Category Archives: Cookies

Three Easy Ways to Bake Alice-in-Wonderland Themed Treats!

Pretty, painted meringue roses that melt in your mouth!

I generally don’t sell my baking, preferring to a) eat it (best part of baking, amirite?), b) bring it to work, or c) have the DH bring it to his work (our colleagues are most appreciative). Recently, however, when someone I didn’t know asked me to do some baking for a themed baby shower, I thought, why not? And baked up these yummy ‘Alice in Wonderland’ themed treats!

What treats did I make? Chessboard Nanaimo Bar Squares, Painted Rose Meringues, and Spotted Mushroom Cupcakes! And honestly, they were so easy to make. Want to make some yourself? Let’s!

Chessboard Nanaimo Bar Squares

  • 1 batch Nanaimo bar ingredients, plus
  • 1 c. white chocolate wafers
  • 1 tbsp. oil

Use my nanaimo bar recipe, but use a lasagna pan instead of a square pan. And, before you add the final chocolate layer, cut the giant block of nanaimo bar in half. Then ice one half in chocolate and ice the other half in white chocolate (that’s what the white chocolate wafers & oil is for). When set, cut into squares and arrange in a chessboard pattern. Et voila! Wasn’t that easy?

What a delicious Nanaimo bar chessboard!

As you all know, I like to use real ingredients to create delicious treats…and then consume them when they’re fresh, because why wait to eat yumminess? Which means that when I made the Spotted Mushroom Cupcakes, I didn’t use a cake mix or canned frosting, but mixed up the batter from scratch, along with some vanilla buttercream! I actually used coconut oil instead of shortening in my vanilla buttercream recipe, and that gave the buttercream a coconutty taste — extra yummy! The DH came by the kitchen as I was baking, and tasted the buttercream. His reaction? “MMMMMMMM!” I think that says it all.

Spotted Mushroom Cupcakes

  • 1 batch chocolate cupcake batter (I HIGHLY recommend this recipe)
  • 1 batch of my vanilla buttercream, but using (room temperature) coconut oil instead of shortening
  • green cupcake wrappers
  • 1 1/2 c. of red candy wafers
  • 1 tsp. vegetable oil

Using the green cupcake wrappers, bake the cupcakes according to the directions. Whip up the buttercream according to the recipe, except use coconut oil in place of the shortening. Using a butter knife, spread icing over the top of each cupcake to create a smooth dome. Place 2 or 3 red wafers on each iced cupcake. Then, place the remaining red wafers in a cup along with the oil and microwave in 30 s. bursts until melted, stirring every 30 s. Once melted, pour into a Ziploc bag, and cut a very small bit off of one corner. Pipe small red dots onto a sheet of waxed paper. Set the waxed paper in the fridge to set. Once the red dots are solid, place two or three red dots on each cupcake. Et voila, your Spotted Mushroom Cupcakes are done!

Coconutty buttercream goodness!

Do you remember the part in ‘Alice in Wonderland’, where the Queen orders her white roses to be painted red? Well, we can do the same, only with roses made out of meringue!

Painted Rose Meringues

  • 1 batch of meringue (I like this recipe, as it creates a very pipeable meringue)
  • 2 cups red candy wafers
  • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 Wilton 1M piping tip
  • a piping bag

Mix up the batch of meringue batter.  Cut the tip off the piping bag, and attach the piping tip. (If you don’t have a piping attachment, don’t worry, just place the piping tip inside the bag and it will work just fine.) Scoop the meringue batter into the piping bag and twist the top closed. Pipe roses onto a baking sheet. How to pipe a rose? Start in the centre, and pipe a swirl. The 1M piping tip makes the swirl look like a rose! Bake according to meringue batter instructions, or until the meringues are lightly golden on the bottom, and thoroughly dry throughout (I usually break one in half to check the done-ness. And then eat it. Hazard/benefit of the job, right?) When done, remove to a cooling rack and let cool thoroughly.

