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SNOWFLAKE COOKIES/ Arctic Blast



I never knew what it was like to live in Siberia .... until this winter. How ‘bout you? The arctic air that normally hangs over Northern Russia and Canada in the winter decided to take a trip south to the states. Even Dixie is enduring freezing temps. The annual Iditarod Dogsled Race which begins next week moved the start of the race further north from Anchorage to Fairbanks due to lack of snow. WHAT? 


Well, it’s the time of year when I decorate my favorite cookie … Snowflakes. I love to make these every winter. These cookies are decorated in winter white and airbrushed for a shimmery glow.

 
Snowflake Cookies
Daisy Shortbread Cookies [The daisy cutter doubles as a Snowflake]
Royal Icing for outlining and flooding tinted Cream with Wilton Ivory
Disposable piping bags & couplers
Squeeze bottles
Wilton Decorating Tip #2
AmeriColor Pink Sheen Airbrush Color
AmeriColor Blue Sheen Airbrush Color (more green than blue)
AmeriColor Lavender Sheen Airbrush Color (more blue than lavender)
Airbrush Kit or Wilton Color Mist

View Video Tutorial




Outline cookie with # 2 tip in cream icing.

Flood cookie in cream icing. Let sit 30 minutes.

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

Pipe detail with #2 tip in cream icing.

Pipe dots with #2 tip in cream icing. 

Let dry overnight.

Spray airbrush color evenly onto cookies.

Let dry one hour.

 


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LINZER TART COOKIES/ Cookie Appreciation



Do you remember your first cookie? Probably not. As toddlers we acquired a taste for those sweet little goodies that fit into the palm of our little hands … one cookie for each hand. It may have been an animal cookie from a box with the image of a zoo. We would glance to identify the little critter before popping it into our mouth. Or maybe it was a Lorna Doone or chocolate chip cookie. We liked cookies any way we could get ‘em and two was never enough. We always begged for more. If one dropped on the floor … no problem, into the mouth. Our taste for animal cookies progressed to Girl Scout Cookies. Who doesn’t like Girl Scout cookies? One box is never enough. Which one is your favorite? For me it's the Peanut Butter Tagalongs with the Thin Mints a close second. Nothing much has changed as our craving for cookies persists. Later our tastes matured to the sophisticated, dainty cookies with the scalloped edges and fruit preserves … the Linzer Tart.

Linzer Tart cookies originated in Linz, Austria in the 17th century. The original recipe was made of a nutty dough and filled with fruit preserves. Nowadays, there are variations of the original. My recipe does not contain nuts and is made with a buttery shortbread and raspberry preserves. I use the traditional scalloped round cutter for the bottom cookie and the center from a donut cutter to cut out the small circle on the top cookie. There are now fancy cookie cutters specially designed for linzer tarts with a small, inner cutter in various shapes. You can use any cookie cutter to denote any occasion. They look really sweet as shamrocks, hearts, flowers and you can even skip the center cut out if you’d like. The Linzer Tart is a must-bake during Christmastime in our family as it’s a favorite among my nephews.


Linzer Tart Cookies
2¼ cups Flour
1/4 tsp Salt
1/2 cup Sugar
1 cup Butter, softened
1 Egg
Raspberry or Strawberry Preserves
Linzer Cookie Cutter
Confectioner’s Sugar

In a separate bowl mix Flour and Salt. Set aside.
Cream Butter and Sugar. Add Egg. Add flour mixture. Mix on low speed.
Divide dough in two halves, wrap in plastic and chill for 2 hours.
Roll to 1/4 inch thick and cut out round scalloped cookies. Cut out a small round center on half the cookies.
Bake at 375 for 5 minutes. Cookies will be pale. Let cool.
Spread preserves onto bottom cookie. Top with cut out cookie. Sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar.
Makes 2 dozen sandwich cookies.




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HEART AIRBRUSHED COOKIES/ My New Toy



It’s amazing how many different techniques there are in cookie decorating. Some cookie artisans paint beautiful portraits and scenes with food coloring you would see on a framed canvas. They are more than cookie decorators but true artists. By the way, don’t expect to see a Monet on this blog!

