Ornament Sugar Cookie Tutorial

Ornament Sugar Cookie Tutorial

The holidays are here and life gets a little crazy around this time of the year. I thought this would be the perfect time to put together an easy ornament sugar cookie tutorial. Many mom’s are burning the candle at both ends creating gifts from Pinterest, baking holiday treats for neighbors, and running to the store endlessly for that one item you forgot to pick up yet again. I love teaching mom’s in our sugar cookie decorating classes that decorating cookies does not have to be overwhelming. I encourage them to break up the process into different parts. I created these simply decorated ornament sugar cookies for the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap, and decided it would be an easy tutorial for anyone to be able to create.  If you are looking for a good chocolate sugar cookie recipe you should pop over to the prior blog post.

chocolate cookie recipe

Baked sugar cookies and sugar cookie dough freezes very well. If you know you want to make cookies, make your dough ahead of time and store your sheets in the freezer or refrigerator. We have a great tutorial that will take the headache out of rolling dough. Then all you have to do is pop out a sheet of dough or two and cut out your cookie shapes. {Cookie Dough Rolling Tutorial} Once your shapes are baked you can place them in freezer bags and lay them flat in your freezer. Here is an example of what you could do if you knew you wanted to make cookies with your family over a weekend.

  1. On Monday make your dough and roll it out in sheets wrapped in plastic wrap. Then place in the refrigerator to chill. {see tutorial above}
  2. On Tuesday or Wednesday cut out all our cookie shapes for the week and bake them. Then place the cookies in freezer bags and place them flat in the freezer. You can re-roll any excess dough scraps and re-wrap them.
  3. When you are ready to decorate, let’s say on Friday or Saturday, just pull out the freezer bags of the shapes you want to make and let them come to room temperature on a cookie sheet
  4. While the cookies are coming to room temperature, make your royal icing and you are ready to decorate.

When you break the decorating process out in two different stages, it does not seem so overwhelming.  I was just talking to one of my cookie decorating students the other day and this is how she decorates cookies for her family now.

Ornament Sugar Cookie Tutorial Steps:

Step 1:

Ornament Sugar Cookie Tutorial

Step 2:

Ornament Sugar Cookie Tutorial

  • Mix a bowl of thick royal icing for the ornament sugar cookies.
  • I used a small drop of Americolor gels electric blue.
  • The picture above shows how the icing does not move from the spoon.
  • You want this type of consistency so that the icing does not move underneath your stencil.
  • leave icing in the bowl and cover

Step 3:

Ornament Sugar Cookie Tutorial

  •  Center the stencil on the ornament sugar cookie.
  • I like these Martha Stewart stencils for when I am using icing because they lay completely flat on the cookie and they slightly cling to the cookie.

Step 4:

Ornament Sugar Cookie Tutorial

  • Take a small amount of icing with your paint brush and simply paint a thin layer of icing over the area
  • Use your brush to wipe off any excess icing

Step 5:

Ornament Sugar Cookie Tutorial

  • Wait about 20 seconds for the icing to set a little, then lift the stencil from one edge and quickly remove
  • When removing the stencil, think of it like removing a band-aid. Swift and quick.

Step 6:

Ornament Sugar Cookie Tutorial

  • There are so many great gift ideas for these ornament sugar cookies.
  • Place them in mason jars and wrap them with a pretty bow and tags.
  • Place them in individual cellophane bags and give them as teacher gifts.
  • Place them on a platter for a holiday party.

Cookie decorating does not have to be difficult. There are many simple techniques that you can use to make beautiful cookies. I hope you enjoy this simple tutorial so that you can make some beautifully decorated ornament sugar cookies. Happy Baking.

 

 

 

 

Dark Chocolate Sugar Cookie Recipe

Dark Chocolate Sugar Cookie Recipe for The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap

You better believe it. It’s finally here the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap. I have been looking forward to this since early this summer.  The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap is one of my favorite events all year. Not only do I get to share with you this new yummy dark chocolate sugar cookie recipe, but I also get to  try other amazing bloggers cookies. The best part is that as a group we raised over $13,000 dollars for Cookies for Kids Cancer. Now that is what I call a win-win situation.  Originally I was going to do a drop cookie until I saw one of my recipient’s names. I then knew I needed to do decorated cookies. Rachel, from My Disorganized Life, has always wanted to try my cookies. I now had the perfect opportunity to make her some.  Now all I had to do was come up with a new chocolate sugar cookie recipe. I know that a lot of sugar cookies are made with powdered sugar, but could I actually live on the edge with powdered sugar? I decided to forge into the unknown, and give this a shot for my chocolate sugar cookie recipe.  I have to say I believe in the powdered magic.

chocolate cookie recipe

 

Not only did the food blogging community join in the baking fun, but some great brands supported our efforts along the way. Thank you so much,  OXO, Gold Medal Flour, Dixie Crystals and Grandma’s Molasses.  Take a shout out and say “THANK YOU” for partnering with us and supporting a great cause, Cookies for Kid’s Cancer.

