Do you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day? Our family usually does and this year is no exception. I usually make the corned beef and cabbage but this year I’m bowing out for the meat and stepping in for the cookies… and the Irish soda bread which I’m buying from the store (Shhh! Don’t tell!)
I’ve never done St. Patrick’s Day cookies and was pretty excited at all the possibilities of green, rainbows, and pots of gold. The only problem is that I have a baby shower I’m making cookies for this week as well and really didn’t have a lot of time to put into these. I’m using these as a learning experience 🙂 (more…)
Living in Minnesota for the majority of the past 17 years, I’ve learned a little bit about Scandinavian culture. Minnesota and Wisconsin have sister cities in many Scandinavian countries and the Minnesota State Fair is filled with tasty treats like Lingonberry ice cream and Lefse (a potato-type pancake…thing). In honor of all things Scandinavian and Minnesotan, I have decided to make Berliner Kranser cookies for my first installment of Cookies from Around the World. They are also called Norwegian Wreaths or Butter Knots.
I made Berliner Kranser cookies with my friend as a teenager and they stuck with me! (more…)
Just a quick follow up post after getting my new goodies. The wait had been almost unbearable and I had to try out my new bags and dust. The results ended up creating a new cookies that I loved. There was no real plan here, I was just playing around and getting a feel for the bags. I liked the thinness of them and feel like it gives me a little more control. That being said, it will still take some practice plus making sure I have a good consistency for icing. This is also the first time I’ve ventured out with my dust and I really loved it.
Dust 3 Ways
I used it 3 different ways here, I flicked it onto wet icing with a dry brush, brushed it on dry, then mixed it with lemon extract for a paint effect. Overall, I love the look! I flicked on the blue and white dust I just got in my order, then used the blue to brush on dry and wet. I did some gold accents with the dust I had purchased at hobby lobby a few weeks ago. Loving the gold and blue together, it just looks so nice.
Getting a Good Picture
The cookies were a little hard to photograph even with decent light. The dust is iridescent and so pretty in the light, but it was so hard to capture with the camera! I did the best I could for that and think I ended up with some pictures that come close to doing them justice.
Overall A Good Experience
Since this was my first time using the dust and the bags I wasn’t sure what to expect but I really love this new cookie set. Since I did not plan any of these cookies or go for any specific design or theme, they turned out much better than I even hoped. I was just playing around and having fun! If we can’t do that every now and then as cookie artists, then what’s the point? They are cookies and cookies are supposed to bring joy for everyone, even the bakers 🙂
Eyelet lace is something that has caught my eye more than a few times on Pinterest. The design creates such a feminine, delicate look. Attempting this is something I wouldn’t have even dared before I made peace with my royal icing recipe and since I’ve got a good grip on that I feel like I can up my decorating game a little.
Eyelet Lace What?
The first time I saw eyelet lace on cookies was SweetAmbs book, Cookie Art. She placed eyelet lace cookies on the front and back cover, plus a page dedicated to teaching the technique. I’ve read the post several times and scoured Pinterest and think I have a good handle on how to do it.
You can find SweetAmbs Book “Cookie Art” here. It’s full of great ideas for cookie techniques and there are some templates in the back you can use for royal icing transfers, filigree, and a few other fun goodies. Check it out!
Where to Start
I’ve seen 2 different types of eyelet lace cookies, one that does the design on a naked cookie, and one on a flooded cookie. I’ll be doing both for this technique to see which one gives me better results.
I started with a flooded cookie. I had some white flooded hearts left over from Valentine’s Day, so waste not and all that! They aren’t perfect and there are about 1 million air bubbles in them, but they are good for practice.
The design inspiration came from a few different pins I found on Pinterest after searching for eyelet lace cookies. I’m keeping it simple just to learn the actual technique.
The first thing I did was trace my design onto the dried icing with a regular old pencil. Since no one will be eating these the pencil is fine, but I probably wouldn’t recommend it for consuming. The idea actually came from a group discussion on Facebook and I guess a lot of cake decorators and cookie decorators use it on a regular basis. I would have used my food coloring pens but I couldn’t find them at that moment so the pencil was a good substitute.
My idea was to start very simply and then embellish it as I went along and got the feel for it.
After tracing the pattern I piped over it with my pink icing, more leftovers from Valentine’s Day. The icing is pretty stiff and I used a #2 tip.
After piping on the patter, I embellished it with some simple dots and a border. The border was a little problematic for me. Because the icing was leftover from Valentine’s, it had separated a little. I thought I had mixed it up enough in the bag but as I started to pipe it on there I came to a watery, separated part and it was just a mess. That part is on the top and left side as you look at the picture. The right side is pretty neat and tidy.
