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
Cakes

Best Gold Drip Technique

 

Anyone else frustrated with painted chocolate gold drips gold? I know I am. And you definitely do not get the GOLD DRIP effect you would envision. I mean I don’t. Sure, it looks pretty like in this cake I did, but I just wasn’t complete happy about it…until I found this technique! Now I am not at mastery level, and I cannot wait to use it more.  I learned a ton on this first go of it on this cake. I also cannot help but say that being these sugar orchids were also my first attempt, I not only learned a ton, but they turned out beautiful!

 

I am OBSESSED with how gorgeous and lux the gold drip came out!!! This new technique I found massively easier than the chocolate drip and then painting it gold. I did learn, however, this is far more liquid in consistency so I need to learn to use less so the drips do not puddle at the bottom of the cake. The drips that did not puddle at the bottom, are stunning!

You can see that it also settled completely level on the top of the cake, which is a feature I did not expect and thrilled to the moon over. The top set with more of an antique gold finish rather than the lux liquid gold finish, which I am hoping to figure out a way to avoid that. But it could be from the vodka I used evaporating. So, just like you use vodka or lemon extract to activate your gold luster dust to paint any cake feature gold, you make a gold slurry (recipe below). 

You make a gold slurry with 3 ingredients: 1) 2 T powder sugar, or confectioners sugar, 2) 1 T gold luster dust (I used this one), and 3) add vodka or lemon extract until you reach drip consistency. I mixed these ingredients to get a thick but drippable consistency. Then I put the mix in a disposable piping bag, clipped the end with a relatively small opening to control the mix easily, and then proceeded to drip like I do with chocolate ganaches. Like I mentioned previously, I realize now to use far less pressure and less mix at each drip than I did here. I learned what to adjust next time.

Lux gold Drip

1) 2 T powder sugar, or confectioners sugar

2) 1 T gold luster dust 

3) add vodka or lemon extract until you reach drip consistency.

Once you reach a desirable drip consistency, add the mix to a piping bag (disposable or parchment recommended). Then drip the edge of the cake as usual, except be aware that you will want to use FAR less drip than what you would with a chocolate drip.

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

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 Recipes

Star Trek Nebula Cake

 

Do you know any Star Trek super fans? I sure do, and if I understand correctly there are two main groups of fans: the fans of the Next Generation Star Trek, and the original Captain Kirk series from the 60’s. I am the latter, as well as the most recent movies–and BTW if you love William Shatner and you haven’t already seen the series Boston Legal, I HIGHLY recommend it. I knew I would be making a cake for a super fan of the Next Generation Star Trek series for a few months, and I knew I wanted a design that is classic that I would be able to put my heart and soul into, but also appeal to any Star Trek fan…especially since I regret I do not know much about the Next Generation except from a co-worker I knew years ago would rave about Patrick Stewart, who is the captain of that series and he is a classically trained actor! I always think of that when I see him acting in anything now!

 

Aren’t these photos stunning! These were taken by a student in photography at my school.

For a while now, I’ve been dying to do a galaxy cake, and I have seen various techniques from pouring mirror cake effects, to a watercolor frosting effect essentially marbling colored frosting such as black, purple, and blues. I have also seen using thinned food coloring gel to paint on fondant or a chilled buttercream. Being that I am not a fan of fondant taste wise, I opted for the marbling colored frosting effect. 

I used black (see recipe below), navy blue, red, orange, yellow, pink, purple, and plain white frosting to get a marbling effect with the final coat of frosting after chilling the crumb coat. Of all the galaxy cakes I’ve seen, the colors used are predominantly black, blues, and purples. I get easily board from redundancy, and crave unique and artistic designs; this is why I opted for the colors I have seen in stunning photos of nebulas from satellites in space.

For the watercolor frosting effect, I applied splotches of the various colors in a random pattern onto the chilled crumb coat. Then I used my XL metal bench scraper and icing smoother with the cake on a cake turn table to get a smooth frosted finish, that also marbled the colors. It took a number of passes to get the colors to come out since the black is very overpowering and I put the frosting splotches on too thick…but it was my first time. Once I got it to my liking, I still felt the overall effect was lackluster. I needed more punch, more color pop to satisfy the image I had in my head.

