Archive | February, 2011

Baby Cookies

24 Feb

Are more babies born in the spring? That is the question of the day. Two of my four were born in the spring. The other two were born in the winter. So from my experience, it’s half and half, but we sure sell more baby cookie cutters in the spring than we do in the winter.  Maybe it’s just because we get more excited about throwing showers and parties in the spring and summer than we do in the winter with all the other holidays. Maybe we just get in party overload mode in the winter.

Well, whatever the reason, ’tis the season for baby cookies! (I’m thinking spring because we got MORE snow last night. Sigh.)

Have you noticed that I’ve been using a lot of Wilton cookie cutter sets for my blog posts?  I carry a lot of their cutter sets in my store, and I’ve been meaning to get some example pictures up for them for a long time. So I grabbed a big stack of sets and got to baking. That’s why you’re seeing a pattern. :) These baby cookies were made with the Wilton Baby Cookie Cutter Set:

They were fun! I’ll start with my least favorite first. The rocking horses. Sometimes I can do them, and sometimes I can’t. This decorating session turned out to be a “not-as-cute” day.

I don’t know. Do you put faces on rocking horses? And if so, how?  Maybe I’m just not a horse person.

Next are the baby buggies.

And the teddy bears:

So the question here: How far apart do you put the eyes? I wasn’t sure, so I did 3 different distances. (By the way, I used black sugar pearls for the eyes on these. I really like using those for eyes.) I think I liked the blue one the best. Not too close, not too far apart.

And last, but not least, the onesies:

Awww. :) Baby stuff is just so cute and fun. We have a onesie cookie decorating card if you’re interested in more info on how to do some cute piped embellishments for onesies.

So we have the pink group:

The blue group:

And a mixed-color group:

Do you want to make some baby cookies? Comment on this post by Friday, Feb. 25 at midnight (Mountain Time), and you’ll be entered to win your own set of Wilton Baby Cookie Cutters plus our Onesie Cookie Decorating Instruction Card and our Baby Buggy Cookie Decorating Instruction Card. I’ll use random.org to choose one winner.

Thanks for reading! Now I’d better get in the kitchen and work on some St. Patrick’s Day cookies! That’s sneaking up on me!

Bowling Cookie Cutter Winners!

21 Feb

Woa, sorry. The weekend got away from me. But better late than never….

The winners of the bowling pin and shirt cookie cutters (along with their comments) are:

1. Ka’ala from SugarHI creations

Love them…as always :) Here in Hawaii we have a lot of local bands and they all have really cool t-shirts. Id probably use the t-shirt cutter to make the bands come cookies that look like their own shirts! (My husband is a sound engineer so that’s my “in” with the bands…lol!)

2. dkelmore

You scored 10 with that Strike…very cute cookies. Would love to add those to my cookie cutter collection.

3.  Becki D.

What a perfect giveaway! I stumbled here looking for bowling pin templates. Great cookies!

4.  Christy

I would love to have these cutters!! We too are doing a scout lockin at the bowling alley and they would be perfect

5. Nana Robyn

I’m afraid the closest I get to the bowling alley is the Wii in my living room! Love your blog. So many wonderful ideas!

 

Yay! Sounds like they’ll get put to good use. I’ve sent the winners emails, but if you don’t see them, send us an email to contact at karenscookies dot net.

Thanks to all who entered. And don’t worry if you didn’t win. There are more giveaways coming soon…. :D

Strike!

17 Feb

Man, I haven’t been bowling for a LONG time. One time in college, I stayed for a summer term and took bowling and tennis, and that’s it. Don’t tell my parents. :D Just kidding. I think they know. Even after a whole semester of bowling studies, I still can’t get over 100. Oh well. Some people weren’t born to bowl, but if you were, you might like these cookies.

You know how a lot of bowling balls have a marbled look to them? I tried that on a couple of these. I filled with one color (yellow and light blue), and then dripped in another color (orange and darker blue), and just swirled around randomly with my boo boo stick. I thought they came out kind of cute. The debate at my house was whether the ball looked better in front of the pin or behind it. My son votes for in front, and I tend to agree. But it’s kind of hard to get a perfect circle, even if you use a template, so if you put it behind, it hides a multitude of sins.  And I think I like the pins where I came in farther from the edge of the cookie at the neck of the pin. If you follow the edge of this cutter exactly, it makes for fatter, less defined pins. Don’t be afraid to ignore the “lines” of your cutters.

