Monday, September 27, 2010

Sugar Cookies for the Daring Bakers...September Theme

Well, I know some of these cookie choices look very familiar (fall '09), but for our Daring Bakers' challenge this month we were asked to pick cookies that personally represent the month of September.  Of course I had to make a barn since we make multiple treks each fall to our local pumpkin patch:)  There we also pick apples and enjoy the colorful array of changing autumn leaves:) Fall also means football, especially since my son-in-law coaches for a local high school's J.V. team.  I love all the fall COLORS and wanted to make sure that these cookies reflected that aspect of fall!  I really enjoyed this challenge!
 I have baked (and iced) many sugar cookies using my favorite "No Fail Sugar Cookies" recipe and Royal icing recipe. This recipe was unusual in that it did not call out for any baking soda or baking powder.  The reasoning behind omitting them was to better help the cookies keep their shape. As you can see these cookies did hold their shape well, but when it came to eating them,  they were too dense and heavy for my taste. I'll stick with my tried and true recipe, but it was nice to experiment with an alternative.

The September 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mandy of “What the Fruitcake?!Mandy challenged everyone to make Decorated Sugar Cookies based on recipes from Peggy Porschen and The Joy of Baking.

Basic Sugar Cookies: (Daring Bakers' challenge recipe, and tips from Mandy)
Makes Approximately 36x 10cm / 4" Cookies
200g / 7oz / ½ cup + 6 Tbsp Unsalted Butter, at room temperature
400g / 14oz / 3 cups + 3 Tbsp All Purpose / Plain Flour
200g / 7oz / 1 cup Caster Sugar / Superfine Sugar
1 Large Egg, lightly beaten
5ml / 1 tsp Vanilla Extract / Or seeds from 1 vanilla bean
• Cream together the butter, sugar and any flavourings you’re using. Beat until just becoming
creamy in texture.
Tip: Don’t over mix otherwise you’ll incorporate too much air and the cookies will spread during
baking, losing their shape.

• Beat in the egg until well combined, make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Add the sifted flour and mix on low until a non sticky dough forms.
Tip: I don’t have a stand mixer so I find it easier to switch to dough hooks at this stage to avoid
flour flying everywhere.

• Knead into a ball and divide into 2 or 3 pieces.
• Roll out each portion between parchment paper to a thickness of about 5mm/1/5 inch (0.2 inch)
• Refrigerate for a minimum of 30mins.
Tip: Recipes commonly just wrap the whole ball of dough in clingwrap and then refrigerate it for an
hour or overnight, but by rolling the dough between parchment, this shortens the chilling time and
then it’s also been rolled out while still soft making it easier and quicker.

• Once chilled, peel off parchment and place dough on a lightly floured surface.
• Cut out shapes with cookie cutters or a sharp knife.
• Arrange shapes on parchment lined baking sheets and refrigerate for another 30mins to an hour.
Tip: It’s very important you chill them again otherwise they’ll spread while baking.
• Re-roll scraps and follow the above process until all scraps are used up.
• Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C Fan Assisted) / 350°F / Gas Mark 4.
• Bake until golden around the edges, about 8-15mins depending on the size of the cookies.
Tip: Bake same sized cookies together otherwise mixing smaller with larger cookies could result in
some cookies being baked before others are done.

Tip: Rotate baking sheets half way through baking if your oven bakes unevenly.
• Leave to cool on cooling racks.
• Once completely cooled, decorate as desired.
Tip: If wrapped in tinfoil/cling wrap or kept in airtight containers in a cool place, un-decorated
cookies can last up to a month.

Thanks Mandy, for a fun challenge!  Now I'm really feeling the spirit of fall!

 Wrap-up from Sue:  We could use the Royal Icing recipe of our choice.  I used the one that I have linked above.
P.S.  I used a Wilton #3 tip to outline the cookies and to add the details after flooding.  To flood, I used a spoon. Also, for the football grass I used Wilton tip #233, and chocolate sprinkles on the squirrel's tail:)

This post is linked to Alicia's (A Beautiful Mess) "Tasty Tuesdays"and 
Tidymom's "I'm Lovin' it Fridays"

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Whooo-ray for Fall!

My Gooseberry Patch calendar proclaims today to be the "First Day of Autumn, " so I'm taking them at their word. Happy (official) Fall! I clipped this recipe for "Night Owl Cookies" out of a magazine a few years back, and decided to finally get around to making them. These owls remind me of fall and bring Halloween to mind, which is just around the corner!  It's a recipe courtesy of m&m's.  Aren't they cute?  They are pretty simple to put together too, as you shall see...
This photo shows what the "log" will look like(Step 2.) and how you place the cookie dough slices on the baking sheet to look like owls(Step 3.).

