Wedding Cookie Favors

It is a beautiful time of year around the bakery. It is wedding season. We have been busy making beautiful wedding cookie favors. We have been so busy that our last blog post is from January. Sigh.  I have to ask myself, “Where did the last 6 months go?” We have been working hard hand crafting wedding cookie favors for your bridal showers, goodie bags, dessert tables and more. Everyone bride has their own color palette. Every bride has her own style. May some of our cookies inspire you as you begin to plan your wedding.

Peacock Themed Wedding Cookie Favors

peacock themed wedding favors

Peacock feathers first became a popular design during the Art Nouveau movement. The peacock’s gorgeous plumes with their rich iridescent hue and delicate silhouette continue to be a popular way to add a touch of exotic to your wedding.

Boho Chic Wedding Cookie Favors

feather sugar cookie favors

Feathers are all the rage right now. Boho chic style is based on various bohemian and hippie influences.  The Boho decor is supposed to be a romantic and perfect for the brides who don’t want too many oranate details. Feathers are the perfect favor for guests and a boho chic wedding.

Nautical Themed Wedding Cookie Favors

nautical themed wedding cookie favors

Nautical Love. From nautical knots to monogrammed anchors; nautical weddings are a romantic setting for those who love the sea.

Black and White Stripe Themed Wedding Cookie Favors

black and white stripe themed cookies

Black and white striped weddings have a striking elegance. Brides who love bold lines, pops of color with florals and undertones of gold often choose this wedding theme. They are by far our most popular wedding cookies.

Shabby Chic Themed Wedding Cookie Favors

shabby chic wedding cookie favors

The shabby chic wedding loves all things distressed and vintage.  Shabby chic is a little a bit rustic, a little bit antique with gorgeous old time florals.

State Love Wedding Cookie Favors

state themed sugar cookies

 

What state are you from? Do you want to represent the state you love when you get married?  Cookies are fun favor to show off the love of where you are from.

 

 

Homemade Snowman Marshmallows

Homemade Snowman Marshmallows

Homemade snowman marshmallows are a fun way to dress up your winter hot chocolate. It’s the perfect day to make marshmallows. Snowmageddon has hit the east coast.  Why bother digging out?  The roads are closed, flights are cancelled and the family is all in doors playing games. It is the perfect time to try something new. If you have never made homemade marshmallows it needs to go on your baking bucket list. They are delicious.

HOMEMADE PEPPERMINT SNOWMAN MARSHMALLOWS

For printable recipe, click here.

Adapted from Alton Brown

  • 3 packages unflavored gelatin
  • 1 cup ice cold water, divided
  • 12 ounces granulated sugar, approximately 1 1/2 cups
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 Teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • Nonstick spray

1. Place the gelatin into the bowl of a stand mixer along with 1/2 cup of the water. Have the whisk attachment standing by.

2. In a small saucepan combine the remaining 1/2 cup water, granulated sugar, corn syrup and salt. Place over medium high heat and stir continually. Place a candy thermometer onto the side of the pan and continue to cook until the mixture reaches 240 degrees. Once the mixture reaches this temperature, immediately remove from the heat. This is not the time to multitask. Many things can go wrong if you leave the boiling sugar.

3. Turn the mixer on low speed and slowly pour in the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the gelatin mixture. Once all of the syrup has been added, increase the mixer to high speed. Continue to whip until the mixture becomes very thick and is lukewarm, approximately 12 to 18 minutes. You definitely don’t want to under mix the marshmallow mixture. If you do the marshmallows can become weepy. Add the vanilla and peppermint extracts during the last minute of whipping. While the mixture is whipping prepare the pans as follows.

To make into Snowman marshmallows:
1. Sift the powdered sugar into a small bowl. To make the thin marshmallows you will need a large jelly roll pan. I use a 16×12.

2. Lightly spray the metal baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Use a sifter and dust the entire pan. Coat the bottom and the sides. Leave the remaining mixture to the bowl for later use.

3. When ready, pour the mixture into the prepared pan, using a lightly oiled spatula for spreading evenly into the pan. Dust the top with enough of the remaining powdered sugar. Reserve the rest for later. Allow the marshmallows to sit uncovered for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.

Homemade-Snowman-Marshmallows-Cut

While your snowman marshmallow batter is resting this is the perfect time to get together the colors for decorating. There are two options that you can choose from. You can either melt orange and black candy melts or you can use royal icing. Candy melts is the easiest to use. You can find Candy Melts at Amazon, Wal-Mart, Michael’s, and Hobby Lobby. You just follow the directions for melting the chocolate on the back of the bag and place in a plastic disposable pastry bag. Snip the tip of the bag and you are ready to decorate. Or you can make royal icing and color one small bowl black and one small bowl orange. Here is a great link to a recipe for a small batch of royal icing. {LINK} You want a thick consistency, so don’t add too much water when you prepare your royal icing.

