Categories
Air Dry Dough Christmas Crafts Holidays

Pure White Air Dry Dough Ornaments

 

Holidays are all about traditions for me. I dream of a household full of family, true belly laughing, games of all kinds, reminiscing cherished memories and creating new memories, baking with favorite recipes and trying new ones, holiday crafting for all ages, and just about anything that fills our heart and souls. 

This pure white, better-than-salt-dough dough (or clay) is perfect for all ages to join in. With just a few ingredients, and a few tools you can make stunning custom ornaments, keepsake ornaments, kid designed ornaments, with easy clean up.

A son of my good friend is like a little kindred spirit, and we have hit it off since he was almost 3. He is my little love-a-bug, all boy and lights up when he sees me like no one else. Just fills my soul with joy.  I made is Erupting Dinosaur Cake for his 3rd birthday and he still talks about it!

I wanted to come up with a Christmas craft to do with my friend and her family. There are so many options, and I wanted something younger kids would enjoy. Then I thought of play dough, which led me to salt dough, but I always have an issue with how homemade the salt dough looks. 

I was a bit nervous making this dough for the first time being that you need to cook it on the stove, knead it when it is cool, and I had no clue how young kids were gonna handle the prep time before they had a chance to get hands on. I was pleased to see they were happily watching a holiday cartoon, and my friend and I got to catch up while making this dough. 

While stirring the ingredients on the stove I seriously wondered if it would come together as a whole dough because it seemed to thicken unevenly no matter how much I stirred to incorporated the water. Almost instantly it came together in a dough ball in the pan. I then was apprehensive on how long it would take to cool the dough down enough for the kids to handle and not dry out. It was my first go at this recipe. 

Once again I was pleasantly surprised and quite relieved that after kneading it lightly on the counter, it cooled rather quickly. It was very hot at first, so I just used a spoon to knead it. If I had my dough scraper I would have used that. 

And then it was time to begin the fun! We had various Christmas cookie cutter shapes. We had straws to cut out a hole for the ribbon to hand the finished ornaments. My friend brought out the play dough rolling pins for the kids, which was perfect. It rolled out really well. The dough could dry and get crystally, but I found if you kneaded it all the moisture dispersed and restored the dough. Very straight forward. 

I had a background stamp I used to get a Christmas texture on the cut out shapes that turned out better than I imagined. The kids had a blast, until they were done which left us girls to finish and plenty of girl talk time. As we finished the cut outs, and used the straw to cut a hole at the top, we placed them on a cookie sheet to dry. We estimated about 24 hours to dry, but the thicker ones definitely needed to be turned over and dry another 24 at least. 

The next day I was so pleased with how this dough worked, that I made another batch and my own set of custom ornaments. 

I am OBSESSED! I was impatient and tried to dry these in the oven at 300 degrees F, but it did crack and turn the pure white ornaments somewhat yellowish which did not happen to the air dried ones at my friend’s house the day before. Rather than scrap them, I painted a layer of white craft paint and sprinkled ultra fine white glitter. I added a narrow red ribbon. They turned out stunning. The pictures do NOT do these justice. 

I literally want to batch of bells or stocking cut outs pained red with red glitter, tree shapes that are painted emerald green and emerald glitter, maybe circles or hexagons that are lime green and lime glitter. I am sold on the colors as I always decorate Christmas in vibrant reds, whites, and multiple shades of greens in different finishes, textures, and shapes. This dough just opened a portal to a slew of custom ornaments!

Pure White Air Dry Ornaments

This is surprisingly simple dough, and must be cooked on the stove top in a saucepan for the dough to come together, and then cooled and kneaded before cutting out the shapes. Simple cookie cutter, straw, rolling pin, and cookie sheets to dry are the tools you need. These are also flexible enough to decorate with ink, permanent markers, paint, modge podge, and ultra find glitter. The most important thing is to have fun making your custom ornaments!

2 c. baking soda

1 c. corn starch 

1 3/4 c. water

Add all the ingredients in a sauce pan. Stir on medium heat until all the water is incorporated, and the dough comes together as a ball of dough. It will seem like it is getting thick in some areas and still watery in the rest, then all of a sudden it comes together. 

Knead the dough on the counter with a spoon or dough scrapper until cool enough to handle. It will be ready to roll out when it is not hot, just warm enough for bother kids and adults to handle. 

If you want a back ground texture, once you roll out the dough press a large back ground stamp, repeat a stamp design, or use a background embossing design to press into the dough. Then position your cut out shapes. 

Use a straw to cut out a hole for the ribbon to go through, and place on a cookie sheet to dry for at least 24 hours. You may need to turn them over and let the backside dry for another 24 hours or more. Once the front is dry you can paint, draw, modge podge and glitter to your hears content. 

Some keepsake ides: Use a Christmas tree cookie cutter, have a child press their fingers in a swag design criss-crossing down the tree like a garland. These little finger prints are “light bulbs” and you later can use ink and have the child press different colors in the impressions, and then use a black permanent marker to connect the garland of the light bulbs. 

Hand or foot prints work well too for great keepsake ornaments. Label names and dates as desired. 

Categories
Breads Breads Christmas Holidays Recipes

Classic Caramel Pecan Rolls

I have fond memories of my grandmother making these amazinf caramel pecan rolls. They were perfectly sized, spaced, and set out to rise in her baking dish. I remember when I saw that I knew we would be having these oh so indulgent rolls soon! I couldn't wait. Of course she was much neater of a baker than I. I tend to make big rolls you would see in any quality brunch spot.

Classic Pecan Rolls

These rolls are so gooey, and caramelly, and indulgent I do not make them very often. They are truly a special treat at the holidays and special times of the year to share with the special people of my life. 

