Monday, December 8, 2014

Rudolph the Reindeer Cookies

I have not decided if I love the holidays because of the family, friends and food that joyously fill the season  OR if I just really like reindeer antlers. =D  On my baked goods.  On my socks.  On my head.

Last year I made gingerbread latte cupcakes in a jar to match the antlers on my head for my good friend's Holiday party.  Naturally, since I re-wore the same antlers to this year's party, I had to find another treat that would look great with antlers.  And big red noses.

These Rudolph cookies take a little time to put together, but they aren't difficult to make.  With some free time and a helper Christmas elf or two you may want to try them this year for yourself to liven up your own holiday parties.

Reindeer Gingerbread Cookies
Makes 30 2-inch cookies.  

Your favorite gingerbread roll out cookie dough recipe*
2-inch round cookie cutter
1 bag white Candy Melts
1 bag light brown Candy Melts
Various sprinkles;  I used silver sprinkles, pearls, white snowflakes and pink hearts
Wilton eye candies
Red candy (M&M's, jelly beans, etc)

*I used this one from The Decorated Cookie. The only difference is that I needed to add a lot more flour once I started rolling out the dough.

1.  Prepare dough as directed.  Cut out faces using a 2-inch round cookie cutter.  Bake and set out to cool.
2.  Melt white Candy Melts in microwave and pipe antlers onto wax paper.  I did this freehand, but you can find a stencil on the internet as well.
3.  Place various sprinkles onto antlers while they are still wet. Silver sprinkles look like snow!
4. Let dry. You can speed up this process in a freezer.
5.  Once cookies are completely cool, melt brown Candy Melts and using a small spatula or butter knife to spread a thick coat over cookies.
6. While the candy melt is still wet, press antlers to top of cookies. Hold in place a few seconds.
7. Press Wilton eye candies below antlers.
8. Press red candy under the eyes. (or brown/black candy if you want regular reindeer instead of Rudolphs)
9.  Let cookies dry for 15 minutes before moving.

You can use all kinds of sprinkles for these cookies. And if you use an edible pen you can change the look of the eyes as well.  Add the slighlty different shaped noses and antlers and they can take on so many different personalities!

I added little hearts to some of the antlers because who said that Rudolph couldn't have secretly been a girl???

I also tried making some "regular reindeer".  Instead of a red candy nose, I used a large upside down chocolate chip.

They were still cute, but c'mon.  We know what we want during the holidays.  THAT RED NOSE.

I also used these cookies the following day for Rachelle's annual holiday cookie exchange.  I couldn't bake two separate  yummies in one weekend... there are not enough hours in the day, I am not Beyonce.

I hope everyone's holidays have started off as wonderful as mine.  I am knee deep in gingerbread lattes and cookies, burlap tree skirts and woodland creatures and we are only half way into December.  Can't wait for the rest of it!  There's still deep fried turduckens to eat, tamales to make, and Christmas Cheer to spread.



P.S. Oh, and just so you guys know.  I think it's time to retire the antlers.  I have gotten much good use from them the last two years.  What's next?  Elf ears?  How can I dress up like a penguin?  Anyone know?

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Gizdich Farms Raspberry Green Apple Crisp

I have something for you guys!  A super delicious yet relatively easy recipe for your upcoming Thanksgiving dinner.  Or dinners if you're lucky like me.  I have FOUR to attend this year.    Two down, two more to go!  For number two (a Friendsgiving) this crisp.  I can't ALWAYS bring cookies. (Yes, I can.) 

The recipe was sourced and inspired by last month's visit to Watsonville (California) to visit  the boyfriend's old stomping grounds.  Watsonville is known for their agriculture -- STRAWBERRIES! -- they are home to both Driscoll's and Martinellis.  November is well past berry season, but we made it in time for the tail end of apple season.   