Homemade-Snowman-Marshmallows-Cut-2

Now it’s time to cut out your snowman marshmallows. Take a small 2″ or smaller round cutter. I took my circle cutter and placed it inside my hot chocolate mug so I could find the perfect size. Spray the cutter with vegetable oil or coconut oil. Spraying your cookie cutter will help keep the marshmallow mixture from sticking. Dust the sides of the marshmallows with powdered sugar and set in a large bowl.

Homemade-Snowman-Marshmallows-with-Royal-Icing

Now that all your  snowman marshmallows are cut out, we can decorate them. Line up your homemade snowman marshmallows on a plate. Then dust off the tops of the marshmallows. If you do not dust off the tops you will become frustrated. Just ask me.  The royal icing or candy melts will not stick to the marshmallow if there is too much powdered sugar.  Next, take your pastry bags that are filled with royal icing or candy melts and place two small black dots for the eyes, the orange carrot nose and the black dots for the mouth. Let them sit out to dry.

Homemade-Snowman-Marshmallows-Piping

Once you let your homemade snowman marshmallows dry, you can plop them in your favorite hot chocolate or package them up in mason jars as adorable gifts. I love the cute hot chocolate tins from Swiss Miss. I love giving a mason jar filled with the homemade snowman marshmallows alongside a tin of hot cocoa mix as a hostess gifts.

Homemade-Snowman-Marshmallows

 

Enjoy and have fun!

homemade snowman marshmallows

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

White Chocolate Cherry Shortbread Cookies #FBCOOKIESWAP

White Chocolate Cherry Shortbread Cookies #FBCOOKIESWAP

It is that time of year. The time of year where I wonder, “what was I thinking?”  In our home bakery it is currently crunch time and we work about 16 hours a day from the week before Thanksgiving to December 20th. I woke up this morning knowing that I have a blog post due.  But then I am reminded what an awesome cause The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap is. Did you know that the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap raises money to help childhood cancers? How awesome is that? So it doesn’t matter how busy things are in the bakery, I will make time. Because kindness matters. Any one willing to roll up their sleeves matters.  Sometimes I think in this big world we don’t think a little contribution will make a difference, but I believe that it does.  Cookies for Kids’ Cancer is a national non-profit organization committed to funding new therapies used in the fight against pediatric cancer, which claims the lives of more children in the US than any other disease. Take a moment to think about that for a second. I am so thankful to the sponsors below who matched our donations to Cookies for Kids’ Cancer, dollar for dollar (up to $3000)

The best part of the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap is getting to meet new bloggers and have some actually make me cookies!  There are so many bloggers, I love how the swap introduces you to blogs you may have never run into before.

This year I received some amazing cookies from:

Christina from the Running Foodie  made these melt in your mouth orange pecan shortbread cookies. Our mail has been arriving late lately and these came at about 9 at night. Totally dangerous time to receive yummy cookies. It’s not like you are going to go for a run after indulging in them.

Jenny at Honey and Birch  made Chocolate Sea Salt cookies. You can’t go wrong with chocolate but I found myself crushing on her super cute business cards. You know I have to love them because I don’t use words like “crushing”

Lady Behind the Curtain made loaded chocolate chip pretzel cookies. Hello!!! Sweet and salty, my weakness.

I love the challenge of the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap, because there is something about creating a cookie recipe for your peers. I wanted to create a little something that reminded me of Christmas. White chocolate cherry shortbread cookies seemed to fit the bill. It is the perfect cookie for the holidays. When you package it up, it looks so pretty with the white and the dark red pops of color.

WHITE CHOCOLATE CHERRY SHORTBREAD

Yields : 45, 2.5” squares

For printable recipe, click here.

  • 2 cups unsalted butter {room temp}
  • ½ confectioner sugar
  • ½ brown sugar
  • 4 cups minus 2 tablespoons unbleached flour
  • 1 cup dried tart cherries
  • 2 tbsps. Amaretto
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 cups white chocolate chips

White-Chocolate-Cherry-Shortbread-Ingred

DIRECTIONS:

For the cookies:

1. Place flour and salt in separate bowl.

2. Chop the dried cherries. Spray your knife with cooking spray. This will help keep the cherries from sticking to the knife.

3. In your mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar together on low until combined.

4. Add in salt and extracts.

5. Slowly mix in flour.

6. Add in the chopped cherries.

 

White-Chocolate-Cherry-Shortbread-Cherries

Helpful hint:  When you chop the dried cherries spray your knife with a little bit of cooking spray. This will keep the cherries from sticking to the knife.

FBCS-Cherry-Shortbread-Collage

7. Once the dough has come together you have a few options for chilling your cookie dough. You can break the dough into 4 medium sized disks. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in the fridge to chill for 2 hours. Or you can use this tutorial to roll your dough out how we do.