You can’t go bowling without a spiffy bowling shirt!

These were fun to design. You probably already know this, but here’s my secret for designing cookies. I do a Google image search for whatever it is I’m trying to figure out (so for these, I just typed in “bowling shirt”), and then click on images. Then from there, I usually choose the “clip art” option on the left-hand side. You’ll get all kinds of fun ideas that translate well to cookies.

I want to give away FIVE bowling pin cookie cutters:

And FIVE Small T-Shirt cookie cutters:

So comment on this post by midnight Friday, Feb. 18 to be entered to win!  This weekend, I’ll use Random.org to choose 5 winners to win one of each cutter.

If you’re not that into bowling, the T-shirt can be used for endless designs and occasions. Be creative. Maybe you could give us some ideas in your comments about how the shirt could be used. But you don’t have to. Only if you want to. :D

Have a great Thursday!

Alphabet Winner, and a few other things

17 Feb

First of all, Cookie Crazie Pam has a blog post all about yours truly this morning.  If you want to learn a little bit more about me, head on over to her wonderful blog. Sometimes it’s fun to get a little more information about the people we “know” on the internet! :D  Thanks so much Pam! You are too kind!

Thanks to everyone for your very kind comments about the alphabet cookies! I’m so glad you liked them!! :)

A few of you asked how long it took me to do them, and if I already had the frosting made up, etc.  Yes, I did have most of the colors already made. I’ve been decorating a lot of cookies lately, so I had tons of frosting colors already made up, plus a fresh batch of Meringue Powder Buttercream waiting for me on the counter.  The only colors I had to make up on the day I was decorating these were the camouflage greens and the two colors of brown for the camo and the leopard print. Everything else was already made, and I had baked the cookies the day before.  I started decorating when the kids walked out the door to school and had about 4 or 5 left to do by the time they got home. That wasn’t solid decorating time– I have a 3-year-old at home, so we had lunch and various needs to take care of during the day, but it took me a good 6 or 7 hours to get these done. If I did the same set again, it wouldn’t take quite as long, because much of the time was spent thinking, designing, and figuring out how to do it!  Thanks again for your comments! They were fun to do!

Ok, the winner of the Alphabet cookie cutter set is Cat. There were a few Cats who entered. This one has the word calico in her email address, and she said:

I have a 2 year old grandson and if I won the cutters, we would learn the alphabet together through cookies!
Cat

Congratulations, Cat! I’ve sent you an email, but if you don’t see it, send me an email at contact at karenscookies dot net.

Thanks to all who entered! I have another giveaway coming right up!  One person said in the comments that her daughter has a bowling tournament coming up… I have just the post for you, Cindie S!

 

A is for Alphabet *GIVEAWAY CLOSED*

15 Feb

This is the most fun I’ve had decorating cookies in a very long time. I’ve been wanting to make example cookies for the alphabet cookie cutter set for a while, but I just couldn’t think of anything creative to do with them. Well, the other day I got the idea to decorate each cookie with something that starts with that letter.  I had a few ideas, but was stuck on a lot of the letters. I asked my kids to help me, and they came up with some great ideas. My son even gave me this drawing with his ideas:

So the other day while they were at school, I took all of their ideas and decorated up a storm. It was very fun. What would you ever do with this assortment of cookies? I have no idea. But it was fun anyway.

All of these were done with Meringue Powder Buttercream, which I watered down a bit so that it was a thick glaze consistency. I used bags and tips, but you could also use squeeze bottles to get the same effect. I would use the ones with the couplers if you want to get good detail.

A is for

Ants! I learned something of value doing this cookie. It took me three tries to do the red and white checks. Well, actually three and a half. First, I outlined with white. It looked terrible. So I scraped it off and outlined with red. Still terrible. But before I scraped that one off, I went over the top of  it with black outlines to see if that might be the solution. I still wasn’t happy. I called Mike in and asked him what I should do. He suggested mixing red and white to make a pinkish-red color to outline with. So that’s what I did, and it worked great! So file that away in your brain in case you ever have to do red and white checks on a cookie. :)

B is for

Bumblebee. This wasn’t my favorite. I think I could have been a little more creative. But oh well.

C is for

Camouflage. Check out Sweet Sugarbelle’s guest post on Sweetopia for a tutorial on doing camo. It came in super handy for this cookie.

