Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Final TWD: Kids' Thumbprints

The Kids' Thumbprints are the last recipe in Baking: From My Home to Yours, and Dorie's hosting for us this week.  We tried the playing around version with the chocolate chips, and they're a cute little cookie! 

I joined TWD in October 2008, and I started this blog to join.  My first recipe with the group was the Lenox almond biscotti, and I got to try some things I'd never heard before like the blanc-manger and the dacquoiseBaking has given us some new favorites, and since this is the final TWD, I thought I'd share the recipes that were highlights for our family:

Pumpkin Muffins love the muffins made with butter, light and rich
Sweet Cream Biscuits so much easier than cutting in butter, and they rise reliably
Tiramisu Cake pretty cake, loved the mascarpone frosting
Tourtely Apple Tart  those apples and browned butter!
Rick Katz's Brownies for Julia favorite tall brownie, dense and rich
Tribute to Katherine Hepburn Brownie favorite thin brownie, reminded me of ones my parents made when I was a kid
Espresso Shortbread  not too sweet, and so quick and convenient to make ahead and freeze

I've so enjoyed the chance to bake along! 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Polar Bear Cookies

I'd originally made the bears to go along with some onesies for a friend, but I couldn't get them to look baby themed, so I tried just giving them little eyes and a nose, and I think they turned out kind of cute!  They're just rolled fondant and then Wilton candy melts piped for the eyes and nose.  I tried making cookies this way a couple years ago, and they're so easy!  They don't lend themselves to details, they're better for simple designs, but they're quick, quick to dry for packaging so the cookies stay soft, and they travel well.  

And here is the little treat plate for our neighbor.  I tried the easy cheater fudge from Martha Stewart that was really good (with El Rey Icoa), and I used their idea of adding the crushed candy cane on top.  My opinion is the candy cane is fine if you eat all your fudge by day two.  Otherwise, you want to keep your fudge covered so it doesn't dry out, but that makes your candy cane sticky and messy.  So that's turned into a day-of cute idea for me. I'll use candy cane bark for sharing from now on, I think.  The scones are another Martha Stewart recipe and are my favorite and so easy because they can be made ahead and frozen, and then just baked whenever.  I'll try giving them a post all their own soon - they're a perfect holiday morning breakfast!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Christmas Puzzle Cookies

So this isn't the prettiest picture ever, but I was packaging them tonight, and wanted to get a picture in so this would make sense. I thought Martha Stewart's gingerbread puzzle was a fun idea for little treats to go along with little gifts for the godchildren.  I knew going in that I'd not do all the royal and just use white icing, to meet the kids' diets. 
So a couple of tips from my first experience....
  • I didn't actually read the directions on Martha Stewart, which said to cut the cookies while still warm.  Instead, I cut them before baking.  Of course, they spread a little, so the puzzle's not a perfect fit, but the edges are cleaner.  I think if doing it again, I'd cut before baking, but I'd just be more careful not to scrunch the openings (like for the points of the star) when transferring the dough to the cookie sheet.
  • I used the top of a gladware container to cut the outline, and then either used a cookie cutter or just cut the puzzle pieces.
  • I was also really glad that I put each cookie puzzle with all its pieces together on the cookie sheet and then onto separate plates to cool.  I had put two cookies together in a container after cooling, and it was way more difficult to put together than I would have guessed.  When cutting them, I kept thinking I should try making the designs more difficult because these are going to be way too easy to put together.  But even with the icing, they (surprisingly) take a little effort.  
  • From how they look in the end and how they fit together, I think I liked the ones that have a cookie cutter cut-out in the middle.  I think I like the idea of the star and the tree in the top right corner, except that the star has no icing.  For puzzle difficulty, though, the bottom left, which is random pieces like the Martha Stewart example, would be my pick.
I think these ended up kind of fun, and I'm hoping to do another batch for my kids!