It is hard to wait for these to cool enough to eat and not burn your mouth! I always look forward to slathering more butter on the top of the roll. I mean, I was taught the right way to eat one! Haha! You cannot get away with too much butter. 

I would have taken better and more pics, but these babies do not last long with a crowd waiting to dive in! I’m lucky to get one myself…and hide one to save for tomorrow…he he he…

I always remember my Grandma Fonda with these rolls. Truly a family gem passed down from her to me…my mom always said cooking and baking skips a generation! Haha! Thankgoodness I was able to get this recipe. I know my mom loves it when I make these babies, and it reminds her of her mom as well. 

Classic Ooey Gooey Caramel Pecan Rolls

Are you tired of boring, expected cinnamon rolls? Do you love ooey gooey caramel and pecans? Then look no further. This classic recipe will knock your socks off, as well anyone in close proximity. These rolls never last, but if they do they make for an amazing left over you just need to warm up and enjoy. 

Roll dough:

4 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast (or two packages)

1/2 c. warm water (no more than 110 deg fahrenheit)

2 c. warm milk (no more than 110 deg fahrenheit)

1/2 c butter

1/2 c sugar

2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. vanilla

2 eggs

8 c. flour (plus or minus 1/2 c.)

 

Roll Filling:

3 3/4 c. pecan halves or pieces

3 T. melted butter

2 T. cinnamon

1/4 c. brown sugar

1/4 c. sugar

1/2 c. butter, softened

Caramel Pecan Coating:

1/2 c. butter

1 c. brown sugar

1/4 c. light corn syrup 

3 T. heavy whipping cream

 

Roll dough:

1) Sprinkle the yeast into the warm water, milk, sugar, and butter. Let stand until frothy, at least 5 min. 

2) Add the yeast mix, salt, vanilla, eggs, and 3 c. of the flour to a stand mixer. Mix on medium speed for a few minutes. Add enough dough, and mix in between, to make a soft dough. 

3) On a floured surface, knead the dough until it is soft and elastic. Add flour (no more than 8 1/2 c. total) as needed if the dough is still too sticky. About 7-10 min. of kneading. 

4) Place in a greased bowl, cover and let rise in a warm spot until doubled. About an hour. Punch down and let rise until doubled again. 

5) While the dough is rising the 2nd time, preheat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit. Toss the pecans in the 3 T melted butter, and bake on a cookie sheet for 10 min. Cool. 

6) Chop about 3/4 c. of the toasted pecans for the filling.

Filling:

7) Mix sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, and chopped pecans. Set aside.

Caramel Pecan Coating:

8) In a small heavy saucepan over medium heat, combine the butter, brown sugar, syrup, and cream. Remove from the heat once it starts to bubble around the edges. Grease two 9X13 pans, or 4 8 in round or square pans, and pour an even amount of the caramel sauce into the bottom of each pan. Sprinkle an even amount of the toasted pecans into each pan on top of the caramel sauce. Set aside.

Back to the roll dough: 

9) Punch down the doubled dough, divide in half, and roll out each half into a rectangle (about 10x16 inch rectangle) onto a lightly floured surface. 

10) Spread half of the softened butter on each dough rectangle. Then sprinkle half of the reserved filling on the spread butter over the dough. Roll up tightly from the shorter side of the rectangle. Use floss to cut 8 individual rolls from each dough roll. Place 8 into each 13x9 pan, or 4 in each 8 inch pan. 

11) Cover and let rise until doubled, 30-60 min. 

12) Bake at 350 degrees fahrenheit for 30-35 min for the 9x13 pans, and 25-30 min for th 8 inch pans. Remove from the oven, and let sit for a few minutes. Then invert rolls onto a serving tray or parchment paper. 

 

ENJOY!

Categories
Cookies Frosting Holidays Recipes

Nested Star Sugar Cookie Tree

Who doesn't love Christmas cookie season? I know I sure do. One cookie I cannot do without, is my sugar cookie cut outs with a secret ingredient! These seriously are so delicious, you won't be able to go back to your old sugar cookie cut out recipe. These not only hold their shape, but they simplify the most delicious sugar cookie you will ever eat! I have to pace myself with these! Not only do I have to bake and decorate my famous sugar cookies cutouts, I have to make the SHOW STOPPER! My stacked star sugar cookie TREE! It is simply stunning. SO elegant. I make a couple and add them to our Christmas feasts on Christmas Eve or our Christmas Kick Off party, and them munch on until it is gone. It goes fast!

I’ve wanted to try my hand at royal icing decorated cookies…aren’t there some stunning designs out there? I have always hesitated and I am not one to hesitate because I am scared of “failing”…if I hesitate, it’s because something just doesn’t jive…something just doesn’t fit…something is off…and then it hit me. I don’t make anything I personally will NOT absolutely go to food nirvana for. Royal icing just doesn’t tantalize my taste buds. I’m not into cookies that just look cute, I want to go to dessert 7th heaven so the calories, and what I gotta do to burn them off, is worth it!

Once you have a sugar cookie recipe that knocks people’s socks off–and trust me, you will get loads of people asking for the recipe, because the secret ingredient will set these sugar cookies light years apart of all the rest–the fun becomes how many different ways can you decorate them with buttercream. I feel like buttercream gets a bad rap with regards to sugar cookie decorating since all the gorgeous royal icing decorated cookies hit Instagram. Don’t get me wrong, they are stunning! 

Sugar Cookie Cut Out Tree

Each sugar cookie tree takes a little less than one recipe of my sugar cookie dough, recipe at the bottom. I love to make an impact with these on my dessert table for our holiday feast. I got this nested star Christmas Tree cookie cutter set from Crate and Barrel back in the day, but they don’t have them anymore. I wanted to make sure I had some to gift so I searched high and low. I found out Wilton has a set sold at Joann Fabrics. 