D is for

Doughnut!

E is for

Explosion!

F is for

Fire. You know, after the explosion.

G is for

Golf.

H is for

Harry Potter! I was hesitant to do this one, but my kids are SO into Harry Potter right now. My 10-year-old is just about to finish the 5th book, and my 8-year-old just started the 3rd book. So of course when I asked them what starts with H, they both shouted in unison “Harry Potter!” So there you go. Harry in the shape of an H.

I is for

Icy Igloo.

J is for

Jump rope.

K is for

Karate!

L is for

Leopard. Why did my L cookie spread more than any of the others? That is the question of the day. And another question is, do you need a leopard print tutorial? Sweet Sugarbelle is your girl.

M is for

Mountains.

N is for

Numbers. My daughter was so bummed that I didn’t do her idea on this one. She wanted me to make it sparkly and have a price tag hanging off of it, so that it would be N is for “New”. I thought that was a really cute idea, I just didn’t know if I could pull it off. Sorry Kelly.  I totally took the easy way out on this one.

O is for

Orange.

P is for

Purple Paisley. This is one I did because I’ve been wanting to mess around with the paisley pattern on a cookie. My kids looked at it and were like, “Huh?” I said “It’s Paisley! And it’s Purple!”.  And they said “okaaaaaaaaaaaay”.  But hey, now I know how to do paisley in frosting, which will come in handy for Father’s Day ties.

Q is for

Quilt! Super fun to do!

R is for

Rainbow. Awww.

S is for

Sssssssssssssssssnake.

T is for

Tiger. Another one that I wanted to do for selfish reasons. I’ve been wanting to learn zebra stripes and tiger stripes, which are very similar– The tiger stripes are just smaller and closer together. So this was good practice. If you’d like a tutorial on zebra stripes, Sugarbelle has a great one for that, too! I bet you can’t guess what’s coming up for the letter Z…

U is for

Up!

V is for

Vines and Violet.

W is for

Watermelon!

X is for

X-ray– if letters had bones.

Y is for

Yellow and Yo-Yo.

Z is for…  you guessed it…

Zebra! (If you didn’t see the letter T for Tiger yet, I mentioned this tutorial for how to make zebra stripes. Check it out. She made it so easy!)

So here’s a question for you. If you had a set of alphabet cutters, what would you do with them? Answer that question in the comments, and you’ll be entered to win a set all your own. Enter by Midnight on Wednesday, Feb. 16, and I’ll choose one winner using random.org to win a set of 26 letter cookies:

So you can make all the letter cookies you want. You could practice your animal prints:

Or fabric patterns:

Or just crazy, random things:

That’s it for today. Over and out from

Peanut Butter Pops

11 Feb

I’m sure by now everyone has seen Bakerella’s cake pops. If you haven’t, you really must head over there to see her cute stuff. She even made cheesecake pops, which I am totally going to try. But anyway, I was going to make some cake pops as my final Valentine idea post, but my cake pop “dough” totally flopped. Did I add too much frosting? Was my cake too moist to begin with? I have no idea, but it was not working. I was bummed because I think cake pops are super cute. I was just about to bake up another cake and try again when I happened to link over to this post, which is on the Happy When Not Hungry blog, written by Kara, who commented on my Fortune Cookie post, which is how I found it. Are you following me so far?  So her Peanut Butter and Nutella Rice Krispy bites (which sound amazing, by the way) reminded me of my Christmas peanut butter balls recipe, and I got to wondering if they would work on sticks. So I tried it.

And they were good.

It’s funny, I’ve made all kinds of treats for this blog– cupcakes, fortune cookies, decorated cookies, rice krispy treats, etc., and nothing excited my kids like these did. They walked in the door from school yesterday and said “Woa!! COOL! Can we have one? You know– after you take your pictures.”  (They are well-trained)  These are definitely kid-pleasers.

Here’s how you do it:

First the recipe.

2 T. light corn syrup

2 T. butter, melted

3/4 tsp. vanilla

1/4 tsp. salt

1 1/4 cup powdered sugar

1 cup plus 2 T. smooth peanut butter (I’ve used both Jif and Skippy with good results)

Mix together the corn syrup, melted butter, vanilla and salt in a medium-large bowl.