Night Owl Cookies (My adaptations are at the end of the recipe.)
  • Prep Time: 25 min.
  • Bake Time: 11 min.
  • Refrigeration Time: 30 min.
  • Decoration Time: 15 min.
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Yield: Makes 20 owl cookies.


  • 1 roll (18 oz.) refrigerated sugar cookie dough
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 20 whole cashews
  • ¼ cup chocolate frosting
  • ½ cup M&M’S® Brand Peanut Chocolate Candies
  • 2 cookie sheet pans
  • Plastic wrap paper
  • Resealable plastic bag


  • 1. Divide the sugar cookie dough in three pieces. Knead the flour into one piece of cookie dough until smooth, set aside. Combine the remaining two pieces of cookie dough and knead in the cocoa powder until smooth, set aside.
  • 2. Roll the lighter colored cookie dough into a 1-inch round log about 10 inches long, and move it off to the side. Roll out the chocolate cookie dough on a lightly floured surface to a 10 x 4-inch rectangle. Place the light colored log of cookie dough on top of the chocolate rectangle. Wrap the chocolate cookie dough completely around the lighter colored log. Pinch edges to seal and roll the log smooth. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  • 3. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Cut the cookie log into 1/4-inch slices. Place 2 slices, side by side, on sheet pans. Press a cashew into cookie at the point the slices touch. Repeat with remaining cookie slices. Bake for approximately 8-11 minutes, or until cookies are just beginning to golden. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool.
  • 4. Spoon the chocolate frosting into a resealable bag and snip a small corner from bag. Using the photograph as guide, pipe eyelashes and a dot to secure candies. Add the M&M’S® Brand Chocolate Candies for eyes. 
  •  My adaptations: I actually used Reese's peanut butter pieces for the eyes because I couldn't find the fall colored m&m's the day I was at the market.  I also made it easy on myself and used store-bought chocolate and vanilla frosting:)and used a Wilton #2 tip for the chocolate "eyelashes" and a Wilton #3 tip for the white frosting to secure the eyes. I used disposable frosting bags for both icings.
 These owls were a lot of fun to make and I'm really happy with the results! Tasty too!
Whooo wants a cookie?

Join me and my owls at Tidy Mom's Lovin' it Fridays

I have this linked to Alicia's(A Beautiful Mess) "Tasty Tuesdays."  

Monday, September 20, 2010

S'mores Macarons

Well, I was hoping that "third time's a charm" would hold true for my third Mac Attack challenge.  Unfortunately,  these look more like mini whoopie pies. No height. No feet. Again.
I almost didn't post these, but then reconsidered. It may take many more failures (hopefully not), but I am determined to get it right. Next month I am going to take the advice of fabulous Mac Attack macaron makers...Bonnie suggested that I use the Ottolenghi adaptation recipe(same one Barbara uses too), and Linda suggested that I use gram measurements for more accuracy. Their macarons are beautiful!!!
The Mac Attack challenge presented for this month was to bake up a macaron that conjures up a  "childhood summer memory." During my childhood most of our family summertime vacations revolved around camping. We didn't have to leave our state to find some of the most beautiful campgrounds.  We pitched our tent in Yosemite, Sequoia, Lake Tahoe.  In later years we'd pack up our trailer and head to the beach, Doheny or Carlsbad.  Whether in the mountains or at the beach we always had s'mores around the campfire:)  So, naturally I thought of making a s'mores version of macarons. 
I "googled" and found these. Don't they look great?  I used the recipe for the cookie, but not the filling.  The cookie is graham cracker based:)  It smelled wonderful when they were baking, reminiscent of when I made homemade graham crackers:)  It's a heavenly aroma!
I decided to stick with (mini) marshmallows (roasted on the stove top) and hershey bars for the filling to stay as close to the original as possible. 
Thank you, Deeba and Jamie for the challenge! I look forward to seeing what next month's challenge is and changing up my macaron method for better results! Wish me luck! :)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Fresh Strawberry Pie

My husband's coworker sent a half- flat of strawberries home with him the other day:) They were for our enjoyment, but she also hinted that I send some strawberry goodness back to the office:) What better way to bid a proper farewell to summer than with a treat that epitomizes the season: Fresh Strawberry Pie!

