one baker's humble attempt to change the world one cupcake at a time

Archive for the ‘Cookies’ Category

Stuffed with PRIDE!

After I posted yesterday, I got a phone call from my friend in New York. He was standing at the start of the Pride Parade, and called to say he missed me and wished I were there. This saddened me for two reasons:

  1. I really miss him too
  2. I really love the Pride Parade

Pride Parade Two Years Ago

Another

And Another

After our phone call, I decided I had to bake something rainbow to honor the Pride Parade. Unfortunately, most rainbow colored treats require a fair amount of prep work, dying the dough and whatnot, and I didn’t have the time. Thank goodness for rainbow sprinkles!

A while back, I found a recipe for Oreo stuffed Funfetti cookies that were covered in rainbow sprinkles. I borrowed the concept, but not the recipe because I had a bag of Betty Crocker sugar cookie mix in my kitchen.

Stuffed with Pride Rainbow Oreo Cookies

How I made them:

  • Cut out as many circles as possible with a diameter or 3 inches or less (but bigger than an Oreo cookie)
  • Refrigerate for an hour or so
  • Top cookies with rainbow sprinkles
  • Put an Oreo in the center of a cookie, top with another, and pinch the edges together
  • Refrigerate again for about an hour
  • Bake for 9-10 minutes

How I think I should have made them (what I’ll do next time)

  • Cut out circles and top with sprinkles before refrigerating the cookies
  • After Oreos are nicely pocketed between two sugar cookies, refrigerate the cookies for much longer than one hour (probably three or more)

While these cookies weren’t as perfectly pretty as the ones I found online, the taste was dead on and the rainbow sprinkles made me smile!

P.S. My blog has moved! For more yummy recipes, go to www.youngidealisticbaker.com!

Vegan-y fresh (and lemony too!)

Lately I’ve been very conscious of what foods I’m buying and eating. I’ve decided to try to incorporate more organic produce and cut back my use of animal byproducts. I’m neither vegan, nor vegetarian but I am cutting out meat and trying to opt for dairy alternatives often.

I haven’t been able to fathom cutting out dairy completely, but I frequently substitute almond milk for regular, and I skipped the cheese section the last few times I bought groceries. However, I use regular milk in my coffee because I don’t like the way almond milk affects the flavor, and there is a recipe for goat cheese soufflés that I can’t wait to try. Therefore, I’m avoiding any vegan/veggie/dairy-free titles and calling myself nothing whatsoever.

But still, little by little I am trying to be conscious of what I’m eating and how it affects the planet, buying more and more organic fruits and vegetables, choosing whole wheat when applicable, drinking fair trade coffee, and buying only grain fed, cage free eggs and organic milk.

I’ve been considering vegan baking for a while now, and when I stumbled upon a lemon lime cookie with vegan friendly recipe alterations built in, I decided it would be the perfect opportunity to try it out.

Not wanting to do anything halfway, I checked the labels of all the ingredients I needed to use to ensure that they were vegan friendly. Lo and behold, my margarine wasn’t vegan at all — it was made with milk, or rather whey from milk. Luckily, I had some all-vegetable shortening that was entirely vegan and was able to proceed with the recipe. I ended up ignoring the new quantities of baking powder and baking soda listed for vegan versions of the recipe, because I didn’t have any corn starch, but from what I can tell, the cookies turned out great anyway!

The resulting cookies were both chewy and crunchy from the sugar exterior, and they had a delicious citrus flavor. This may be my favorite recipe I’ve posted on this blog yet!

Vegan Lemon Lime Sugar Cookies adapted from bakingdom.com

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Makes about 30 cookies

Sugar coating:

  • zest from one lime
  • zest from one lemon
  • 1/2 cup of sugar

      

Cookies:

  • 1 ¾ cups flour (be prepared to add up to ¼ cup more later)
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup all vegetable shortening
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons almond milk
  • zest from one lemon and juice from ½ lemon
  • zest from one lime and juice from ½ lime
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla

Directions:

  • Add zest to sugar and cream with shortening until well blended
  • Add almond milk, lemon juice, lime juice, and vanilla
  • Sift dry ingredients and add to sugar mixture a little bit at a time
  • Blend everything well. If dough feels very tacky or sticky add a little more flour

NOTE: this egg free cookie dough is both safe to eat and delicious! I highly recommend licking the spoon!

  • Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes
  • In a clean bowl, mix up sugar coating from additional sugar and zest
  • Once cookie dough is chilled, use a teaspoon to help form small balls
  • Roll the balls through the sugar/zest mixture and arrange on a cookie pan lined with parchment paper

  • Bake for 12-14 minutes, removing as soon as the edges start to color

  • Transfer to a cooling rack (a brown paper bag works just as well)

   

Aside from baking this weekend, I also spent a good 5-7 hours a day reading. I’m about 2/3 of the way through The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson. It’s so good I had a hard time putting it down! The cookies made for an excellent reading snack!

P.S. My blog has moved. For more yummy recipes, check out www.youngidealisticbaker.com!