Add the powdered sugar

and the peanut butter

Stir carefully (so the powdered sugar doesn’t poof all over you). At first it will look like this:

And then it will form a dough, almost like peanut butter cookie dough.

Now you need to roll it into small balls. What I do to get them even is scoop them with my cookie scoop:

And then cut those in half. Kind of weird, but it makes the right size. You really don’t want huge balls of this, or the ratio of peanut butter to chocolate will be off. The smaller ones will be more like Reeses Peanut Butter cups. If you have a smaller cookie scoop than I do, you might be able to just use that.

So after you cut the scoops in half, roll them into balls. and put them in a pan so that you can put them in the freezer.

Freeze them for about 20 minutes. You don’t want them frozen solid, or they’ll crack when you put the stick in, but you want them pretty firm.

While they’re in the freezer, melt some “chocolate”. I put chocolate in quotes because this isn’t real chocolate. You can certainly use real chocolate if you want, but I’m a terrible chocolate temperer (is that a word?) My friend Tara is a real-life chocolatier, and she wouldn’t be caught dead using this stuff. But for me and my kids… yeah, I’m all over it. I actually really love using Merkens wafers. They’re pretty good for fake chocolate, and it’s so easy to work with. So melt some fake chocolate. Valentine colors are fun, so I picked pink to start with.

Dip a lollipop stick in the chocolate just so the bottom 1/4″ or so is covered.

Then take one of your firmed-up peanut butter balls and insert the stick.

And by the way, I used 6″ sticks for these, but 4″ sticks would also work.

Next, dip them into the chocolate. You’ll want to go straight down, and use a spoon to help cover them. If you’re swirling them around too much, they could come loose and fall off the stick.  If you want a really great video on this, check out the Amazon page for Bakerella’s book, and it’s the exact same process. She does a good job showing you how to do it.  I’m sure that video is on her web site somewhere, too, but I couldn’t find it.

You’ll want to lightly tap off the excess.

If you don’t want to put them on sticks, you can also dip the balls by themselves. I like to use two forks and a spoon for dipping. First, I dip the bottom of the ball into the chocolate, then set it on a fork. Then I use the spoon to pour chocolate over it. Then I tap the fork on the edge of the bowl to get rid of the excess. I move it over to a sheet of parchment paper, and use the second fork to push it off the first fork onto the paper. I hope that makes sense, because the only picture of the process I got was this one:

Which pretty much shows you nothing.

While the chocolate is still wet, sprinkle with assorted decorations. I made a mixture of white, pink, and red non pariels for some:

And of course I had to use the mini hearts because I love them.

They’re super cute without sticks, too.

I loved the crunch that the sprinkles gave them.

Yum!

Ok, that’s it for Valentine’s ideas. From here on out, you’re on your own. :D Have a great weekend and a Happy Valentine’s Day!!

I’ll be back next week with some cookies that I can’t wait to show you!  My kids told me what to make (they even gave me sketches to go by) and I recreated their ideas in cookie form. I’d better finish ‘em up before they get home from school. They’re going to love them, and I hope you do, too!

Fortune Cookies

10 Feb

Ok, remember when I said at the beginning of the week that I was going to post a bunch of simple, easy ideas for Valentine’s day. Wellll…. this sort of does and sort of doesn’t fit into that category.  I guess this is an easy idea for someone who is up for a little bit more of a challenge. (Does that even make sense??) It actually is very easy and very simple, but it takes a little patience to get the hang of it.  The ingredients don’t get any more simple, and I’m pretty sure that the vast majority of you have them in your kitchen right now. So you should try it!

Before you start making your batter, you’re going to need a template. Actually, this isn’t 100% necessary, but it’s very helpful. If you don’t want to take the time to make a template, you can skip this part and just spread your dough out free-form.

To make the template, get a large disposable lid, or other piece of thin plastic. A cool whip, yogurt, margarine or sour cream lid are all good, as long as it’s at LEAST a 4″ diameter, not including the rim.

Find a 3″ circle to trace around.

This is the 3 1/16″ circle from the plastic circle set. It is very well-used and loved, so the measurement has been worn off!

After you trace it, use an x-acto knife to cut out the circle.

Then cut off the rim of the lid so that it lays (lies?) completely flat. You can use scissors or an x-acto knife.

After that you’ll have a nice, reusable template. Wash it to get rid of all pen/pencil marks because those will definitely get on your fortune cookie dough if you don’t. Don’t ask me how I know that.