8. After the dough has chilled remove from the fridge and cut your cookie shapes.

9. Preheat oven to 350°F.

10. Line your baking sheet with silicon baking mats or parchment paper.

11. Bake for 13-16 minutes depending on your oven. Edges should be nice and golden brown.

White-Chocolate-Cherry-Shortbread-Drizzle

For the White Chocolate Topping:

1. While the cookies are baking you can melt the white chocolate.

2. Place white chips in a medium microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at MEDIUM (50%) 1 minute; stir until chips are melted and mixture is smooth. If necessary, microwave at MEDIUM an additional 30 seconds at a time, just until smooth when stirred.

3. Then place bowl on top of a pot with a shallow amount of steaming water while stirring slowly.

4. Once the white chocolate is completely melted, pour the mixture into a disposal piping bag

5. Cut a small slit on the bottom.

6. Drizzle on top of the cookies. Want to see a quick video? Head over to instagram to see how easy it is? LINK to White Chocolate Drizzle

White-Chocolate-Cherry-Shortbread-Cookies-1

Now all that is left is to package up your white chocolate cherry shortbread and share them with your family and friends. Do you love the printables below? My friend, Kara, from Love Babble on Etsy created them. She was so kind to offer them for free on our blog.

White-Chocolate-Cherry-Shortbread-Packaged

 

Holiday Gift Giving Guide

 Holiday Gift Giving Guide

Have you ever been at a loss for what to give someone for Christmas? I have. My husband is pretty impossible to shop for. His favorite things to buy are things for me. Ugh! For a girl who loves to give gifts and not receive them, it makes it pretty tough.  I have found out about so many awesome products and gifts from my friends’ blog’s. I love it when they share their favorite things or their holiday gift giving guide. I am excited to share some of the items that have caught my eye this season.

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For whomever on your list:

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  • Williams-Sonoma Essential Oils Collection, Spiced Chestnut Hand Soap– Williams Sonoma’s essential oil soap is one of my favorites. I probably wash my hands about 100 times a day. During the holiday months, my skin can become cracked and dry, but not anymore. Since I started using this awesome soap it keeps my skin hydrated and clean! It’s a win win situation. Plus, let’s talk about the scent. It’s delicious!
  • Lovely People Holiday Prints– Kristin and I met on Instagram. I love her art and she likes my cookies. I am particularly smitten with her prints for Christmas.
  • Vintage Marquee Lights 24″ Ampersand– Who wouldn’t love to open up this bad boy on Christmas morning?! I know I would! It would make SUCH an awesome addition to any room of the house!

For the Foodie in your life:

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  • Crystal Faye Gingerbread Apron- Seriously? Do you have a mini me? Then they need this adorable apron for the holiday season.
  • Sur La Table 9″ Pie Crust Shield– My friend, Christina swears by this thing whenever she’s making pies for the holiday season. If you’ve ever baked a pie only to have the outside crust start browning and darkening way quicker than the rest of the pie, then this thing will save you! 10-15 minutes after your pie has gone in the oven, you place this shield on the outer crust and continue baking away for the remaining time! It helps the outside crust brown much slower, allowing the rest of the pie to cook and keep up! No more burnt outer crusts!
  • Sur La Table iSi Silicone Bowls– These may not seem like the gift that says, “WoW!” But believe me, these are the perfect gift. They are the gift that keeps on giving. Any baker will appreciate these bowls.
  • Artfully Designed Co Deer Silhouette Stencil– LOVE THIS STENCIL. Stencils are a wonderful tool.  They can help make complicated designs much easier and faster.  I love making white cookies then using this beautiful stencil in gold or silver on top. Pop over to Shannon’s Etsy site to see her many designs. Stencils help add depth and design to simple cookies. 
  • Stencil Genie by Creative Cookier- You already know how much I love this thing! Any serious cookie decorator in your life will love and appreciate this thoughtful gift.

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  • Regency Half Height Bun Pan Mobile Rack– Cottage Laws are booming around the country. This bun rack is perfect for the home baker. You won’t have to have cookie sheets stacked all over your counters. It keeps things clean and tidy. My bun rack is one of my all time favorite purchases. It fits nicely in the corner.
  • Ice Milk Aprons’ Frosty Tin Marshmallow Apron- These are just about the nicest, hand crafted and most beautiful aprons.
  • The Royal Bakery Private Cake Decorating Classes- Lesley at the Royal Bakery is offering custom classes for one or two people (take a friend!) at her home near San Jose, California. The lessons will be tailored to suit your level of expertise and special requests. Email her at lesleywright@me.com for availability and pricing.