Overall, I really liked how this one turned out and will do this again. It was quick to decorate and fun to create a beautiful design. This probably doesn’t actually count for ‘true’ eyelet lace design, but it’s pretty close and I liked it.
For the naked cookie I used the same design just without the flood underneath using the same pencil to draw on the design. I thought I could get a good comparison by doing close to the same design on both cookies.
After drawing the design, I piped right onto the cookie with the same stiff pink icing and #2 piping tip.
After drying for a few minutes, I then started flooding the spaces in between the eyelets. To do this, I used a Wilton brush and some thinned out pink icing. The icing was thinner than typical flood icing, it poured easily from a spoon. I then loaded my brush and eased the icing into the places that I wanted covered.
Here’s what it looked like right after I finished flooding it. I found that when the icing is thinned that much, it dries kind of sticky and I didn’t love it.
I went back over the eyelets with the stiff pink icing and then added the same dots as the other design. Here’s the finished product:
While eyelet lace is a beautiful technique for cookies, I’m not sure if it’s something I’ll be using a lot in the future. It’s pretty time-consuming and for the effort I could have cranked out about 5 cookies just as beautiful, just not as complicated.
If I keep working at it I will improve and probably get faster, just not sure if I want to at this point. I loved the white and pink cookie and how it turned out and will probably make that design again.
Is this something you think you will tackle in the future? If you do send me a picture, I would love to see your attempts!
The Big Cookie Flop – My fail-proof recipe failed!
There was a request from my son’s teacher to make cookies for his Valentine’s party. After agreeing I realized I had to make more cookies as I had almost depleted my heart stash in the freezer. So I did what I always do; gather my equipment, get out my ingredients making sure I had all of them in the house before I started, and pre-heat my oven. Everything I normally do when I bake cookies was happening and going pretty, well, normally.
I even had the luxury of having my 10-year-old niece over to help me with my 2 youngest kids. This should have been prime baking time with perfect results!
I weighed and measured everything and started combining the ingredients. Creamed the softened butter and sugar, added my eggs and flavoring, then started adding my dry ingredients. This is where I realized there was a problem. Not sure exactly what caused the problem, but something was wrong and this dough was showing me no love. It was really wet and still very sticky.
Usually by the time I’ve added in all my flour I’ve questioned if it was too much, but not this time. I added more flour, then I added more flour, and then, I added a little more. Still too soft to work with. The counter was already dusted so I decided to try rolling and cutting a few cookies. Well, it kind of worked. I was able to cut 3 hearts, and one fancy diamond shape, but the arrow wasn’t happening. It stuck completely and I couldn’t get the dough out. I pulled it out, cleaned it off and dipped the entire cutter in flour. Try, try, again, right? Wrong. I should have stopped while I was ahead! I got a knife and poked the dough out in some kind of a resemblance of an arrow.
By this point I’m realizing this dough isn’t going to bake well, but I decided to try anyway. I don’t know if you’ve seen that Pinterest picture of a horse cookie and when it baked it spread like crazy, then they showed a picture of a photo shopped horse that looked just like that cookie? I thought that was so funny, but I wasn’t laughing as I pulled my blobby cookies out of the oven.
Well, this was just great. I still have 4 dozen cookies to make and decorate, and now all my mixing utensils are dirty, and I have a bowl full of dough that I can’t use for rolling and cutting!
In spite of the terrible look of the cookies, I was able to get them on a pan with a cookie scoop (imagine!) and baking them off anyway. They won’t win the beauty contest but they do taste good if you close your eyes before eating them. I won’t be using them for decorating, I’m actually not sure what I’ll do with them, but at least the dough didn’t go in the trash. I imagined myself vengefully and dramatically showing that dough who was boss as I flung it into the trash can… nope. Didn’t happen.
Time to Troubleshoot…
What went wrong? I’ve made this recipe at least 15 times without fail; what changed?
There are a few logical explanations I can think of that would make this happen. The big thing that jumped out at me was that I used a different brand of butter. I usually use regular store brand unsalted butter. Nothing spectacular about it, just plain old plain old. When I checked my ingredients before I started baking like I always do I realized I was out of said butter and decided to use my Kerry Gold. Because this butter is more expensive than my store brand, it’s specifically used for bullet proof coffee. Have I mentioned I love coffee? I digress, back to the cookies.
