Archive | February, 2011

Valentine Cupcakes

9 Feb

These were amazing. I revisited a frosting recipe that I haven’t used in a few years. I forgot how completely heavenly it is, and you really must make it.  But before I get to that recipe, let’s talk about the cake. I told you in my last cupcake posts that what I usually do for my cakes is use Betty Crocker cake mix, but I substitute buttermilk for the water, and add flavorings. This time I used a new cake mix. I buy a lot of my supplies for resale from CK Products, and recently they added some “Premium Cake Mixes” to their line of products.

I bought a few with my last order to try them out. I was a little skeptical, because they seemed exactly like any other store-bought cake mix that I’ve ever bought. You add the exact same ingredients (3 eggs, 1 1/4 cups water, 1/3 cup oil), and I figured it’s probably more of the same, just repackaged and re-branded. Well I have to tell you, I am pleasantly surprised. I’ve made the chocolate and the yellow so far, and mixed exactly as directed on the bag, and they really are something special. I don’t sell them in my store yet– I’m not sure if there’s enough interest among cookie decorators, but you can get them at Country Kitchen. They’re more expensive than regular cake mix, plus you’ll probably have to pay some shipping, but I think its worth the extra money. Let me know if it’s something you’d like to see in my store, too.

Anyway, back to the frosting. This is a super simple chocolate whipped cream recipe that is so very delicious. I found the recipe years ago in this book:

I think it might actually be the frosting that’s on the cover cake. It only has 3 ingredients:

2 cups heavy whipping cream

1/2 cup granulated sugar (superfine is great for this)

1/3 cup cocoa

I really really love this with Dutch Process Cocoa. I think it is significantly better than regular cocoa. Unfortunately, Dutch Process Cocoa can be kind of hard to find, and I’m having a tough time finding it in my town. I did find this:

Which is a mixture of regular and Dutched. It was a good substitute. But if you can get pure Dutch, try it! It is so delicious.

What you’ll do is pour the whipping cream in a bowl (metal is the best).

Add the sugar

And the cocoa

Stir around with the beaters (they don’t have to be connected to the mixer yet) until everything is nicely combined.

It doesn’t have to be perfectly smooth– just so all the dry ingredients get mixed in. Refrigerate the mixture (along with the beaters) for at least 15 minutes.  After 15 minutes, get it out of the fridge and beat until thick and creamy and stiff peaks form.

Oh man, this is so good! It tastes like chocolate ice cream, only a lot less cold. You really don’t want to under-beat this, so take it pretty far with the whipping. If you under-beat, it will soften up and break down. If you take it farther and make sure it’s really good and stiff, it has remarkable stability.  In fact, I accidentally left a small bowl of this on the counter last night, and when I got up this morning it was still holding strong, and hadn’t watered out. That was 10+ hours at room temperature. You don’t want to do that on purpose– definitely refrigerate this, but just as a point of interest…. :)

Anyway, then you can use a decorating bag and large tip to pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes. I used a 1M tip here, but if you want a round swirl, you could use a 1A or a 2A.

Yum. I wish these weren’t all gone.

I sprinkled half with mini hearts sprinkles (which I LOVE. Aren’t they the cutest?), and half with red non pareils. They were super cute all together on my cake stand.

When I got these all together for a picture, I really wished I had a party going on because they look so fun and Valentine-party-like. But we just ate them instead.

Oh, and I baked these in the red gingham baking cups, but because this was such a dark chocolate cake, it made the cups harder to see after baking. So I slipped them into a second cup because I thought they were so cute and wanted them to show up better.

I gave some to my friend in this cute box

Isn’t that fun? Mmm… cupcakes make me happy lately.

Easy Rice Krispies Treat Idea

8 Feb

This week before Valentine’s day, I’m going to post some simple ideas that you can whip up with easy-to-find ingredients and supplies. This first one is so easy it really doesn’t require much instruction, but they’re fun and kids love them.

Make some Rice Krispies Treats and press them into a sheet pan. It should be level with the top of your pan, so if your recipe is too small to fill the whole pan, just fill part of it.  Sprinkle on some fun edible confetti and press down with a flat spatula so the sprinkles stick.

Let the treats cool and set for an hour or two, then cut with a cookie cutter.