Mix wafers with vegetable oil, and melt in microwave, in 30 s. bursts, stirring in between each 30 s. When thoroughly melted, pour into a shallow bowl. Dip 1/3 of the roses top down, so that the tops become completely covered in red. Then set these back on the cooling tray (I suggest placing a piece of wax paper underneath to catch all the drips). Take 1/2 of the remaining meringues and dip half of the cookie in the melted red wafers, so that it looks as though someone half-painted a white rose. Set back on cooling tray. Let the candy coating set. If you’re in a hurry, you can place the cooling racks in the fridge to set faster. Once done, arrange the roses on a platter, with some red roses, some white roses, and some half-painted roses. Deliciousness, thy name is meringue!

Wasn’t it easy to make those ‘Alice in Wonderland’ themed desserts? They’re just basic recipes, but with the design slightly tweaked so that they fit with an ‘Alice in Wonderland’ theme. Do you have an ‘Alice in Wonderland’ themed party coming up? Why not try these out? Not only are they delicious, but they’re fun to look at too! If you do bake these treats, be sure to email me some photos! I’d love to post them on my social media channels!

Next Post: Baked Falafel Croutons! Say what? That’s right! An easy way to add vegetarian protein to your salad!  

Linking Up at Meal Plan Monday! And Happiness is Homemade! And also at Full Plate Thursday!

Gingersnap Cookies That Bite Back! (Vegan & Low-Gluten)

Gingersnaps with BITE! (The fact that they’re also healthy is incidental.)

The DH was away for the weekend, and to distract myself from missing him I went on a baking frenzy. One of the things I made was this delicious gingersnap cookie recipe! These cookies have real zested ginger in them, and taste dee-lish! They’re also vegan, low-gluten, and free of refined sugars and flours!

What makes these yummy cookies so healthy? Spelt flour! Spelt flour is naturally low in gluten, so if you have gluten issues, this recipe is one for you! Spelt flour isn’t totally gluten-free though, though unfortunately it’s not for those with Celiac disease. Gluten intolerance, though? Bring it on! To avoid refined sugars, I used maple syrup in this recipe, but you could also sub in honey or even regular molasses. Just use less, since honey is such a strong sweetener.

Enough with the recipe discussion, bring on the cookies, you say? I couldn’t agree more! Let’s!

GINGERSNAP COOKIES WITH BITE!

Makes 3 dozen cookies

  • 2 1/2 c. spelt flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 3/4 c. maple syrup
  • 1/2 c. vegetable oil
  • 3 tbsp. blackstrap molasses (extra iron, yo’!)
  • 3 tbsp. ginger, zested

Mix all dry ingredients together. Add in wet ingredients and stir. Roll into small balls and place on a silicone baking sheet on a baking tray. Bake at 325 degrees for 12 minutes. Remove to a cooling rack, and let cool. Eat, and enjoy the gingery bite!

Time for tea!

Kitchen Hack: Peel your ginger root with a spoon (use the spoon as a knife — seriously, it works) then freeze it whole. When you need some fresh ginger, take your chunk of frozen ginger and rub it on a zester to get a very fine ginger zest! Great to use in stir-fries, as the ginger almost melts away! Also fabulous in that you never waste your ginger (ever find fresh ginger molding away in the fridge?) as you only grate the amount you need before returning the frozen ginger to the freezer.

These cookies freeze well, so you can make them in advance and just thaw them when you need them. I’ve packed away almost the entire batch into the freezer for future lunches (*cough*midnight snacks*cough*). I plan to enjoy them with a nice cup of tea! Oooh, or a nice cold glass of milk!

Next Post: Either the Apple Cinnamon Pancakes I keep promising, or…a cheesecake recipe that doesn’t use cream cheese! I still need to experiment a bit more with that recipe, so stay tuned!  

Linking Up at Meal Plan Monday! And at Full Plate Thursday!