Along with touring apiaries and old highschools, we took a quick trip to Gizdich Farms.  It's an orchard where you can pick apples and berries, eat at their in-house bakery thats uses their own fresh fruit, have a picnic, shop at their market, or buy their fresh apple juice.  We didn't have time to pick apples, but we did have enough time to go to the pie shop.  Who doesn't have time for pie?  It was delicious.  We also went by their market where I picked up some of their free recipes.  Glad I did because I picked up this little gem.  

Crips are basically one step short of a pie and I can get behind that.  Less work and still delicious!  Until pies stop intimidating me so much I think I shall stick with crisps.  I was drawn to this recipe because they used both apples AND raspberries.  

The combination of the tart fruits and the cinnamon sugar is great and they even use walnuts!  It's a great spin on a traditional Thanksgiving apple pie for sure.

Raspberry Green Apple Crisp
Use a 12 cup baking dish, bake at 375* for 20 minutes, and then for an additional 40.  Serve warm, preferably with ice cream.

For the topping:
1 c. rolled oats
3/4 c. flour
3/4 c. brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 c. unsalted cold butter
3/4 c. walnuts

For the filling:
10 large green apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1 1/3 c. raspberries 
1/3 c. sugar (or less, to taste)
2 tbsp. lemon juice

1. Mix oats, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg in a bowl.
2. Add butter and and cut in (with a pastry cutter) until the mixture resembles a coarse meal.
3. Fold in walnuts.
4. Set aside in a refrigerator while you prepare the apples.
5. Combine apples, berries, sugar and lemon juice is a  separate bowl.  (Amount of sugar is optional. Use less if you prefer a more tangy dessert.)
6. Butter your baking dish, and spread apple-raspberry filling evenly.
7. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes.
8. Uncover dish and bake for an additional 40 minutes, or until apples are soft and topping is brown and toasted.  
9. Serve warm.  Add vanilla ice cream if you want to be someone's bff.
I loved how the raspberries melted into the apples.  

And I loved the added walnuts.  Did you guys know that I am slightly allergic to walnuts, but I eat them anyways?   Such risky behavior.  

I shall try to be more active on here, I seem to have fallen off again.  I blame the two weddings I was in.  They stole my free time.  Oops.  But I wouldnt have had it any other way.  BFF Pammy and my favorite Hugo are happily married and my heart is still full for two of the friends I am most grateful for in this world.  

I hope you all have a Happy Thanksgiving, Happy Friendsgiving, Happy Turducken or whatever you call your day.  Just make sure there's a lot of  Gluttony and Gratitude in it.  


Disclaimer:  I did not use Watsonville apples for this.  I did not have any left by the time I baked. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Safari Giraffe Jars

Safari Giraffe Jars!  Giraffe Cookies!  Well, kinda giraffe cookies.  I had time to make these cute animal jars but not time to go my usual crazy pants self for the cookies.   Why not?  Because these were for Pam's bachelorette party last weekend and I was too busy crafting all the things to cut out tiny giraffe cookies like I had originally planned.  But they are color coordinated and let's face it -- adorable.  So all is well.

I made two batches of shortbread cookies; one chocolate chip and one orange almond.  (Recipes below)

And then I alternated cookies as I stuffed them in these decorated giraffe jars. 

To make jars like these you will need:
1. Clean Mason Jars
2. Stickers/Label for the front (Michael's)
3. Giraffe ribbon (Etsy)
4. Giraffe Charms (Etsy)
5. Plain Cupcake Liners (Michael's)
6. Hot Glue Gun

General Assembly Instructions:
1. Hot glue the ribbon around the side of the lid.  (I found it easiest to tie the ribbon in a bow and then attach it to the lid separately.)
2. Fill jar with yummy cookies.
3. Place the top lid over the jar, and then cover it with cupcake liners.  Screw on the side lid over the liner.
4. Hot glue charm on top of the liner.

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies
I followed this recipe, but omitted the orange zest and juice and added 1/2 cup of mini chocolate chips instead. 

Almond Orange Cookies
I followed this recipe, but added two small drops of orange food coloring instead.  Not enough to make them bright orange, just enough to make them more giraffe colored.  =)

Both recipes and flavors worked well together.  