Dark Chocolate Sugar cookies 3 PM

Dark Chocolate Sugar Cookie Recipe {Printable Recipe}

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups unbleached cake flour {I love King Arthur’s}
  • 2 cups unbleached AP flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 ¾ cups dutch processed cocoa
  • 2 cups unsalted butter {4 sticks}
  • 1 Starbucks Christmas blend Via {Optional}
  • 2 ¾ cups confection sugar
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 2 eggs {room temp}
  • 1 tbsp.  vanilla bean paste
  • ¼ cup buttermilk

Directions:

  1. Measure out flour, baking powder, cocoa, and salt all together in a bowl. Use a whisk to combine all the dry ingredients together.
  2. In a bowl with a stand mixer, combine the butter, sugar and Christmas blend Starbucks Via packet. Starbucks Via’s are available in packets of 12 at Starbucks and certain grocery stores. Just open one packet and empty it into the bowl. Start the mixer on low, when it begins to come together beat on medium speed until light and fluffy (2 to 3 minutes)
  3. Add eggs one at a time. Scrape down the bowl after each addition.
  4. Add vanilla bean paste.
  5. Turn the mixer to low-speed. Add half of the dry ingredients to the mixture. Add half of the milk. After the first half has been combined add in the remaining dry ingredients and buttermilk.
  6. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap or roll out into sheets to chill. See blog tutorial for rolling out sheets ahead of time. http://thebakedequation.com/rolling-cookie-dough/
  7. Roll out dough  about ¼ inch thick on a lightly dusted surface. Cut the dough into desired shapes.
  8. Chill the cutout shapes in the freezer for about 10 minutes.
  9. Bake at 375 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes.
  10. All cookies to completely cool before decorating. When the cookies first come out of the oven they are really soft. They will become firm when they are cooled.
  11. Either leave them plain or decorate with your favorite royal icing recipe. We added a few drops of peppermint extract to our royal icing for these cookies.  If you need a great royal icing recipe check out these following links:  Sweetopia Royal Icing, Sugarbelle’s Royal Icing or Alton Brown’s Royal icing.

Dark Chocolate Sugar cookies PM

One of my favorite parts of the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap is meeting new bloggers.  This year I was paired with three new bloggers.  Let me tell you there blogs are awesome. I have had so much fun looking through their different social media sites.

I got to send cookies to:

I received yummy cookies from some talented ladies.

  • Becky from So Very Blessed made the most amazing cranberry orange cookies. I wanted to go out to the garage and keep these little treasures all to myself. You will definitely want to pop over to the blog to grab this recipe.
  • Emily from Sweet Bella Roos made us yummy peanut butter M&M cookies. My son decided to kidnap this cookie box. It reappeared with a few crumbs to share with the rest of the family. But he wanted to make sure that y’all know these are awesome cookies.
  • Jennifer from My Sweet Sanity made these amazing white chocolate passion fruit meltaways. My husband made off with this box to my chagrin. He LOVES all things white chocolate. He was nice enough to share a few. Can’t wait to add this recipe to my cookie repertoire.

I hope you give your dark chocolate sugar cookie recipe a try. If you do, you will have to pop back and tell us what you think. Enjoy.

Spicy Orange Gingerbread Recipe

Spicy Orange Gingerbread Recipe

It’s my absolute favorite time of the year. The temperatures have cooled down and fall flavors fill the shelves. For Thanksgiving this year, I decided to mix things up a bit and make an orange gingerbread recipe. I wanted to take a classic gingerbread recipe and infuse it with yummy citrus to lighten the flavor.  Life has been pretty busy lately. I know I have been gone from the blog for a few weeks and it is nice to be back. I realized something needed to give. I could not run this crazy cookie business that we have, blog,  take care of my family and myself.  The past week I have been testing out recipes for the 2013 Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap.  There are three different recipes I have been tinkering with: spicy orange gingerbread recipe, pumpkin butterscotch, or a dark chocolate cookie.   I decided against sending the gingerbread out to 3 random bloggers since not everyone likes gingerbread.  How do you feel about gingerbread? Are you are lover or a hater? One of my favorite recipes is a gingerbread cake with vanilla bean icing.

gingerbread recipe

 

Spicy Orange Gingerbread Recipe {Printable Version}

Ingredients:

  • 6 ½ cups unbleached AP flour
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tbsp. cinnamon
  • 4 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. cloves
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 cup butter {at room temp}
  • 2 tbsp. organic shortening {I use Spectrum}
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup of molasses
  • 1/2 tsp. organic orange extract
  • zest of one large orange

Instructions:

  1. Sift together flour, spices, salt and baking powder and add to bowl. Use a whisk to combine.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; mix butter, orange zest and brown sugar on low to combine, then increase to medium speed until light and fluffy. About 2 minutes.
  3. Mix in eggs one at a time. Add in orange extract. Scrape down the bowl. Then pour in the molasses.
  4. Wrap dough in disk shape and let it set in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours OR roll out the dough and place in sheets on top of one another until chilled in the fridge. See our tutorial link for directions. http://thebakedequation.com/rolling-cookie-dough/
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll dough out about ¼ inch thick or pull out your pre-made sheets and cut out your shapes.
  6. Let the shapes chill in the freezer for 10 minutes before baking.
  7. Depending on the size of your cookies you will bake for 10 to 14 minutes.  If you want a softer chewier cookie, cook for 10 minutes.

gingerbread recipe

The cookies are great naked or you can top them with your favorite glaze or royal icing. We use a vanilla royal icing on our cookies. If you don’t have a royal icing recipe here are a few links to some great ones:

I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family. What are you giving thanks for this season?

gingerbread recipe

Our family has been to too many funerals in the last couple of months.  We were talking at the dinner table last night about not taking for granted the little things.  We are so thankful for health, our close family relationships, and cultivating time to have fun and enjoy life.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family.  If you love the helvetica cookie cutters, you can get them as Cakes by Ximena.

