Monday, July 9, 2012

A Week of Mini's and a Giveaway!

This week will be a week of mini's! What the heck am I talking about? Well, I just love little bite sized mini desserts, and if you are like me, you can't get enough of them either! So, starting today I will be making and posting (and eating!) a mini dessert everyday! Doesn't that sound like fun! I know, I love it too! :)

In celebration of our "mini week" The Freshman Cook is giving away a "Just Mini Desserts"cook book along with a Libbey, Just Desserts, 25 piece parfait! You must comment in the comment section and tell me what your favorite mini dessert is. You can comment every day this week until Sunday, July 15. Each day you comment is an entry. If you would like additional entries you may follow The Freshman Cook, and like our facebook page. Of course, that can only be done once and it doesn't matter what day you do that. So if you enter every day, like us on facebook, and follow us, you will have a total of 9 entries. I hope to hear from you!

Our first mini is a takeoff on strawberry shortcake and I call it Creamy Dreamy Shorties. Its made of strawberries, pastry cream, and pound cake, and topped with whipped cream. Yum!
Creamy Dreamy Shorties
Pound Cake
1 1/2 cups Butter
8 oz. Cream Cheese, softened
3 cups Sugar
6 Eggs
1 1/2 teaspoon Vanilla
3 cups Flour
1/8 teaspoon Salt

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Grease and flour bread pans.(or really any kind of pan)
Beat your butter and cream cheese until creamy.
About 2 minutes.
Add your sugar a little at a time beat for 5-7 minutes.
Add your eggs, one at a time, beating just until
the yellow disappears. Add vanilla and mix well.
Combine your flour and salt in a bowl, then gradually
add the mix to your butter mixture. Have your mixer 
at low speed and mix just until blended.
Pour into your prepared pans and bake for 30-40 minutes.
Cool on wire rack for 15 minutes, then take it out of the pan.

Pastry Cream
2 cups Milk
1/4 cup Sugar
2 Egg Yolks
1 Egg
1/4 cup Cornstarch
1/3 cup Sugar
2 tablespoons Butter
1 teaspoon Vanilla
Using a heavy saucepan, stir together the milk
and 1/4 cup sugar.
Bring to a boil over medium heat.
In a medium bowl, mix together the egg yolk and the egg.
In a separate bowl, mix together the cornstarch and the
1/3 cup of sugar.
Then stir the sugar and cornstarch mix in to the
egg mix and ...
stir until smooth.
When your milk comes to a boil, drizzle about 1/2 of the milk into
the egg mix. This is called tempering the eggs.
You slowly add the milk so that the eggs can get used to the
high temperature and they won't curdle or cook.
As you are pouring, stir or whisk the eggs.
Once your eggs are mixed, pour the egg and milk
mix back into the pan with the rest of the milk.
Slowly bring the mix to a boil, stirring the entire time
until it thickens.
After it has thickened, remove from the heat.
(mine is still on the stove, but on a turned off burner)
Add your vanilla and butter, stirring until the
butter is completely blended.
Pour cream in to heat proof container.
Place a piece of plastic wrap on the top of the cream.
Make sure it is touching the cream.
This way a skin can not develop on the cream.
Refrigerate until chilled.

Strawberries
Cut up a few strawberries.
I made a little extra here.
If your strawberries need a little sweetening, sprinkle a
spoonful or two of sugar on them. Mix it up and refrigerate.

Assembly
Cut up some of the pound cake into small bite size pieces.
Use more or less depending on the size of your serving dish.
I went back and cut my strawberries into small pieces
as I was putting this together. Plus I wanted a few tiny pieces
for garnish on the top.
I filled the bottom with short cake, then added some
strawberries, and then some pastry cream.
Top it with whipped cream and garnish with strawberries.
This can be changed around according to the size
and design of your dish.
Enjoy!

Thanks for joining me today!

Please stop by tomorrow for another mini recipe
and don't forget you can enter the giveaway every day.
The giveaway ends on Sunday, July 15, 2012 @ 11.59pm PST.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Cookie Journey Thursday ~A Tropical Palm Tree

It has been really hot here in Las Vegas. Well ok, it is always hot here! But I am talking record breaking HOT! HOT! HOT! And I am beginning to daydream of cool ocean breezes, sipping a smooth, fruity concoction and relaxing under a swaying palm tree. Oh, my! How nice would that be! But instead, I am here making cookies, (which I love) and trying to stay cool in the air conditioning (which I love, but am sick of)! So I did the next best thing~I made palm tree cookies!
I used a #2 tip for the trunk and the top.
I used Americolor Chocolate Brown and a mix of 
Americolor Forest Green and Leaf Green.
Outline the trunk. Make an indentation at the top for
a palm frond that is in front of the tree trunk.
Fill in the tree trunk and let dry before moving forward.
Outline the palm fronds.
Fill in the top and let it dry completely.
If possible, let it dry overnight. 
While you are waiting for the top to dry,
put a few upside down v's on the trunk 
to give it some dimension.
Once the top is completely dry, outline the top again
in the same color and in the way as you did the first time.
Immediately sprinkle green sanding sugar along the outline.
Completely cover the outline.
Let dry.
When it is totally dry, turn the cookie over and let the excess sugar fall.
 Don't shake it.You don't want to risk breaking it after all your work.
Just gently brush the excess sugar off of the cookie with a thin paint brush.
Now you have your own beautiful palm tree.
I can feel those ocean breezes already!