My first buttery thought is that the moisture content in that butter is higher and that threw off my ratios. Of course, I have no real idea but it’s just a guess. Second, I thought the measurement might be off. My cookie recipe is always doubled. Even if I don’t need 3-4 dozen cookies, I will freeze the rest for later. That way I always have cookies to decorate when I have some time to practice. My doubled recipe calls for 4 sticks of butter, the Kerry Gold is sold in an 8 oz. package, equal to 2 sticks. I need 4 sticks of butter for my doubled recipe, so I used 2 packages. I double checked this before I started. It looked like a lot, but that’s what the package said. I got out 2 packages, which I normally don’t have on hand but it was on sale at Aldi.
I’m still not convinced I used too much butter, my butter was prepackaged, I didn’t measure it out myself. There was no baker error in the butter category.
Too soft too fast?
My train of thought then led me to the softening process. I’ve mentioned several times I am a do-it-now person and I want things done quickly as possible, even if that means my butter might be softened a little too quickly in the microwave and is a little runny when it comes out. I put it in the microwave, pressed the quick 30 second button with every intention of standing right by the microwave and stopping it every 10 seconds to turn it until it was nicely softened all the way through. Lets just say when the microwave dinged I thought it was the timer to let the dog back inside. Oh yeah, I have butter I just left in the microwave on high for 30 seconds!
In spite of my microwave-capades, not convinced my butter was too soft because it creamed nicely with the sugar and eggs.
Too little flour?
So my last possible idea is this: I just didn’t put in enough flour. To make things easier on myself, I pre-mixed all my dry ingredients for several batches. That worked great until I ran out of pre-mixed goodies and have to do all the measuring again. If you could see my recipe, you might put it in the hot mess category of your recipe box. I have a print out of the recipe with all my scribbled changes, my measurements in grams, then doubled in grams, and all sorts of other secret code messages to myself. The need is great for me to just type a brand new one for myself so I can actually understand it!
You might have caught my possible mistake… I think I may have measured out flour for a single batch instead of a double batch. I’m not even sure and I can’t remember, but it’s entirely possible and I think it’s the most plausible of all my hypotheses.
Conclusion for my big cookie flop?
Yes, I have a conclusion to the blob cookie blunder. Have a well written recipe that’s easy to read, follow my own baking tips, and double check my measurements! Oh, and don’t walk away from butter in the microwave 🙂
I tried to make this as humorous as possible, but the reality is I have about 3 dozen hideous cookies that are now staring at me, another batch of (hopefully) pretty cookies to mix, roll out, cut, bake, and decorate, and another sink full of dishes.
Have you ever had a big cookie flop or a cake catastrophe? Lets laugh and cry together in the comments 🙂
Thanks for reading!
I realized I only added half the flour. While using a different butter might have changed it a little, it wouldn’t have caused that massive disaster! I looked at my messy recipe and realized I used the grams for the regular recipe, not the doubled one. Problem solved!
I finally finished and photographed my cookies I made and I’m ok with how they turned out. Royal icing can be tricky to get right and as a beginner, I’m still working on it. This batch was too thin for some of the things I wanted to do but it was great for flooding and wet on wet technique. I’ll be doing an upcoming blog post on Royal Icing and letting you know all my mistakes so hopefully you won’t make them too!
Back to the cookies!
So here is the good, the bad, and the ugly! That’s how we learn, right? If I don’t want to post ugly cookies on the blog then I’ll have to improve, or that’s my theory anyway. My goal was to have a plan for the cookies I was going to decorate, and of course that didn’t happen exactly how I thought it would. I also wanted to stick with 3 main colors. Again, didn’t quite stick with that. Does white count as a color? I don’t think it does, so I’ll say I only went over by 2 or 3. I worked with pinks, red, green, and white. My main goal was to make several identical cookies for photographing – NAILED IT! My good cookies had at least 3 of each, some more. I kept working on it until I got it right… or ran out of cookies.
My new technique I worked on this time was wet on wet roses. I really love how they look painted on the cookie, very feminine and delicate. I think these were my favorite cookies out of the batch this time around. When I made these cookies I was a little disappointed how the actual cookies baked. It’s a large heart cutter with a smaller heart to cut out the center. When they baked the center heart lost a little of its shape. If you look closely at them the outlines aren’t so great and my flooding could use work. More cookie goals!
The small hearts received roses also and some wet on wet patterns. Those were some of my favorites.
How could I forget kissy cookies for Valentine’s Day! I love doing these and I’m still working on getting them to look just right. I liked the pink, but do prefer red for the lips.
LOVE these arrows! They are very simple and I didn’t flood them like the rest, but I’m happy with how they turned out. It took me several tries to figure out exactly what I wanted on these. Remember I said I was going to show the good, the bad, and the ugly? Well, prepare for the bad and ugly part!
