Christmas time!

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I know, I know I am delayed on my Christmas post but let’s me honest when am I not behind?! To make up for it, in this blog post I shall give you 2 recipes! For Christmas Eve this year I made my family some classic red velvet cake! I covered the cake in shaved sweetened coconut to make it look like snow and on the top of the cake I outlined a tree pattern with pearl sprinkles. And for Christmas Day we had a cookie buffet, which included hot chocolate cookies, chocolate chip cookies, and snowball cookies.

Red Velvet Cake:

Ingredients-

2 1/2 C. all purpose flour
2 C. sugar
1 T. cocoa
1 t. salt
1 t. baking soda
2 eggs
1 1/2 C. oil
1 C. buttermilk
1 T. vinegar
1 t. vanilla
red food coloring

Directions-

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, grease and flour two 8 inch cake pans.

1. Stir together eggs and remaining liquid ingredients with a whisk until blended. Set aside.

2. Place all the dry ingredients in a bowl and stir with a another whisk.

3. Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix on medium-high for about a minute or until completely combined.

4. Pour into cake pans and bake for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

5. After about ten minutes, remove from pans and cool completely on a wire rack. I also cover in plastic wrap while the cakes cool.

Cream Cheese Frosting:

Ingredients-

8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
6 cups confectioners’ sugar

Directions-

1. Sift sugar and set aside.

2. Beat cream cheese and butter on high until creamy. Add vanilla.

3. Add the sugar in batches. Scrape down the sides in between each addition.

4. FROST THAT CAKE! (and add shaved coconut if you so desire!)

red velvet cake

Hot Chocolate Cookies:

*yields about 15 cookies

In a medium saucepan, melt together:

1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter

12 oz. chopped semisweet chocolate (bars)

Stir frequently over medium heat until smooth. Let cool for 15 minutes.

In a medium bowl, whisk together:

1 1/2 C. flour

1/4 C. unsweetened cocoa powder

1 1/2 t.baking powder

1/4 t. salt

Using an electric mixer, beat together:

1 1/4 C. light brown sugar

3 eggs, at room temperature

1 1/2 t. pure vanilla extract

Beat on low speed until smooth, 2 minutes. Mix in the cooled chocolate mixture just until blended. Add the flour mixture in 2 batches, mixing on low speed until just combined. Refrigerate the dough for at least 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F and line baking sheets with parchment. Form 1 inch balls, flatten slightly, and lay  out 2 inches apart. Bake until the tops of the cookies crack, about 12 minutes.

Snowball Cookies:

*yields about 30 cookies

Ingredients-

1 C. unsalted butter
1/2 C. confectioners’ sugar
1 t. pure vanilla extract
2 1/4 C. all-purpose flour
1/4  C. EACH of chopped pecans, walnuts, and chocolate chips
1/4 t. kosher salt
1/3 C. confectioners’ sugar, sifted – for dusting the cookies.

Directions-

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment.

2. Cream the butter and 1/2 cup of the confectioners’ sugar until smooth and creamy. Add in vanilla extract and mix until combined.

3. Mix in the flour, nuts, chocolate chips and salt until just combined.

4. Roll about 1 tablespoon of dough into balls and place on prepared baking sheet.*won’t spread too much so don’t worry about cookies being too close

5. Bake for about 15 minutes

6. Dust cookies with pre-sifted confectioners’ sugar.

christmas cookies

“Empty?! You took all the cookies!”
“They were crying to get out of the jar… Cookies get claustrophobia too, you know!” – Charles Schulz

Ryan’s Holy Communion

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Back in May a family-friend, Jill, asked me to whip up some sweets for her son’s Holy Communion- of course I could not refuse! A little back-history, Jill used to babysit me and my sister so it felt really special to do something that I loved-baking- for her son, Ryan’s special day. This was my first attempt at “catering” ,if you can even call it that, so I was a bit nervous but then I remembered the audience: kids; kids will eat anything!! After I realized that I became a bit less anxious and next thing I knew Jill was talking me into making business cards!!

Unfortunately, I cannot seem to find the recipes I used so I’ll just be including pictures for this post. For Ryan’s Holy Communion I made vanilla cupcakes with vanilla frosting and cookie-dough frosting, and sugar cookies with royal icing. *This was my first time working with royal icing… HEADS UP! It takes a while for the frosting to reach the desired texture. There are plenty of useful websites out there for “Royal Frosting 101” Be sure to read them as they provided me with a great introduction!

Hopefully I’ll rediscover the recipes soon and when I do I’ll be sure to post ’em!

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Image“If you bake a cupcake, the world has one more cupcake. If you become a circus clown, the world has one more squirt of seltzer down someone’s pants. But if you win an Olympic gold medal, the world will not have one more Olympic gold medalist. It will just have you instead of someone else.”     ~Steven E. Landsburg

CINCO DE MAYO Sugar Cookies!!

What does an Irish person do on Cinco de Mayo…hmm..hmmm..hmmm.. go to a concert of course!