 

 

 

 

 

Apple Spice Cupcakes {Back to School Cupcake Couture Blog Party}

Apple Spice Cupcakes Recipe {Back to School Bella Cupcake Couture Blog Party}

School is back in full swing here in Arizona.  Summer is “officially” over and during the school year my husband and son have a fun tradition. On Friday nights they head out for wings. You know, like men do.   Then they come back and watch movies.  What would movies be without the essential movie treats? Guess who caters those treats? It’s hard to believe I wrote one of my first blog posts about this 2 years ago.   I created a special cake for them, you can find the recipe {HERE}. Today I decided to take the recipe, tweak it a tad and make cupcakes. Now in all fairness, while apple spice cupcakes are so delicious they remind me of fall. Needless to say the temperatures do not feel like fall here. Actually, fall won’t arrive until December. But I can dream about cooler temperatures, right?

Apple Spice Cupcakes

Bella Cupcake Couture is a wonderful company which creates cupcake wraps and straw kits. I absolutely love the ones that we received for this blog party. They carry every pattern underneath the sun, from haute couture to holiday colors. The cupcake wraps provided for our blog party are blank.  These blank canvases are perfect for any artist who wants to create their own unique look.  The cupcake wraps pictured on the apple spice cupcakes blog post were created by some amazing students who started school last week. I wish I could draw like they do.

Apple Spice Cupcakes {Printable Version}

Makes approximately 14 standard cupcakes

  • 1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. all spice
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 tsp Lorann’s Butter Vanilla Emulsion {or sub vanilla extract}
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk {room temp}
  • 2 large honey crisp apples
  • 1 tsp. vanilla bean paste
  • lemon juice

Directions:

  1. Core and peel both honey crisp apples. Cut up apples into small chunks. Place them in a small bowl.  Sprinkle lemon juice over the apples if you are not going to cook them right away. This will keep them from browning. Sprinkle with a small amount of sugar, cinnamon and a touch of all spice. Add one teaspoon of vanilla bean paste to the apple mixture and stir. Cover and set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Line standard cupcake pan with liners
  4. In a saucepan, melt out two tablespoons of butter from the 1/2 cup of butter . Add the apple mixture and cook on medium heat for about 5 to 7 minutes.
  5. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg.
  6. In a bowl of an electric mixer place the remaining 6 tablespoons of butter, sugar and brown sugar. Beat until light and fluffy. Approximately 3 minutes.
  7. Add the eggs and vanilla. Beat until combined.
  8. Add half of the flour mixture on low.
  9. Add the buttermilk.
  10. Add the rest of the flour mixture.
  11. Fold in the apple mixture.
  12. Divide the batter among the muffin cups, filling approximately 2/3rds full.
  13. Bake at 350 for 20 to 22 minutes depending on oven. {These were made in a convection oven}

Apple Spice Cupcakes

Caramel Buttercream Recipe

  •  3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 egg whites (at room temperature)
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • pinch of salt
  •  ¼ teaspoon of cream of tartar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla bean paste
  • Caramel {you can make your own, Trader Joes has a great caramel sauce or Ghiradelli}

Directions:

  1.  To make the frosting, whisk the sugar and egg whites together in the bowl of a stand mixer.
  2. Place the bowl over a simmering pot of water and whisk until the eggs are very hot (160 degrees) and the sugar has completely dissolved.
  3. With the whisk attachment, whisk on high until the mixture is light and fluffy and has cooled (~10 minutes) IMPORTANT: when the mixture begins to look frothy, after about 2 minutes, stop mixer add cream of tartar. Then continue mixing.
  4. Drop butter into the mixer 2 or 3 cubes at a time
  5. After all of the butter has been added if it looks curdled or separated then mix on high for 3 to 5 minutes until light and fluffy.
  6. Mix in 2 tsp. of vanilla bean paste.
  7. At this point switch to paddle attachment once the frosting has come together add caramel slowly until swirled.
  8. Leftovers may be stored in the refrigerator for 7 days or frozen for three months. Set the frosting out 1-2 hours ahead of time and then mix using the paddle attachment for a couple of minutes on medium.

Apple Spice Cupcakes

While most kids bemoan heading back to school, they really should not. I know that it is easy to say, but not always easy to believe. My husband and I do charity work in Africa and we see the effects of a people lacking education. We have such an amazing privilege in this country to be educated. I have realized over the years, that I have so much influence on how my son views school. I can either feel sorry for him, and say I know school stinks.  Alternatively, I can remind him about all the things that he loves that requires an education. My son loves technology.  Technology has not evolved to what it is today by accident. Many people who study math, science and engineering keep learning and studying to bring us our favorite movies, games and applications. Take time to help your kids see that the things that they love and enjoy come from people who work hard and have embraced learning.  Embracing learning is a skill. We are all still learning, growing and progressing as adults.  I am currently learning how to make macarons. While it has been challenging and has required a lot of reading, I no longer have to fly to California to enjoy one.

