January 19, 2012

Valentine's Cupcakes, Brownies, and Sugar Cookies

My blog and I have missed the schedule (albeit, a loose one) that TWD provided. It's busy around here (Baby Strawberry is potty training!) and while I haven't posted much my kitchen has been bustling! I had a baby shower for my girlfriend who is having her first girl (after three boys!) any day now. Pink was a priority and a valentine's theme made it easy (considering all of my serving dishes are red!) These treats are all pretty simple and have a big wow factor with the amazing flavors and little details. I've posted the red velvet cupcakes and mint brownies before- though I've never made the mint brownies pink, that was a new one!  

Red Velvet Cupcakes (they're from a mix, but I promise no one will know)

The cookies (L's in honor of the baby) are Natalie's signature recipe. I'm no decorator but I've improved with her tips. Natalie uses a Wilton Squeeze bottle to pipe the outsides of the cookies (like drawing, nothing to stressful) and then uses another with thinned icing to 'flood' or fill the middle. In-a-hurry-not-so-steady-hands-Anne doesn't do them justice but they were yummy and cute (especially with the edible glitter, I love that stuff!) The best part about the cookies is you can bake off extras and freeze them to decorate and serve another time, all the end product without the stress. Natalie's recipe is pretty full proof- if I can do it- and you don't have fuss much with the dough. She doesn't chill hers, though I do normally, and they come out great every time. Sugar cookies take a lot more practice than cupcakes but the practice is enjoyable and delicious, worth the effort I think!

Note- I used Martha Stewart Alphabet Cookies Cutters I found at Macy's (similar to these here) that have been surprisingly practical- even adult are vain about their names! Smaller, thinner shapes will take less cooking time- watch them carefully!)

Natalie’s Sugar Cookies
from Anne Strawberry
1 cup butter or Crisco (Natalie uses the butter flavored kind, I usually use about 2/3 butter and 1/3 regular shortening)
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup sour cream
5-6 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
Cream butter and sugar together. Add eggs, vanilla, and sour cream and beat. Add dry ingredients, being careful not to over mix. Reserve some flour for the counter and dump the almost mixed dough out and shape it as you would pie dough. Divide into two disks, chill for 15 minutes, then roll to ½ inch thickness and cut as desired. Bake at 400 for 8-12 minutes (depending on size of cookies).

Natalie’s Signature Almond Frosting
*note- Natalie uses almond extract and her frosting is so good but I usually sub in vanilla since my tall man is not so adventurous!)
⅓ cup butter, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
½ teaspoon almond extract
1-2 tablespoons milk

Blend butter and sugar. Stir in vanilla and milk- beat until smooth. Flavor and color as desired. Use plastic condiment bottles to pipe icing onto cookies (thin with milk or warm in microwave to flood centers).

January 1, 2012

Hello 2012! & 2011's Best

If you read blogs, you've seen all the roundups that happen this time of year. It's fun to see old favorites and find new inspiration from some of my favorite bloggers so I thought I would post my far and away most popular recipes of the year (late, of course, in typical Anne fashion).

Dark Chocolate Sweet Rolls (an updated Brioche Raisin Snails, my favorite Dorie recipe ever). If there was such a thing as a TWD Final Project, I would present these. Pastry Cream, something I couldn't ever get quite right before Dorie, is now my best friend. Brioche dough- rich, delicious, and suprisingly simple. Chopped, high quality chocolate (a Dorie must) and a beautiful glaze for presentation. I learned a lot from Dorie and it was fun to take the new skills and tricks and recreate/reinvent my favorite thing I ate in France using them.

Marshmallow Fondant Pirate Cupcakes- it's like playdoh for grownups. If you can use a mixer, a rolling pin, and a cookie cutter- you can do this!

Rainbow Frosted Soft Sugar Cookies (like the ones at the store... but fresh and delicious! Also, no cooling, rolling, and cutting like traditional sugar cookies, that's a win for me.)

Texas Sheet Cake (this is simple baking at it's finest- but I am not responsible for your New Year's Resolutions if you bake this cake!)

Dorie's Classic Brownies

And my most viewed recipe, Peppermint Bark Cheesecake. This was my first Tuesdays with Dorie recipe pick and I made it for a baby shower that I was so busy hosting- I forgot to bring my camera! The pictures are meh but the cheesecake is divine. I should go see if there's still any peppermint bark to be had and make it again, it's worth it!

Big thanks to my top refers Tracey and Aggie. They have lovely sites you should go check out! And are you on Pinterest? You can see me here or email me if you'd like an invite (my email's on the side bar). Be warned, it's super addicting (just like the sheet cake, but less calories!)