I have this luster dust kit that popped in my head to get the color pop I’m looking for. I typically use luster dust for gum paste flowers to get a pearl sheen in various colors. I had never seen nor heard of the technique I used used to finish this cakes. Using my experience dusting gum paste flowers combined with techniques I’ve seen where people have “painted” with food coloring on fondant or chilled buttercream, I came up with the idea to “dust” the chilled buttercream frosting. I matched up colors of luster dust with the areas that corresponding colors of frosting showed threw from what I previously described for the outside coat of frosting. I also added some metallic colors like gunmetal and copper. I also used light pink and light blue to add the depth and color pop as if I was painting. Now, you might laugh, but I did not use a brush to do the luster dust effect. I used paper towels I tore off pieces to make a “powder puff” I dipped into the various luster dust containers, using clean “puffs” for each color.

I was OBSESSED!!! I was so in love with the overall effect, and it matched what I had in my head from all the gorgeous nebula photos I love to oooooh and aaawwww over. The colors popped, and were vibrant, and had the depth and breadth to add dimension and interest so the finish of the cake was not flat or uninteresting. There was just one thing missing…the masses of tiny stars you see in nebula photos. I took the white pearl luster dust, mixed in some cheap vodka to get a “painting liquid” similar to how I add gold details, but instead of using a brush, I used my finger dipped in, and flicked the white pearl liquid to create the star effect I was looking for…AND I didn’t need to clean another tool! Win-WIn!!! This literally brought the cake to life! It was so realistic, I was in awe and so ridiculously excited that this new technique worked out so well!!!

The last detail I knew I needed was the Starfleet Insignia. Again, I was going for a clean, elegant, stunning design so I didn’t want anything complicated. I used my trusty gum paste, rolled out a thick even layer, and free-hand cut the shape using my exacto knife I use for gum paste flowers. I recommend letting thick gum paste dry for at least 24-48 hours to be completely hard. I did not have that time, so I placed it on my finished cake with a little sugar glue I use for my gum paste flowers on the back of the insignia, and put the whole cake in the fridge to chill overnight before delivery. It worked out marvelously! 

I also wanted to post what this cake looked like after I filled and stacked it, and before I added the crumb coat. I used 3–6″ round cake layers I cut in half; two were white chocolate vanilla sponge (recipe below), and one was a dark chocolate sponge (recipe here). This is where the 6 layers you see came from. The cake layers are filled with my Perfect Ratio Dreamy Cream Cheese frosting (recipe at the bottom), which I also use to pipe my designs on previous cakes, and my Razzleberry fruit filling (below). 

I cannot tell you how THRILLED the surprise cake was for this super Star Trek Next Generation fan!!! The squeals of pure joy and excitement I got from her was so gratifying!!! I LOVE over-delivering on a design, and taste of my cakes!!! The funniest part is that this surprise happened to be on the perfect Star Trek fan day, First Contact Day. It just added to the overall bliss this custom cake brought. I love the pics the super fan sent me!

You can also see how I stack a tall double barrel cake, with a cake board in the center, and supports in the first three layers underneath. I do this to make serving the cake easier so that the servings are cut from each half of the barrel cake. This way of stacking not only creates an extra sturdy cake structure, but it is easier to cut manageable cake slices to serve without a huge mess or the tall cake slice tumbling as you pull it out. No one needs that mess. With 6″ rounds, I cut the top layer in half, then cut perpendicular sliced to the first cut I made for each serving. It is similar to how a large cake layer is cute, except for cake larger than 8″ inch rounds, it is best to cut the cake in thirds (3 big even sections), and then cut perpendicularly to cut each serving. It makes for a clean, neat, and even service.

Prepping your pans and my Quick-Release Cake Pan Prep Mx.