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  • Whisked Away Cutters Hot Air Balloon Cookie Cutter– Crafted with rounded corners on the handle for comfort, a reinforced area near the base of the handle and strong walls going down to a fine tapered edge for a precise, clean cut. I love that this cutter not only works for cookie dough but also fondant and gum paste! Plus, it’s adorable!
  • Copper Gifts Fancy Schmancy Square Cookie Cutter– 4″ of copper goodness is what this versatile cookie cutter is all about! Think of all the cookie cutting possibilities you could do with this thing!
  • Fat Daddio’s Silicone Baking Mat– If your favorite foodie doesn’t already have a silicone baking mat in their kitchen, get this for them! It’s the biggest baker/cooker must have! From cookies to toffee to cheese, nothing sticks to these babies! Plus they wash easily and are reusable over and over again! I have about a million in my kitchen! Adios tin foil and parchment paper!
  • Kopy Kake 300XK Projector– I could not survive without my KopyKake projector.  I knew that I could make good cookies, but I knew I needed help to make great cookies since I was not an artist. A Kopykake projector is an awesome tool that you can use for all sorts of art projects, not just for cookies.

For the Food Photographer in your life:

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  • Food Photography: From Snapshots to Great Shots– If you’ve got a food blog friend, this book is for them. They’ll find everything from basic camera settings, lighting and composure, AND illustrates how to use props to really bring out each picture of your loved one’s food.
  • Ink and Elm Vinyl Photography Backdrops– As you already know, I LOVE these backdrops and use them OFTEN in my pictures on my blog and elsewhere. The quality is fantastic as are the pictures. They’d be a great addition to food photographer’s trick bag! I particularly love Scape Goat! Good news too- use code: THEBAKEDEQUATION15 for 15% off your entire backdrop purchase!

 

Developing a Mission Statement

 Developing a Mission Statement

There are two ways to react when you hear the words MISSION STATEMENT…..the first is to do what I did and become an African history major. If the temptation of retail management is not alluring, you will be forced to think about developing a mission statement. Please do not steal from Tom Cruise and entitle your mission statement “The Things We Think and Do Not Say.” Let’s say it together now, “SHOW ME THE MONEY.” Now that we have that out of our system, we can move on. You MUST not only think about your mission statement, but you must understand what a mission statement is and detail it in writing. While this might sound easy enough, “I want pretty cookies; I am going to kill myself trying to enroll in Cupcake Wars and figure out how Clorox Bleach can be used as their mystery ingredient; I want to feed one person at a time and make the world a better place; and so on.” Please keep in mind that you are not in a beauty pageant and you are no longer meeting at the YMCA for your “baking hobby,” but you have determined that you have a business. This is “your diet starts today.” Please keep in mind when reading this posting that I am not going to use the depth necessary that you will have to use when you actually compose your business plan. Additionally, just because you started without a business plan, does not mean that you don’t need to write one now. Without a business plan, you will have no way to evaluate the day to day opportunities for potential business that knock on your door. The first question is always “where do I begin?” There are three questions that are essential to all business plans.

Let’s start with the three key questions. 1) What are the opportunities or needs that exist that you need to address? (the purpose of your venture). 2) What are you doing to address these needs? (the business of the venture); and 3) What principles or beliefs guide your work? (the values of the venture). Your purpose is as simple as it sounds. Everything else is in place to help you accomplish your mission. The clarity that you use here is important, because all your goals, actions you take and the way you spend your time will be guided by this statement. For those of you who are still awake, we can now begin.

Answering the following questions will help you when developing a mission statement for your business:

Number 1:

1) What are the opportunities or needs that you exist to address. You need to focus on the fact that baking is an opportunity. A niche has been created through television shows such as “Ace of Cakes,” “Cupcake Wars, etc.” for custom cakes, cupcakes and cookies. The reality is that this niche started long before our favorite television show, as cakes became more and more elegant. We have long since graduated from my personal favorite, “the yellow iced smiley faced cookie with the brown features.” Now that you have identified the opportunity: that there is a potential market for customized cakes and cookies. Are you done? No. You will need to identify what is the scope of the opportunity? Is there an opportunity in town for a local brick and mortar bakery and do you want to fill it? Is there an opportunity for a wholesaler? Do I want to be a wholesaler?  Does your state allow for a home based bakery and would this fit your situation better? There are additional factors that we are not going to cover such as potential staffing concerns, insurance and other factors that should be considered if you are going to open a facility. There are many other steps that you would have to take to properly identify what the opportunity is as you are writing a business plan. You may also engage in a demographic study to determine the saturation point based upon demographics and market participants, but this is also outside the scope of both this post as well as a standard business plan. You can now look to how you are going to address these needs. Are you going to limit your reach locally or nationally?