In recent posts are cookies where I used the stenciling method with royal icing and spray mist color. The Wilton color mist spray cans are easy to work with and do a lovely job. The only downside is that a can of color mist only decorates about 18 cookies. So I recently added another tool to my cookie decorating arsenal … an Airbrush Kit. It takes a little bit of setup and requires the use of colors designed specifically for airbrushing.


These are my first set of cookies using my new toy and I just love how they turned out. I used pearly sheen colors to create these romantic heart cookies. These cookies were made for my dear college buddy and his wife who we met for dinner during a recent trip to New York.

Valentine Stencil Heart Cookies
Heart Shortbread Cookies
Royal Icing for outlining and flooding tinted Cream with Wilton Ivory
Disposable piping bags & couplers
Squeeze bottles
Wilton Decorating Tip #2
Heart Stencils
AmeriColor Pink Sheen Airbrush Color

 (Some photographs are black & white photos from a previous tutorial)
Outline cookie with #2 tip in cream icing.

Flood cookie with cream icing. Let dry overnight.

Place stencil on the cookie. Spray with pink airbrush color. 
Gently lift stencil. Let dry 45 minutes.




Lisa of The Barefoot Baker gives a tutorial on setup, operation  and maintenance of an airbrush kit.  
Hillary of The Cookie Countess demonstrates the process in more than a dozen videos.


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MINI CHOCOLATE HEART CAKES/ Convection Bake



I have been baking layer cakes since I was six years old with tutelage from my mother. I always had success baking but in the last few years my layer cakes have been disappointing. The layers do not rise completely and are lopsided. Our old gas range was very erratic so I assumed it was the oven. Then a few years ago we splurged and purchased a convection range. I had always heard they were great for baking as they circulate the air evenly throughout the oven. The fan in the rear of the oven significantly cuts down on the inside space but I figured it was worth the compromise. OK, are you bored yet?  I’ll wrap this up soon. 

Last week I baked a Devils Food Chocolate Cake, adjusted the temperature for convection and the cake turned out lopsided and did not rise completely... again! The cake baked too quickly on the convection setting with the cake tester coming out clean before the suggested baking time. Numerous times we have checked the level on the range so I surmise that the fan blowing on the thin cake batter caused the uneven layers.

So when the cake did not turn out as planned, instead I made Mini Heart Cakes similar to these Mini Vanilla Heart Cakes. I cut out the shapes with a large heart cookie cutter, smothered them with Chocolate Ganache and garnished them with colorful sprinkles. No one would know except that I just spilled the beans! I will be going back to the regular bake setting for my next cake. To the bakers out there, I would be interested to hear about your experiences with convection baking. Please leave a comment below.


Chocolate Mini Heart Cakes
Devils Food Cake (two layers)
Chocolate Ganache
Heart Cookie Cutter (5 inch)
Sprinkles

Devils Food Cake
2/3 cup Crisco Shortening
1½ cups Sugar
3 Eggs
2½ oz Unsweetened Chocolate, melted
2¼ cups Softasilk Cake Flour (or 2-1/8 cups Flour), sifted
1 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Salt
1¼ cups Buttermilk
Buttermilk Substitute: Add a little over 1 tbsp of vinegar or lemon juice to 1¼ cups milk.

Grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans
In a separate bowl mix Flour, Baking Soda and Salt. Set aside.
Cream Shortening and Sugar until fluffy. Add Eggs. Add melted Chocolate.
Stir in flour mixture alternately with Buttermilk.
Pour into cake pans. Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes until cake tester comes out clean. Let cool.
Cut out heart shapes with cookie cutter.
[This is the Popular Devils Food Cake recipe from the 1950 Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook]


Chocolate Ganache
1 cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
1/2 cup Heavy Cream
1 tbsp Coffee (or 1 tsp instant coffee granules)

Heat ingredients in a glass bowl over pot of simmering water until melted. Pour over cakes.
[This is the Chocolate Ganache recipe from Ina Garten at Food Network.com]




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