Simple shapes are the best for these- Hearts, stars or flowers are great.

Put them on a plate and serve.

OR…  If you’re feeling extra fancy, insert lollipop sticks, cover with a cellophane bag, tie with a ribbon, and make some super-cute EASY Valentine party favors.

Note: If you’re going to put them on sticks, smaller shapes are the way to go (about 3″). Any larger than that, and they’ll want to fall off the sticks.

And what do you do with all the scraps after you cut your shapes?

 

I don’t know. Mine always disappear!

Football Cutters Winner

8 Feb

Sorry I’m a little late on announcing the winner. I should probably stop having the giveaways end on a weekend because Mondays are BUSY around here! :D

But better late than never, right? The winner of the Wilton Football Cookie Cutter set is Elena! She said:

What is Superbowl?. I live in Spain and we only know about what you call soccer, you know, we are the World Champions!!!!

This means that of the handful of giveaways that we’ve had, we’ve had three winners from the USA, one from Canada, One from Mexico and one from Spain! It’s fun to know that we’re such an international group here. Elena, I’ll send you an email, but if you don’t see it, write to me at contact at karenscookies dot net with you mailing address and we’ll get it sent to you!

Thanks to all who entered, and Congrats to all the Packers fans!!

A super-easy Valentine idea coming up next.

Superbowl!

4 Feb

So I hear there’s some big football game on Sunday. Let me just disclose something right off the bat: I know nothing about football. The only team I’ve ever rooted for was my high school football team when my brother Dan was #70 and nicknamed Danimal.  Annnnnd…. that was about 18 years ago, give or take. No, the only thing I really pay attention to when it comes to the Superbowl are the commercials, which I watch on YouTube on Monday morning so I don’t have to wade through all that football to see them.

Oh, and I get really jealous thinking about all the guacamole that’s being consumed around the country. Sometimes I think I should have a Superbowl Party just so I can make some Seven Layer Dip and Little Smokies. But Mike isn’t into football either (if you ask him who’s playing in the Superbowl, he’ll probably say “Um… the Angels?” Try it sometime.)  We’re not Superbowl people, just so we’re clear.

But how about you? Are you having a party? Are you making cookies? Are you rooting for this team?

Or this team?

Or how about the 1993 Deer Park High School Football team?

GO STAGS!

Now, I know I’m very late to have a football cookie cutter giveaway. There’s no way I’m going to get these to the winner by Superbowl Sunday, even if I sent them yesterday. But there’s always next year. And there’s always the fall when you or someone you love starts following (or playing for) their favorite football team. It’s never too early to plan ahead, right?

So answer a question for me in a comment to this post and I’ll pick a winner at random to win these:

The Question is: What is your level of interest in the Superbowl?  Are you there for the food, the football, or the commercials? Are you having a party? Or are you asking yourself right now “What in the world is the Superbowl??”  I’m just taking a poll.

Ok, now a quickly-thrown-together-not-very-thorough tutorial on the Steelers logo, for those who are interested. It actually was a lot simpler than I had thought originally, so I thought I’d share what I did. This was totally an afterthought, so I had to use a cookie that was intended for something else– so no laughing.

I drew all these lines with food coloring markers, but if you don’t have any of those, you can also scratch the lines in with a scraper or toothpick. Or you can even use a graphite pencil, which is non-toxic and will give you some good guidelines. I liked using the marker so that the color matched the frosting color, in case some showed through.

First, glaze a circle white and let it dry completely. Then, off to the top-right side, draw a yellow cross:

Then draw a red cross, touching the yellow one like this:

Then, finally a blue one below those

Then you’ll go back and pipe over these lines with coordinating colors, using a pretty runny-consistency frosting.

After you get the cross piped on, go back and add four dots in each inside “corner” of the cross.

I really wanted a picture of this next part, but I CAN NOT figure out how to take pictures of my own hands working on something. Hey all you food bloggers out there— how do you do that?? A tripod? Timers? I can’t seem to get it figured out. But what I did was take my boo-boo stick (a toothpick would also work), and just pushed the frosting around until it formed the shape I wanted. With the cross and the dots, you’re really already almost there– just use a scraper of some sort to smooth out the lines and make it look like you want it to.