I always bake my cookies on parchment paper. It makes for easy cleaning and removal of the cookies when cooled enough. I also pipe the frosting and add sprinkles on each star layer before adding the next star. I find it makes for a more even design and I can get everything in every nook and cranny. It just looks more polished in the end. I used red, dark green, light green, and white nonpareils. I am obsessed with having at least two shades of green. I cannot just have one. My husband calls me particular. The nerve. Hahaha! So true, and I own it. I also used white (clear?) sparkling sugar, and dark green sanding sugar to sprinkle on each layer. I love the added sparkle and texture it gives. 

I also visually align the next star so the points are centered above the star below before placing. The second to last star I pipe a mound for the last star to stand upright like a tree topper. This time I did add gold star sprinkles all over after it was all assembled. 

How stunning did this turn out? I am in LOVE. I used this Cooked Frosting my mom passed down to me. I have also  cream cheese frosting (found at the bottom of the page). The cookie recipe is below. How are you planning to decorate your Christmas sugar cookies?

The Last Sugar Cookie Recipe You Will Ever Need

Are you tired of boring, almost bland sugar cookies? Don’t even enjoy sugar cookies because they are almost like sweet cardboard? NOT these sugar cookies! There’s a slight tang from cream cheese, flavors pop with vanilla and almond extract, sweet and salty bring the best balance, and the secret ingredient: BROWNED BUTTER.  You cannot go wrong with these cookies. I like mine with a crisp edge, and an aldente but not quite soft texture. 

3/4 c. browned butter (1 1/2 sticks)

1/2 c. cream cheese (1/2 of a 8 oz pkg)

1 1/2 c. sugar

1 egg

2 tsp. vanilla

2 tsp. almond extract

2 tsp. salt

4 c. flour (reserve one cup as needed)

1) In a sauce pan on med heat, brown your butter. Watch the butter as it starts to froth up, and stir as needed. You will notice the froth will go down, and then start frothing again. By the 2nd froth/bubbling I have found this is about the time you want to stop browning the butter. Take the butter off the stove as you smell the nutty richness. Chill the browned butter until solid.

2) Let the browned butter and the cream cheese come up to room temperature. 

3) Cream the browned butter, cream cheese, and sugar until fluffy in a stand mixer, or using a hand held mixer in a large bowl. You will see the color turn light and the mix becomes fluffy. 

4) Add the egg, vanilla, almond extract, and salt. Scrap down the sides with a silicone spatula. 

5) Add 3 cups of flour and mix. Scrape down the sides. Add the remaining flour in 1/4 cup increments as needed. You know the dough is ready when it comes to a ball and is clean away from the side of the bowl. Depending on the humidity and elevation, you will need to be vigilant in how much flour you add, and may not need the extra full cup. The dough is pretty stiff, but not crumbly to where the flour is not incorporated. 

6) Split the dough into two equal parts. Wrap each dough section in cling wrap. Flatten into a rectangle, and chill in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours, overnight if necessary. An alternative step at this point(or just intentionally make a double or triple batch), if you choose to make frozen dough disks (I use an ice cream scoop and flatten the round dough to a puck shape, line a cookie sheet with parchment or wax paper, freeze on a cookie sheet, then place the pucks in a freezer safe ziploc bag to keep frozen sugar cookie dough on hand for in a pinch cookie hankerings–you can bake frozen, just watch the cookies because they may need extra time being baked from a frozen state).

7) When you are ready to roll out, preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. You may need to let the dough warm up a bit on the counter, especially if it has been chilling overnight. 

8) Lightly flour the surface, then roll out your dough to 3/8 inch for thick cookies. If you prefer thinner cookies, adjust the bake time down. Cut out your dough, and place on a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Space them at least a half inch apart. The cookies should not spread. If you want to sprinkle sanding sugar on the cookies and not frost them, do so before baking them. These are great cookies to eat without frosting, but I have an even better recipe for sugar cookies if you just want sanding sugar on them, but these work as well. 

9) Bake for 9-11 min. If your cookies are thinner or small cut out, watch them at 7-9 min. A perfectly baked cookie will show golden patches on the bottom, but not dark brown or worse.  Rest on the cookie sheet until cooled enough to move the parchment without damaging the cookies, and cool on a counter off the hot cookie sheet, or in a airtight container. If your first batch of cookies does not have the wonderfully crackled look on top, knead the rest of the dough before rolling out and baking. 

10) Completely cool before frosting. Check out my Cooked Frosting, which I think beats any butter cream frosting on these cookies hands down!

Check out these holiday sugar cookies I have made with this recipe. I love to use my Cooked Frosting as well as my cream cheese buttercream on these. I also love to stripe fruit fillings to add another dimension of flavor and color. I love how all of these cookies turned out! Not only are they adorable, but they are so delicious! I hope I can convince you how cute buttercream decorated cookies are.

Categories
Cookies Holidays Recipes

Super Cute Bunny Butt Sugar Cookies

 

You probably already know I am obsessed with super cute bunny butts this spring and Easter season. I am so excited about these super easy and super cute Bunny Butt sugar cookies! Aren’t their sprinkle tails just the cutest?!!???!!! Not only are they so adorable, but they are so delicious everyone has a hard time eating just one. This sugar cookie recipe has a secret ingredient that you do NOT want to miss. These cookies are so tasty and stand out from all the rest of the sugar cookie recipes out there. In fact with a side by side taste test, the other sugar cookies will taste like sweet cardboard compared to these sugar cookies!

