Monday, October 24, 2011

Cookies for a Cure & Gingerdead Men

I've decided that cupcakes are so last year. I have discovered decorated cookies and I love them! I think they are gorgeous and some of the ones I have seen are so intricate that they scare me. I have begun following a couple of bloggers on Facebook who do these cookies on a regular basis and I am head over heels in love with them. You can check them out here Bubble and Sweet and here Sweetopia. I am not the most confident person when it comes to working with icing, so this is a bit of a stretch for me. Luckily there are some great videos over at Sweetopia that have given me a head start on the decorating with royal icing. I also thank Bubble and Sweet for some great tips with recipes to follow and advice on using the fondant icing.

My SH and I have been trying to cut out sugar from our diets at the moment for health reasons, so I have been backing off the baking. This is all well and good, but I have to bring something to our Girls' Night In at work on Wednesday night this week. The other night I browsed the internet to find some Pink recipes that I could make that were relatively easy to make. I came up with Pink Marbled Meringues and Cookies for a Cure. Yay! I had a legitimate reason to bake some cookies now.

The first thing I decided to make was the meringues as I figured this would be an easy recipe as I make pavlova all the time with great success. I followed the recipe exactly, and they were a fizzer! The meringues took on a golden colour on the outside and they were undercooked inside. I have decided that I am never going to follow another recipe for pavlova or meringue again. Mine works, and I should have trusted myself to begin with. So saying, I made a second batch, my way, and they were awesome! Exactly how I envisaged them turning out. The recipe is the same as my pavlova with a few drops of red food colouring swirled through it. Then I dropped small spoonfuls of the mixture onto baking trays dusted with cornflour.

The cookies were next, and I used a recipe that I found over at Bubble and Sweet. It is the easiest cookie recipe to make and cut. I am really happy with how well they turned out. I chose a simple design, a heart shape, covered with white fondant and then a pink fondant ribbon on top. They are super delicious too, which is making it really hard for me to leave them safe inside their Tupperware container!

The other batch of cookies I made are very different from the first batch. I don't remember exactly what prompted my online search, but I was looking at cookie cutters and came across this little guy and just had to have him! I decided to steer clear of gingerbread as the base for these cookies, opting instead for a chocolate sugar cookie. Again, I found the recipe on Bubble and Sweet's blog. I decided to use Dutch cocoa instead of the regular cocoa I normally bake with as I really wanted a dark chocolate biscuit. I am so very impressed with this recipe and how easy it is to use. These are my gorgeous Chocolate Skeleton Cookies.

The skeletons are filled in with Royal Icing.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Yay for Birthdays!

I must be the slackest of slack bloggers. It's been nearly a month and a half since my last post in here. In my defense though, it has been the craziest of times for us. September sees my two eldest children through their birthdays, as well as school holidays, and Fathers' Day. Then in October it is my nephew's birthday and most importantly of all, MY birthday!

I have been very lucky this year to have some money put aside for myself. This never happens as I always end up spending it on my kids, or the garden (I love putting new plants in the garden, it's such a good feeling!). This time however, I was determined to spend it all on me. I have always dreamed one day of owning a KitchenAid mixer but the price is prohibitive. At $799 rrp ($AU) I didn't have enough to get one from a major store like Myer or David Jones, so I started researching online to see if I could get a better price. In the end I could get close, but not close enough. Which is when my SH stepped in and said that he would put in the remainder and give it to me for my birthday! Yay for Birthdays! Anyway, my Super Hubby is also a Super Shopper and he managed the best price yet from one of our local whitegoods suppliers, E & S Traders Moorabbin - $650!! I am now the proud owner of Rosie, my beautiful Empire Red KitchenAid Mixer.

I have already used it a couple of times now. My first task was to try out the chocolate cake recipe that my family all use. I have been struggling to get a cake to rise using this recipe and yet anyone else who makes it has no problem at all. I have cake envy! Well with my new mixer the cake was a success! Obviously my old mixer has been on its last legs for some time now. It is 15 years old and has well and truly worked itself into the grave. I also managed to whip up the most gorgeous Chocolate Pavlova from my Maggie's Kitchen recipe book. This was a hit with my family from a taste perspective, but the actual recipe needs to be tweaked as it spread when it was cooking and went very thin in the middle. Not at all like my pavs normally turn out. I'll show the picture here, but not the recipe until I try it again and get it right. I have spoken to someone else who has made this particular pav recipe and she had the same problem, so I know it's not my error in this case, there must be something with the recipe that is not quite right.

It still looks gorgeous though!

This is the pavlova mixture before I baked it according to the recipe.

Finished and decorated. You can see how it has spread to the very edge of the plate.
Anyway, my next post will be up very quickly as I am going to put up all the photos of my craft project that I have been working on this year, so stay tuned!