The Bad and The Ugly:
Yes, here are the very ugly and sad arrow cookies. I’m sad it took me that many tries to figure out what I wanted! They still taste great of course, just ugly. You have to close your eyes when you eat them 🙂
Here is another mishap for this batch. I talked about brush embroidery in the quick post from yesterday. I was planning on doing several cookies in this style but because my royal icing didn’t turn out, my brush embroidery didn’t turn out. You need stiff icing for it and mine was just too runny. Oh well, there’s always next batch.
Ok, One more good one…
On a brighter note, I tried some filigree and liked it. I really enjoy the flowing lines and curves of filigree and it’s another goal of mine to become proficient at this. For these, I looked at a stencil as I decorated. Eventually I would like to be doing this freehand but I’m not holding my breath on that one.
Things I learned from these cookies:
Plan ahead! I knew I needed a plan of how I wanted to decorate the cookies and didn’t make one.
Follow the recipe for Royal Icing exactly! Usually my icing is ok, this time it was not and I know what I did wrong. I added my water all at once instead of a little at a time like I was supposed to.
Don’t get discouraged if something doesn’t turn out the first time. Keep trying to get better!
Any big plans to make Valentine’s Day cookies? I’ve got a couple of orders and I’ll not only be making a plan on how to decorate them but actually using it!
I love the look of Valentine’s Day cookies with hearts and red, pink, and white. It’s probably the #2 holiday for decorated cookies, right after Christmas (of course!). I’ve been checking out Pinterest for some non-traditional colors for cookies and I found some beautifully decorated cookies in black and grey, blues, and teals. They are all stunning. Cookie goals!
I’ve decided to try to keep my cookies to 3 main colors. After all, I am The Simple Cookie! I love simplicity and see beauty in clean lines. My first batch of cookies for Valentine’s Day were red, pink, and white with some black accents. I really liked how most of them came out and tried out some new techniques. I’m always so hard on myself when it comes to how my cookies turn out, especially when I’m trying something I haven’t done before. I want it to be perfect the first time! Anyone else like me? I may have to do it a few times to get it right but there is usually some improvement by the end of the batch.
Brush embroidery was the new technique for the first batch and I really enjoyed the end result after a few tries. I’ve seen a lot of cookies decorated with this style and it’s so pretty. It’s something I want to continue to work on and improve. I received the brush set I used for Christmas from my Hubby, the Wilton set made specifically for decorating. I was really happy with them and excited to use them again! You can find them here.
For the new batch, the goal is to make at least 3 identically decorated cookies for photographing. When I decorate, I usually never make the same identical cookie. I get so excited about the potential of the next cookie I don’t want to do the same one twice. I also want to try all the cool things I’ve seen other bloggers do and end up jumping from one thing to the next. This time the plan is to actually make a plan and figure out what colors and icing consistencies to make before I start. Then I’m going to stick to my plan! I’m sure there will be a few extras I can experiment with at the end.
I’ll be posting pictures of the fruits of my labor tomorrow so come back and see how I did!
Have you ever scrolled through Pinterest and dreamed of actually making one of those jaw-dropping desserts? Then you wake up and think, “Wow, I have no idea where to even begin, and I don’t have any fancy baking tools!” The right tools can make all the difference, but you don’t have to spend a lot of money or go to those fancy kitchen stores to get them. You probably already have most of them in your kitchen!
The tools I list here are just the bare essentials for getting you started. Some baked goods like cakes, popovers, or muffins need their own pans, but things like cookies, biscuits, and scones can all be made on regular sheet pans.
I love kitchen gadgets, especially baking equipment. I’ve added to my baking tool arsenal over the past 10+ years since college, but I didn’t start out with a huge mixer and 10 sets of measuring spoons. Don’t think you need to have the giant professional mixer when you first get started.
A Clean Pair of Hands
Yep, that’s first on my list of essential tools for beginners. Ask any professional chef or baker what his favorite tools are in the kitchen, and I’m guessing they will say clean hands. And of course I can’t emphasize enough the clean part! The CDC lays it all out for hand washing procedures on their website here.
I’ve tried lots of different pans for cookies and other baked goods and my pick is the plain aluminum baking half sheet. I picked mine up at Costco and I think they were around $11 for 2 of them. I found that 4 was a good number for just starting out. A good pan is going to be sturdy and not bend after it’s put in the oven.
I love the pre-cut squares of parchment paper that lay flat in the pan. Rolls of parchment are fine and cheaper, but it takes some time to cut them and they do have a tendency to roll back up after you lay them on the pan. For the home baker, Reynold’s has some great parchment pan liners and you can find them here.