I found this recipe in my mom's Betty Crocker cookbook years ago, but ended up using the recipe solely for the fresh strawberry glaze details. I use my own pie crust recipe.  I was trying to replicate Marie Callender's fresh strawberry pie, but due to the glaze difference I like this pie even better!

Betty Crocker's Fresh Strawberry Pie Glaze

Glaze :
1 1/2 quarts (6 cups) strawberries, hulled (includes strawberries to pile into pie crust)
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup water

1. Make a 9 inch pie crust and bake according to instructions. Let cool completely.
2.  In a small bowl, mash enough strawberries to measure 1 cup.  In a 2-quart saucepan, mix sugar and cornstarch.  Gradually stir in 1/2 cup water and mashed strawberries.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and boils.  Boil and stir 1 minute; cool.
3. Place remaining strawberries in pie crust.  Pour cooked strawberry mixture over top.  Refrigerate until set, about 3 hours.  Store in refrigerator.

Simple and delicious= simply delicious!

We serve our pie with whipped cream!

Here's my "go to" pie crust recipe (from a past post).

3/14/13  I’m partying at the Pi Day Pie Party at Crazy for Crust today. Come party with us!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Pumpkin Pie Pops and Sunflowers

Well, even though it's not technically fall yet, I can't help but usher it in as soon as September hits.  It just feels fallish.
To celebrate the season, I thought I would try my hand at making Pumpkin Pie Pops:)  I've seen pie pops all around the blogosphere and fell in love with them immediately:)
They're simple to make, taste great, and look cute!

My husband and I spent a good part of last Saturday driving through See Canyon (apple farms) and making a trip to Jack Creek Farms in Paso Robles. It was a beautiful day and at the farm I bought the perfect filling for the pie pops...

...all natural Pumpkin Spice Fruit Butter!  You could actually just eat it directly from the jar and call it good:)  I was going to bake up some pumpkin pie filling and add it to the pops, but this was so much easier!  I also grated  fresh nutmeg(above) and sprinkled it(with sugar) on the top of the pops before baking.  If you've never grated fresh nutmeg, I highly recommend it!  It smells so fresh and heavenly. Recipe at end of post.
This is just the right size snack for kids, and portion control for adults (unless you eat four of them!):)  They would be great to grab-and-go and bring along on a picnic.
And if you dress them up a bit by adding ribbon, they would make a fun little hostess gift for the holidays...just wrap a few in cellophane, tie it with a ribbon and voila! Or place them in a jar with a ribbon:)
Recipe is included at the end of this post.
 When we made it up to Jack Creek Farms we were greeted by these wonderful sunflowers.  I LOVE sunflowers!  They are my favorite flowers! Don't they just look happy?  I love, too, that they are relatively easy to grow and you can almost see it happen before your very eyes.
Isn't this one just perfect?!?

All that's missing is smiley faces:)                                                  

Pumpkin Pie Pops
Pillsbury refrigerated pie crusts (14.1 oz. box)
Pumpkin filling (pumpkin butter, custard, cooked pie filling,  pudding...)
Nutmeg, grated
popsicle sticks

Unroll the pie crust  and cut out mini crusts with 2 1/2"  round biscuit cutter.  Place one round crust on baking sheet and place popsicle stick down on the round about halfway up. Spoon about 1 teaspoon of filling in middle of each round crust, and spread around a little, but keep the filling away from the edges.  Place the other round on top of the first and seal the edges by pressing down with a fork all the way around. (I actually poked pie vents in the top of each too.) Sprinkle with the grated nutmeg/sugar mixture. Place the baking sheet in a preheated 400 degree oven and  bake for about 10 min. until edges are browned.  Makes 12-16 pops.

Welcome fall!

This post is linked up to "Tasty Tuesdays Bloghop" at A Beautiful Mess..Have a look at all the tasty links:)

Friday, September 10, 2010

Deja vu

I know this post looks very much like this one, but that was my RIGHT foot, and this is my LEFT foot.  The surgeon did such a great job on the first surgery that I decided now would be the time to get the other foot corrected.  Unfortunately, this time I am experiencing nausea and more pain than the first time.  The operation was on Tuesday and I am just now starting to feel better, thank goodness! Looking at the computer screen was actually making me queasy, so that's another reason I have been missing in action.  This weekend I intend to publish a couple of new posts, so bear with me:)  THANKS for your patience and have a great weekend, dear bloggy friends!