Piped Icing 101: Designer Cookies Using Edible Food Markers!

Edible art therapy for adults: pipe some icing on cookies, draw on icing, eat, and repeat!

I belong to some baking groups on facebook and every now and then I see bakers using food markers to draw on cakes and cookies. It looked like so much fun that I had to try it myself! It’s much easier than you think and just as therapeutic as adult colouring books in my opinion — plus, you can EAT your colouring! What’s not to love?

I’m going to take you through the steps of making, icing, and decorating cookies that are good enough to sell, great for gifts, and (obviously) delicious to eat!

Step 1: BAKE YOUR COOKIES

Make your cookie dough. I used this: Lilaloa’s Vanilla 2.0 recipe, as it’s a fail-proof recipe that I recommend to all my friends (and that includes you all)! Roll out the dough, and cut using your favourite cookie cutters. I used my “Fun Bites” cookie cutter. Easy to use, and it really does make for fun bites! Bake cookies until the bottoms are golden, and let cool.

Cookie blanks, all ready for some icing!

Step 2: MAKE YOUR ICING

While the cookies are cooling, make your icing. Royal icing is the white sauce of the cookie world — versatile and the most important basic recipe to master. I used this recipe. The recipe will give you a stiff icing, and more than you need. That’s ok! You can store the rest in the fridge, in a plastic container, covered with a layer of plastic wrap under the lid.

Flooded cookies, some with outlines, some without.

Step 3: ICING THE COOKIES

Spreadable Icing vs. Piping Icing

So, you start with the stiff icing. This is spreadable consistency. Take a 1/2 c. of the icing, and mix in a teaspoon of water. Now, you’ve got icing that can be piped, but won’t run off the sides of the cookies. (Professional cookiers talk about 6-second icing, 12-second icing, etc., referring to how long it takes for the icing to spread out. It can take a lot of work to get to that level of expertise, and unless you’re making a living from selling cookies, it’s not worth all the practice it takes to get to that level. What I will show you, is good enough to get compliments and oohs and ahhhs from your friends and family — and which home cook doesn’t love that?)

Take your pipeable icing, and place it in a Ziploc bag, in a corner. Twist the top until you’ve essentially made yourself a cheapie piping bag. Cut the tiniest bit off the bottom tip of the bag. Now you can ice an outline! I outlined the squares on my cookies.

Fill-In Icing

Now that you’ve got your icing outlines piping, take another 1/2 cup of your spreadable icing, and add in 2 teaspoons of water. This will make for a looser icing than your piping icing. Place in another Ziploc baggie/icing bag, cut the tip off the bag, and squeeze some icing in the centre of the outlines. You will see this icing spread out in a few seconds. Resist the urge to fill in the outline with lots of icing (or else you’ll get icing running over the sides of the outline) and don’t try to spread out the icing (it will spread out by itself in a few seconds).

The DH walked into the kitchen and said: “That’s not how you use a dehydrator!” Little does he know!

Step 4: DRY YOUR ICING

At this point, you need to let your iced cookies dry before you can draw on them. Professional cookiers use dehydrators to get the icing on the cookies to be glossy. It’s a small difference, but a) makes your cookies look that much more polished and b) you get to draw on them faster! (A huge plus for someone like me who hates boring stuff like watching cookies dry, but loves the fun stuff like drawing on them.)

Put your cookies on dehydrator trays in your dehydrator. The catch is, it has to be a top-down or back-front dehydrator. In other words, the fan has to be on the top, blowing wind down onto the icing on the tops of the cookies, or in the back blowing to the front of the cookies. If you have a dehydrator that blows from the bottom up, you’re going to dry out your cookies instead of making the icing shiny. But….there’s a hack for that!