But wait why was I making giraffe jars for a bachelorette party?  Because we went on a Safari, duh.   Pammy isn't big on the traditional Vegas-esque, drinking clubbing bachelorette parties and neither am I.  She's getting married at the zoo in September, so a Safari made sense.   And she's also going through a giraffe phase.  After all of this prep work  it kind of made me into a fan too! 

For the record the Safari was not in Africa. HAHA.  It was in Santa Rosa (Northern California) at Safari West.  Hopefully the bride to be had fun!  There were a bunch of animals to look at, we went glamour camping and took a "winos and rhinos" tour.  We dressed in animal print pith helmets and animal shirts.  Oh and I also made her wear a zebra veil that was attached to one of the hats because what on earth could she possible wear that day? You can see more pictures of the adventure on Pam's blog here.  

Aaaaand now it is time to plan Bachelor Party #2.  The life of a Maid of Honor is hard.  


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Puff Pastries: Inspired by miette

Hey guys, I lied a little.  Well no, I lied a lot.  Instead of properly preparing for Colombia by only eating lettuce and dustballs for the last three weeks, I have been eating big ol' burgers and  lots of  fancy artisan ice cream instead.  It's hot and ice cream is good okay?  Can ice cream be my spirit animal?  Is that possible?  Or just weird? Oh it's definitely weird... okay, I was just kidding anyway.

This last minute treat was completely justified though.  It was a baking date with the fair Rachelle and it allowed me to get some quality time in (with her and a toy I hadn't played with before) AND have something to blog out!  Win-win. She emailed me, suggesting eclairs and it only made sense to proceed with our endeavour since we had both bookmarked a recipe in our miette cook books ages ago.  I first went to miette  about two years ago and fell in love with their colors and decor, the whole shop and of course... the pastries!  We each have our own copies.  They both came in handy.

I was reminded of a very important life lesson on our date.  You can't always be perfect.  And that's okay because chocolate ganache and sprinkles can, in fact,  fix most anything.

This applies to broken hearts (obviously) or puff pastries.  But today I am talking about the latter.  Neither of us had made puff pastries before.  We certainly did not excel at our task.  We did quite a few things wrong, actually.

Our biggest mistake was assuming that we knew better than our cook book.  We were directed to pipe the puff pastry into 5x1 inch strips using a 1/2 inch diameter piping tip.  We used math and convinced ourselves that they must have meant TWO strips. Two strips of dough would bake itself together, right?

Wrong.  As evidenced above, we ended up with really big donuts... that could be divided into two.  Like one of those popsicles from childhood.  I get strawberry, you get orange but we break them in half and share!  Not much of a pretty sight to see.

And piping into them was much of a disaster since they didn't fluff up properly and we had to fill them in at least two places!  Pastry cream all over the place!  At least I got to use my cool little machine though...

Yet we had a great time laughing over our mistakes and then trying our best to fix them.  This is where we were saved by chocolate and sprinkles, the real heroes of today's story.

We zig zagged the ganache instead of dunking them.  (Bonus:  You can see the vanilla bean specks!)

We added some straight-from-miette sugar flowers to the prettiest ones.  ... and ta-dah.

We had eclairs!

We had cream puffs!

Sure there's a few flaws in them but thats okay!  At the very least TWO of them looked and photographed wonderfully,right?  ;)  Plus they were delicious. Just like an eclaire should taste like.   And we had an awesome afternoon.  We didn't let puff pastries defeat us!

I am quite confident that for our next date, Rach and I will master our technique and I will bring something even prettier to share!


(For the recipe, I encourage you to buy the miette book and follow the directions properly. I don't like to post exact recipes from books, nor will I post recipes when I don't think I have the recipe down enough.  Soon though, soon!)

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Chocolate Covered Caramel Macaroons

Coconut macaroons!  The perfect spring cookies.  Except you know, I live in California and it's halfway into May which pretty much means it's summer.  Oops?