Now let’s talk prepping your cake pans before we get to the recipe. I cannot stress how vital this is…vital to NOT losing all your time, effort, and gorgeous, high quality ingredients to a mass of torn cake because a good chunk of it is sticking to the pan. SO NOT PRETTY AND SO AGGRAVATING! Growing up, it was the “grease and flour” step of making a cake. Now I just keep a pre-made mix of flour, lard, and oil in a 1:1:1 ratio to make my Quick-Release Cake Prep Mix (yes, yes it’s long winded, but that’s Bloomy’s Dictionary sometimes). It is important to use a vegetable oil, or any oil that has a high smoke temperature. Olive oils have a lower smoke temperature which means it will start to smoke or burn at lower temperatures than other oils; since you are baking cakes at high temperatures, you do not want smoke ruining the high quality flavors you worked so hard to put in your cakes. I will keep a mix of 1 c. flour, 1 c. oil, and 1 c. lard in an airtight container in my refrigerator. Being it works in this ratio, you can use the same measurements of all three ingredients in any amount. There have been times I have been in a pinch, and needed to whip up 1/2 cup or 1/3 cup mixes of this if I am out of my pre-made mix in the fridge. You will prep your cake pans and bunt cake pans with this mix. Or use the traditional grease and flour method to prep your pans before you add any batter, however, if you take my word for it, this old-school method is a lot more time consuming and can be a lot messier! I use a baster to slater on my Quick-Release Cake Prep Mix; BUT you don’t want it pooling or gobbing on your pan. A nice even coat is sufficient. I also ALWAYS use parchment paper on the bottom of my pans, and for time sake I prefer the precut ones. I will use my quick geometry teacher skillz and can cut out a free-handed circle of any size pretty quickly by folding a section of parchment paper into quarters, and then eighths, and again if not too thick, and essentially cut half the length of my circle pan (half the diameter, or half the radius for y’all who remember your geometry).

White Chocolate Cake

Nothing Bunt Cake…I don’t think so. This is White Chocolate Raspberry done right…aka White Chocolate Razzleberry Cake! Love those well-known bunt cakes but not the price? Or wished they looked more elegant? This recipe not only taste BETTER than those bunt cakes, but you can CUSTOM design your own masterpiece with a few simple steps. You are not limited to making this cake in a bunt cake pan, but have the flexibility to do so if you would like.  Check out the Perfect Ratio Cream Cheese Buttercream Recipe that is easy to decorate with AND tastes amazing with this cake. NOTE: I always use wet (but wrung out) cake baking straps on all my pans, and 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 package white chocolate instant pudding

1/2 c sour cream

 

1 c milk

1/2 c melted butter

1 to 1 1/2 c white chocolate chips, optional

 

1) Pre-heat the over to 325 degrees F; bake your cakes low and slow (may need to add to baking times–use a toothpick or cake tester to see if done in the middle). 

2) Prepare your layer cake pans AND bunt cake with my Quick-Release Cake Prep Mix(see recipe in post) mix or grease your pan with lard (or butter) and dust with flour, and a parchment liner on the bottom(optional but i do not risk all my efforts to possibly having the cake stick to the pan).  **Even if you have a non-stick pan, it is worth greasing your pans with lard/butter and dusting with flour, or just having a batch of the Quick-Release Cake Prep Mix (see recipe in post).

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

4) Stir in the white chocolate chips and mix by hand with a spatula or spoon. 

5) Divide your batter between your prepared cake pans.  Level your batter in the pan (I 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. 

BAKING TIP: If you are baking 3″ layers with an 8″ pan or larger, use a metal rose piping pin inverted in the middle of the pan to get heat and bake the center of the cake evenly with the outside; or use a baking core. I do this with 2″ layers for pan 10″ or larger as well. 

To get flat cake layers, use these baking belts. I stand behind these and always use them!!! It saves me from having to cut the cake layer for a flat top. I wet and wring out the baking belts before I put them on the cake pans, and then put them in the oven to bake. 

 

 

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. 