Apple Spice Cupcakes

In 9th grade Jude found his mustache….next year I am wondering if I will have to fear the beard.   He started 10th grade this year and I love the fact that he is not too cool to take pictures for mom’s blog or it could be the monetary compensation. This year is a big year for Jude; he is learning to drive. will begin prepping for the SAT and all my baker friends are excited that he has to read Pride and Prejudice in school.

We handled our cupcake wraps a little different. I sent them to school with him and of course he handed them off to the girls to doodle away. The only rule I had is that he had to at least draw on one. His response, “girls are so much better at this stuff.”

Jude’s Interview

  1. What is your favorite cupcake flavor?  Vanilla
  2. What has been your favorite moment this summer?  Going on vacation to San Francisco and Seattle
  3. What are you looking forward to about school this year? Summer Break {his answer} Mom’s response: that is not an answer, try again.
  4. What are you looking forward to about school this year {take number 2} ? Tackling Algebra because I am getting better at this subject. I used to really struggle in math. Plus, I have a really good teacher this year which is a huge bonus.

Now you have to stop by my blog post I did two years ago and see the picture of Jude. It is absolutely crazy how much he has changed. Plus if you pop over to the link you will find the recipe for apple spice cake.  You know what is neat about this for me. Not only can I see how much Jude has changed, but I also can see how much my skills as blogger have grown. I am learning to take better pictures, better styling and writing.

If you are bummed about your kids heading back to school, I have just the thing to help cheer you up! A giveaway! Thanks to our amazing sponsors one lucky winner will receive a prize package worth $375.00. After you enter the giveaway pop over to the awesome blogs listed below and you can collect some awesome cupcake recipes, get some great ideas on how to utilize these fun cupcake wrappers and learn a little bit about their back to school adventures.

Apple Spice Cupcakes

 

Bella Cupcake Couture

Chronicles of a Foodie

Crazy for Crust

Cupcakes Take the Cake

Diary of a Mad Hausfrau

Haniela’s

In Katrina’s Kitchen

Love From the Oven

Mesa de Vida

Not Just a Mommy

Sugar Swings! Serve Some

The Baked Equation

The Decorated Cookie

Apple Spice Cupcakes

Thanks to our amazing Prize Pack sponsors for their generous donations! Please, visit their websites to see more of their fabulous products!

Bella Cupcake Couture
The Smart Baker
India Tree
Mesa de Vida
Pretty Party Details
To enter to WIN this Prize Pack, simply fill out the entry form below. Contest opens August 27, 2013 at 7am PST and closes September 2, 2013 at Midngight PST. One winner will be chosen and announced within 48 hours of the contest ending. Winner will be contacted via email by carrie@bellacupcakecouture.com and will have 48 hours to claim their prize. If they do not respond within 48 hours, another winner will be chosen. This contest is open to residents worldwide.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Apple Spice Cupcakes

Key Lime Desserts

Key Lime Desserts

To love key lime or to hate it, that is the question. I have never really met anyone who is neutral about key lime but for those of you who love it, you are in luck. I have put together a couple of key lime dessert recipes that may just hit the spot. Now while I love key lime, I am not a fan of zesting those little suckers.

Key Lime Desserts

Toasted Coconut and Key Lime Marshmallows {Link}

It’s hot and sticky this time of year and I try to avoid turning on my oven. However, you will have to turn on your oven to make these yummy toasted coconut and key lime marshmallows but it will only be for a few minutes. This is the perfect dessert that won’t heat up your kitchen.  Head over to  Around My Family Table to access the recipe and directions.

Key Lime Desserts

Marshmallows are a wonderful gluten free treat that be customized to your tastes.  But wait there is more! No not Ginsu knives. If you are going to make home made key lime marshmallows you definitely need more than one recipe!

Key Lime Desserts

Key Lime Smores Bars {Link}

S’mores are everywhere this time of year, so we decided to take this classic summer dessert and change-up the flavors. Key Lime Pie S’more Bars are the perfect blend of sweet, tart, and tangy goodness. Messy to eat but impossible not to enjoy, these scrumptious bars are an ooey-gooey, beautiful treat! Head over to Best Friends for Frosting for the recipe.

Here are a few tips.

  • Yes, you must make the homemade graham crackers. I promise you they are worth it! {Please don’t be mad if they become addicting}
  • Add an extra tablespoon of orange blossom honey to the graham cracker recipe. My assistant Hayley swears by it
  • Don’t over fill your tart pan, it just may ooze every where and make a huge mess

Key Lime Desserts

You can’t tell me that does not look good. Homemade graham cracker crust topped with luscious white chocolate. You will have to pop over the Best Friends for Frosting’s Blog to see the rest of the recipe.

Ok, let’s get down to the real question. Do you love or hate key lime desserts? Do you have a family favorite? I am dying to hear….