Thanks for joining me for 
Cookie Journey Thursday
as I attempt to improve my meager cookie decorating
skills. I hope you are baking along with me!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy 4th of July!

Happy 4th of July to everyone!
 To finish off my "15 Days of Red, White and Blue" series I have one last holiday treat for you.

Red, White and Blue Popcorn! 
2 Bags of plain Popcorn
3/4 cup Sugar
1/6 cup Water
1 tablespoon Butter
Americolor Holiday Red
Americolor Royal Blue
Americolor White
Pop your popcorn.
I only had microwave popcorn and it worked fine.
Divide equally among 3 plastic bags.
 
Put your sugar, water, and butter in a saucepan
and bring to a boil.
Once it has boiled, divide the liquid among 
3 bowls.
Color the liquid in each bowl.
I just happened to have a white color, put if you don't
leaving it plain liquid will work just fine.
Add the colored liquid into the bags, one at a time.
If you have gloves, use them. You can also wrap
your hands with plastic wrap.
Using your hands move the popcorn around in the bag
coating the popcorn. You may be able to coat the 
popcorn by tossing it in the bag.
Do this to all three colors.
Lay out each color of popcorn on 
parchment paper to dry.
Separate the popcorn pieces from one another
so they do not clump together.
It will take about an hour for the popcorn to dry.
Mix all the popcorn together.
You can mix in M and M's, pretzels, nuts,
marshmallows, anything you want!


Thank you for joining me for my 
"15 Days of Red, White and Blue"!


Have a Happy 4th of July!
Stay Safe!

 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Red, White and Blue Thumbprints!

Well, it is Day 14 of our "15 Days of Red, White and Blue" series, and today we are posting one of my favorite cookies, thumbprints! I have been in love with this cookie since I was a little girl. There is something about the sweet, buttery flavor of this cookie! When I was growing up, there was a bakery not too far from my house. My brothers and sisters and my mom and I would walk down the hill to the bakery, and always, the woman behind the counter would give us a complimentary cookie! What fun! I would always have a difficult time deciding between the icing of my favorite cookie, a type of buttery thumbprint. Did I want yellow, green, or pink icing? It's was always a big decision. I really don't know why, because they all tasted the same! But it was a decision I took very seriously, and the bakery lady was always so sweet and patient. Now, I haven't been in that bakery in quite a few years, but I have been salivating over the memory of the cookies, and I am on a quest to find a recipe for them. This recipe for Red, White and Blue thumbprints is not exactly like my cherished bakery cookies, but these are close, and oh soooooo delicious!
Red, White and Blue Thumbprints
(from Ladies Home Journal 12/10)
Makes 5 1/2 dozen
2 2/3 cups all purpose Flour
1 teaspoon Salt
1 cup Butter, softened
1 cup Sugar
1 Egg
1 teaspoon Vanilla

Antonia74 Icing
3/4 cup Warm Water
5 tablespoons Meringue Powder
1 teaspoon Cream of Tartar
2.25 pounds of Confectioners Sugar
Americolor Holiday Red
Americolor Royal Blue

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cream your butter and sugar together on medium high
until fluffy, about 4 minutes.
Beat in egg and vanilla.
On low speed, add in flour mixture.
Once mixed together, wrap your dough in plastic wrap
and chill it until firm. It should take 
about 1 1/2 hours.
Roll 1" balls of dough and place them about 1"
apart on your baking sheet.
Using your finger, make an indentation in the center of each one.
Bake for 15 minutes, until cooked through, but not golden.
Remove the cookies from your oven.
Re-indent each cookie if it needs it.
Then allow to cool.

Icing Instructions
In your mixer bowl, pour in the warm water and
the meringue powder. Mix by hand with a whisk until frothy,
about 30 seconds.
Add the cream of tartar and mix again for 30 seconds.
Pour all of the confectioners sugar into the bowl at once.
Using the paddle attachment on the lowest speed,
mix slowly for a full 10 minutes.
When done, transfer a little icing to 3 different bowls.
I like to use plastic bowls with lids.
The icing gets crusty and dry if it is uncovered for even a few minutes.
Color the icing in one bowl with the red coloring.
Also add water to get the correct consistency
You basically want 10 second icing here.
That means that you can take a spoon through the middle of the
icing and it will take 10 seconds for it to go back together again.
Do the same exact thing with your second bowl,
only use the blue coloring.
For the third bowl, just make the correct consistency.
No color is needed, of course.
I used a Wilton Tip #5 to fill in the indentations in the cookie.
Once the indentation is filled in, shake the cookie
side to side, just slightly to smooth the icing out.
Fill in the white the same way,
and the red also. Let dry.
Enjoy your cookies!

Thanks for joining me today!

Stop by tomorrow for Day 15
of "15 Days of Red, White and Blue"
 and
Have a Happy 4th!