I wanted to make and post these in February.  I had really cute Valentines Day ideas for them.  And then Spring happened.  Which meant February, March and April was spent going on lovely hikes with the puppies,  baseball games(go giants!) and enjoying the pretty view the outdoors had to offer.  And then it was May, which meant more baseball, rodeos, and trying to steal red pandas from the zoo.

So yes, I definitely made them too late to be springy.  No problem.  Let's cover them in chocolate and caramel and they are perfect for any time of the year!!!

Chocolate Covered Caramel Macaroons
Makes 30, bake at 325* for aprox 14 minutes

4 egg whites
Dash cream of tartar
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla
20 oz (1.5 large bags)  sweetened, shredded coconut

1/2 c. dark chocolate, melted for decorating

Caramel Filling
1/2 lb (8 oz) caramel candies
2 tbs. heavy cream

Directions for Caramel Filling
1. Place unwrapped caramels and heavy cream in a microwave safe bowl.
2. Microwave on high for 1 minute and stir.  Continue to microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring each time.  Do not let caramels scorch.

Directions for Cookies:
1. In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk egg whites, sugar and cream of tartar on high until stiff peaks form.
2. Add in salt and vanilla while mixer is still on, after peaks have formed and then immediately turn off.  Don't over beat your eggs.
3. Fold in coconut flakes into egg whites.
4. Using a medium cookie scoop, scoop dough and place on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
5. Using your thumb, make an indentation in each cookie ball.
6. Bake for about 14 minutes, or until the edges start to darken and the coconut no longer appears wet.
7. Remove from oven and let cool completely on a wire rack.
8. When completely cooled, fill indentation with 1/2 a tablespoon of caramel.
9. Drizzle melted chocolate (with a spoon or using a piping bag) over entire cookie.
10. Let chocolate and caramel dry a room temp for 1-3 hours and enjoy!

Now, I know I went a little crazy with covering these sweet coconut confections with more sweet things...  But you don't have to be as enthusiastic about sugar as I am.  You don't have to put caramel in them.  You are free to eat them plain.  Or covered in a lot of chocolate.  Or a little chocolate.  Make them your own. They taste delicious any way you make them.

But I suggest you make just a few with the caramel. Just because you want to take a bite of them now, don't you?

I will mostly likely be quiet the next few weeks.  Well, I HOPEFULLY will.   Mostly because I need to somehow find a way to get Shakira's abs in exactly 4 weeks. (Does anyone know how to do that, by the way?)  I am going to Colombia with the boyfriend in June (omg, so excited!!!) and i'm pretty sure positive that my baking is not even a little conducive to that goal...

Good thing you can make other sweet things in the oven.  Like oven-roasted plantains.  And I may try granola soon?  We'll see.   I won't stray too far though, and i'll be back soon enough.  Just wait 'till you see what I am cooking up for Pammy's bachelorette party favor!


Monday, April 28, 2014

Sprinkle Thumbprint Cookies with Tayberry Jam

There are so many of my favorite things in this post!  Sprinkles.  Cookies.  My kitchen mascots.  My new favorite jam.  My new favorite plate.  It's a lot to take in, I know.  Let's contain ourselves and start with the cookies.

The boy's  favorite cookies are thumbprint cookies, which I had shockingly never made before.  When he told me this, however I acted quite uninterested.  I filed it away in my brain, though.  I'd make them when the time was right, and when I found a way to make them special.

And then I was given a jar of tayberry jam from Inna Jam (based out of Emeryville, CA) and I immediately knew I had to make him his thumbprint cookies using this jam.  I did not know what a tayberry even was, but the second I tasted it I welcomed it's amazingness.  A tayberry is a cross between a raspberry and blackberry and the jam it produces begs you to spread it on a carb.  Toast. French toast. Pancakes. A donut. A cookie.  Any carb, all the carbs.