 

 

The Fear of Making Macarons

The Fear of Making Macarons

Do you know dogs and bees smell fear? I am pretty sure that pastries can smell it from a mile away as well.  About a year ago macarons were popping up everywhere, except in Arizona of course. At first I didn’t pay much attention, but then I became intrigued.  I started reading about making macarons. It is at this point that I became incredibly frightened by these little devilish desserts.  I am pretty sure most bakers are frugal.  The thought of wasting $5 in eggs, $10 in almond flour, $5 in butter and two hours of my time for a finicky dessert that may or may not turn out seemed like a little too much to risk.

making macarons

Fast forward a year. This summer we went on vacation to the Napa Valley, the home of Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery. I was finally going to try one of these temperamental desserts. Hello, amazing. I am pretty sure macarons are the best gluten-free dessert on the planet.  I decided it was high time I move past my fear of making macarons and get the job done, even if ingredients had to be wasted.

making macarons

It was at this point my interest went from intrigued to obsessed. I had to learn how to make them.  As soon as I got home I grabbed my Bouchon Bakery cookbook and got to reading. I am pretty sure I read the directions 50 times. I swore the first time I made macarons that I would write a blog post for all those who are scared of making them.  I was going to write and take pictures regardless of how they came out. If I had cracked shells, so be it. If they completely failed, so be it. But they didn’t. Were they perfect? Nope. Were they delicious? Yes. After I tried Thomas Keller’s recipe, I decided to try some others. What did I learn?  Not all recipes are created equal.  I would love to share Thomas Keller’s recipe with you, but the copyright in the book does not allow it.  I want to share my experiences making macarons and what did and did not work in the my kitchen. It doesn’t mean recipes are bad, they just didn’t work for me.

making macarons

Thomas Keller’s book is a great investment. Did you know they tested the recipes in home kitchens to make sure they would work? There are so many amazing recipes in this book; if you have never had Oh Ohs! or TKO’s you must give them a try.

A Good Macaron starts with the Meringue

I totally believe that difference between a good macaron and a great macaron is the meringue.  There are a couple of different methods you can employ when making macarons. There is the Italian method, Swiss method or beating the egg whites until they are stiff.  In Thomas Keller’s book you use the Italian meringue method. Prior to making macarons I had only used the Swiss method of making meringue.

  • The Italian meringue method is where you heat  water and sugar to 248 degrees, then added to whipped egg whites. The meringue forms stiff peaks and is extremely shiny.  Italian meringue can take about 15-20 minutes to make.
  • Swiss meringue is essentially the same but you create the meringue by cooking the egg whites and sugar over a double broiler until the mixtures reaches 150 degrees. Then you whip it on high speed until the meringue is formed.  Swiss meringue takes about 9 minutes to make.
  • The last method is whipping the egg whites until the form soft peaks.

When I am making macarons I either use the Swiss or Italian method. I swear by it.  I believe it is this type of method that gives the meringue the most wonderful chewy texture after they are done baking. I also believe when you use this type of meringue the cookie shells are less temperamental.

I tried a recipe were you don’t cook the egg whites but you whip them.  These failed miserably. The comments and reviews I had read by so many people happened to me. Cracked shells. They didn’t have that amazing chewy texture that I love. Nothing is more depressing than spending two hours of your life awaiting the completion of these amazing little goodies only to get depressed and cracked cookies.

I personally love the Swiss Meringue method. You will get the same results as the Italian method but in less time.  When you make Italian meringue it can take up to 10 minutes for the sugar syrup to go from 200 degrees to 248. It’s almost like it stalls.  The same exact thing happens when you are making marshmallows.

Egg Whites: To Age or Not to Age

I do not think you need to age your egg whites if you are making a cooked meringue. The egg whites do need to be at room temperature.  There are two types of recipes when making macarons. Some recipes have you divide the egg whites and mix some with the almond flour/powdered sugar mixture. Others have you whip all the egg whites and combine with the almond flour/powdered sugar mixture.

Failure:  whipping all the egg whites without cooking, combining all the whipped egg whites with the entire mixture of almond flour/powdered sugar, these are looser when piped

Success:  Both Italian and Swiss Meringue.  Combining a portion of the egg whites with the almond flour/powdered sugar mixture and then folding in the meringue.

making macarons

Almond Flour

The recipe I used said to measure out your almond flour and then place it in a food processor.  Once you place it the processor you want to be careful because you don’t want to transform it into almond butter. Oh nuts. These are the kind of directions that freak me out. How long does it take to turn into almond butter? Two pulses? Four?  In the process of reading some other blogs I came across one that suggests that you place the powdered sugar and the almond flour together into the food processor. Brilliant! It is much harder to create almond butter by mixing them both. Place the almond flour and powdered sugar in the food processor together and pulse until combined. Then sift the mixture. You will find some larger almond pieces. You can either throw them out or reprocess them.

  • Even if you buy premade almond flour don’t skip sifting
  • Allows process almond flour and powdered sugar in a food processor together
  • Did I say don’t skip the sifting?
  • If your almond flour is too oily this can make the macarons crack. Probably due to the extra fat and moisture.

In the bowl above you see a picture of a gooey mess. That is a portion of the egg white (not whipped) combined with the almond flour/powdered sugar.  It forms a pasty substance.  At this point I decided I wanted to add lemon zest to the batter.  The other recipe I tried out did not employ this method. You whipped all your egg whites and then folded them into the mixture. When I did it this way the mixture was much looser and ended up cracking when I baked them.

making macarons

When I piped the shells above I was terrified. Every where you read, it will tell you that macarons are finicky. When the directions said hit the pan against the counter, I lightly tapped it. I was so afraid I would “hurt” them. I was thankful when Esther, from the Frosted Cake Boutique , messaged me and said,  “do you want to know how to get rid of the peak?” Of course! Those little pointy tops will go away if you hit the pan hard enough. Don’t be afraid to whack it. Or lightly take your fingers and press them down.  Yes, your macarons will still come out just fine.

