Thursday, May 17, 2012

Strawberries, Cream, and a Cookie Journey

Today is reveal day for the Improv Challenge! This challenge is always fun and this month our two ingredients are strawberries and cream. Does anything say summer more than that? So I went with cream cheese cookies covered with frosting made with strawberry coulis for taste and color.
 Here's to a Happy Summer!

Cream Cheese Cookies w/Strawberry Coulis Icing
 Cream Cheese Cutouts
 (from allrecipes)
1/2 cup Butter, softened
3 ounce Cream Cheese
1 cup Sugar
1 Egg
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla 
2 cups Flour
1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
Cream together your butter, cream cheese, and sugar until
light and fluffy.
Add your egg and vanilla. 
Combine your flour and baking powder and 
spoon into wet mixture. Mix. Divide your dough into
two pieces and cover and chill until firm; about 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 
On a lightly floured surface, cut out your dough.
Bake for 7-0 minutes until done.
Cool completely.

Strawberry Icing
(adapted from Antonia74-Cake Central.com)
6 oz warm Water
5 tablespoons Meringue Powder
1 teaspoon Cream of Tartar
2.25 pounds Confectioners Sugar
1/4 cup Strawberry Sauce

Pour the warm water in a mixing bowl.
Add the meringue powder.
Whisk for 30 seconds. It should be thicker and frothy.
Add your cream of tartar and mix for 30 seconds more.
Pour all the confectioners sugar in the bowl at one time.
Mix on the lowest speed for 10 minutes.
Icing will get thick and creamy.
Cover icing immediately.
Tale about 2 cups of icing out of the bowl.
Slowly pour in just a little at a time of the strawberry sauce.
Mix well.
Icing should begin to turn color and take on the taste
of a strawberry. Add more as needed.
Start by outlining and filling in the leaves on your 
strawberry cookies. The leaves on real
strawberries are never perfect or the same, 
and mine aren't either. (That sounds like a good excuse
to cover a mistake, doesn't it?  :))
 Let all the leaves dry. I made 2 dozen of the cookies, so 
I just outlined and filled in all the leaves first.
Then I outlined the rest of the cookie in the strawberry icing.
I went rather low on the top outline because of the danger of
getting the strawberry icing on the green leaf.
Fill in the body of the strawberry, then go back to the top where
the leaf is and push the icing gently with your paintbrush.
There you have it.
When I made my frosting, I used a homemade
strawberry coulis that I made last week, instead
of a store bought sauce.(I'll be posting the recipe for the
coulis tomorrow) The fresh sauce gave the cookies a
true strawberry look because of the flecks of strawberry.
(you can barely see it in the pic)
However, the store bought sauce
might give a more intense flavor.

Check out what everyone else made!

The Freshman Cook is stopping by these parties:
Sunflower Supper Club
Friday Favorites
Crazy Sweet Tuesday
Tasty Tuesday
Tutorial Tuesdays







Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Orange Creamsicle Mini Tarts

It's reveal day for Club Baked !! This time around we made the Orange Creamsicle Tart from the book we are baking from; Baked Explorations, written by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito. I just love this tart. I think this is only the second time I have made a tart, the first time being many moons ago! I decided to go with mini tarts because I didn't have a tart pan, and when I went to buy one, the mini pans were just sitting there, begging me to take them home!! They are just so cute!!  Besides, the smaller size is more practical for me, and I hope to make them again.
This recipe was not difficult, but it was time consuming. Definitely not something you can just whip together. It takes a lot of time for the filling to set up, and chill, and then chill again. Very hands on. The dough has to chill, bake, bake again, and cool. Not hard, but not the treat to make when you don 't have a lot of time. But when you do have some time, it is definitely worth the effort!

Orange Creamsicle Tart
Our hostess for the creamsicle tart is 
Visit her blog to get the complete recipe.
I creamed,
and mixed,
rolled out,
and chilled.
I pressed,
and baked,
cooled,
and coated.
Then I beat,
and decorated,
and decorated again.

This was delicious and fun!
Interested in what everyone had to say about the 
Orange Creamsicle Tart?
Stop by Club Baked and see how their tarts turned out!

Thanks for joining me!