One more thing you need to do before you make the batter is to write your fortunes and have them ready. Cut strips of paper 1/2″ by 4″ if you want the fortunes to come out the edges of the cookie, or 1/2″ by 3″ if you want them all hidden inside. I did mine 4″, but I think I’d do 3″ next time.

I think this is where you could let your creativity fly. I was not very creative with these. At all. But you could print them on fancy paper, and you could do fortunes that would match the personality of the recipient. I think writing cute things for your kids and slipping them into their lunch for school would be really fun. Be creative.

Oh, and one more thing before you make the batter– Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

The batter is super simple. It takes exactly 1 minute to mix this up. Ok, maybe 2. But it’s fast. This is adapted from a recipe I found on Allrecipes.com. It makes 12 fortune cookies. Here are the ingredients:

1 egg white

1/8 tsp. vanilla

3 T. sugar

1 pinch salt

1/4 cup flour

Put the egg white and vanilla in a bowl. Whisk until it gets foamy. Add the sugar and salt and whisk until smooth. Stir in the flour until a smooth batter forms. It’s actually kind of a batter/dough hybrid. It is thicker than a batter, but a pretty runny dough.

Sorry I don’t have pictures of the dough-making process. But it really is simple enough that you don’t need pictures, right? :D

About the surface you’ll be baking on– You can bake on a plain (very-well-greased) sheet pan. But it is tons easier and more fool-proof if you bake on either silicone liners or parchment. Even if you use silicone or parchment, you’ll need to grease it or spray it with Pam, so if you’re using a plain cookie sheet, you’re really going to have to grease the heck out of it to get them to not stick. So if you have silicone or parchment, use it! Oh– and if you’re using parchment, you really could just trace some 3″ circles right onto the parchment for your guide instead of making the template.

I used silicone liners for mine, and I’m sorry they look so nasty. I’ve been using these for almost a decade, so even when they’re clean they look kind of gross. Sorry.

Spray silicone or parchment with Pam, or grease the heck out of your pans. Place your template on the pan and put exactly 1 teaspoon of batter in the center.

Use an offset spatula to spread the batter around inside the template.

Go all the way to the edges. If you aren’t using a template, just eye-ball a 3″ circle. The batter will be very thin. You may even be able to see right through it in spots. That’s ok. And, um, sorry about the water spots on my spatula. I have hard water, ok?

Lift off the template, and repeat up to 3 times, for a maximum of 4 cookies per sheet.

Four is really the max that one person can do at a time. You have to work really fast at folding when they come out of the oven, or they’ll get too stiff to fold. If you have helping hands in your kitchen, you might be able to do 6 per sheet. I actually recommend only doing 2 for your first batch and work up to 3 or 4 as you get the hang of it.

Bake them in a 400 degree oven for 5 minutes, or until they start to get brown around the edges.

Determining when they are ready is probably the trickiest part of the whole thing. They need to be lightly browned if they’re going to set up nice and crisp, but the browner they get, the faster you have to work with them. The paler ones are easier to fold, but they won’t crisp up as well. So you have to learn in your first couple of batches what the happy medium is.

Ok, so as soon as you pull them out of the oven, start folding. I think it’s easier to just peel them off the pan with my hands, rather than trying to use a spatula. A spatula can tend to mush them up, but if your hands are really heat-sensitive, a spatula might be your only choice. If you do go that route, I would grease it first.  So either peel one off, or use a spatula, and flip it onto a wooden cutting board or counter so that it’s upside-down. Quickly lay one of your fortunes across the center.

Then, fold it in half like a taco.

Next, you’ll take the outside “corners” of your taco and pull them down towards each other.

If they cool too much while you’re working with them and they won’t fold, you can put them back in the oven for 20-30 seconds to heat them back up again.

As soon as you’re done folding one, plop it into a muffin tin. The round muffin cavities will help them keep their shape while they cool.

Aren’t they cute?

You can be done right there. Or… if you’re feeling extra festive and fancy, you can dip them in chocolate and sprinkle them with some Valentine sprinkles.

Place them on wax paper or parchment while the chocolate sets up.

Look how fancy these are! And you can make them as personal as you want, since you’re writing your own fortunes. I think that would be a fun ending to a special Valentine’s dinner.

And did I mention that they taste REALLY good? They are so much tastier than store-bought fortune cookies. Yum!

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