I have about half a jar left of the Tayberry jam.  I am trying my hardest not to eat it all and to save it for another baking project.  I can just fantasize how this would taste with dark chocolate...  Or in a jelly roll?  OMG.  I think I am just going to eat my little jar of jam on a really big pile of french toast this weekend and buy another 10 jars of these.  Problem solved. I digress though. Back to the cookies at hand.

When he left over Easter weekend, I grabbed my bunny rabbit spatula and set to work on these cookies for him.  Plus a few extra things.  I had been out of the kitchen for so long that I felt I owed my stand mixer some quality time.

Sprinkle Thumbprint Cookies with Tayberry Jam
Adapted from:  Food Network
Makes 20, bake at 350* for aprox 12 minutes.

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temp
1 c. sugar
1 egg, room temp
1 3/4 c. flour
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1-2 tablespoons of your favorite sprinkles
1/3 cup of your favorite jam

1. Combine flour, salt and baking powder in a bowl.
2. On medium speed, cream butter and sugar together until fluffy in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
3. Add egg and vanilla to the sugar-butter mixture.
4. In 2-3 additions, add in flour mixture and mix until fully incorporated.
5. Add 1-2 tablespoons of sprinkles to dough, as desired, if at all.  (But who doesn't love sprinkles???)
6. Using a small cookie scoop, scoop dough and place on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
7. Using your thumb, make an indentation in each cookie ball.
8. Fill your thumbprint with 1/2 a tablespoon of your favorite jam.
9. Bake for about 12 minutes, or until the edges of the cookie are lightly brown and the jam begins to bubble.
9. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack.  Add a sprinkle in the middle of the jam if desired.

I added sprinkles to the dough because SPRINKLES.  It makes everything cuter, instantly yummier.

Along for the ride were my two kitchen mascots; Cupcake Andy in Vanilla and Chocolate.  They love sprinkles and sweets as much as me, and live next to my sprinkle jars.  (We all have sprinkle jars, is my assumption.)

And yes, I added some extra heart sprinkles in the cookies' jammy centers.  To cover all my bases.  :)

Aren't the polka dots on these plates adorable too?  I had a hard time choosing between dots, squares and hearts at the Daiso store last month.  I am running out (okay I ran out a long time ago) of places to stash prop plates though.

The tayberry tasted pretty awesome on these cookies.  And the boy agreed.  He had more than his fair share.  That means he totes ate his and proceeded to steal a few that were intended for others.  =x

 He is forgiven for his theft not only because I am generous and lovely, but because  I am just as bad of a cookie monster as he.  Okay, maybe worse.  I am in the last position to judge.


Monday, March 17, 2014

Lucky Chocolate White Chocolate Chip Cookies

Happy St. Patrick's Day!  My mind was on green clovers all weekend long, so I am obviously wearing a pretty green dress today.  No getting pinched here.

I have been trying to get my hands on General Mill's Special Edition of Lucky Charms with only green clovers since last year. They only come out once a year!  And I completely struck out last year so upon fearing the same fate this year, I sent a message to Lucky Charms directly to ask what store I could find them in.  And they answered me!  But even cooler yet, they mailed me a box of Lucky Charms goodies.  Yay swag!  Bet you can't wait to see me in my Lucky Charms shirt.

I set to work on Saturday morning, sorting out the bright green clover marshmallows.

And eating cereal too... there was some of that.

And then I stuck them in some chocolate cookies. And then took them on a hike on Sunday.  8 miles means all the cookies you can eat, right?

Lucky Chocolate White Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes 30, bake at 350* for 8-10 minutes

1 cup butter
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
2/3 cups cocoa powder
3/4  tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 3/4 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup green clover marshmallows
1/3 cup green clover marshmallows reserved

1. Cream butter and sugar together in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.  Beat on medium until light and fluffy.
2. Add in eggs, one by one and scrape down the side of the bowl if necessary. Add vanilla.
3. In a separate bowl, combine flour,  cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.  (Whisk together by hand to fully combine ingredients.)
4. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture 1/2 cup at a time, with the mixer on low.  Stop mixer when fully incorporated.
5. Fold in white chocolate chips.
6. Hold in 1/2 cup green clovers.
7. Chill dough for at least 60 minutes in refrigerator.
8. With a medium cookie scoop, scoop out dough onto cookie tray lined with parchment paper.  
9. Add additional 2-4 green clovers on top of the dough before baking.
10. Bake for 8 - 10 minutes at 350*.  Cookies are done when tops are thoroughly baked, and no longer sticky when touched.
11. Remove from oven and let cool on wire rack.