 

I also just love these bunny cookie cutters I found on Etsy. I love the different floppy ears! The sprinkle cotton tails are super easy. I used this set of Wilton bunny on this cake, and noticed I had more bunny tails than sets of bunny feet. These extra tails inspired me for this design. I also had a bunch of super cute spring sprinkles I was dying to use, and if you have seen my gold accented wood Easter egg mantel you know I love a coordinating variety of colors!

 

I am pretty sure the Wilton bunny tails are made of hardened royal icing, and if I had a mold I would make my own. BUT convenience won and helped to make this a super easy project. I opted to use my Perfect Ratio Dreamy Cream Cheese Frosting, but I always am torn and love to use my Cooked Frosting as well. The cooked frosting is whiter than the cream cheese frosting, but I do not mind the off white bunnies either. I think they are pretty darn cute.

I didn’t use a piping tip for the bunny bodies and ears; I just used the open end of a piping bag. I love the effect piping the bunny bodies have with no piping tip. I basically outlined the different areas of the bunny bodies. I used a single line I piped “up-then-down” almost like it was in one single motion, and then I used my fingers to pinch off the tip of the ears to get a point at the end. Super easy.

For the sprinkle bunny tails, I took the pre-made plain white tails and ran them under water to wet them. I set them on a paper towel to sop up the extra water on the back sides, and any that may drip off the domed fronts while I got out a plate and the sprinkles I wanted to use. I then placed the wet bunny tails, that were sticky at this point, on the plate and I squished the sprinkles I wanted on each tail. I already had my bunny bodies frosted, and I am not patient so I risked positioning the sprinkled tails on the cookies right away. In retrospect, I am glad I did that so that the sprinkled dried on the sticky bunny tail surface in place. I’m not quite sure if I left them on the plate to dry that they may have ended up sticking to the plate and possibly damaging them to get them off.

The Last Sugar Cookie Recipe You Will Ever Need

Are you tired of boring, almost bland sugar cookies? Don’t even enjoy sugar cookies because they are almost like sweet cardboard? NOT these sugar cookies! There’s a slight tang from cream cheese, flavors pop with vanilla and almond extract, sweet and salty bring the best balance, and the secret ingredient: BROWNED BUTTER.  You cannot go wrong with these cookies. I like mine with a crisp edge, and an aldente but not quite soft texture. 

3/4 c. browned butter (1 1/2 sticks)

1/2 c. cream cheese (1/2 of a 8 oz pkg)

1 1/2 c. sugar

1 egg

2 tsp. vanilla

2 tsp. almond extract

2 tsp. salt

4 c. flour (reserve one cup as needed)

1) In a sauce pan on med heat, brown your butter. Watch the butter as it starts to froth up, and stir as needed. You will notice the froth will go down, and then start frothing again. By the 2nd froth/bubbling I have found this is about the time you want to stop browning the butter. Take the butter off the stove as you smell the nutty richness. Chill the browned butter until solid.

2) Let the browned butter and the cream cheese come up to room temperature. 

3) Cream the browned butter, cream cheese, and sugar until fluffy in a stand mixer, or using a hand held mixer in a large bowl. You will see the color turn light and the mix becomes fluffy. 

4) Add the egg, vanilla, almond extract, and salt. Scrap down the sides with a silicone spatula. 

5) Add 3 cups of flour and mix. Scrape down the sides. Add the remaining flour in 1/4 cup increments as needed. You know the dough is ready when it comes to a ball and is clean away from the side of the bowl. Depending on the humidity and elevation, you will need to be vigilant in how much flour you add, and may not need the extra full cup. The dough is pretty stiff, but not crumbly to where the flour is not incorporated. 

6) Split the dough into two equal parts. Wrap each dough section in cling wrap. Flatten into a rectangle, and chill in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours, overnight if necessary. An alternative step at this point(or just intentionally make a double or triple batch), if you choose to make frozen dough disks (I use an ice cream scoop and flatten the round dough to a puck shape, line a cookie sheet with parchment or wax paper, freeze on a cookie sheet, then place the pucks in a freezer safe ziploc bag to keep frozen sugar cookie dough on hand for in a pinch cookie hankerings–you can bake frozen, just watch the cookies because they may need extra time being baked from a frozen state).

7) When you are ready to roll out, preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. You may need to let the dough warm up a bit on the counter, especially if it has been chilling overnight. 

8) Lightly flour the surface, then roll out your dough to 3/8 inch for thick cookies. If you prefer thinner cookies, adjust the bake time down. Cut out your dough, and place on a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Space them at least a half inch apart. The cookies should not spread. If you want to sprinkle sanding sugar on the cookies and not frost them, do so before baking them. These are great cookies to eat without frosting, but I have an even better recipe for sugar cookies if you just want sanding sugar on them, but these work as well. 

9) Bake for 9-11 min. If your cookies are thinner or small cut out, watch them at 7-9 min. A perfectly baked cookie will show golden patches on the bottom, but not dark brown or worse.  Rest on the cookie sheet until cooled enough to move the parchment without damaging the cookies, and cool on a counter off the hot cookie sheet, or in a airtight container. If your first batch of cookies does not have the wonderfully crackled look on top, knead the rest of the dough before rolling out and baking. 

10) Completely cool before frosting. Check out my Cooked Frosting, which I think beats any butter cream frosting on these cookies hands down!