Number 2:

2) What are you doing to address these needs? There are obvious steps that many have taken.
You can incorporate or organize my business using whatever structure is recommended by my attorney, my accountant, or the check-out girl at the local supermarket. You will go out and have business cards printed. Here is where it gets tricky, “do you pay for a website or utilize Facebook and social media?” I would recommend a website. If you are truly trying to launch a business, you need a landing page. It is difficult to find businesses through web based searches without a landing page. Also, as you engage in social media to get word of your endeavor out, you want to have a centralized page that links to all of your social media. There are always local opportunities that will present themselves for advertising. The caveat here would be whether you are going to be a brick and mortar store or a home based business utilizing the internet. If you are a local brick and mortar store, local advertising will probably have more value than if you are a home based business. Social media is a key and many people outsource their social media, but I cannot stress enough that if you don’t learn every step of your business, even the steps you have relegated to employees or third parties, your business will fail. A business owner needs to know every aspect of their business. You will need to learn unit pricing for ingredients and whether it is more cost effective to buy locally or online. You will need to assess labor cost, including your own, and determine the cost of goods sold. You will have to determine your profit margin and what you need to make on each good sold. You need to be cognizant of what you are doing to address the opportunity with your business, while keeping in mind that if you are not making any money “YOU WERE WRONG. THERE WAS NO OPPORTUNITY IN YOUR MARKET.” If you have determined that there is not only an opportunity, but there is a way to address the opportunity in terms of creating a business, you can now move on to step three.

Number 3:

3) What principles or beliefs guide your work? With the proliferation of the internet, people can shop online for baked goods and have them sent directly to your home. Is this enough? No. You now have to identify specifics such as “will I use only organics, will I be known as a local sourcer of ingredients, am I going to focus on local opportunities or national, and so forth.” This is where your values will help you determine not only the potential opportunity, but whether it matches who you are. Please do not misunderstand, your values will not control every aspect of your business, but it will establish who you are as a business. You have to keep to your overall principles not only in terms of how you run your business but also in evaluating potential clients or opportunities in the course and scope of your daily operations. If you have identified that you want to be a niche bakery, don’t buy out the local bakery who operates in a ten thousand square foot space just because it is a cash cow and will put you on the map. If you are not a wholesaler, don’t take the opportunity to be the wholesaler for the local supermarket chain. YOU MUST STICK to your principles. You might as why is this important? I would advise you to look at several companies that are no longer in business because they changed their core principles, such as Circuit City.

As I stated in the beginning, this posting is not to be an exhaustive exercise in how to write a business plan as much as identifying the three key questions to get you started on your way. If you care enough about starting a business, you have to care enough to protect your investment of time, money and energy. This starts with a business plan. If this is not for you, join me with a liberal arts degree and we can co-manage a retail store together.

Did you miss the first blog post? No worries. Here is the link: Building Block Number 1

Have questions? Feel free to leave a blog comment. My husband would love to help answer your questions about building a solid foundation for your business.

developing a mission statement

Six Sisters’ Stuff Cookbook {Giveaway}

Six Sisters’ Stuff  Cookbook Giveaway

If you follow me on social media, I am constantly saying that my cookies get to have all the fun. This summer I got to make cookies for TSRI’s Sizzling Summer Getaway and Kristen from Six Sisters’ Stuff received a gift box of our cookies. Now I like to consider myself savvy. So of course when you are making cookie gifts for some of the country’s best bloggers cookies, one must include salted butterscotch cookies. I know, it’s shameless. I stuck addictive substances into their gift boxes. Now the disclaimer is, that when I created our Salted Butterscotch cookies I had no idea the affect they would have on people.  I feel really honored that Kristen reached out to us to make a little something special for the Six Sister’s Getaway to Chicago this winter.

Six-Sisters-Cookbook

You know what I love about making cookies, is that inspiration is everywhere. Do you see the red snowflake at the top of their 12 Days of Christmas cookbook? That is where I got the inspiration for the red snowflakes for their cookie sets.

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My assistant Cassia, received the Six Sisters’ Stuff Family Cookbook not too long ago. It’s funny just last week she was telling me about some of the awesome recipes she has tried. Cassia’s mom bought the Six Sisters’ Stuff Cookbook for her  birthday in May, and right away she knew it would be one of her favorites. Their recipes are simple and have accessible, non-intimidating ingredients, which is perfect for people like me! Her new favorite recipe, Creamy Chicken Lasagna, is from this cookbook. She has also made the Cheesy Garlic Texas Toast (with the lasagna, as recommended!), Crispy Onion Chicken (easily another new favorite), the amazing Turkey Meatball Subs, and several other things that have all been easy to make and turned out to be delicious.

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I decided that my cookies shouldn’t get to have all the fun, you should have some fun too. Kristen offered to giveaway a brand new 12 Days of Christmas Cookbook to a lucky reader of mine! Enter using the rafflecopter widget below to win this amazing cookbook full of all things awesome and fun!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Congratulations to Shannon Hopper for winning our giveaway!!! 