And please make sure you wash off your boo-boo stick before you drag it through the yellow frosting. And after you wash it, make sure you dry it really well so you don’t get water droplets on your cookie.

Continue on with the other colors.

Then add the Steelers, either piped or with food coloring marker, whichever you’re more comfortable with.

I used marker and wished I would have piped it. I have much better piping penmanship than I do marker penmanship, which is the exact opposite of most people.

And now I’m all ready for a Steeler’s tea party.  Anybody have any crumpets? :D

Happy weekend!

OOPS! Forgot to add– Giveaway ends Sunday, Feb 6th at Midnight. Please only enter one time.  Good luck!!

Valentine Mini Kit Winner

4 Feb

Thanks to all for your great comments! We have a winner–  Alyson Avoglia, come on down! :D  I’ll send you an email, but if you don’t see it, send us an email at contact at karenscookies dot net.  If you get back to us fast with your mailing address we can get it in the mail today and hopefully have it to you in plenty of time to do your Valentine cookies.  Have fun!

I have another post coming soon for all of you getting ready for the big game this weekend. Stay tuned!

Mini Valentine Cookies

2 Feb

I still had some chocolate dough and frosting left over from my first batch of Valentine cookies, and I had this cute little set of Mini Valentine Cookie Cutters sitting on my counter, staring at me, waiting to be used. So I whipped up a teeny-tiny batch of itty-bitty cookies. They were fun! I like working with teeny cookies, because you just need the simplest of designs to make them look cute. Their size alone invokes some level of cuteness, so anything else you add is just icing on the… um….cookie. (yeah, that was bad)

Hugs and Kisses!

These were kind of tricky to get out of the cutters. I had to make sure the dough was super cold and I dipped the cutter in flour, and both of those things helped a lot. Just a little tip for you if you have cutters that have small-ish parts that don’t want to come out of the cookie cutter.

Lil' scalloped hearts

Cute as a button!

I tried my hand at imitating Pam’s cute buttons. The left one was my first try. It turned out kinda ugly, but I left it in here as a teachable moment. Do you feel it coming? Sometimes the best thing you can do is mess up a cookie, because you learn a lot from it. From this one, I learned that #1, I needed to make the circles much larger than I originally thought. Even though you want tiny button holes, once you fill in the rest of the cookie, those holes are going to shrink up. So make them larger than you think. Then I learned lesson #2: Don’t let the circles dry before filling in the rest of it or it looks funky. Draw the button holes and then fill in the rest immediately so it’s all nice and blended in. And #3, make sure your base is really dry before you add the rim of the button so that it’s more defined.  See– my second try there on the right is much better, don’t you think? Lessons learned every day…

Itty bitty double-hearts

Hearts with Arrows

I think I like the simplest arrow the best. Simple is better on tiny cookies, I always say. (Actually, I just started saying that right now… but from now on, I always say it)

When you’re all done with your minis, you can pile them all up on a plate (with the ugly ones on the bottom of the pile):

Piles of Minis!

OR– check this out. I was really excited about how the next presentation turned out. I had these little candy boxes and some mini cupcake liners. I thought it would be cute to package them like they were little candies in a box. So I loaded them up like this:

Cute, huh? I love the look of this! Each paper cup has 2-3 cookies in it. They could have all had 3, but I just didn’t have enough cookies to fill it (a few disappeared somehow…), so this little 7″x4″ box will hold about 2 dozen mini cookies! I think it looks like a fancy gift, but it’s really quite simple.

If you want to try this for Valentine’s Day this year, just tell me so in the comments on this post. I’ll chose one winner using random.org and I’ll send the winner:

 

These

And this

and this

and this

and these

and six of these

You could make 6 cute little Valentine gift boxes! (but don’t worry, I won’t hold you to it. You can use them for whatever you want!)

Please only enter one time. I’ll close the contest at midnight on Thursday, February 3. I had a few people ask when midnight is for us. We’re Mountain time, but if you comment by midnight on February 3rd your time, wherever you are, I won’t disqualify you! Try to get it done by midnight mountain time because then I don’t have to think as much, but if it’s still midnight where you are, I’ll count it! :D

Thanks for reading!

Oh, and happy Groundhog Day!

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