These have been taste tested to be delicious.  By me.  You are welcome. They are super chocolatey, dense in flavor but really light in texture.  It's almost like biting into a brownie cookie!

One of the most amazing things about these cookies are the clover marshmallows.  In the cereal, like the regular Lucky Charms marshmallows, they are hard.  Once baked however, they puff up and turn into soft marshmallows!  So cute and yummy.

Enjoy the rest of your St. Patrick's Day!  Hopefully no one went too hard on the green beer this weekend and their morning is fairing well.  I went on that St. Patrick's Day hike on Sunday (green shamrock on the top of Mission peak!) and went way too hard on my knees so I'm not fairing terribly well.  But it's only Monday, and with any luck this gorgeous California weather we have been having will allow me to continue spending March wearing shorts, exploring the outdoors and eating half a pint of ice cream on my weekends.


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Raspberry Macarons with Lemon Buttercream Filling

The thought of making french macarons always seemed much too daunting to attempt on my own.  So I put it off.  For years.  Finally, earlier this month I signed up for a (Valentine's Day) macaron making class at Sur La Table. Did you know that they do cooking classes?  Cuz they do.  Best decision ever!

I went with my friend Katie and we learned the basics and got some tips and a solid recipe.  Really, it was worth the cost just to watch someone make them in front of you.  It's all about the process!

We made classic round ones, but also a few heart shaped ones.  You guys know I can't resist cutesty stuff like that.  It was a blast.

But we made them with a proper instructor looking over our shoulder, and as a team with a roomful of other people.  I had to make sure that I had REALLY learned to make anything, so two weeks later I headed to my own kitchen all by myself with some Trader Joe's freeze dried raspberries and my hot pink food processor in hand.

I had a few mishaps, I had to throw away some expensive almond meal because I might have processed it into paste... haha.  But because of the tips I learned in class, I at the very least knew to start over instead of proceeding to make sub par macarons.  That would have been the worst.

I ended up tweaking the butter cream recipe a little but and made raspberry macarons with a lemon buttercream filling.

Oh and right before I put them in the oven,, I threw some rainbow sprinkles on them.

You know, because I'm Anna and I put sprinkles on everythang.

I'm not writing out directions today.  But I will include the recipes.  Macarons are so very temperamental and I don't feel like I have the correct vocabulary to explain things with enough precision for you to replicate them. But if you're looking for a solid recipe, well here you go.  OR take the Sur La Table class because it was awesome.

Raspeberry Macarons
7 oz confectioners sugar
4 oz almond meal
2 tablespoons freeze dried raspberries, processed in food processor after measuring
4 oz egg whites at room temp
pinch cream of tartar
3.5 oz granulated sugar
1/4 tsp pink gel food coloring

Lemon Buttercream
1/2 cup (1 stick) non salted butter
pinch of salt
3.5 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest

Just look at the pretty pictures of  these bright pink macarons until you want to reach through the screen, grab a handful of sprinkle cookies and shove them in your mouth.  Feel free to wash them down with some tea or coffee from my cute tea cup, too.

I wish the Sur La Table classes were cheaper.  Actually no, I wish they at least had frequent flyer cards or something because I want to go to like 5 of them.  Anyone want to come with me?  =)

Also, are you guys happy not to see a mason jar in this post?  I know I have been over using them lately.  I even drink my protein shakes out of them, haha.   Rest assured, you will see them again though.  And more sprinkles.  ALWAYS with the sprinkles.   Maybe my mason jars filled with sprinkles?