Chocolate Peppermint Cake Jars

Tis the season for gift giving! Our chocolate peppermint cake jars are the perfect hostess or end of the year teacher gift. Nothing says we love you quite like chocolate peppermint cake. Kara from Love Babble and I decided to collaborate together to help you create an easy and fun gift.  One of the best things about these chocolate peppermint cake jars is that they can be frozen! You can make a large batch of the jars and then place them in the freezer till you need to give them as a gift during the Christmas season.

CHOCOLATE PEPPERMINT CAKE JARS

For the Chocolate Cupcakes:

Recipe from King Arthur Flour

Yields: 24 Cupcakes

  • 2 Cups King Arthur Unbleached Cake Flour
  • 1 ½ tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¾ cup high quality cocoa powder
  • 1 ¾ cups organic sugar
  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup milk
  • ½ cup strong coffee or water
  • 4 large eggs

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line the muffin pans with 24 paper liners.

2. Place a strainer over a large mixing bowl. Measure in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cocoa, and sugar. Sift/shake the dry ingredients through the strainer into a mixing bowl, to eliminate any lumps.

3. Add the butter and mix at low speed for 1 minutes. With the mixer running, add the oil and continue mixing until the mixture looks like sand.

4. Combine the vanilla with the milk and coffee or water, and add all at once. Mix for 1 minute at low speed, stop and scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl, then mix for 30 seconds more.

5. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well at medium-high speed between additions.

6. Scrape the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl, and mix for 1 minute more. The batter will be thin.

7. For cupcakes, scoop by the heaping 1/4 cup into the prepared muffin tins.

8. For cupcakes bake 21 to 23 minutes.

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 Peppermint Buttercream:

  • 4 oz. Unsalted Softened Butter (about 20 minutes out of the refrigerator)
  • 2 1/2 Cups Powdered Sugar
  • ¼ Teaspoon Sea Salt
  • 1 Tbsp. Half and Half + 1 Teas.
  • 1 Teas. Vanilla Bean Paste or Vanilla
  • 1/4 Teas. peppermint extract
  • 1/4 Teas. lemon juice

1. In a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter & salt for about 5 minutes and then add half of the powdered sugar and the half and half to the butter and beat again until combined.

2. Scrape down the bowl. Add the rest of the powdered sugar, the vanilla, peppermint extract and the lemon juice and beat until combined. Scrape down the bowl again.

3. Beat on high speed for 5-6 minutes or until the frosting is fluffy. Place in a pastry bag with the tip of your choice and set aside.

 

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Now let’s put the chocolate peppermint cake jars together. I will be here with you the whole way. Here are some things you will need:

  • Mason Jars. I love to use the Quilted Mason Jars
  • Andes Peppermint Crunch
  • Peppermint Buttercream
  • Chocolate cupcakes
  • Disposable Pastry Bag {you can pick these up at most grocery stores, Michael’s, Hobby Lobby, JoAnns}
  • Wide Pastry Tip

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Step 1: Cut a small slit in the bottom of the pastry bag. Slide in your pastry tip. The easiest way to fill a piping bag is to fold the edges over a cup. Then use a spatula to scoop your buttercream into the bag.

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Step 2: Grab a serrated knife and your cupcakes. Cut each of your cupcakes in half. The little cupcake halves will become your different layers in the jar.

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Step 3: I like to have all my materials in one place. I place my jars, cake layers, buttercream, and Andes Peppermint chips in an assembly line.

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Step 4: Place one layer of cake in the bottom of jar.

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Step 4: Place one layer of cake in the bottom of jar.  Then pipe a swirl of buttercream. Then sprinkle some of the Andes Peppermint Crunch.

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Step 5: Place another layer of cake. Then pipe another layer of buttercream and sprinkle with peppermint chips. Now here is the crossroads. Do you like more cake or do you like more buttercream? If you are a buttercream lover, top your jar with the lid and you are good to go. If you are a cake lover add another layer of cake and press down. Then place a tiny amount of buttercream. Then top your jar with the lid. There you have it. Awesome, your chocolate peppermint cake jars all put together. Now here are some quick tips! You can make these ahead of time and place them in the freezer. Then pull them out and let the come to room temperature when you are ready to give them as a gift!

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Step 6: Now let’s dress up those jars. My beautiful friend, Kara, is a graphic designer. She kindly offered to make these wonderful gift tags for you to use this holiday season. She has a beautiful Etsy Shop , called Love Babble, with her custom creations.  These jars a can make a perfect gift for teachers, neighbors, or as a hostess gifts. Now if you are looking for a way to make friends with your co-workers these are sure to do the job.