Should I let my macarons sit on the counter before baking?

The first time I made the macarons once I had them piped on the parchment, I put them right into the oven. They still came out perfect. The second time I made the recipe I decided to let them sit out for 20 minutes. They came out exactly the same as they did before. Again, I think this has to do with using the Swiss Meringue method.

making macarons

When the timer went off, I was scared to look in the oven. The looming question. Will there be feet? I was so excited. Oh yes, I danced around my kitchen singing, I got feet, baby!  I am not ashamed or embarrassed but then there is that moment where you think, I waited a year to make these. What was I so afraid of?  It’s hilarious, now my husband asks, “will you make me footie cookies?” My answer, “you want me to make cookies that look like feet?” He retorts, “No, I want footie cookies.  It’s all about the feet right, thus footie cookies.”

making macarons

This time I was not afraid to whack my pan against the counter. No crazy peaks, just nice smooth tops.  The other thing that tapping the pan against the counter does is release trapped air.

making macarons

They may have had peaks but they were absolutely delicious. Chewy lemon goodness.

Storage:

You might be thinking how do I store macarons. Macarons are wonderful at room temperature for about 2 days. If you are not going to plow through 20 cookies in two days I would suggest freezing them.  They freeze wonderfully.  I place about 6 in a sealed container on the counter, then I place the rest of them in a freezer bag lying flat.   They keep wonderfully for over a month.

Making Macaron Resources:

What issues have you run into making macarons?

 

 

Summer Picnic Party Lemon Cookie Cake

Summer Picnic Party: Lemon Cookie Cake

Welcome to the Summer Picnic Party hosted by Beth from Hungry Happenings and Hani from Haniela’s. They brought together 19 fabulous food bloggers together for a summer picnic party and giveaway. Summer picnic’s can be tricky with food. Heat can often kill the best recipes.  I love bringing our lemon cookie cake to summer picnics. You don’t have to worry about it melting, it is easy to transport and it is not a heavy dessert. Nobody wants to eat something super heavy on a hot day.

Lemon Cookie Cake

Lemon Cookie Cake {Recipe}

You’ll Need:

  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Lemon Zest {2 lemons}
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup organic shortening (Spectrum)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tsp. lemon extract
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray 10” fluted removable bottom tart pan or cake pan.

Sift flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.

Using a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter, shortening and lemon zest together on medium speed for about 2 minutes. Scrape down the bowl. Add granulated sugar, powdered sugar, egg, lemon extract and lemon juice. Beat on medium speed until fully incorporated.

Add in the flour mixture all at once with the mixer on the lowest speed. Mix until well combined.

Place mixture in the tart pan. Spray an offset spatula with coconut oil.  Use an offset spatula to smooth the mixture in the pan.

Bake for 15 minutes.  Let the tart pan cool completely on a rack.

Lemon Buttercream

You’ll Need:

  • 2 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp organic shortening
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp. lemon extract
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

Directions:

In a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter, shortening and salt for about 3 minutes. Add 1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar and lemon extract.  Once the mixture comes together, scrape down the bowl. Add the rest of the powdered sugar and the lemon juice. Beat until combined. Scrape down the bowl again. Beat on high speed for 5 minutes or until the frosting is fluffy.

STEP 1:

Divide the buttercream into 2 prep bowls. Color one bowl with yellow and leave the other white.

Lemon Cookie Cake

STEP 2:

Fill two piping bags. One with yellow buttercream and one with white buttercream. Place large round tip on the end of the coupler. I used Wilton Tip No. 10.

Lemon Cookie Cake

STEP 3:

Pipe a half moon shape with the yellow buttercream. Then pipe another half moon shape inside the yellow buttercream with the white color.

Lemon Cookie Cake

STEP 4:

Pipe a white line across the top of the lemon wedge. Them pipe the quarters in white.

Lemon Cookie Cake

STEP 5:

Fill in the quarters with the yellow buttercream. You can decorate your whole cookie cake or you can leave part of it with no frosting. In our house we have some frosting lovers and some who just want the cookie all by itself. With this  cake both parties are happy!

Lemon Cookie Cake

STEP 6:

Place it in your favorite cake carrier and you are ready for your picnic. I love this cake keeper from Sandra Lee.  It comes with a plastic knife that hooks into the top so you can cut your cake wherever you go.

Lemon Cookie Cake

Wait till you see all the amazing picnic ideas.  Hot summer days are perfect to kick back, relax and surf some blogs for great ideas.

GiveawayPicnicBlogPartyr

 

The Marshmallow StudioBuzzy Bee Pop Tutorial

Sam’s KitchenElderflower Cordial

Lila LoaSandwich Picnic Cookies

Pink Little CakeShortbread Cookie Tart with Caramel Bits

Hungry HappeningsKetchup and Mustard Push up Pops

The PartiologistAnt on a Log

Kitchen Fun with My 3 SonsPicnic Blanket Treats

The Baked EquationLemon Cookie Cake

The Decorated CookieCookies on the String

Not Your Momma’s CookieAnt Attack Cupcakes

Creative Fun Food Picnic Blanket Sandwich

Created by Diane – Luau Pasta Salad

GIVEAWAY SPONSORS

Thank you to all the amazing Giveaway Sponsors. Be sure to check out their websites below.

