Tuesday, February 25, 2014

A Tale of Two Cookies

As usual, I wanted to make a Valentine's Day dessert for Todd's office.  I was originally set on a layer cake, but then I saw these beautiful red velvet rose sandwich cookies and changed my mind.  The original recipe is found on I Am Baker's site, and I didn't modify it a bit.

Using my M1 tip, I piped out the roses...

They really did look "rose-like":

However, once they baked, they flattened a bit.  Because I was rushing to catch the light, as usual, I didn't take as much care in getting the rose shape right.  Still, they were passable as roses:

The remarkable thing was the almost rubbery quality of their tops.  Just casual touching/pressing didn't mar the shape.  I guess it's the shortening in the dough that helps it to retain its original form.

The filling was marshmallow buttercream with almond extract:

I thought the almond overwhelmed the marshmallow flavor, personally, and I would halve it the next time. 

Despite their rubbery tops, the cookies were amazingly soft and flavorful.  I sandwiched them all together and got between 20 and 25 sandwiches.  Unfortunately, Clemson closed due to inclement weather, and Todd and I were snowed in for four days with red velvet rose sandwich cookies.  I gained 2.6 pounds that weekend (each sandwich cookie = 250 calories), and there were no cookies left for Todd's office the following week.

Back to the drawing board!  I had these cute miniature sprinkles:

I'd seen a "Lofthouse" iced cookie recipe on the Annie's Eats site (here), and decided to try it.  These are those big, soft iced grocery store cookies that are so good.  Each cookie is 1/4 cup of dough, so they baked up really, really big.

I wasn't letting myself sample the dough or the frosting, but I wish I would've.  The frosting, in my opinion, needed more butter to 'cut' the sweetness of the powdered sugar.  If you make it, taste it and make your own determination.

Simple frosting, tinted a very pale pink, with cheerful heart sprinkles.

These were a HUGE hit, and when I finally tasted one, I could see why!  Super soft and sweet.  I'm just glad I wasn't snowed in when these were in the house.  Yes, the snow finally melted...

...and the temperature veered suddenly into the upper 60s.  We're back into the 50s this week, but the warm blast sure woke things up in the garden.

More camellias bloomed.




Surviving the cold...my little bronze fern...

...and nettle plants.

I pulled out my 'picking tray' and filled it full of flowers.

Bouquets for the house...

...and bouquets for my office.

Nothing cheers up a space like bright flowers.

Have a great week!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

"Prints" Charming

More snow in South Carolina!

I love it.

One interesting aspect of snowfall is how it displays the secret lives of the animals around us, told to us through the footprints left behind.  The smaller print here shows a squirrel.

I followed his prints to his secret stash, where he dug up and consumed a buried nut.

Here's a fox.



They all have very distinct "lopes".  Here is a squirrel (similar to a raccoon print but without the extra toe) that's been bounding across the surface.  Back paws and front paws touch in the same area, like a bounding house cat, and not in a long lope...

...like this deer.

This pair of foxes loped easily alongside each other for a while, but then got in a great fight...with a small animal?  with each other?...before taking off in separate directions.

One clue for fox identification:  you can see tail drag marks by the footprints.

I'm no expert or even close, but it was nice to have a confirmed sighting...even if I was completely sure about the hoof prints!  :)

Many of the camellias are still doing well...

...and the snowdrops are coming up!  I can't wait!

More snow necessitates warm gloves, but I was upset to see yet another pair of hand knitted gloves with a big moth-eaten spot.  I kept my yarn in an open cabinet at our Indianapolis house and both the yarn and my wool sweaters are untouched, but strangely, most of Todd's wool sweaters and my winter woolens, stored in a big cedar chest, are affected.

I thought perhaps I could patch them by cutting away the frayed strands, picking up the live stitches, and knitting a neat white square.

I knitted a bit of fabric to stretch over the opening...

...but ended up with...a giant barnacle.

Sigh.  I will have to re-knit this glove.  I consoled myself by dipping into my precious cinnamon chip stash and making cinnamon chip scones.  The original recipe is at this site, and my only modification would be to add MORE cinnamon chips.  Now, I've heard about cinnamon chips for a long time, but they aren't sold in South Carolina (that I've found).  I had some in Portland over the Christmas holiday and they've rapidly replaced chocolate chips as my favorite mix-in.  I placed a wish for cinnamon chips on my Ravelry "wish list", and two kind strangers sent bags.  I now have three bags of cinnamon chips, and I am carefully rationing them out. 

This was a good splurge.

Cinnamon chips are a mystery.  Why are they so much better than plain cinnamon?  Why don't they taste very good plain?  Why are they so fattening?  I don't know the answers to these questions, but I do know that when added to scone or cookie batter, they turn into something otherworldly.  If you are one of the lucky people with easy access to cinnamon chips...make these! 

Have a great week!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Timely Valentine

I always feel a little guilty about posting Valentine ideas here the week after Valentine's Day.  After all, I don't want to spoil anything for Todd, or for my Valentine recipients.  This year, though, I managed to get my Valentines out early, and I think they've mostly been received.  Therefore, I can safely post an idea here, just in time for Valentine's Day.  An idea that you can whip up last minute, because it only takes 4 ingredients and some scraps of paper.  Yes, I'm talking about fortune cookies.  I've made and blogged about them before, but it's worth repeating:  these are quick and easy cookies that can be customized to any holiday or event.  I absolutely love making them!

Please refer to this website for directions and recipe, but I can show you my steps!

First, I made some punny tags.

I cribbed funny fortunes from several internet sites.

I already had tiny festive takeout boxes, purchased at Michael's after-Easter sale last year.  They were small, though, so I had to make extra-tiny cookies.

Just a half teaspoon or so of batter, baked exactly 5 minutes.

I folded them quickly and put a tablespoon on top of each to hold the shape.  They harden in about 30 seconds!

I made stacks and stacks of them...almost 200 total!  Sigh...aren't they beautiful?

I put a sheet of Saran Wrap in each takeout box:


I filled them all assembly line-style.

I folded the wrap over the top and sealed them with a stamped Valentine's Day sticker.

Love love love!

I hope you give it a try!

I've also made some cards recently and thought I'd tag them onto the end of this post.  This card idea was cribbed from Pinterest and shows a cookie sheet - surprisingly easy to make with leftover sparkly Christmas cardstock. I hand-cut the cookies and manually rounded the corners of a papercut rectangle to make the cookie sheet. 


Someone I know had surgery recently, so I got to use this "Feel better!" card I've been wanting to make for a while.  I'm just getting into pop-up cards, and so this was great fun to make.  Specific dimensions are available at this web site!

Fold a small piece of paper...

Tape the ends together and seal, and cut a small hole in the top.  Fill with a bit of Kleenex.

Use glue to affix in the fold of your card...

...and add your details!

I really like it, and it was pretty easy to make.  

I hope you have some craft time soon.  Have a great week!