Peanut Butter Baby Steps

While ultimately I would LOVE to turn a few batches of cookies into thousands of dollars raised for charity, I am accepting my limitations and starting small. Raising awareness or paying homage to some often forgotten causes will be my starting point.

But the real first step: improve baking skills. Yes, this is the fun part!

In the spirit of starting small (and making my way up of course), I decided to whip up a batch of the smallest and cutest little peanut butter button cookies I’ve ever stumbled across on this Internet.

Found at 17andbaking.com, this recipe promised bite size peanut buttery goodness that I just couldn’t resist.

I followed the recipe exactly as its written adding an extra 10 minutes to chill (I was multitasking as I often find myself) and made about 10 dozen button sized cookies, 1 dozen slightly bigger ones with Hershey’s kisses instead of chocolate chips, and 4 basic peanut butter cookies.

The whole process took me the better part of two hours, but the payoff was great. The little cookies were a big hit at my sister’s and my joint graduation party — Go Blue! (and now Go Gators as well for the little one!)

The cookies with chocolate chocolate chips disappeared especially fast.

Photographing these cookies was fun as well!

 

I also brought a plateful of cookies outside to capture some natural sunlight.

Guess what happens when you mix chocolate with Florida sunshine?

IT MELTS!! (in under 5 minutes!)

Woops! Lesson learned

P.S. My blog has moved! For more yummy recipes, check out www.youngidealisticbaker.com!

English, Prison, and Cookies… OH MY!

My favorite class of my last semester was a very unusual one. While it was technically titled English 326, Community Writing and Public CultureThe Portfolio Project was anything but your typical English class.

In addition to weekly seminars that never failed to produce stimulating and unique group discussions, every member of the 14-person class partnered up with an incarcerated youth or high school student from East Detroit to work on a creative writing or art portfolio. We all also joined the Prison and Creative Arts Project (PCAP), an organization dedicated to bringing creative outlets to youth facilities and prisons.

Through this course and student organization duo, I met some of the most selfless and inspiring individuals I have ever met. I was exposed to the criminal justice system for the first time when I paired up with a 17-year-old youth at a juvenile facility outside of Detroit. I “gallery-sat” and helped watch over and sell beautiful works of art created by many very talented prisoners.

Throughout the semester, aside from our work with the youths, our only other assignments were weekly readings and journal responses to either the reading or our work. The final project of the semester was a to create something creative that would capture the experience and its effect on us. Thinking of the many baking blogs I was already following, I knew this was the perfect opportunity to try my hand at one of the decorating techniques I was equally fascinated and frightened by — decorating cookies with royal icing.

I obsessively read and re-read everything I could find about decorating with royal icing. Three blogs were most informative:  bakeat350, iambaker, and sweetopia. All three offer incredibly helpful tutorials, tips, and recipes.

I decided my cookies would each feature one word that related to my portfolio class and/or PCAP. I then formulated a list a words, deleted or replaced all words that seemed too long (and too difficult for a novice decorator to write on a cookie), and put the list aside to start making my cookies.

To make up for my total lack of supplies — no rolling pin or cookie cutters, I used a plastic cup to roll out my dough AND cut out circles! I shaped the rest of the cookies with a knife.

Rolling out dough with a Relay for Life cup!

The baked cookies also had to dry on a makeshift cooling rack: a ripped up paper bag spread out on the second oven rack.

The next day I made a batch of royal icing following the simplest recipe I could find and filled up a piping bag. Then, I very slowly and nervously started to outline my cookies. Little by little, I became comfortable with what I was doing and the fear faded away and I started having a lot of fun piping lines around the cookies’ edges.

Look at that intense concentration!

When I finished outlining, I poured the unused icing back into the mixing bowl and thinned it with another tablespoon of water. This icing went into a plastic squeeze bottle and was used to flood the cookies. Then the leftover icing went into the mixing bowl yet again where it was dyed sky blue and then used to fill the remaining spaces in the cookies. There has got to be an easier way to do this!

On the third day of the PCAP cookie decorating extraordinaire, I unsuccessfully tried to use the thinned out sky blue day old icing to draw designs on a couple of cookies. It didn’t take me very long to realize this wasn’t working, but I had run out of powdered sugar and none of the convenience stores within walking distance carried any — Disaster!

When I finally got my hands on some more powdered sugar and made a fresh batch of sky blue royal icing, I drew on the words and remaining pictures and then they were done! Here are a few completed cookies:

           

I presented my project following a potluck dinner with the class at our professor’s house — I told you this wasn’t an ordinary English class! My talented classmates’ projects included poetry, music, art, and chocolate éclairs. I presented each of my cookies with a brief explanation for the word or picture choice (i.e. courage because the work that we do isn’t easy and we need it) and let everyone take home a cookie of their choice.

Here is my professor with his favorite cookie from the bunch — Balance

Hey Buzz!

P.S. My blog has moved! For more yummy recipes, check out www.youngidealisticbaker.com!