The Marshmallow Studio

Restaurant Ware

The Cookie Cutter Company

Wilton

Mary Had a Little Party

King Arthur Flour
To enter giveaway please use the Rafflecopter below. Giveaway will run from July 20th, 2013 till July 27th, 2013. 6 Winners will be picked using the Rafflecopter widget. Prizes will be picked in the order of sponsors you see above, starting with The Marshmallow Studio and ending with King Arthur Flour. Winners will receive one email from hanielas@yahoo.com. Winners will  have 48 hours to respond. New winner(s) will be picked if we don’t hear from you. Thank you and good luck.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Matcha Mojito Macarons

Matcha Mojito Macarons

Matcha Mojito Macarons

Hi, I am Jacquee, the amateur baker/blogger/photographer behind I Sugar Coat It!  I am so excited to be guest posting for the very first time, and here of all places. I guess this means I am officially part of the ‘Equation’.

I first ‘met’ Melissa on Instagram about a year ago and then we connected on Facebook. I truly admire her creations, cause and generosity. And did you know that she is a closet fashion designer, like myself? She recently outfitted my wardrobe with the sweetest little dresses? Yup, edible dresses shipped all the way to Toronto for my birthday. I know… I’m one lucky chick!

Matcha Mojito Macarons 1

Let’s switch from Melissa to Mojito Macarons for a bit. I wasn’t about to show up here with decorated cookies. That would be like bringing Picasso knock-offs of his work, don’t you think?!? Instead, I am here today with a French companion I often fawn over, when were are not fighting.

With summer only a few days away, lighter treats and libations start to play leading roles in the drama-filled saga that is my kitchen. And the drama is always heightened when macs are written into the script. A finicky, high maintenance bunch, these French guys. Well, I showed them who’s the boss and before long I had them rolling in the salt, begging to be eaten.

Matcha Mojito Macarons

And boy, did they give a grand performance! My taste receptors were cartwheeling and calling for encores. Matcha’s rich, complex taste paired with the tart, minty mojito whipped cream will make you confess to crimes not yet carried out. Add the matcha salt and you’ll be licking your wounds and rejoicing.

Matcha Mojito Macarons

 

In other words, they are GOOD! But that’s just my humble opinion. Why don’t you see for yourself.

Matcha Macarons w/ Matcha Mojito Whipped Filling

(yield: 48 – 1.5″ shells, 24 assembled cookies)

Ingredients:

Mojito Macarons

  • 60 g liquid egg whites (or two egg whites)
  • 115 g confectioner’s sugar
  • 90 g almond flour
  • 50 g granulated sugar
  • 3 g Matcha tea powder

Mojito Macaron Filling:

  • 250 ml Lactose Free 35% cream
  • 3 g confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 g Matcha Tea
  • 15 ml Mojito Mix
  • 10 g whipped cream stabilizer
  • Matcha salt to decorate

Directions:

  1. Line a cookie sheet with parchment or silpat mat.
  2. In a food processor, pulse the almond flour and confectioner’s sugar together for about 20 seconds, or until well combined.
  3. Using the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites in a grease-free bowl of a stand mixer until foamy.
  4. Add the granulated sugar a little at a time and continue to whip on high until stiff peaks form.
  5. Stop the mixer and add the tea powder. Whip for a few more seconds until fully combined.
  6. Remove bowl from mixer and sift the almond mixture onto the egg whites. Use a clean, grease-free spatula to gently fold the the mixture into the egg whites. Should be the consistency of molasses when ready.
  7. Fit a piping bag with a 1.5″ plain tip and fill the bag with the batter. Pipe small circles onto the parchment/baking mat.
  8. Tap the pan on the counter a couple times to remove any air bubbles or peaks. Let the batter rest for about 30 minutes.
  9. While the batter rests, preheat the oven to 325ºF. Bake for 8 -10 minutes. Do not allow to brown. (bake time may differ for your oven)
  10. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before assembling.
  11. To make the filling: For best results, chill the cream and bowl prior to starting. Place all the ingredients in the bowl and using the whisk attachment of your stand mixer, whisk on high until soft, stable peaks form – about 5 minutes. Store in refrigerator until ready to use.

Assembly:

Attach a tip #18 Star Tip to a piping bag and fill with the whipped cream. Pipe in circles on the flat side of a cookie and pair with a another cookie. Press together lightly. Place the matcha salt in a small bowl and use a spoon to sprinkle the salt onto the exposed filling sparingly. Place in an airtight container and refrigerate overnight.

