Sunday, April 18, 2010

Cookie Crazy

Our recent love has been sugar cookies. We have posted several pictures in the gallery. These beautiful babies are always a hit. Do you want to give it a try? Here goes:

Sugar Cookies

2 C Butter (That's 4 sticks!)
2 C Sugar
2 Eggs
2 Tsp Vanilla Extract
6 Cups of Flour
3 Tsp Baking Powder
1 Tsp Salt

Cream butter & sugar (it's easier if butter is at room temperature). Add Eggs & Vanilla.

In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking powder, and salt (use a's easy!).

Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture. I added it all in my stand mixer and out of 3 batches, the last one made my mixer sound like it was going to die. So be careful.

Chill for a few hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Lay a large piece of parchment paper on the counter. Drop a glob of the cooled dough onto the parchment. Cover the dough with another large piece of parchment paper. Using a rolling pin, roll over parchment to desired thickness. (This is an alternative to flouring your work surface & rolling the dough out over the flour... no flour = no mess!).

Keep the rest of the dough in the fridge while you work with one small section at a time. If it's sticky, it's too warm & needs to be chilled again. For these cookies, you want the dough thick, at least 3/4" or thicker. They will not rise in the oven, so make sure it's as thick as you want it.

Cut out shapes with cookie cutters. Bake for 8-10 minutes. For me, 8 minutes was the magic number, except for the candy cane cookies-- I only did those for 7 minutes.

Let them cool on the pan for about 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack.

Royal Icing

2 C Confectioners Sugar, Sifted*
2.5 Tbsp Meringue Powder
1/4 C. Water

*The sugar MUST be sifted. When you are decorating your sugar cookies, you will be using very small tips & if you don't sift your sugar, they will clog!

Add all ingredients to bowl and beat for 8 minutes on low speed. The icing should be bright white and look almost like marshmallow fluff, but denser (more dense?) than marshmallow fluff. If it looks thick, soupy, shiny, or sheer, beat it for another minute or so at medium.

Royal icing will start to dry immediately, and when it dries, it becomes like concrete! So keep it covered when you are not working with it. If you make it ahead of time or are storing it for a few days, place saran wrap directly onto the top of the icing and then cover the container with the lid.

Decorating the Cookies (A few tips!)

Before you start to color your icing, plan out your decorations. I like to trace the cookie cutters onto a sheet of paper & map out my decorations (colors, sprinkles, etc.).

Color your icing using paste food colors. The recipe should give you a good consistency for outlining the cookies (if it seems too stiff, add a few drops of water). Transfer the food coloring to your decorating bag, set up with a #3 tip (or snip a small hole about 1/16" wide). Outline the cookies.

After outlining, take the remaining icing of the same color & add a few drops of water at a time until the icing becomes liquidy. Test it by putting some on your spoon & holding it above the container-- if it drizzles off the spoon, it's ready! Use a larger tip or snip a slightly larger hole in the bag & flood the cookies inside of the outline. Use a toothpick to smooth it out. If you want to add sprinkles, do so immediately, because as I said before-- royal icing dries fast! Let this icing dry before you add the details.

Once you are done decorating, let them dry for a few hours-- be patient :) Once they are dry, you can stack them or arrange them without ruining the design.

Any questions? You know where to find us!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Cake Ball Chronicles: The Long & Shortening of It

Shortening may not be a desirable ingredient in your kitchen, but we've yet to find one that tops it. So far, we've found that it makes everything, from buttercream icing to melted chocolate, do its job a little better.

We add a tablespoon or two to each bowl of melted chocolate. We've found that it is especially helpful to thin out the white chocolate, which tends to be too thick for dipping. We still add a little bit of vegetable oil, too... we think it's the combination of the two that makes for chocolate perfect for dipping.

If your chocolate is clumpy, thick, or bubbly, just close your eyes, take a deep breath, and add a scoop of shortening. You'll be glad you tried it!

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Cake Ball Chronicles: Melon Bawling?

The girls at My Sweet Nola have spent hours perfecting their cake ball techniques. We learned it the hard way, and we're passing on our tips and tricks to you. If you have any questions, feel free to drop us a line. Check back often the latest tricks of the trade!

Does balling your cake balls bring you to tears? Have no fear, My Sweet Nola is here to the rescue!

We all want to use something to form the balls, but not all balling tools are created equal. At first glance, the cookie scoop (shown above, left) seems like a perfect fit. It works on cookie dough, why not cake balls? We'll tell you why. The cake balls come out way too big. Anyone who has enjoyed a cake ball knows a little goes a long way.

That brings us to our preferred balling tool, the melon baller. The melon baller may be the answer to your prayers, but only if you choose the right one. Look for a two-sided melon baller with a single metal rod going through the handle and holding the two sides together. One sided ballers or those that attach the two ends separately tend to bend and will eventually break (Believe us, we've been there).

Your melon baller does not have to be expensive, in fact, we prefer the OXO brand at Bed, Bath, and Beyond. It's only $8.99 + tax (even cheaper if you remember your 20% off coupon).

So invest in the right tools, and it will save you a lot of headaches and handaches.

That brings us to the end of this session of the Cake Ball Chronicles. Happy Balling Y'all!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Cake Ball Bouquets Have Arrived!!!

Our first attempt at cake ball bouquets was a big success!! Our friends LOVED them! And so did we!

First, we dipped and decorated as usual. Then we wrapped each one in our cake pop wrapping (poly bag tied with ribbon). We placed them in a decorative flower pot, using styrofoam to hold them in place. Then we added a little bit of shredded paper for the final touch!

Do you love it?? We do! And we think this is a GREAT alternative to the cookie bouquet!

We used cellophane to wrap it all up and tied it with a ribbon. These bouquets were given as gifts-- for a party. They would be cute with or without the cellophane. Large or small, this is definitely the way to go!

Go Saints!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Golf Tournament Goodies!

We donated these cute boxed sets of cake balls to a Tulane Booster Club Golf Tournament. Aren't they just so cute? This is a great way to package a dozen cake balls using 4 piece boxes. They were a big hit as door prizes at the Tourney, too!!