The Freshman Cook is partying here:
Tasty Tuesday
Crazy Sweet Tuesday
Tutorial Tuesdays 

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Cookie Journey Thursday!~Graduation Time!

A few of my sons friends are graduating from college this year, and he asked me to make them some cookies to let them know he was happy for them. I made them each a dozen cookies, 6 different designs, 2 each.
Each set of cookies went to a different friend. 
I wrapped each cookie in cello and tied it with a ribbon
that matched the school colors. 
Then I shipped the cookies in this cute box.
Isn't that too adorable?!
The lid comes off like this, and the cookies
are inside!
I started the cookies off my making this one from 
some small number cookie cutters that I have.
I cut them out and them I placed them on the cookie
sheet next to one another. When they baked they 
formed together to look pretty good.
For the bottom two sets of cookies, I outlined the 
numbers in black with a #2 tip, which is what
I used for all these cookies, and then...
I went around the inside of the black with white. 
I got a few marks in the cookies that look like
they may have been air bubbles, but I didn't catch them in time.
Then I filled in the numbers with red.
These were for the top set of cookies.
I made 2 of these rolled diplomas for each set.
I have made these several times, but I have never been real happy
with how they turn out.
I should not have had the ribbon go over the black outline.
It just doesn't look good. I also think the ribbon
is too wide going around the diploma.
I need to work on that.
 Each package had a star cookie with the graduates name on it.
Tilli's cookie turned out the best.
Again, I had problems with filling in after outlining in a different color.
Each of the packages had a mortarboard with a tassel.
I like the way these turned out.
I included 2 cookies like these. 
My handwriting needs some work.
I should have printed it, so it looked like the name cookies.
The recipients of the 2nd and 3rd package are 
married and moving to Texas soon to start law school.
So I included 2 Texas cookies in each of their packages.
I thought they turned out pretty well.
I included a school logo, of some sort, in each package.
For the SUU logo, I tried to pipe the initials 
both thin and wide. I think I like the thin ones best. I used
a Wilton tip #1 for those initials.
The FAU logo has a wave going through the A. I love the clever
logo, but it was harder to copy than I thought. I think they came out ok.

Ok. That's all my cookies for this week. 
I plan to keep practicing this week, and maybe my cookies will look
a little cleaner next week. They need that sharper edge.
I am thinking that I know how to fix the problem
with an outline in one color, and the fill color being a different color.
See you next week, and we can see if I was right.

I hope you are decorating with me!
Thanks for stopping by!


Thursday, May 10, 2012

Chocolate Peanut Butter Tall Stack Cake

Not too long ago a friend had a birthday party, and the family asked if I would make the cake. Ha! Of course, I will! I never turn down the opportunity to bake anything. I was pleased as punch that they asked me. The only guidelines they gave me is that my friend loves chocolate and peanut butter. Well, yeah, who doesn't?! So I got busy baking, and I came up with a cake that was a big success.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Tall Stack Cake
Cake Decorations
Mini Reese's Cups
Peanut Brittle
Party Peanuts

Chocolate Buttercream
(adapted from Cooks Illustrated)
10 tablespoons unsalted Butter, softened
1 cups Confectioners' Sugar
pinch Salt
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
4 oz. semisweet Chocolate, melted and cooled

Beat the butter at medium speed for about 20 seconds.
Add confectioners' sugar and salt. Beat at medium speed,
incorporating the sugar, for about 45 seconds. Scrape down your bowl,
and beat again for 15 seconds.
Scrape down your bowl, and add your vanilla extract.
Reduce the speed to low, and slowly pour in your chocolate.
Beat for 4 minutes until all the chocolate is incorporated
and buttercream is light and fluffy

Peanut Butter Buttercream
(adapted from Cooks Illustrated)
8 tablespoons unsalted Butter, softened
1/2 cup creamy Peanut Butter
1/2 cup Confectioners' Sugar
pinch Salt
1 tablespoon Heavy Cream

Beat the butter and peanut butter together at medium speed for
20 seconds. Add the confectioners' sugar and salt. Beat at medium
speed, incorporating the sugar for about 45 seconds . Scrape down your bowl,
and beat again for 15 seconds.
Scrape down your bowl, and add your heavy cream.
Beat at medium speed until incorporated, then beat at
medium speed until light and fluffy.