Please stop by Jacquee’s blog, I Sugar Coat It and let her know how amazing she is.  Her blog is filled with fun recipes and great tutorials. Can you believe after reading this post that Jacquee refers to herself as an amateur?  If you have not read her “boyfriend” series, you need to add it to your reading list.  You will never look at cakes quite the same.  If you would like to find out more about I Sugar Coat It, be sure to check out her social media links:

 

 

Decorated Birthday Cookies for Hayley

Decorated Birthday Cookies for Hayley

Today is my amazing assistant’s birthday. She is my right arm.  My little business would not be growing like it is without her. I had a such a blast creating her decorated birthday cookies. The creation process is so fun when you know someone; it allows you to create a set of cookies that fits their personality.  It was about a year ago when Hayley began working at The Baked Equation. She started as an intern. She was curious to learn about the world of baking. After watching countless hours of Sweet Genius and Cupcake Wars she was ready to dive right in.  One of the first lessons she learned is that it is hard work.

Decorated Birthday Cookies Happy Birthday

Hayley is a beautiful red-head and has a personality that is a mix of fiery and sweet. She is a modern day Laura Ingalls. When she started a year ago she folded bakery boxes and watched me prepare the recipes. I had her take notes while I taught her the science behind the scenes. Hayley is a fast learner and a hard worker. Little by little, I let go of the reigns in the kitchen. Hayley now preps all of our dough, royal icing and the simpler cookie sets.  It was fun when Hayley first started she marveled at how expensive bake goods can be, but now she encourages me that we need to either simplify our designs or charge more.  It’s funny to hear her tell people all that goes into creating cakes and cookies and why they are so expensive.

Decorated Birthday Cookies Happy Birthday

It was really cute, when Hayley first started working she would show up all dressed up and looking super cute. I would often giggle as she walked through the door. I wondered how long it would be til she showed up in clothes ready to be covered in powdered sugar and royal icing. Come on, looking like you have been tarred and feathered with powdered sugar and royal icing can be cute too, right? I love Hayley’s creative bent. She is a natural creative. I am the kind that has to work really hard at it. I mean really hard at it. When I taught her to paint on cookies, it took one try and she was off and running.

Decorated Birthday Cookies Happy Birthday

Hayley lightens up my kitchen. Often you can hear singing in the background or quoting movie lines. She is quite proficient at it.  Her favorite movie line is from The Notebook. If you are bird, then I am bird. You should see the cookie set that Hayley created from the movie line. It was one of the first cookie sets she ever created.

hat. Decorated Birthday Cookies Happy Birthday

Proverbs 31:25 is the verse listed above. Everyone woman who reads Proverbs 31 often feels a little overwhelmed. The woman described is one who is hard-working, makes multitasking look easy and is the epitome of grace .  Hayley is growing and maturing as that kind of woman. She is learning the value of hard work, diligence and grace under pressure. I love the conversations we have about life kitchen. I appreciate the honesty in which she approaches the good, the bad and the ugly.

Decorated Birthday Cookies Happy Birthday

Mermaids are her favorite. Now that this set is finally done, I can’t wait to ask her today why mermaids are her favorite. What is it about these finned creatures that she likes so much?

Decorated Birthday Cookies Happy Birthday

Well Miss Hayley, I hope you have a wonderful birthday today.  I hope you enjoy your decorated birthday cookies made just for you!  Thank you for all you do!

Decorated Birthday Cookies Happy Birthday

If you follow The Baked Equation on Instagram you have noticed lately that we have been making marshmallows like crazy. Hayley decided for her birthday that she was going to throw a smores party. If you have never made Martha Stewart’s amazing homemade graham crackers, I highly suggest you do. They are amazingly yummy. If you do decide to make them, Hayley’s tip would be to add an extra tablespoon of honey.

Baby Shower Cookies

Baby Shower Cookies

A very long time ago and what seems like in a galaxy far away I had a baby shower when I was pregnant with Jude.  It was a Noah’s Ark theme but now I get to be apart of other people’s special occasions.  I love creating baby shower cookies for my client’s events. There is something sweet about the themes, the colors and the sentiments behind them. Some clients choose custom dozens that are created to match the baby shower theme and others choose to give cookie favors as gifts. Some clients mix and match custom dozens to get the overall look they are going for and help keep the budget in check.  Custom dozens are great for display on desert tables. Each dozen is created based on the theme of the shower with different sizes and shapes of cookies.  Favors are normally all the same size cookies and they are perfect as thank you gifts to the guests.  What type of baby shower did you have? If you were to do it all over again, what theme would you choose?

Vintage Baby Theme Custom Dozen

Baby Shower Cookies

Pink and Mint Theme Custom Dozen

baby shower cookies

Garden Theme Custom Dozen

Baby Shower Cookies

New Baby Custom Dozen to match a color theme: Teal, Yellow and Grey

Baby Shower Cookies

Fourth of July Themed Custom Dozen

Baby Shower Cookies

The custom dozen below was created to match the invitations that were made for the baby shower.

Baby Shower Cookies

Rubber Ducks and Bubble Theme

Baby Shower Cookies

Sweet Pink Baby Feet Theme

Baby Shower Cookies

Snips and Snails and Puppy Dog Tail  {Favors}

Baby Shower Cookies

Philly and Colt Theme {Favors}

Baby Shower Cookies

Simple Polka Dot and Bow Tie {Favors}

Baby Shower Cookies

Oh The Places You will Go Theme  {Favors}

Baby Shower Cookies

Monkey Theme {Favors}

Baby Shower Cookies

For more information on our cookie dozens and favors, check out the cookies and brownies section on the website.