Categories
Cakes Holidays Recipes

Stinkin’ Cute Bunny Butts Easter Cake

 

Easter is around the corner, and I’ve been obsessed with all things Spring and Easter for the past few weeks. Now that I finally have my Easter mantel decor squared away in my noggin’–I have a finished vision in my noggin’ that is just waiting for the time and energy to complete. In the midst of all the Easter decor projects bouncing around in my head, I’ve been thinking about beloved Easter traditions. Now what is bigger than Easter dinner? I don’t know about you, but that is pretty dang high up there. I mean, man, all the excitement from planning the meal to preparing it with loved ones around, laughing, loving hugging, reminiscing of old memories, and creating new ones…and then, eating it! My Easter menu is not finalized as of yet, and I get plenty of joy out of the planning because there are just so MANY choices. One thing is for certain this year…and that is dessert!

 

I have been obsessed with BUNNY BUTTS this season, so of course I am gonna put them on the CAKE! I had ideas swirling around, and it all came together after the My Little Pony Cake I made for a sweet little gal’s 3rd birthday. One idea didn’t quite make it, but I can tuck that one for another cake, or let it marinade until next year. 

I basically took the colors and piping tips I used from the this cake, along with a water color background from the purple, pink, and blue colors for the main color. I admit the colors in my head were far more pastel in strength and the color I imagined for the background was closer to a periwinkle than the fun punchy violet that I went with; however, I think the stinking’ cute bunny butts pop because of the darker background. I LOVE it! I also love how the foil chocolate covered eggs fits with the colors better than soft pastels would have.

The cake is dark chocolate cake with my Razzleberry fruit filling (bottom of the post) and my Perfect Ratio Dreamy Cream Cheese Frosting (bottom of post). So delicious! It is the flavor combo I used for my sealing reception wedding cake. 

I have been throwing around ideas for the perfect nest to nestle the chocolate Easter eggs I found at Costco, and it was serendipitous that I found this green apple flavored Easter grass candy at JoAnn Fabric’s that worked out better than I imagined with all the colors. It pops against the purple, and rainbow rosettes! SO much fun and the kids will go crazy for it.  

The tips I used on the rosettes and flowers are 1M, 199, 16, 22 (or 32–I lost track of that one), 172, 106, 12, and 131. I also used a random selection of fancy sprinkles including gold bars I got here.

Dark Chocolate Cake

This cake recipe will knock anyone’s socks off, it is so good. AND it will dazzle any chocolate lover’s taste buds. Check out the Perfect Ratio Cream Cheese Buttercream Recipe that is easy to decorate with AND tastes amazing with this cake. NOTE: I wrap up the baked and cooled cake layers I am not immediately using in plastic wrap, and freeze for up to 3 weeks. Freezing cakes like this keeps them moist when thawed and ready to use.

1 white box cake mix

4 eggs

*1 box dark chocolate mousse mix or chocolate instant pudding

1/2 c sour cream

1 c milk

1/2 c melted butter

 

 

 *NOTE: If I need multiple layers and double this recipe, I can customize the chocolate cake layers by using one dark chocolate and one milk chocolate mousse mix, or two of one kind depending on the chocolate flavor profile I am going for. 

OPTIONAL: 3/4 to 1 c Razzleberry Fruit Filling to fill layers, recipe below

1) Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees F …cook low and slow, and you may need to add time to the suggested bake time; use a toothpick or cake tester to check doneness in the center before you pull the layers out of the oven. 

2) Prepare your layer cake pans AND bundt cake with my Quick-Release Cake Prep Mix (recipe below). **Even if you have a non-stick pan, it is worth using the Quick-Release Cake Prep Mix–after all your time and energy making and baking your cake, the last thing you want is to have half of it stick to the pan, and get a big crumbled pile of cake.

3) Mix all the ingredients except the optional fruit filling in a stand mixer, or a large bowl and hand mixer until smooth. It will be thick. Do not over mix

4) Divide your batter between your prepared cake pans. Level your batter in the pan (knock the cake pan on the counter top to get rid of air bubbles) before baking. 

*For a 3″ layer in a 6″ round pan, use 3 cups of batter, and bake for 35-40 min.

*For a 2″ layer in a 6″ round pan, use 2 1/4 cups batter, and bake for 28-36 min.

*For a 3″ layer in a 8″ round pan, use 5 cups of batter, and bake for 35-40 min.

*For a 2″ layer in a 8″ round pan, use 4 cups batter, and bake for 28-36 min.

*For a bunt cake, use the number of cups your bunt cake pan is sized by. If you overfill your bunt cake pan, it will overflow in the oven and create a huge mess to clean up…and ani’t no one got time for that! Don’t forget to grease and flour your bunt cake pan. 

NOTE: I wrap up the baked and cooled cake layers I am not immediately using in plastic wrap, and freeze for up to 3 weeks. Freezing cakes like this keeps them moist when thawed and ready to use.

Razzleberry Fruit Filling

3 c fresh or frozen mix of blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries 

1/2 c lemon juice

 

1 c sugar

4 T corn starch, mixed in 1 c cold water

 

1) Add all the ingredients except the corn starch & water mix in a sauce pan on med heat. 
2) Mash all the berries, sugar, and lemon juice with a potato masher. As the mix heats up and starts to boil, the berries will give off more of their juices and the sugar will dissolve. 
3) After the mix has had a chance to heat through, the berries give off their juices, and the sugar is dissolved, pour the mix into a blender. Blend until smooth and even. 
4) Strain the juice back into the rinsed pan through a metal sieve using a metal spoon to circulate the seeds to get all the juice through. Discard the seeds.
5) Bring the seedless berry mix to a boil.
6) Add the corn starch and water mix, and let boil stirring constantly until thickened.
7) Let the fruit filling cool before adding to an airtight dish to chill in the refrigerator. DO not use to fill cakes or to add to frostings until completely chilled. 
8) To fill a cake: frost the bottom layer with an even coating of frosting, pipe a frosting “dam” around the boarder of the frosted cake, then dollop a general tablespoon or two depending on the layer size, and spread evenly to the dam before topping with another layer of cake; and repeat until the top layer.