Buttermilk Devil's Food Cake
(adapted from The Cake Doctor)
1 box Duncan Hines Devil's Food Cake Mix
3 tablespoons unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1 1/3 cup Buttermilk
1/2 cup Vegetable Oil
3 Eggs
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract


The first thing you should do is multiply the above amounts
by 2. The ingredients listed will make 2 - 9" round cakes.
You will need 4 - 9" round cakes.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Prepare your pans by greasing them with pan spray and
dusting them with flour or cocoa powder.
Mix all your ingredients together for 1 minute on low speed.
Scrape your bowl.
Turn it up to high, and mix for 2 minutes.
Pour into your pans.
2 pans need 28-30 minutes to cook. If you are making
all 4 at one time, keep an eye on the time. You may need
a little more time.
Let cool completely.
When cool, wrap each cake in plastic and place in the
freezer for about 30-45 minutes.

Putting It All Together!
Take each cake out and slice the cake through
the middle, sideways. In other words, each cake becomes two.
Have the cake circle or cake plate or whatever you
want to present the finished cake on ready to go.
The cake is heavy to move to a plate after completion.

Plus you take the risk of it falling.
Put the bottom layer on your cake circle.
Frost the middle of the cake with the
peanut butter buttercream. Keep layering the cake
pieces until all eight layers are stacked evenly,
with frosting in between each layer.
The cake is great to work with when it is slightly frozen.
I took 1 cake at a time from the freezer to insure they
would be semi frozen.
Once all the layers had peanut butter buttercream on them,
I stuck 4 wooden cake rods in a square design through the
top of the cake. I measured them before I inserted them.
I wanted them from the bottom of the cake until just
short of the middle of the top layer.
This kept the cake from falling.
I set the cake in the fridge so it would set up quickly.
When it was set up enough, I took it out of the fridge,
and quickly frosted it with the chocolate buttercream.
Then I stuck the mini reese's cups around the bottom and then
haphazardly wherever I thought they needed to be.
I added the brittle and the peanuts because I thought it added
much needed color and texture.
Then I placed it in the fridge for several hours.
My friend was happy with the cake.
I hope they ask me to make his cake again next year!!
Thanks for stopping by!

This recipe partied at the following shindigs:
33 Shades of Green 
Tutorial Tuesday
Crazy Sweet Tuesday
Full Plate Thursday

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Cookie Journey Thursday





This week I have been working on some cookies for my son who is going through finals in college. I send him a lot of cookies throughout the year, especially for finals,  and I have even sent him these before. But, because I am trying to improve my cookie decorating skills. I thought I would make these again.
This cookie really gave me some problems.
I don't have a cookie cutter for the S. I wish I
did. I have looked all over, and I keep looking,
but I can't find a cookie cutter in this font.
I used this stencil and I cut out the cookie dough
with a paring knife,
and it actually worked pretty good.
The stencil was originally part of a word quote that I 
got at Michael's from the clearance bin. I bought it because
it is plastic coated, so I thought it would hold up.
It did, and it was easy to clean, so I can
use it again.
I started by outlining the S in black. I used a #2 tip here.
This was the best of the 4 cookies I did.
(Not saying a lot)!
I thought that the #2 tip was too thin, so I outlined the rest of
the cookies in #3. My outlining is terrible in some spots, and
good in others, but my overall consistency stinks!
The one on the right is way too shaky and I don't know why.
I think I need to pay more attention.
I then made a white outline to go around the black.
Then I filled the S in with the red. 
I made an N and a C for the tops of the cookies
to copy the schools logo. I originally tried to outline and then 
fill in the small cookies, but they were just too small.
I made the entire cookie white, and then piped the red on top.
I applied them to the S with frosting on the back.
They turned out good, and I was happy with them.
I plan to continue working on perfecting my outlining.
My son graduates next May, and I want to serve these cookies
at his graduation party, so I have a year to get it together!!

I hope you are decorating and practicing with me.
If you are, let me know. I would love the company!! :)

Until next week, Happy Decorating!