Kitchen Hack: Don’t have one of the more expensive dehydrators that blow back to front (like the Excalibur models) or top down? No worries, I have the Margaret-tested solution for you! Hack your bottom-up dehydrator! Put your cookies on your dehydrator trays. Place those trays on the counter. Place an empty tray on top of your cookie-filled tray. Then turn the base of your dehydrator upside down and place on top of the empty tray. Yes, it’s a tad wobbly, and you’ll have to keep an eye on it, but it dries those cookies to a glossy finish in under an hour!!!

Let’s make some art: scrabble tiles and smiley faces!

Step 4: GO CRAZY WITH THE FOOD MARKERS!

Once your cookies are dry (you can test this by pressing down with your finger gently on the icing — but be sure to do this on a test cookie), you can draw on them! To be honest, I got tired of piping outlines and filling them in, so I just piping some fill-in icing in blobs in the centre of my cookies and let them spread out into circles. Once dried they were the perfect smiley face template!

I drew on my white circle cookies with a yellow food marker and let that dry for a minute. Then I drew the faces on top!

Emoticon cookies — the perfect way to eat your feelings!

What sort of cookies will you create? Let me know in the comments! I think these cookies would be great to play around with. You could write love messages to the spouse, have the kids draw edible art to give as gifts to the grands, or just have some edible art therapy for yourself!

Food + art…a tasty combo!

Next Post: Hmm. Probably the Apple Cinnamon Pancakes I keep talking about!

Linking Up at Happiness is Homemade! And Full Plate Thursday!

Dark Chocolate Chunk Whipped Shortbread, AKA The Diet-Buster

The title says it all. (More, please!)

I don’t usually publish two posts one day after the other, but I made some shortbread today and it was too good not to share right away! My mom is turning 70 this week, and we’re having a celebration. I planned to bake a cake and asked her what cake she would like. Turns out, she’d rather have shortbread! Fine by me, so I researched some shortbread recipes and tried a few out.

First I made traditional Scottish shortbread from a recipe given to me an online friend, and then decided I’d like to supplement that with a whipped shortbread. Traditional shortbread is a sturdy and solid cookie, fyi, and whipped shortbread is made of super-fluffy dough and ends up being an airy and crumbly cookie. Technically both are shortbread, but they’re very different beasts!

I came up with this whipped shortbread recipe because I had some dark chocolate I wanted to bake with, and because I know that corn starch is often the secret ingredient to make a nicely crumbly shortbread. It’s best to use icing sugar in this recipe, as regular sugar is too grainy to give that melt-in-your-mouth effect. And, whipping your butter and then whipping your dough, gives this cookie a super-light airiness that’s just perfect for an afternoon tea.

Next-level fluffy batter! It’s…(wait for it)…so FLUFFEH!

So! Let’s make us some shortbread, shall we?

Dark Chocolate Chunk Whipped Shortbread

  • 1 1/2 – 1 3/4 c. flour
  • 1 tbsp. corn starch
  • 1/2 cup icing sugar 
  • 1 c. butter, soft
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 dark chocolate bar (I used Lindt 80% cocoa), chopped

Beat butter until fluffy and lighter in colour (the butter lightens in colour due to the addition of air via the beating).

Add in other ingredients (except for chocolate chunks) and beat dough for 5-10 minutes. Will be super-duper fluffy (like, woah, fluffy!), and the dough will lighten up in colour. 

Stir in chocolate chunks.

Drop in rounded spoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet (ungreased because these cookies have enough fat in them already! I used a silicon baking sheet to make clean-up easier). FYI, the cookies will flatten out as they bake, so you do need to have the dough in large rounds on the cookie sheet.

Bake for 12-15 minutes in a 350 degree oven, or until the edges of the cookies are brown.

Let cool for a minute in the pan, then remove to cooling rack to cool completely.

Cookies, anyone? Maybe with a glass of milk? Or a cup of tea?

And one last note, if you like sturdier shortbread, add in more flour and/or omit the corn starch. You do you, boo!