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
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
Birthdays Cakes

My Little Pony Rainbow Dreams Cake

 

I know a little girl who is OBSESSED with all things My Little Pony…and she was about to turn 3. I knew I had to design a super cute and girly cake with lots of My Little Pony colors and figures to make sure she was ridiculously excited about her cake.  There couldn’t just be little figurines, but it has to explode with color and rainbows because Rainbow Dash was her absolute favorite My Little Pony. I also cannot make a cake that just looks cute, but I always want to blow people’s socks off with taste, both kids and adults. A cake that tastes so good, I don’t care what diet you are on, you can NOT just have one bite!

 

I made the top 6″ tier and bottom 8″ tier a vanilla confetti cake filled and frosted with my Perfect Ratio Dreamy Cream Cheese Frosting. I added my Razzleberry fruit filling in between each frosted layer so everyone would savour every single bite.  It is important to note that if you are adding filling between each layer, you need to pipe a frosting damn on the outter perimeter to make sure the filling doesn’t ooze to through the crumb coat. 

To pipe rainbow frosting where it doesn’t get all muddy and you can clearly see all the colors, I made a tube with plastic wrap where I piped 3 lines of each color a length that would fit one of my large reusable piping bags on the flat sheet of plastic wrap. Then I rolled the frosting lines on top of each other by lifting one long edge of plastic wrap to fold the frosting on top of each other, and rolled the plastic all the way around, twisting to secure each end, almost like you have a rainbow frosting sausage. To pipe with the rainbow frosting, I made sure I had the tip I wanted in my large reusable piping bag, cut one end of the plastic wrapped rainbow “sausage”, and put the cut end inside the large piping bag first so it is open to freely pipe through my chosen tip.  I better make very clear that first off, I mixed each color individually before I filled each color in its own piping bag with a coupler so I could pipe with different tips later in each solid color; I then piped the lines with just the coupler onto the plastic wrap. 

You can see that the top tier used a combination of different tips to pipe flowers and rosette to add variety and interest using both the rainbow frosting, and each individual solid color frosting.  The bottom tier, I just used the rainbow frosting with the coupler, and no tip, to pipe dollops I then used my small cake spatula to drag out; I offset each row of dollops so that each one on the next row up would fit in between two on the bottom. It turned out so beautiful! I was mesmerized by it! The last dollop on each row is a challenge to get the same drag effect, so that’s how I came up with the sprinkle design on the bottom tier. 

The tips I used on the top tier are 1M for the largest rainbow rosettes and flowers,  tip 199 for rainbow swirls and dollops, tip 16 for the orange, tip 22 (or 32–I lost track of that one) yellow, tip 172 purple, tip 106 green, tip 12 blue, and tip 131 pink. 

I placed various size and shape rainbow, gold sphere and bar sprinkles around the top tier to add interest. I am just OBSESSED with how it turned out. I was definitely a jaw dropper at the party!!!

Of course I had to add the stars of the cakes, My Little Pony figurines.  I used this set even though I comtemplated using the cleaned full size ones that the client’s daughter already had and loved, however, I didn’t want the hair to get gooped up with frosting so I found these. They are perfect for cake toppers and cupcakes! 

Another happy experiment that turned out to be genius and I will definitely be using a LOT in the future, was the frosted pretzel rods! I had left over rainbow frosting and didn’t want to waste all that effort, and of course who doesn’t love salty-sweet treats, so I took the pretzel rods I had left over from my Dinosaur cake, pipped shells, and added sprinkles, and voila! Not only were they so ridiculously adorable, they were so yummy!

I  used a colored frosting to frost the bottom layer to hid any potential gaps in the rainbow pattern.

Vanilla Confetti Cake

This cake recipe will knock anyone’s socks off, it is so good. AND it will dazzle any kid with the fun confetti sprinkles in the cake batter. 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  vanilla instant pudding

1/2 c sour cream

 

1 c milk

1/2 c melted butter

1/2 c confettie sprinkles

3/4 to 1 c Razzleberry Fruit Filling, 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 sprinkles and fruit filling in a stand mixer, or a large bowl and hand mixer until smooth. It will be thick. Do not over mix

4) Mix in the sprinkles and stir by hand with a spatula or spoon. 

5) 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. 

