Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmas Cookies

Christmas Cookies!  Here are the recipes I used for my cookies- Thanks to the Cake Cottage's wonderful instructors, I have some amazingly simple yet YUMMY recipes- I made a couple of modifications (I included the recipes below with my changes) and they turned out super yummy and cute :)

I used a 1/3" depth for my cookies and they turned out great- the more thin cuts tended to brown more easily on the edges- but the bigger cookies avoided that fate! This was my first attempt at sugar cookies outside the classroom setting (I took my first cooking class last month- and it was sugar cookie decorating!). Here are a few pictures of my first Christmas Cookie Creations- enjoy!

[b]Cut-out Sugar Cookies:[/b]

Cream Together:
1 C Room Temperature Butter
1 C Sugar
1 Large Egg
1 tsp Vanilla
OPTIONAL: 1/2 tsp any extract flavor (typically lemon or almond)

Whisk or Sift together:
3 C Flour
2 tsp Baking Powder

Add Flour mixture to creamed ingredients, 1 C at a time, mixing well. Dough will be stiff. Do not chill dough- it is ready for roll out! Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, and roll out the dough directly on the paper, then cut the shapes out on the sheet- peel away the excess dough and cook the cookies right on the parchment paper (keeps you from having to transfer them- makes it much easier!)

Bake at 350F for 6-10 minutes.
Gingerbread version:

Blend together:
5 C Flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 tsp ginger
2 tsp cinnamon (ground)
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cloves

Melt in a saucepan:
1 C solid white vegetable shortening (like crisco)
1 C sugar
1 1/4 C Molasses (dark or light)
2 beaten eggs

Cool melted mixture slightly and add 4 C of the dry blended ingredients. Then add the final cup. Roll out the gingerbread just like the sugar cookie recipe, but bake at 350F for 10-18 minutes.
Chocolate version (Super yummy! But don't overbake!)

Cream Together:
1/2 C Room Temperature Butter
3/4 C Sugar
1 Large Egg
1 tsp Vanilla

Whisk together:
1 1/2 C Flour
1/3 C Baking Cocoa
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/4 tsp Salt

Add flour mixture to creamed ingredients. Knead on a cutting board with an extra 1/2 C flour and make sure to use all of the flour until the dough is no longer sticky. Roll out just like the sugar cookie recipe, but bake at 325F for 7-10 minutes.

Royal Icing Recipe:
3 level TBSP Meringue Powder
4 C Confectioner's Sugar (Powdered Sugar)
6 TBSP Warm Water
OPTIONAL: Add any additional extracts- I like Lemon or Almond- about 1/2 tsp per 1 batch frosting

Beat all ingredients on low speed for 7-10 minutes with a stand mixer or 10-12 minutes with a hand held mixer until icing peaks form and the icing is no longer shiny. Icing can be colored with cake decorating colors after mixed.

*Make sure all utensils are grease free or it will not properly
*Make sure to keep royal icing covered in a bowl- it hardens quickly!
*Use full strength royal icing for outlining your cookies- then make flow-in by adding water a few drops at a time. You know flow in is ready if you drop a spoon full of icing back into the bowl and the traces of the icing disappears within 10 seconds.

Allow your cookies to dry for 2-4 hours before adding additional decorations or stacking.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Homemade Marshmallows!

I was sick for about 3 weeks- hence the lack of posting- plus that whole Thanksgiving thing... needless to say, life has been pretty busy!

Tonight I begin my baking adventures with homemade marshmallows.  Thanks to Martha Stewart I found an extremely easy recipe!

Ingredients included:
Vegetable oil, for brushing
4 envelopes unflavored gelatin (3 tablespoons plus 1 1/2 teaspoons)
3 cups granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
My Tweak to Martha's Recipe: Flavored Concentrated Extracts- Eggnong and Cinnamon Roll

1.Brush a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish with oil. Line with parchment, allowing a 2-inch overhang on the long sides. Brush parchment with oil; set aside.

2.Put granulated sugar, corn syrup, salt, and 3/4 cup water into a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Cook, without stirring, until mixture registers 238 degrees.on a candy thermometer, about 9 minutes.

3.Meanwhile, put 3/4 cup cold water into the bowl of an electric mixer; sprinkle with gelatin. Let soften 5 minutes.

4.Attach bowl with gelatin to mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. With mixer on low speed, beat hot syrup into gelatin mixture. Gradually raise speed to high; beat until mixture is very stiff, about 12 minutes. Beat in vanilla. Pour into prepared dish, and smooth with an offset spatula. Set aside, uncovered, until firm, about 3 hours.

5.Sift 1 cup confectioners' sugar onto a work surface. Unmold marshmallow onto confectioners' sugar; remove parchment. Lightly brush a sharp knife with oil, then cut marshmallow into 2-inch squares. Sift remaining 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar into a small bowl, and roll each marshmallow in the sugar to coat. Marshmallows can be stored in an airtight container up to 3 days.
6. My addition to Martha's Recipe: Cut the marshmallows with various miniature holiday-shaped cookie cutters. Scatter sprinkles, drizzle chocolate or use any type of holiday-themed decoration you want to add a festive look and taste to your homemade marshmallows!