These are super-fluffy shortbread and will totally melt in your mouth. Plus, the combo of dark chocolate and buttery crumbliness is just too good! My mom loved them (and so did the rest of my family, including the chocolate-abhorring DH), so I’m sure you’ll love them too! Just…don’t make them if you’re trying to watch your weight, because they are way too good to only eat one. (I may have eaten four. Or five. Eh, you only live once, right?)

Next Post: Three-Ingredient Blue Cheese Pasta! An easy, yet fancy-pants weekday dinner, for when you want gourmet food in the time it takes to order fast food. Stay tuned!

Linking Up at Meal Plan Monday and at Happiness is Homemade!

Using Up Leftovers & How to Make Whoopie (Pies)

Plate o’ yumminess! *om nom nom* Oh, did you want some?

Whoopie pies. Ever made them? Ever eaten them? Ever even heard of them?

I’ve always read about whoopee pies (usually in novels set in Amish country) but never actually tasted one. They’re basically two super-puffy, cake-like cookies sandwiched together with some buttercream/marshmallow-y/fluffy icing-type filling. It’s always sounded rather unhealthy to me. Surely one cookie, sans icing, is healthier? (Not that I eat one cookie at a time. But theoretically speaking, it would be healthier, yes?)

Despite my love of health, healthiness, and moderation (except when it comes to chocolate), I decided to make some whoopie pies recently.

Why? Well, I had some leftover buttercream sitting in my fridge, and I really hate wasting food. I’m such a #wastenotwantnot sort of person. This even spills over into other areas of my life. The DH calls it ‘clutter’; I call it ‘crafting supplies’, and am forever whipping up pretty and useful things from leftover scraps of this and that. Which is sort of what happened in this case.

I had a whole pastry piping bag full of mint buttercream, leftover from various delicious baking sessions, and was brainstorming ways to use it up. Cupcakes? Did that recently. Mini cupcakes? Also did that recently. Frosting for soft cookies? Eh, doesn’t travel well, and I can’t eat a whole batch of cookies (well, obviously I could, and quite happily would, but my scale would be tsk-tsk-ing at me and I try to avoid that).

Then I thought…what about whoopie pies?!?!

It was the perfect opportunity to play around in the kitchen, bake something yummy, and use up that buttercream!

I made the cake/cookie part twice, just to make it was perfect. Not because I wanted to eat them. No, no, the second batch was purely for blog research purposes. (The happy tummy was just a happy coincidence.)

Choco-minty goodness!

Chocolate Whoopie Pies with Buttercream Frosting

Depending on whether you want large or small whoopie pies, spread heaping tablespoons or heaping teaspoons of the dough onto a silicone baking mat or a greased cookie tray. Be sure to spread the dough out, as it will bake up super-high.

Bake according to directions, or until top is springy, but not tooo firm. Let cool.

Pipe buttercream between two cookies and squish together. Let sit (or chill in the fridge) to let the cookies suck some of the moisture out of the buttercream and really stick together.

Sprinkle with cocoa powder or icing sugar for a fancy touch just before serving, or wrap in wax paper if you’re packing them for lunches/snacks/picnics, or just bring a container of them to work (as I did) and watch them disappear.

They’re pretty delicious, aren’t they? I was told by a co-worker that the consensus was that from now on, I have to bring at least three servings per person whenever I bring any baked goods to work. I’ll take that as a compliment. 🙂

These whoopie pies are easily customizable, obviously. Switch up the fillings! Wouldn’t some vanilla-orange buttercream with flecks of orange zest be delicious in these? Or perhaps stirring in a bit of leftover mince-meat with some vanilla buttercream for yet another #wastenotwantnot taste adventure?

I mean, cookies and buttercream. How can you go wrong?

Next Post: Memories of (Lunchtime) Meals Past, or my grandmother’s Chocolate Vla (Pudding) recipe. Should I go healthy or nostalgic? Vote in the comments!

Linking Up at Meal Plan Monday!