing for these cookies. This is so easy and fun that you can make these cookies with the little bakers at home.

Start off with my basic shortbread cookie recipe, the same recipe as my decorated cookies. Make the dough, chill it, roll it and bake it. Then dip the cookies into melted chocolate. Add a festive look with sprinkles, chopped nuts or coconut. There you have it in a few easy steps… one special cookie!

 
Heart Shortbread Cookies
1 cup Butter
1 cup Sugar
½ tsp Salt
1 Egg Yoke
1 Egg
2½ cups Flour
1 tsp Vanilla

Chocolate Icing
1 cup Chocolate Chips

Once the dough has chilled for two hours, roll out the cookie dough to a 1/4 inch thickness.
Use a heart cookie cutter to make the shapes.

Bake cookies for 8-10 minutes until surface is dry.
Let cookies rest on cookie sheet five minutes, then move the cookies to a cooling rack.
Make sure the cookies are completely cooled before proceeding to the next step. 
I prefer to freeze the cookies overnight in an air-tight plastic container to harden the cookies. 
Thaw on the counter until the cookies are at room temperature.

Melt 1 cup chocolate chips in microwave on low setting.

Hold the cookie and dip half of cookie into the warm chocolate sauce.
Wipe off excess with a knife. 

Shake sprinkles onto cookie. 
Place cookies on a silicone baking sheet or parchment paper and allow chocolate to harden.
Or, place cookies in the freezer for 15 minutes to harden the chocolate.

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