Heavy Rolling Pin
I received my rolling pin as a wedding gift and have really enjoyed it. It’s a Kitchen Aid non-stick rolling pin with red handles. You can find rolling pins here .
This sifter is something I don’t know how I lived without for so long! My mother-in-law gave this to me several years ago and it sat on my shelf without use. It’s perfect for laying down a fine layer of flour or powdered sugar wherever it’s needed, like a work surface for rolling out dough.
If you’ve ever made a recipe that called for flour and it turned out dry and crumbly, a food scale could have prevented that! Measuring dry ingredients is so much easier with a food scale, and it’s so key to getting consistent results in baking. Most can measure in grams or lbs. and oz.
Mixing Bowls, Measuring Spoons, Whisks, and Spatulas
I’m lumping these together because most people have at least some of these items in their kitchens. I recommend having at least 1 set of measuring cups, 1 set of measuring spoons, and 1 liquid measuring cup (the glass ones). If you don’t mind washing while you work, you can also get by with 1 mixing bowl in most cases.
You can find mixing bowls here and measuring equipment here. I also love the glass measuring cups for liquid found here.
Just the basics!
The items on this list will get you started on your baking journey. I didn’t include things like muffin or cake pans, or any decorating tools. Coming up soon, I’ll be doing a beginner decorating tool list.
I would love to hear what some of your favorite tools that have made your baking life easier. Leave a comment and share your faves!
As I began my search for the perfect (for me) sugar cookies, there were a few criteria I wanted this recipe to meet. First, I wanted a dough that tastes UH-mazing! I wanted a dough that held its shape during baking, and produced a soft cookie. Probably most important to me was a dough that didn’t need to be chilled before it was rolled out. Really, who wants to wait for dough to chill? I can barely wait for the oven to pre-heat much less an hour for dough to chill in the fridge!
Where I found my basic recipe
There were a couple of recipe flops before I discovered The One. My go-to cookie blog and one of my big inspirations, The Adventures of Sweet Sugar Belle, has a basic sugar cookie recipe you can find here.
After making the recipe a few times I tweaked it a little so I can get the cookie results I’m looking for. Instead of using 2 tsp of baking powder, it’s cut down to 1 1/2 tsp. I found they don’t spread as much. I also use 1 1/2 tsp of almond flavoring. The first time I made the recipe I used 2 1/2 tsp of almond flavor and then wished I hadn’t. Have you ever heard the saying Too much of a good thing is no good? Well, that was probably said about almond flavoring in cookies. Maybe not, but it certainly applies.
Sweet Sugar Belle’s recipe calls for 2 1/2 – 2 3/4 cups of flour. I think I’ve used 2 3/4 cup every time. Converting all my dry ingredients into weight measurements gives me better control over the outcome of my product. A scale isn’t something everyone has in their kitchen, but it’s worth getting if you want consistent results for any baking. You can find the food scale I use here.
After making the recipe ‘mine’ I’m really happy with my results. I get nicely shaped cookies that are soft and flat. They freeze well and the recipe doubles easily. My favorite part of course, they are delicious!
My next post I’ll be going over supplies I love and can’t bake without.
As I did more research to prepare for my blog, specifically about cookie decorating, I immediately became overwhelmed. The more I researched the more I realized how completely ignorant I am of all things blogging. Not only that, but I felt really small and insignificant in the grand scheme of things. Realizing the only way to get over my overwhelmment (I think I made that word up) was to get prepared and buy some stuff.
I still hadn’t jumped into blog world yet, but here are a few things I did:
1. I bought more decorating supplies
2. I made a new batch of cookies with those supplies
3. I tried new techniques with those cookies
4. I took pictures with my new fancy camera of said cookies
5. Sent cookies to hubby’s work so I wouldn’t eat them all
After doing the cookie things, I did a little blogging research and that’s when I got totally overwhelmed. A Pinterest search on beginner blogging, then reading about 50 “mistakes new bloggers make’ posts was all it took to realize I’m going to have to make my own mistakes and just jump in head first. That’s what I did and here we are!
Maybe next year I’ll write my own “10 mistakes I made as a new blogger” 🙂
The camera my husband and I purchased this year is a Nikon 3400. We got the kit from Costco and so far are really happy with it. Although we’ve only had it for a couple of weeks and I haven’t gotten a chance to really do much with it, it’s a really nice camera and I’m excited abou it! The pictures I took of those valentine cookies were before I watched the “getting familiar with your new camera” video so they aren’t so great, BUT I did watch the video and I can already see an improvement!
Are you thinking about starting a blog? What things have you done to get prepared?
My next post I’ll be giving the cookie recipe I use, come back and check it out!