ChristmasTags

 

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COLORTagsheet

 

Add a little Holiday Cheer to your baked goods and packages this year with the latest printable gift tags from LoveBabble. The Christmas Chalkboard and Merry & Bright tags are yours free today! Visit LoveBabble’s Etsy shop for more Holiday printables, invitations, and custom photo greeting cards.

If you love these tags, follow LoveBabble on Facebook and/or Instagram to see her latest designs and future promotions.

White Christmas Cookies

White Christmas Cookies

It’s funny how seasons come and seasons go. I think when you are in Arizona you dream of a white Christmas more than most folks around the country. Some times I dream about temperatures being lower than 70 degrees on Christmas morning. A girl can dream, right? That is the wonderful thing about creating decorated cookies. Instead of dreaming about a white Christmas, I can create white Christmas cookies. It’s funny many times when I create a set of cookies they make me sing. As I spent my time designing this set, I found myself crooning away…I’m dreaming of a white Christmas…

White Christmas Cookies

I’m dreaming of a white Christmas
Just like the ones I used to know
Where the treetops glisten,
and children listen
To hear sleigh bells in the snow

White Christmas Cookies

I’m dreaming of a white Christmas
With every Christmas card I write
May your days be merry and bright
And may all your Christmases be white

White Christmas Cookies

I’m dreaming of a white Christmas
With every Christmas card I write
May your days be merry and bright
And may all your Christmases be white

White Christmas Cookies

While I get to make cookies all year round, I especially love making Christmas cookies. What are your favorite Christmas traditions that you have with your family?  I love that our Christmas’ are quiet. We have decided that instead of gifts we would rather store up memories. We save our money to go on trips. Before Christmas my son and I escape for a our yearly snowboarding getaway. It is always one of my favorite highlights of the year. I am lucky that my 17 year old loves spending time with his family. We normally come home on Christmas Eve, while my husband is finishing up his work week. On Christmas Eve, we head out to service at our Church, Northwest Community Church in Phoenix. I am utterly blessed to have a church home where Christ is exalted. How amazing is the gift that we have been given? Christ has come. He came that we might have life more abundant.

Would you like to make white Christmas cookies too? People always ask me about where I get some of my supplies. Here are some links to supplies you can pick up to make them:

 

Starting a Cookie Business

Starting a Cookie Business

Have you been thinking about starting a cookie business? Do you have cookie creations which started as a hobby and then grew into people asking you to make them for their parties? Your love for making cookies which started as a hobby has now morphed into a cookie business. Or has it? Are you struggling to navigate past being a hobby baker to having a cookie business? Do you feel lost trying to figure out the laws?  Have you even defined if you truly want to own a business? My husband and I are going to help you jump through those hurdles in our blog series: Cookie Business 101. While I graduated with a Degree in Organizational Leadership in Business, I sadly threw much of what I knew out the window when I started my cookie business.  It wasn’t until my husband threatened to call the labor board for paying myself under minimum wage. He straight up said, “you have a hobby, you don’t have a business.” Businesses have to pay at least minimum wage, or they get fined by the labor board.  Take your degree and your knowledge and apply it. If not, I am shutting you down. Those who know our family, know my husband was not kidding.  My first response was “if I price my cookies appropriately, no one will buy them.” My husband’s response, “then you don’t have a business.”

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I walked away aggravated, but I knew he was right. We live in a Pinterest world that often tells you to follow your dreams and be passionate. I quickly learned that passion and dreams are not enough to sustain a business over time. Opening a business, even if it is a home based business, is a serious venture. Are you willing to ask yourself the tough questions? Are you willing to let someone else ask them? Over the next couple of weeks you will get to know my brilliant, sarcastic, attorney husband, who happens to be one lab accident away from becoming a super villain. He is going to share his perspective on business and cookies.  Two years ago, I was ready to open a store front. As my husband and I were looking for property, he asked me some probing questions. Once again, I was aggravated and he was right. This happens often. I realized while my passion and dreams of a store front were great, I was not ready to take that leap after contemplating his questions.

My husband’s name is Dann. He is going to take over now. He has successfully started, run and sold three different companies.  He is now currently the Director of Legal and Compliance for a company in Phoenix. He is a wealth of knowledge. Feel free to ask questions. He loves to help.

Many times in business, one looks to the internet to see what other people in their industry are charging.  This is not uncommon if one opens a local hardware store and surveys Wal-Mart, Home Depot, and other supply shops to determine if their prices are in line with their competitors.  However, the small business owner is often left to bemoan that they cannot truly compete on an equal playing field with these businesses as they do not have the distribution lines to buy in the same bulk nor do they have the pull with distributors to actually negotiate their prices.  However, in the field of “home bakeries” we are left to compete not only with Costco, the local supermarket, the brick and mortar bakeries, but also hobbyists.