Note: Let’s get real. I love to cook once and use multiple times. This recipe is modified from using a full 48 oz. bag of organic mixed berries consisting of blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries from my local bulk store.  I then store in an airtight container and either keep in the fridge if I use it quickly, or freeze to have on hand and thaw as needed. 

Quick-Release Cake Prep Mix

In a 1:1:1 ratio, mix flour, lard or shortening, and vegetable oil. Mix until evenly incorporated, and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. For example, I use 1 cup of each ingredient to mix up and have on hand to prepare all my cake pans before adding batter, and then baking. Cakes will come out clean and easily, with no sticking. I coat my pans with this mix using a silicone baster brush. I also add a cut parchment paper to the bottom of any flat bottomed cake pan I use.

Categories
Cookies Holidays Recipes

Floral Easter Egg Sugar Cookies using Cream Cheese Buttercream

 

I am a fan of delicious sugar cookies with yummy buttercream, and what better time of year to have an excuse to not only bake but decorate THE best sugar cookies you have ever tasted than Easter! BUT it cannot be a sugar cookie that tastes like sweet cardboard–if you don’t know what I mean, oh you are in desperate need to make these cookies and have a side-by-side taste test with an ordinary sugar cookie recipe. Easter and spring go hand in hand for me, so after making such cute spring colored floral cakes like this one, it was a no-brainer to decorate Easter egg cookies in the same way!

 

I’ve wanted to try my hand at royal icing decorated cookies…but, I have always hesitated and I am not one to hesitate because I am scared of “failing”…if I hesitate, it’s because something just doesn’t jive…something just doesn’t fit…something is off…and then it hit me. I don’t make anything I personally will NOT absolutely go to food nirvana for. Royal icing just doesn’t tantalize my taste buds. I’m not into cookies that just look cute, I want to go to dessert 7th heaven so the calories, and what I gotta do to burn them off, is worth it!

Once you have a sugar cookie recipe that knocks people’s socks off–and trust me, you will get loads of people asking for the recipe, because the secret ingredient will set these sugar cookies light years apart of all the rest–the fun becomes how many different ways can you decorate them with buttercream. I feel like buttercream gets a bad rap with regards to sugar cookie decorating since all the gorgeous royal icing decorated cookies hit Instagram. Don’t get me wrong, they are stunning! 

You will savor every last morsel of these cookies, and the only thing you will be sad about, is when the last one gets eaten up!

How cute did these turn out! I used this cream cheese frosting (found at the bottom of the page), and the same piping tips as I used on this cake, as well as the same sprinkles. The cookie recipe is below. How are you planning to decorate your Easter sugar cookies?

The Last Sugar Cookie Recipe You Will Ever Need

Are you tired of boring, almost bland sugar cookies? Don’t even enjoy sugar cookies because they are almost like sweet cardboard? NOT these sugar cookies! There’s a slight tang from cream cheese, flavors pop with vanilla and almond extract, sweet and salty bring the best balance, and the secret ingredient: BROWNED BUTTER.  You cannot go wrong with these cookies. I like mine with a crisp edge, and an aldente but not quite soft texture. 

3/4 c. browned butter (1 1/2 sticks)

1/2 c. cream cheese (1/2 of a 8 oz pkg)

1 1/2 c. sugar

1 egg

2 tsp. vanilla

2 tsp. almond extract

2 tsp. salt

4 c. flour (reserve one cup as needed)

1) In a sauce pan on med heat, brown your butter. Watch the butter as it starts to froth up, and stir as needed. You will notice the froth will go down, and then start frothing again. By the 2nd froth/bubbling I have found this is about the time you want to stop browning the butter. Take the butter off the stove as you smell the nutty richness. Chill the browned butter until solid.

2) Let the browned butter and the cream cheese come up to room temperature. 

3) Cream the browned butter, cream cheese, and sugar until fluffy in a stand mixer, or using a hand held mixer in a large bowl. You will see the color turn light and the mix becomes fluffy. 

4) Add the egg, vanilla, almond extract, and salt. Scrap down the sides with a silicone spatula. 

5) Add 3 cups of flour and mix. Scrape down the sides. Add the remaining flour in 1/4 cup increments as needed. You know the dough is ready when it comes to a ball and is clean away from the side of the bowl. Depending on the humidity and elevation, you will need to be vigilant in how much flour you add, and may not need the extra full cup. The dough is pretty stiff, but not crumbly to where the flour is not incorporated. 

6) Split the dough into two equal parts. Wrap each dough section in cling wrap. Flatten into a rectangle, and chill in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours, overnight if necessary. An alternative step at this point(or just intentionally make a double or triple batch), if you choose to make frozen dough disks (I use an ice cream scoop and flatten the round dough to a puck shape, line a cookie sheet with parchment or wax paper, freeze on a cookie sheet, then place the pucks in a freezer safe ziploc bag to keep frozen sugar cookie dough on hand for in a pinch cookie hankerings–you can bake frozen, just watch the cookies because they may need extra time being baked from a frozen state).

7) When you are ready to roll out, preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. You may need to let the dough warm up a bit on the counter, especially if it has been chilling overnight. 

8) Lightly flour the surface, then roll out your dough to 3/8 inch for thick cookies. If you prefer thinner cookies, adjust the bake time down. Cut out your dough, and place on a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Space them at least a half inch apart. The cookies should not spread. If you want to sprinkle sanding sugar on the cookies and not frost them, do so before baking them. These are great cookies to eat without frosting, but I have an even better recipe for sugar cookies if you just want sanding sugar on them, but these work as well. 