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 Home Recipes

Key Lime Cheesecake Sugar Cookies

 

After my last minute rush to get a Valentine’s dessert thrown together with leftover frosting, cookies, and raspberry filling, I stumbled on a NEW dessert that is so ridiculously AMAZING I don’t know how this desert hasn’t come to light yet! Cheesecake Sugar Cookies flavored with fruit fillings!!! I like to have holiday themes for each month and because it is March, I decided to go with a Key Lime flavor for my cakes and desserts. My new custom recipes this month included a  Blueberry Key Lime Cake, a Key LIme Tunnel cake, and a Key Lime Dressing for a spinach salad…AND last but definitely not least, my Key Lime Cheesecake Sugar Cookies. If you like Key Lime, you will LOVE these recipes! I am talking complete FOOD NIRVANA!

 

These cookies are so easy to put together, especially with a batch of my Key Lime fruit filling on hand, which is used in all the previously mentioned Key LIme recipes. I love having versatile recipes, and multiple uses with flavors I adore. And how cute are they as little Shamrocks! The piping was also very easy, and I didn’t even use a tip; I just used the open end of the piping bag. I started in the center of each shamrock, and piped two loops in each leaf, and ended at the stem (all in one continuous motion). 

 

In fact, I had a batch of my Perfect Ratio Dreamy Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe at the bottom), and I just mixed in enough of my Key Lime Fruit Filling to get that oh so delicious tangy key lime cheesecake flavor. I made sure to NOT add too much fruit filling so the frosting was still a good piping consistency. I also added a drop of green and a drop of yellow food coloring to get a beautiful chartreuse green hue. I brought my first batch of these cookies to test out the recipe with my co-workers where I teach high school math, and they RAVED about them! I knew I wasn’t looney for thinking they were so good. Now I had confirmation of how dang delicious they were. Everyone was saying how perfectly tangy they were, and there was no doubt they were Key Lime Cheesecake. They also said the cookie was the perfect size to have a yummy dessert, but not over do it…and not get all the calories from a slice of Key Lime Pie!!!

Because I use a St. Patrick’s day rainbow and shamrock “Lucky” theme for March, I wanted a way to incorporate that with this recipe. So I busted out the larger shamrock cookie cutter and my rainbow sprinkles to get these stinkin’ cute shamrock cookies! I also love the added crunch from the sprinkles!!! You can see that one of the larger cookies I used the same green frosting as the smaller cookies, one was just my cream cheese frosting, and one I lined the piping bag with 3 stripes of the key lime fruit filling (recipe at the bottom) to get a variegated frosted cookie. I love the variations, and all are so yummy!

This is my go to sugar cookie recipe, and you will get rave reviews! To make these Key Lime Cheesecake Sugar Cookies, you need:

1 recipe of sugar cookies, cut out, baked, and completely cooled.

1 recipe of my cream cheese frosting (found at the bottom of the page)

1/4-1/2 c of my Key Lime Fruit Filling recipe.

Mix in the key lime fruit filling to taste, then pipe or frost your cookies. Store frosted cookies in an airtight container in the refrigerator, and they will last up to 3 weeks. They also freeze well in an airtight container for up to 3 months. These storing guidelines also work for leftover frosting. I also use this Key Lime Cheesecake Frosting on cakes, and this cake was particularly delicious!

Key Lime Fruit Filling
Do you LOVE Key Lime but you don’t love the time it takes to make a key lime curd? Then you will adore this recipe! This fruit filling recipe is so versitile, you will loose count how many diffierent ways you can use it. I mostly use it to fill cakes, flavor frosting, and even in a vinaigrette recipe for a spinach salad. 
2 c fresh Key Lime Juice (or 1 1/2 c lime juice plus 1/2 lemon juice)

 

1/2 c sugar

T corn starch, mixed in 1/2 c cold water

1) Add all the ingredients except the corn starch & water mix in a sauce pan on med heat.

2) Bring the juice mix to a boil.

3) Add the corn starch and water mix, and let boil stirring constantly until thickened.

4) 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. 

 

NOTE: I use this to flavor frosting, fill cakes, vinaigrette dressing, and many other key lime recipes.

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.