Monday, May 28, 2012

Baking Monday - Cherry Almond Cookies

Cherry almond is one of my favorite scents - I could sniff Jergens lotion all day long. I got the bug to bake something with those flavors. I found this recipe and modified it slightly with delicious results!

These are thick sugar cookies with cherry flavored icing. The original recipe was for a thicker cookie with buttercream icing, but I opted for a more traditional cutout with glaze. Cherry juice is a great way to flavor and color the icing (and I happened to have cherries in the fridge leftover from the cherry chip cupcakes, so yay!) This was also my first time using a squeeze bottle for decorating - LOVE. It was so easy to use, fill, and clean, and very nice not wasting a decorating bag. I only have one now, but will probably be adding to the collection soon!

Wonderful flavor combo. This is a yummy, soft cookie. Jeff's review: "It tastes like a Pop Tart." (Maybe add sugar sprinkles next time?) Here's the recipe with my suggestions. Enjoy!

Cherry Almond Sugar Cookies
(Adapted from Yummy Fun)

2 sticks butter, softened
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 + 1/4 tsp vanilla
1 + 1/4 tsp almond extract
4 cups flour
3 tsp baking powder

• Cream butter and sugar, add eggs, vanilla, and almond, mix well.
• Add flour and baking powder, mix until just combined.
• Dough will be sticky - chill if needed before rolling.
• Roll on floured surface and cut 3/8" thick.
• Bake at 375 for 8-9 minutes. Makes 40 3" cutouts.

Cherry Glaze Frosting

3 cups powdered sugar
1 tbsp butter, softened
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup juice from maraschino cherries
2-4 tbsp milk

• Blend sugar, butter, vanilla, and juice until combined (will be crumbly).
• Add milk as needed until icing consistency.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Baking Monay - Peanut Butter Cup Brownies

I asked Jeff if he had any baking suggestions for the first week of playoffs, and apparently he was told by another team member not to think for a minute that the dessert will be something other than peanut butter for such an important game. As it turns out, the other team ended up forfeiting, but our guys still got together for dessert.

I went with these pb brownies, with a few changes. Add 1/4 cup pb to the brownie mix, reduce milk choc chips to 1/2 cup in the batter, and add 1/2 cup powdered sugar to the peanut butter filling. (This made the filling denser and sweeter.) Chill for a few hours until filling is firm, then bring to room temp before eating.

Sadly, there were no leftovers, which kind of makes me want to whip up another batch, because these were really, really, really, delicious!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Baking Monday - CCC Taste Test

I've had one go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe forever ... I think it came from the newspaper way back in middle school. It's very good, but does need to be refrigerated overnight for best results. I also have a quickie recipe - the same one that I use for cookie cakes, which can go into the oven right after mixing, and still tastes pretty darn good. I've been going to the "B" recipe more often lately, which made me wonder .... is the "A" recipe worth the extra planning? Let's put the recipes to the test!

Results: the "A" cookies won the taste test, 7-0. (Detail that gave them the edge: more butter!) Everyone was very happy to help me out.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Works for Me Wednesday - NCLB

That would be "No Chocolate Left Behind." I look forward to recipes that call for melted chocolate and then leave leftovers, because then I get to make chocolate bark. Crush up graham crackers and pretzels and mix into the chocolate - as many as possible to still be able to coat all the pieces. Spread out on a cookie sheet covered with wax paper, slam on the counter a few times to smooth it out, chill until firm, and break apart. The most recent batch was extra yum because it included leftover peanut butter, too. I always think that this will be given to the kids, but then never is.

I entered a contest on a baking blog recently that asked the question: what is the one dessert you would never turn down? My answer was Oreo Truffles that my cousin Kristie makes. No matter where I am on my daily calorie count, if I saw them out at a party I would absolutely, positively have one (or two, or several). This chocolate bark is exactly the same. It's one of those sweets that I usually eat in one day, because it's just impossible for me to resist ... better to be gone quickly!!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Baking Monday - Caramel Chocolate Shortbread

A non-pb dessert this week from one of my favorite food blogs.

Oh, so much butter. I didn't realize quite how much until I was already into it. The amount of butter in the bottom two layers is already a little more than I am usually comfortable using, but I thought, might as well try it once ... THEN realized there is butter in the top layer, too ... oh, goodness!

I actually cut it back just slightly for each layer, and it was still amazing. Happily, this recipe makes 36 tiny squares, so it's definitely a good one for sharing. (Try not to think about the TBSP of butter in each serving. Just pretend I didn't mention it.)

These turn out exactly as gorgeous looking as the original photos - that doesn't always happen! The chocolate gets totally smooth and glossy. (Ignore the little fingerprint where I tested to see if the chocolate was set ... ooops, not yet!) A really delicious special occasion treat!!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Cookie Decorating and Packaging

Lots of cookie decorating last week ...

Birthday cupcakes.

Music-themed cookies for a choral concert.

Relay for Life cutouts.

First Communion crosses.

I was stuck on how to package these cookies, as they were going to be part of a fundraising auction, I wanted them to look more special than just placed on a plate. Pam at Cookie Crazie uses clear boxes and crinkle paper ... adorable! I already have lots of clear boxes on hand from my stationery work, they worked beautifully.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Hey, Free Books!

Today, I won a giveaway, hot dog! From the lovely Finslippy and sponsored by Chronicle books: a set of Worse-Case Scenario Ultimate Adventure books. The kids will be crazy excited. Thanks, Alice!!!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Apple Pancakes!

We love pancakes, we love apple pancakes, these apple pancake rings seemed like a must-try for us.

Easy to do - cut apple into thin (1/8") slices. Dip into pancake batter, shake off extra. Cook like pancakes on a griddle. The apples stayed a little crunchy. No need for syrup ... eat with your hands!

(Plus: Instagram for Android, finally! I'm super psyched over here.)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Felt Flowers

More crafting with Grandma ... she spent a couple of days with us during spring break week, and I asked Dora to flip through our craft book and find a project that we could work on together. She chose these felt flower pins from Family Fun, and it was a great choice.

Dora drew the shapes, my mom cut them out, and Grandma glued them together.

Everyone really enjoyed this! The pins turned out very sweet. They'd also look cute with a few stitches for detail, but we didn't get that fancy. Grandma took a couple home and Dora pinned one on her scout vest. I think we'll give the others away at my cousin's wedding in a few weeks.