Category Archives: Cookies

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!

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!

Candy Cane Redux Cookies & What Happens When My Baking Cred is Challenged

Leftover candy canes? Now in cookie form!

Hello dear blog readers!

You’ve probably noticed that I haven’t been blogging (or baking) as much over the last few weeks. Between some health  issues (now resolved, whoot!) and trying to cut down on my baking so that the DH could lose some weight (it’s hard to watch your weight when your wife is always making delicious things), plus some technical challenges (*shaking fist at combination of mailchimp, hellobar, and sumome apps, plus at self’s lack of technical know-how*), well, the result is blog bog.

I’ve been making and photographing some healthier treats (cough*salads*cough) lately, so those will show up on the blog soon. In the interim…let them eat sugar! Or at least cookies.

Because the DH came home yesterday and handed me a giant container of candy canes. I looked at him. He said that his coworkers had mentioned the recent dearth of delicious baked goods, and challenged me to use up the leftover candy canes lying around the office that no one would eat.

Well.

Challenge accepted!

I went on pinterest, I googled different search terms, I experimented with baking different things (did you know that you can bake and shape candy canes?), and came across some interesting options for leftover candy canes.

I told the DH, I bet that if I turn it into candy cane vodka, it’d be gone in a snap!

He agreed. (I mean, obvs!)

I decided to try something else instead, as I’m pretty sure that however laid-back the DH’s office culture is, the higher-ups would frown on a workforce giddy on peppermint vodka.

So, cookies it was! This is a basic cookie base, with the addition of ground candy canes. It’s really not that minty; it just gives a hint of flavour to a buttery, crunchy, sweet cookie.

Candy Cane Redux Cookies (adapted from www.momvstheboys.com)

  • 2 1/2 c. flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 c. butter, softened
  • 1 c. white sugar
  • 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 c. crushed candy canes (I crushed mine with a mortar and pestle, but I think a sturdy plastic bag and a rolling pin would work just as well)

Mix butter, eggs, sugars, and vanilla together until creamy-looking. Mix together flour, baking soda, and salt, and stir into butter/sugar/egg mixture. Once mixed, stir in crushed candy canes.

Bake in a 375 degree oven for 8-9 minutes. They will harden as they cool, so take them out of the oven when they’re still a little soft. Let cool on the tray for two minutes (so they don’t fall apart), and then transfer to a cooling rack.

Eat, drink, and be merry! (Makes about 50 cookies.)

These cookies are much easier than you’d think, and really are a great way to use up those candy canes that are festive in December and mere unwanted calories in January. Best to turn them into delicious, wanted calories, yes? Tee hee!

Next Post: More minty goodness, with chocolate peppermint whoopie pies! Or…faro salad with baby spinach and roasted greens? Hmm, choices, choices.

Linking up at Meal Plan Monday!

Apple Speculaas Crumble, and How to Rescue a Cake-Wreck

speculaas-apple-crumble-with-banner

Have you ever heard of CakeWrecks? People post pictures of cakes gone wrong, whether it’s a bad icing job, or a cake that never rose. (Personally, I prefer PinterestFail.) Today, however, I managed to a) bake a cake wreck and then b) rescue said cake.

How? Ah, read on, dear reader!

This week, my bake-a-long group is baking Apple Speculaas Crumble from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking Chez Moi cookbook. As I have some Dutch heritage (what, my last name didn’t give it away?), as soon as I read the title of the recipe, I was excited! Speculaas is the Dutch version of ginger cookies, delicately spiced, and buttery-rich. To bite into it is to love it. I grew up eating these cookies, whether they were purchased from our local Dutch food importer, or sent in a Christmas package from relatives. I even have a Speculaas cookie mold on display in my bookstand! (Because where else would you display a cookie mold, but in a bookstand? I mean, really!)

In the last few years, it seems like the cookie is everywhere, albeit under the name of Biscoff, and often in jarred spread form. I’ve never tasted it, but I know the spread has its own following and has inspired many a baker. It’s supposed to taste all deliciously spicy and buttery with caramel notes. Eh, I’ll stick with the cookie proper!

But how does speculaas relate to my cakewreck? Well…I wanted to bake a cake for the DH to take into his work this week. I had the day off today (thank goodness, as I had an IBS attack yesterday at work and needed a day to recover) and decided today was the day. I made a sherry cake (this recipe) using some almond cream sherry that I had sitting around. I didn’t have a cake mix, as the recipe calls for, because I try to reduce my consumption of processed foods, so I made my own homemake cake mix instead (this recipe). The batter? Was odd. Too granular, for one, and just…not right. Oh, and did I mention that I was two eggs short? I didn’t have any ground flax seed to turn into a flax egg, so I just crossed my fingers and tossed it all into the pan. Oh, and I misread the instructions and mixed the streusel right into the batter.

Needless to say, it did not turn out. It baked up beautifully in the bundt pan, and when I turned it out on the cooling rack, it was gorgeously golden and fragrant, but after it cooled, I sliced it…and had to use a bread knife to get through that now hardened caramelized crust. Only to find that the centre hadn’t set. Ugh!

I tasted a crumb. It tasted exactly like speculaas! Ah, sweet serendipity! Because this apple crumble was next on my baking list. I scooped out the unrisen insides (I thought about keeping them for a speculaas-flavoured cake pop, but nixed that idea when I realized I had run out of freezer space), tossed the golden, crunchy cake rind in the blender, and blended up that baby!

Apples and cranberries and cookies, oh my!

Apples and cranberries and cookies, oh my!

Those crumbs? Turned out fantastic! I’ve now got two sandwich bags of speculaas-flavoured cake crumbs in my freezer, which I will use in the future to make a gingersnap-style cheesecake crust, and I used the rest of the crumbs in the apple crumble.

The apple crumble is just apples tossed with some dried fruit/nuts (I left out the nuts) and sugar, and then topped with a mixture of butter and crumbled speculaas cookie. Or in my case, butter and crumbled cake rind.

As I type this, my apple crumble in baking in the oven, filling the condo with a deliciously seasonal scent. Oh why is it not ready yet?!?

The verdict: As a replacement for actual speculaas cookies, my cake crumbles were perfect! As for the apple crumble…I prefer my own award-winning recipe. Dorie’s version is still delicious though — I plan to bring it into my work tomorrow. I expect it will disappear quite quickly!

Next Post: Those lentil sprouts! They have sprouted, and are about to be eaten in an effort to balance out my cake crumb consumption. Stay tuned!