For this past Cinco de Mayo, one of my best friends, Vicky, had a band perform at her house. The band was called The After Party, and they were AWESOME!! They were also extremely cute, just a side note ;). The whole night was so much fun- the band was very talented and social. I admire that they were able to talk to all of us like they had known us forever. This is a picture of all of us with the band! (it’s okay to be jealous 😉 )

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So considering that it was Cinco de Mayo I figured I had to make something festive! I found this recipe for pinata sugar cookies that have a hollow center to fill with whatever candy your little heart desires, and because I was feeling ambitious I thought I’d give it a try! I eventually discovered that with the amount of stuff I had to do that weekend I would not be able to complete the recipe in the way that this website details, yet I still found the end product to be a success! 🙂

One of the first things I learned while on this recipe trail was that finding cookie cutters, gel food dye, nice cupcake liners, and all the other baking works is very hard if you do not have time to order it online. I discovered SO, SO many good websites to order all that baking equipment but I knew that it wouldn’t ship to me on time, and I did not want to pay extra. Luckily, I did find a nearby baking goods shop in Sunnyside called The Sugar Room. This place was my savior! I was able to pick up the cookie cutters there, along with a few other things for future baking endeavours! Anyways, back to the recipe!

As I mentioned I did not have time to turn these cookies into pinatas, but I still liked how they turned out. If you wish to make your cookies into pinatas, be mindful that it does take a lot of time & patience, please feel free to click on this website.

Cinco de Mayo Sugar Cookies:

Makes about 18- 21 cookies

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Ingredients:

1 cup sugar

1 cup powdered sugar

1 cup butter

1 cup vegetable oil

2 eggs

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon almond extract

1 teaspoon baking soda

5 cups flour

1 tablespoon vanilla

Directions:

1. Cream sugars with butter. Beat in eggs. Add oil. Combine dry ingredients together, and then gradually add them to the mixture. Mix in vanilla and almond extract.

2. Split dough into five, even-sized balls and one smaller ball (this will be the black one). Add food coloring to each of the dough balls until desired color is achieved.

*I used Wilton gel food dyes.

3. Use a container the same approximate width of your donkey piñata cookie cutter, and line it with plastic food wrap. Split all of your colored dough balls in half (except the black) and begin layering the dough in the container, starting with the black dough on the bottom. Alternate the colors so that you end up with two layers of each color by the time you’re done.

4. Cover the layered dough and freeze for four hours or overnight.

5. Remove the dough from the container and unwrap from the plastic. Cut slices, approximately 1/4-inch wide. Place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake them at 350 degrees F for 12 minutes.

6. Wait approximately 10 minutes before taking your donkey cutter to cut the cookie.

*I had all this extra cookie that was too small for the donkey cutter, so I took a heart cookie cutter and created some extra cookies!

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“Cookies are made of butter and love.”     ~Norwegian Proverb

Cookies that taste like ice cream!

 

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I made these mint chocolate chip cookies as a second dessert for St. Patrick’s day! I got the idea from a website that used a Betty Crocker sugar cookie mix, but I changed the recipe up a bit so that it would all be from scratch. This recipe is quite simple; basically it’s just a chocolate chip recipe, with an addition of mint extract, green food coloring, and mint chocolate chips! So if you think about it you get two recipes for the price of one! A chocolate chip cookie recipe + a mint chocolate chip cookie recipe!

Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies:

Ingredients:

2 sticks butter(partially melted)
1 1/4 cups brown sugar, packed
1tsp vanilla
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup(or more!) chocy chips, semisweet

1/4-1/2 tsp mint extract
6-8 drops green food coloring

1 cup Andes mint baking chips. *If you can’t find these at your local store, just use regular-sized Andes mints and cut in thirds.

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat butter and sugar together until light and creamy, beat in eggs one at a time until fully incorporated, then stir in vanilla, and mint extract
Whisk together dry ingredients and add to butter mixture just until fully incorporated, adding in chocy chips, and mint baking chips just before all flour is mixed in. Lastly incorporate the green food coloring.

Using medium cookie scoop, drop dough 2 inches apart on  a greased cookie sheet. *Your cookies will look like ice cream scoops here 😉
Bake for 8-10 min. It really helps the dough if you can rest it in the fridge for an hour or two or even over night. If you choose not to put them in a fridge allow the cookies to cool for 3 minutes on a wire rack, then serve warm or cool.

Image“Without ice cream, there would be darkness and chaos.” ~ Don Kardong

 


 

 

Craving Coconut

The first time I had coconut was in a trail mix packet that had peanuts, m&m’s, chocolate chips, and coconut! At that moment I realized how delicious coconut is!! So I found this coconut macaroon recipe and I figured I’d give it a shot. What I like about these macaroons is the contrast of a crispy exterior to a soft and chewy interior. What’s even better is that they can be eaten warm from the oven or cold! Either way they’re delicious! Personally I like to eat ’em cold with a nice cuppa tea! Irish tea of course 😉

The recipe I will include starts with warming the egg whites with white granulated sugar until nice and creamy. I read that this step stabilizes the whites and gives the macaroons a crisp outer crust. To provide more scientific facts about the recipe, the flour is included to give the macaroons a dense texture and dome-like shape.

Coconut Macaroons:

Makes about 2 dozen macaroons.

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Ingredients:

4 large egg whites, at room temp.

1 cup granulated white sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup cake flour, sifted

3 cups sweetened shredded coconut (I used the Baker’s brand)

Directions:

In a heatproof bowl, placed over a saucepan of simmering water, whisk together the egg whites, sugar, and salt. When this mixture is warm to the touch, and nice and creamy, remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract, flour, and coconut. Cover and refrigerate for about two hours, or until firm.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C) and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Place small mounds (heaping tablespoons) of the batter on the parchment-lined baking sheet, spacing several inches apart. Bake for about 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool on the baking sheet for about 10 minutes and then place on a wire rack to cool.