9) Bake for 9-11 min. If your cookies are thinner or small cut out, watch them at 7-9 min. A perfectly baked cookie will show golden patches on the bottom, but not dark brown or worse.  Rest on the cookie sheet until cooled enough to move the parchment without damaging the cookies, and cool on a counter off the hot cookie sheet, or in a airtight container. If your first batch of cookies does not have the wonderfully crackled look on top, knead the rest of the dough before rolling out and baking. 

10) Completely cool before frosting. Check out my Cooked Frosting, which I think beats any butter cream frosting on these cookies hands down!

Check out these holiday sugar cookies I have made with this recipe. I love to use my Cooked Frosting as well as my cream cheese buttercream on these. I also love to stripe fruit fillings to add another dimension of flavor and color. I love how all of these cookies turned out! Not only are they adorable, but they are so delicious! I hope I can convince you how cute buttercream decorated cookies are.

Categories
Holidays Home Monthly Mantel Decor

Easter Mantel: Gold Accented Painted Wood Egg Set

 

I don’t know about you, but for years I did NOT have any Easter decor besides filling an Easter Basket with Easter goodies, and the traditional Easter egg hunts and Easter meals. In fact I never really got excited about Easter decorations because all the traditional pastel and bunnies and plaid and flowers and lace just seemed to uninspiring for me. Nothing grabbed my attention. UNTIL I saw a spray painted pastel rainbow of these wood eggs, and the inspiration FLOODED my brain. I was so excited I could place an order fast enough because I KNEW exactly what I was gonna do. I knew I wanted something with lots of gorgeous colors, but still had that elegant edge without the traditional “grandma-cheesy” Easter decor I detest.

 

I am OBSESSED with these colors and the gold accents. I have a set of gold utensils I use for Easter dinner, and so the gold accents just pulls it all together. I contemplated cutting out, and sanding my own eggs, but the shear amount of work it would take I was not prepared to do…I have my limits…made purchasing 6 sets so worthwhile. 

The gold accents I added are easier to see in this picture. I not only painted the bottom third of each egg–and since there are three different sizes, the bottom third is proportionate to the size of the egg–but I also speckled the eggs with the gold paint. I used a tooth brush dipped in the gold paint, and with my thumb or another finger to run down the paint soaked bristles while aiming at the wood eggs. To say the least, got gold paint all over my thumbs and fingers…and table and chairs…ya, I also recommend covering the table and all surrounding chairs with plastic before splattering paint. I learned the hard way, but I tend to be so excited about these projects that this type of prep work is harder for me than the extra clean up work I create for myself.

I used craft acrylics, as well as some of my professional grade Golden brand acrylics to achieve some of the colors I knew I HAD to have since I already had the on hand. Because I am uber particular with the shades of the colors I wanted, I mixed most of the colors myself, but that is entirely unnecessary if you find 3 different shades of pink, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple you love in craft paints, as well as a craft paint in gold you love. I listed materials and steps below.

Required materials:

6 sets–wood eggs in 3 sizes

craft paint in 3 desired shades if each color grouping (pink, orange, yellow, green, blue, & purple)–18 colors

gold craft paint

*painter’s tape 

 

 1 inch flat paint brush or sponge brush

a clean, dry toothbrush (for speckeling)

plastic to cover your work surface to protect from gold speckling

80 grit or finer sandpaper

 

 

Steps:

1) Sand the wood egg cutouts to smooth any splinters or any rough areas. You don’t need to make sure it is ultra smooth. in fact, I only do a light overall sanding using an 80 grit sandpaper quarter sheet (tearing a full sheet of sandpaper into fourths). You want the paint to have some texture to grip onto, and dry smoother; you do NOT want to paint such a smooth wood surface so the paint will basically peel off. 

2) Use two coats of the base color paint for each egg. Make sure you let each coat dry in between. 

3) Paint the bottom 1/3 of each egg with the gold craft paint. Use two coats, making sure each layer is completely dry before adding another coat of paint. *NOTE: You can use painters tape to mark off the bottom third for the gold paint. Just know you may need to go in with the base color paint to touch up any bleeding you may get with the gold once you remove the painter’s tape. I am an experienced painter, and thus trust my hand to be steady enough to get a straight line using a 1 in flat brush, and so I skip the painter’s tape. 

4) To speckle the eggs with the gold paint, dip your toothbrush in the gold paint (you do not want it dripping off of the toothbrush), and run your thumb or a finger from the hand not holding the toothbrush to flick the paint onto the base color part of the egg. Repeat until you are satisfied with the speckling. NOTE: Be aware that as you load your toothbrush with gold paint multiple times, paint can start to pool and then drip where you do not want it to drip if you are not careful. To remedy this, I simply tap off any excess paint after a few times I have dipped my toothbrush.  

5) Let the eggs dry completely before setting up your Easter display. Stand back, and enjoy your custom creation you will be able to use year after year. In fact, I see these custom made holiday decor pieces as heirlooms to pass on; it just adds to the sentimentality and tradition of the holiday. Happy Easter!

 

Check out my Spring/Easter dual sided letter blocks I created with scrap wood. Super easy project that is super cute!

Categories
Holidays Home Monthly Mantel Decor

Super Cute & Easy Scrap Wood Spring & Easter Decor Blocks

 

DO you have scrap wood sitting around from a home improvement project, you hate the space it is taking up, but you hate wasting perfectly good wood even more? Then this is the PERFECT project for you! It is so easy and so hard to mess up. All you need is 2 x 4 wood, a saw, or a friend who has one, sand paper, craft paint, brush or sponge brush, and letter stencils or vinyl letter cut outs to use the letters or as a stencil. I did both. It is so versatile as well! You can use it for Spring and Easter just by flipping the blocks!