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I guess the first question you have to ask yourself is “am I a hobbyist?”  Please note that I will not be addressing competing against “competitors” in this blog, but I will touch on this in the next one.  This blog is devoted to “the hobbyist.”  I have nothing against the “hobbyist,” but it is time to ask you to come out of the closet.  The closet is not a scary place, and many of the “hobbyists” don’t even know they are in the closet.  I pause a moment to laugh at this as the room is dark, the light is off, and you should be claustrophobic at this point; this is why I am snickering.  For most snickering is an insult, but don’t be alarmed as my wife states that I am laugh deficient and this is the best that I can do.

A hobbyist has no business plan, they have not determined the cost of goods, they don’t know who their target customer is, and they don’t even notice the creepy music playing next to the stale cookies at the market selling 12 per box for $.99.  If you have never heard the creepy music as the lights glisten off the plastic cookie casing, you are usually the first casualty in the horror movie.  Don’t be alarmed over ninety percent of the teenagers in the movie are killed, and if your contract does not contain a clause for a multi-picture arc, you most likely are one of the first casualties in the horror film titled “These Cookies will Kill You due to Chemicals as well as Pricing.”  Yes, I agree the name of the picture is not catchy but look how many people have fallen prey to this.

The plastic cookie casing is not your competitor.  However, you are not only letting the creepy plastic shell determine your pricing, but your customer as well.  You have priced yourself below market value not only in terms of the cost of goods, but you have not set a wage for your hourly work.  Your clients often ask you vague questions such as “I am throwing a “insert random theme” party here and I have no idea what type of cookies I want but they have to be “amazing, move around without a visible motor and be no more than the cost of the expire cookies found on the “Day-O Bread Rack.”  You are so determined to please said customer that may never use you again or recommend you, that it has not even occurred to you that you are now envying the wages of workers in third world countries.  You often are tucking not only your kids in bed, but your husband as well.  I would say that you would wake up from this nightmare in a cold sweat and realize it is only a dream, but alas, tomorrow starts a fresh new day losing money and working for less than what McDonalds’ cashiers were making in the 1980s.  I have good news for you my friend, you have a hobby.  There is good news, you have choices.  1) You can start treating this like a hobby and not let this consume your life; just think there is room next to your wooden tennis racket, your lace-up ice skates and the bowling ball in the closet as well, 2) You can focus on how to turn this hobby into a business, or 3) You can wait several years until you hit rock bottom and then join a support group.  For the rest of you who are running a business, in the next post I will address who your competition is and how you can react and adapt.

Cookie Business

 

Cookie Business 101 Topics to Come:

  • Why Business Plans are important even if you are a small home based business
  • How to define your mission
  • What is a SWOT Analysis and why it matters?
  • How to properly price your products?
  • How to determine if a “opportunity” is one you should go after or are you better to walk away?

Spiked Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream

 Spiked Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream

Sunday’s are one of my favorite days of the week. It is the day I play in my kitchen. I put work aside and tinker with recipes that are on my to do list. Today I am sharing my favorite spiked vanilla bean whipped cream and a new gluten free cookbook that I just bought.  My spiked vanilla bean whipped cream is an old favorite, but Kyra Bussanich’s new Sweet Cravings Cookbook is a must for any gluten free baker. Her recipes not only look amazing, they taste amazing. I decided to try her apple crisp first and test it on my small group. It did not disappoint.  Not a morsel was left.

spiked vanilla bean whipped cream

SPIKED VANILLA BEAN WHIPPED CREAM

For printable recipe, click here

  • 2 cups organic heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons organic sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste
  • 1 teaspoon pecan liqueur (optional)

**Note: Pecan Liqueur can be hard to find. I attached a link so you can see what the bottle looks like. I get mine at Bevmo. You could also sub in Brandy, Whiskey or Amaretto

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1. Place mixing bowl and whisk attachment in the freezer for 15 minutes.

2. In a prep bowl mix heavy cream and vanilla bean paste together. Place in refrigerator.

3. Remove bowl from the freezer and pour in whipping cream

4. Mix on high speed. While mixing sprinkle in the 2 tbsps of organic sugar

5. Mix until soft peaks form.

6. Add in the pecan liqueur if you have it. It adds a slight caramel taste.

7. Serve immediately or place the mixture covered in the refrigerator.

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Do you want to make this amazing apple crisp too? Head over to the Amazon link below to purchase the Sweet Cravings cookbook. You won’t be disappointed. I am pretty sure I can not be left alone with the crumble topping. Highly addictive and dangerous. One tip that I will give you, head to Whole Foods.  They are the only store that carried the Sweet White Rice Flour and Millet Flour in the Arizona area. Don’t be fooled either. White rice flour and sweet white rice flour a very different. I love how sweet white rice flour acts in baked goods.