 

Aren’t the colors so perfect for Spring AND Easter??!???!!! I am OBSESSED. I did use my Silhouette Cameo 3 for the first time since I bought it 6 months ago. This was the perfect excuse to pull it out. It was a headache, but I am sure for all y’all who are NOT “tech phones” like me wouldn’t have an issue. I ALWAYS have issues setting up technology…part of the reason it sat for so long.

I knew I wanted Spring on one side of the letter blocks, and Easter on the other side. As I played around with fonts and sizes, I decided on all lower case for Spring and all upper case for Easter. I loved the font changes, and I used the Georgia font, which I love to use. I also knew I was gonna make 3 sets…and I still have tons of scrap wood left over from my storage shelves…I will definitely post about those. I had a co-worker and friend come over with her 3 little girls for a craft day. Her oldest is a die hard crafter at the wee age of 8, which I adore because I was too at a young age. I started by cutting the blocks to size (listed below). We had to make a Home Depot run because I was out of sand paper; knowing there were 3 girls 8 and under, I got the sand paper blocks for them, but I prefer the basic sand paper I tear into quarters to use. I bought 80 grit to make sure all the splinters were smoothed down, as well as any stamp lettering you commonly find on 2x4 studs. The girls were put to work sanding as well, and it was a great teachable moment to let them know there is always the “not-so-fun” parts of projects, but that it was a necessary part, and if we persevere we get to do the fun part: painting! Painting these wood blocks is perfect for young kids because they are a single background color each, and if the parents allow, the kids can choose their color adding to the excitement and ownership of the project; they will BEAM with accomplishment and love it all the more because they picked out their color. The girls lost interest and left my friend and I to some much needed girl talk as we finished painting the first coats! Hahaha! It was SOOOO therapeutic. I recommend painting two coats to ensure there is solid coverage of the background colors. These blocks become a keepsake to remember they were custom made each Spring and Easter.

To save on vinyl, I used one set of letters for two sets of blocks: one set of blocks I used the background vinyl of the letters as a stencil to paint the letter, and then on another set I used the actual vinyl letters. Confession time, my friend also had to use the background of the letters as stencils because I ran out of my precious white vinyl troubleshooting why the darn machine wouldn’t cut all the way through the vinyl. Grrrrrr. Well I figured out the bottom of the cutting tool was loose and not screwed in all the way, and I didn’t have the cutting tool properly locked into place…I’m just bummed it took 3 sheets of white vinyl to figure that out! Oh well, you live and learn…but the important part is I LEARNED!!! BTW, you will want to space the letters so you can cute each letter to have a clean margin of vinyl if you plan to use the stencil. My personal preference if the painted letters using the vinyl letter stencils. Once I applied two coats of the white paint, and on the second coat I removed the vinyl stencil to keep the paint from drying which I imagine would make removing the vinyl a pain…or worse…detrimental to all the hard work of the letter block. There is nothing I detest more than wasted time…well, wasted time where I felt like there wasn’t a proper lesson to learn.

As you can see I embellished one set with ribbon, pink twine, felt flower cutouts, buttons, and beads. The set you see the embellishments on is one set of blocks with the letters for Spring on one side, and Easter on the other side. I think they turned out so adorable!!! And yes, I did find my little spelling mishap…tee hee hee…I think it is a subliminal message. Did you see it? Spring is “bloomy”-ing! I didn’t even notice until my husband started belly laughing, and told me he loves me. Ha! I tell you, I am the worst editor in the world because it all looks right in my head! I did keep the painted gold “bloopered” set myself (above). I also added gold splatters to that set. The gold splatters is a running theme through all my custom made Easter decor, which I cannot wait to share it all with you! I have listed all the cut lengths below, as well as listed all the materials you will need. 

2x4 cut lengths:

1- 13.75 inch piece

2- 5.5 inch pieces (tall)

2- 5 inch pieces (medium)

2- 4.25 inch pieces (small)

 

Required materials:

2x4 wood studs, scrap wood is perfect for this

wood saw (I used my miter saw) or a good friend with one 🙂

craft paint in the colors you prefer

1 inch flat paint brush or sponge brush

 

1 inch flat paint brush or sponge brush

small flat brush, if you plan to stencil in the letters (I prefer this to a stencil brush)

sand paper, 80 grit or finer

vinyl letters in your preferred font, or letter stencils

 

Steps:

1) Cut the wood to the specified lengths. 

2) Sand all edges and faces of the wood to smooth any splinters, rough edges, or ink stamps on the wood. You do not need it to be super smooth, and in fact I do not use sand paper finer than 80 grit because it gives the paint good teeth to grip and gives better coverage. 

3) Order the size of the blocks to your preference. For the Spring letters, I used the pattern: tall, medium, small, medium, tall, small where only the first and last blocks do not sit on the bottom longest block. For the Easter letters: tall, medium, tall, small, medium, small. I actually only marked the bottom with one of the letter combinations, and once I did all the steps to complete one side, I turned the blocks around and rearranged it slightly until I liked the order for the letters to spell the other word on the other side. 

4) Paint two coats on all sides of all the blocks your desired colors. I let each layer completely dry before adding a coat. 

5) Make sure the paint is completely dry before adding the vinyl letters, or stencils. Spell out your desired word on each side to coordinate for Spring and Easter. 

6) I chose different phrases on the long base block. You can customize what phrase you prefer, then stencil or adhere the phrase with the vinyl. Embellish to your hearts desire, or leave as is and you will have a great custom made keepsake you will love to put out each Spring, and flip the blocks to continue to enjoy through Easter!

Don’t forget to check out these amazing and colorful gold accented wood Easter eggs perfect for any mantel. I’m OBSESSED with them!